Dear Guilt Ridden,
Firstly, I wish I could reach through this screen and give you a hug because I feel you. What is it about us women (and mothers) that somehow allows us to live in a space where we carry guilt far more often than we should? Though studies show that women statistically feel more guilt than men (here), that doesn’t actually mean you have to live your life in misery as a result.
As I’ve been quite open about, a few years ago I made the decision to leave my marriage and though the circumstances were different, the hardest part about it was knowing that I had to separate my daughter from her father. He too is a capable and loving father and the thought of doing anything that might bring distress to my daughter was the hardest pill to swallow. But here’s the thing: the happiness of your daughters depends on your happiness and if you think for a second you staying in a marriage of misery is doing anything to help their lives, I promise you that you’re wrong. If your husband is as solid as you say he is, he will be just as good to your daughters when you two are apart.
Now I’m not going to sugar coat this… being a single parent is hard. It takes more planning and support than your life now with a partner does but I’m a firm believer that we humans are resourceful and sometimes you have to remove your comforts to find your happiness. It is hard and it has taken some serious adjustment but I can truly say now, two and a half years out: I’m happy.
Will you be lonely forever? If you choose to be. But if you give yourself a chance and see your new life as a life full of possibility, you will be shocked at what you will attract. And to be honest, it seems to me you’re pretty lonely now. I know when I was married I was lonelier than I was when I was single – unhappiness has a way of doing that to you. As soon as I chose myself I started to learn how to be more comfortable with myself and thus was fine if I met no one. Funnily enough, as soon as I started to live more authentically, meeting people wasn’t an issue. It won’t be for you either.
As for judgement from your family or whomever, you have to decide who you’re living your life for. If you’re living your life for the acceptance of others, even if it is your parents, then you should continue along on this path. If you are living YOUR life for YOU then my goodness, do you!
We only have one life to live and our most valuable commodity is time. The more time you waste punishing yourself for things that can be changed, the more your precious life disappears. From the sounds of it you are a smart, resourceful achiever and a huge inspiration to your kids. Keep inspiring them by choosing to put a value on your life and choose happiness. You deserve it and so do they. You will forgive yourself when you make the change and realize you had nothing to be sorry for in the first place.
With love, respect and all the strength you need to succeed,