The title grabbed you, didn’t it?
People always like to hear about weakness, vulnerability, etc. because the common experience of struggle is one that connects the human experience. We understand it. We empathize. Because we all have those moments of fear that grab our hearts.
This past year has been full of so many wins for me personally and professionally. A new job, a move across the country, inching closer to attaining my doctorate, finding my inner athlete, and building a new community in Oregon.
While I celebrated those victories I was ending my marriage. After 13 years of being a couple I finally recognized that my partners’ alcohol addiction was not going to get better.
We tried everything. In-patient treatment programs. Medicine. Monthly medical shots. AA meetings. Therapy. We gave it all we had.
I walked away knowing it was the only way for me to stay healthy and whole.
Despite all of this, my nagging fear plagued me through all of it. The truth is, it rips my heart apart when I feel like I have let people down.
Call it Catholic guilt, “white girl problems”, a solidly Type A personality, etc. but I live my life in a way where I can minimize letting people down. I send out birthday cards a month in advance. I try to respond to calls and emails from loved ones within the same day. I say “yes” as much as possible. I do my best to be a good daughter, friend, and colleague.
And yet, while all this was crumbling around me I felt such profound shame for letting people down.
My failure list included:
My very Catholic, Italian family who were so excited that I (as the only female grandchild) had gotten married in front of our whole family in our neighborhood parish where I had made all of my sacraments since baptism.
My terrific in-laws who saw me as the key to their son’s sobriety. I have always shared such a special relationship with them and my decision to walk away has profoundly disappointed them.
I made vows. I wasn’t strong enough to keep them-I chose to leave. So I certainly know that I let down my partner and all those who witnessed our wedding.
All the female professionals who had ever told me that they admired how I could balance having a partner and aggressive career goals. I feel like I let every single one of them down, too.
I know what everyone will say after they read this–“You have nothing to feel bad about”, “You didn’t let these people down”, etc. I know what they are saying logically makes sense.
But I am still working on that disconnect between my heart and my head.
The one bit of clarity is that I now know is that to have stayed would mean that I would actually be letting myself down. And I wasn’t willing to add myself to the list.
I don’t know what the future holds but I am feeling good, hopeful, optimistic and strong again. I can’t guarantee that my greatest fear will ever truly dissipate but what I know for sure is that I won’t ever let fear prevent me from being happy.