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How Do You Know When Itís Time To Leave The One You Love?

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How Do You Know When Itís Time To Leave The One You Love?

Sheís family, so thereís blood tying you together. But every time she calls, you wind up feeling gutted.

You love him, but you spend more time crying over the words you write in your journal than you spend laughing (and you know from past experience that the quality of your relationships with guys is inversely proportional to how much time you spend writing in your journal).

Youíve known each other for years. You once called her your best friend. But you realize you continually have expectations of her she fails to meet.

The Time My Husband Hit Me

Keeping your heart open in the face of serial heartbreak is†the hardest thing youíll ever do, but knowing when to stick it out and when to throw in the towel can be unbearably confusing and painfully tough.

Iíll never forget the day my husband, who I still loved, hit me in the face after becoming enraged at me about what seemed like a small thing.

After it happened, he started to walk out the front door while the red mark on my cheek was still smarting, but we were supposed to go on a trip to visit his family the next day, and I told him I wouldnít go to the East Coast with him unless we talked first about what had just happened.

He walked out anyway, muttering ďIím so outta here.Ē I stayed home with an icepack on my cheek and took the week off so my patients wouldnít notice the bruise.

While my husband was gone, we agreed to write letters to each other about what had happened. I agonized over writing a vulnerable, heart-on-my-sleeve, 10-page letter about how much I loved him, what was wrong with me, and what I would be willing to change in order to keep our marriage together.

Waiting to hear what he would write was pure agony. My heart felt naked, open, worried, waiting. I was already divorced and I was terrified of failing again.

When he returned from the East Coast, he said he wasnít ready. He didnít want to read my letter until heíd finished his. He kept delaying. I was so distracted I couldnít concentrate on my work (not a good thing when youíre a surgeon).

He barely spoke to me during this time. I slept in the other room. There was silence and more silence after the violence. He had†an important letter to write, but he kept telling me the letter wasnít ready.

I couldnít bear it. I wanted to pull my heartstrings closer together. Leaving my heart open felt so raw, like my heart was bleeding love and hemorrhaging all over the floor. I wanted to close it back up. Keep it safe. Never let anyone in again. But I didnít.

The Letter

When my husband finally read me his letter, he sat me down on the sofa and made me promise not to utter a word while he read it. No interruptions. No defensiveness. He wanted to read all 10 pages straight through before I said a word. With my heart beating in my chest, I promised to be silent.

I prayed that his letter would express his undying love for me. Surely, he would apologize, promise me he would never hit me again, make amends, agree to go to therapy and maybe stop drinking. Surely, he felt awful, good man that I knew he was, beautiful soul that I saw beneath the times he fell asleep in the back of someoneís car after closing out the bar at 2am and never calling to say he wasnít coming home, while I paced the hallways all night.

But his letter didnít say ďI love you.Ē He wrote that I interrupt people too much. I judge them and impose my rules on everyone else. Iím a goodie-two-shoes with a closed mind.

I started sobbing and interrupted him. I got defensive, and he cut me off, reminding me I had promised to let him read the whole letter. He yelled at me to stop crying, chastising me for using tears as a means of manipulating him.

By the end of his letter, I was a blubbering mess, and I realized that while I had written a 10-page letter about what was wrong with me, my husband had also written a ten page letter about what was wrong with me.

Iíll never forget the way my heart felt the moment that sunk in. I wanted to close it up forever, never let anyone come inside again. But I didnít, because love canít get in when your heart is closed. Instead, I left him a few months later, on our two year wedding anniversary. I packed my bags, walked out, drove myself to the Ritz Carlton, ordered a $25 hamburger and a bottle of champagne, watched some stupid romantic comedy on pay-for-view, and drank myself to sleep.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the†Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of†Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.† She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.† Lissa blogs at†LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities -†HealHealthCareNow.com and†OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

76 comments

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1:47AM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

Quote from article: "He wrote that I interrupt people too much. I judge them and impose my rules on everyone else.... I started sobbing and interrupted him. I got defensive, and he cut me off, reminding me I had promised to let him read the whole letter."

Seems like the husband was right on that point (of her liking to interrupt people)! And despite making a PROMISE not to interrupt, she broke it. The wife clearly can't see herself, can she?

12:02AM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

You know, I've been in those shoes, sort of... My ex was a needy person, and used that to take control. If anything went wrong, he appealed to the compassion, and always got people to feel sorry for him, yet afterwards, would get mad that people gave him charity...

After years of him guilting me into helping him do his job, while pregnant and also caring for a young child, plus working my own job, and eventually home schooling our son, I'd had enough of his yelling and trying to put a tight fist on the house. I started yelling back, because intimacy had left years ago. After chasing him around the house while he was bullying our son, he threw a hot cup of coffee at me.

That was my wake up call, and knew I HAD to file for divorce. He was mad and angry, but promised to give me the "d@^^%ed divorce". The day after it was finalized, he put up some sappy status message, even though he'd been telling my family for years that he's going to leave me and take my son with because I'm so that terrible to be with. Go figure.

11:55PM PDT on May 27, 2012

testing

9:48PM PDT on May 27, 2012

“Nobody deserves your tears, but whoever deserves them will not make you cry" Gabriel Garcia Marquez

11:00AM PDT on May 26, 2012

Interesting post indeed!!

7:49AM PDT on May 25, 2012

I completely agree Suzanne L. I think sometimes the problem can be people do not really know what love is.

10:36PM PDT on May 24, 2012

Thanks.

8:38PM PDT on May 24, 2012

You ordered a $25.00 hamburger??!

2:20PM PDT on May 24, 2012

Thanks. This is a really wonderful, painful article.

1:24PM PDT on May 24, 2012

Only love will break your heart-What if your world should fall apart?

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