“If only I had spoken up sooner…”

Met with one of my oldest friends tonight; she’s had some rough emotional days. We started out our time with mani/pedi’s, and I got her to tell me about some of her recent struggles that she wouldn’t let me get out of her via text or IM. Life worries. Relationship struggles.

And then came the following little nugget of honesty, when she finally admitted to me,  “I wish I had spoken up sooner. I wish I had been brave enough to reach out to you before. Or say that I was worried about [your ex] and you.”

I’m so grateful for her honesty. And yet I feel so grieved. I know in my head I didn’t choose for this to happen. The past few years I felt, if something happened, I was only risking myself. It’s startling to realize how far reaching this has been, shaking so many of those dearest and precious to me. It’s overwhelming to realize how many people care for me, and the sad thing is this feeling … I don’t quite understand it.

I’m grateful, and flattered, and touched, and oh so thankful for all these wonderful people. And somewhere inside, there is a realization that I should know better. Watching my Ex in his manias, or depressive spirals, I suppose I felt the same way. Helpless. And that is an uncomfortable place to be.

Just as I have to feel and work through what I have to feel, my mom reminded me that everyone else is working through their own issues too. My dad, who never cries, got a little gruff and emotional, holding me in a tight hug as if he never wanted to let me go again when I came back after couch surfing around safe places. He too, said he was sorry he didn’t step in sooner.

And here I was. Not wanting any of them to know. Hiding. Cherry-picking what I told each person, so no one of them would put the pieces together and realize how bad it was. My fear was that I would alienate them from my Ex, and I would lose access to them. These were the only people keeping me sane and stable, and ensuring I felt consistently loved. I couldn’t do anything that I felt might risk losing that tenuous thread of support. Their fear, was that they would alienate me, and lose access to me.

Had they spoken up, however, I honestly don’t know what I would have done. Maybe – maybe – it might have helped for someone to look me in the eye and say, ‘If you want to stay, I will love and support you. If you want to leave, I will love and support you.’ But even so, it’s hard to admit you’ve made a mistake. Hard if you think someone might turn their back on you over it. (I’ve been shunned before, by people I trusted.)

I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer. My own emotions are too jumbled up right now. All I know, is that these wonderful people never stopped loving me. Even now when they know all the extent of it. Despite their own uncertainties, they just quietly made themselves safe, provided me the occasional safe harbor with no questions asked. A part of me feels like I could not have walked away with so few regrets, if others had pushed at me at the wrong moments. They did not even know how bad things were, and they still worried. Right now, all I truly know is that I came to my decision to leave on my own. And I am never, ever, going back. But for so long, I thought I was only risking me. Now I see that, even not knowing the full story, the ripples of my broken marriage go much farther than I ever realized.

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