I recently experienced a blissful afternoon that took a fast detour toward instant heartache. It taught me that the older I get, the more my emotions get the best of me.
I am blessed to be home with my 1-year-old son most weekdays, and on this particular day we were visiting one of our favorite haunts, The Discovery Museum.
The joy I get from watching my son tromp around from room to room, touching, exploring, jumping, splashing… is pretty fantastic. As I sat to the side with other parents who were equally enthralled by their children’s glee, another mom plopped her bohemian style bag down next to me and let out a sigh.
I raised my gaze to meet hers and was startled to see lifeless eyes staring back at me. Her head was topped with wispy, sparse hairs that I imagined were only a figment of the rich, full mane that once grew there.
She looked tired. But, “tired” doesn’t begin to describe it. She looked like a woman who had been to hell and back and continues to walk a line between the two on a daily basis.
I hope you’ll forgive me because, at this point, I’m 100% sure I’m making ignorant assumptions about this mom.
Still, my heart began to ache as I watched this young woman play with her toddler. I fought back tears as I imagined what this woman must be going through. I tried to imagine whatever would or could cause her gaunt frame and missing hair and blank gaze.
I instantly began to imagine myself in her shoes. My stomach tightened and twisted with each moment I spent living out this imaginary life. At that moment, I realized that I regularly encounter this pain with my clients.
The thing about this mom… she’s not that different from couples who come to see me for therapy. So many are secretly writhing in agony. And often, their pain remains invisible to outsiders.
The pain that couples experience when their relationship is in turmoil touches the core of their being.
Truth: When our primary relationships are broken, we are broken.
But that doesn’t stop us from getting out of bed, sending the kids out the door to school, working a full day at work, and maintaining connections with the outside world.
We have to keep going. You don’t get sick days for loneliness. You don’t get empathy for a disconnected spouse.
What is heartbreaking for me is that the majority of couples who struggle in our country — couples who treat one other poorly, who drag their children through stony silences or violent outbursts… they never EVER seek help.
And what’s even more devastating is that the ones who DO seek help, often wait until it’s too late.
Most couples who do seek help, only do so after waiting for six years after they experience the first signs of trouble.
I cannot imagine how many couples are in secret agony from a broken relationship, and are just waiting it out, hoping it might get better.
If you’re one of those individuals living in silent agony, please know that someone gets it. You’re not alone.
Please don’t let another day go by without taking a step toward the relationship you desire and deserve.
As a first step, declare, out loud to yourself, your partner, and your community, that this is the last day of your old relationship. Tomorrow is Day 1 of your journey toward something new. Something forBetter.
From my heart to yours,