My husband left the family unit eight weeks ago, saying he needed time away to be himself, as he felt he couldn't be himself when he was trying to be a family. I was devastated when he told me why he wanted to leave. We've been together 17 years and have three school-aged children together. He's quite toxic to live with, but I took my marriage vows seriously and always thought we could be OK. I'm really confused about how I feel, as I don't seem to miss him at all. Is it normal to feel this way?
Sad (Not Sad)(female, 47)
Dear (Not?) Sad,
"Confused" may be your new normal for a while. You are experiencing a major life event, and 17 years together is a long time. Even if you reunite, things will be different.
It sounds like you are being realistic about him. Sometimes, in toxic relationships, a switch goes off and you're just done. Ending the partnership feels more like relief than loss.
Be prepared to experience a seesaw of emotions, however. Some days you may fear for the future or replay the tape of your interactions with him and experience regret. It's normal to experience grief. Just don't blame yourself. And, above all, assure your children that it's not their fault.
This may sound callous, but seek legal advice if you haven't already. You have kids together and possibly have debts and co-own property. Exploring your legal options does not necessarily mean you're getting a divorce. It's about educating and protecting yourself and your children.
Remember, you do not have to deal with this alone. Reach out to friends and family for support, and carve out time for yourself. You may not be able to have fun for a while, but if you go through the motions, your heart will get there.
If you decide that it is really over, take steps to restart your life one day at a time. You are stronger than you know. And you will always be his loss.