A love letter to metafilter December 6, 2015 4:13 PM   Subscribe

I was this anonymous poster. I wrote it on Thanksgiving, heartsick and sad and deeply deeply unhappy, but certain the problems were my own. I sent it out to the ether of the anonymous queue, and immediately, I felt a weight lifted. These wonderful, sharp minds, I thought, can help me, when I can’t help myself.

I read the responses late at night, after he had fallen asleep. I was terrified of what I would find, and with the first sentence of the first reply, I struggled to breathe. I was shaking and crying and some of the advice was so brutally honest that it felt like I was being punched in the stomach. But I read, and reread, and read again. Every comment, every favorite, was one more voice added to the chorus. And soon, that little feeling inside of me couldn’t be ignored, and I knew what I had to do. I left a browser tab with my question open on my phone for a few days while I processed what was happening, because it made me feel like you were all there with me, telling me it would be okay.

Breaking up with him was the most horrible thing I have ever done to another person, but I realize, and I hope he will too, eventually, that it was better now than ten years on. If I already was lying to him about my feelings before marriage, then I would have lied saying my vows. I think it will affect me, though, the rest of my days. And as he kept asking me if I was sure, I wanted so desperately to say that I was wrong and this was a mistake, but each time that I told him that I couldn’t keep trying, I felt more and more free.

The guilt still wracks me. Sometimes I want to take it all back, and make him happy once more, but then I read your responses and remember. Everything was so true and cut to the bone - the emotional labor, the lack of chemistry, the gentle encouragement that it was okay to want more, the reminder that it was my life alone, the voices from a future version of myself, the last comment about the assumption of depression if you are a woman and don’t want to be married - it was all true, and kind. So very very kind.

I had my first session with a therapist. She echoed what so many of you said, and she congratulated me, because many of her clients are women who married and had children, and they tell her now they should have listened to the little voice, before the wedding. She told me she thinks I have many changes ahead of me, and I may live an unconventional life, but it is my life, and mine alone.

I still have to disentangle our lives, from the shared home to the emergency contact lists. Slowly, I have to undo eight years of planning. I am scared. The loneliness suffocates, sometimes when I least expect it. But, for the first time in years, I have hope. I have my whole life ahead of me. It won’t be as I had planned, but it’s mine, and I’ll make it good.

Thank you, all of you. You changed my life. Without you, I would have been one of the commenters, ten years down the road, warning a future version of myself, and even more deeply damaging two people, if not more, in the meantime. Thank you, thank you, over and over and over, to all of you in this community. I will carry your thoughts with me for the rest of my life.
posted by umwhat to MetaFilter-Related at 4:13 PM (50 comments total) 137 users marked this as a favorite

Aw man, you get a hug for extreme bravery. Or a medal. Whichever you prefer!
You are awesome. You did the right thing. Go you!
posted by Omnomnom at 4:16 PM on December 6, 2015 [16 favorites]


You are so brave!!!! I was in your shoes 5 years ago and I promise, it gets better. Eventually you will find yourself on the other side of the mountain, in the sun, looking towards the horizon and a future with someone whose proposal you can't wait to receive. You are a good and kind person who has done right by yourself and this man, even if he or others don't see it that way. Hope the healing process is clean and easy.
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:21 PM on December 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


I sometimes wonder how much hurt I and some people close to me would have been spared if only I'd found AskMe earlier. I'm glad you found it in time. You're so brave. It will ache like fuck and you'll think you'll never get over it but one day you'll realise you made it through. Take good care of yourself.
posted by billiebee at 4:39 PM on December 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


Well done. It is so hard to leave something that is not actively bad, just not good enough. You are so brave, and so much stronger than you feel like you are. Keep looking after yourself!
posted by Athanassiel at 4:45 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Congratulations! I'm sorry you (and everyone else involved) had to go through the wringer, but it's definitely for the best, and things will keep getting better for you. Well done!
posted by languagehat at 5:17 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's so great. I wish you a lot of luck, but you have a good head on your shoulders.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:24 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Breaking up with him was the most horrible thing I have ever done to another person, but I realize, and I hope he will too, eventually, that it was better now than ten years on.

He will. Or he should. This is so, so, so, so much better for everyone, him included. You've done him a kindness.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:35 PM on December 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


*hugs*
posted by jaguar at 6:07 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


What incredible strength you have.
Congratulations on these first steps, and best wishes for you in everything.

Big, big hugs, too
posted by SLC Mom at 6:10 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I know so many people who wish they could be as brave as you. I can only imagine how badly it hurts right now but... you have saved yourself from so much worse future pain, and have given yourself a chance at so much future happiness. All the very best to you.
posted by silverstatue at 6:24 PM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sorry about the pain you're in and the unavoidable guilt associated but I'm glad you followed your gut. Please allow yourself to feel a bit proud.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:36 PM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Good luck to you both as you each get back on your feet.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:53 PM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


*more hugs*
posted by mordax at 6:56 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love that you followed up and shared your whole story. So many people have been where you are. You are on the better side of it now. You did do the right thing. It really will get easier. And then you'll give the right advice to someone in AskMe or in somewhere else in your life someday, too, and it will help them the same way. Getting here is a strange journey, but welcome to the chorus. :)
posted by juliplease at 7:22 PM on December 6, 2015 [14 favorites]


I'm so proud of you. Take care of yourself right now. What you're going through is profoundly difficult. I am in awe of your ability to do what was right, not what was easy. This is a skill that very few people have, and you are amazing for it. All the best.
posted by sockermom at 7:28 PM on December 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Good for you for listening to the voice that said "this isn't right" and acting on it. May it continue to guide you well!
posted by Lexica at 7:39 PM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I know it doesn't feel like it right now, but trust me, even though this was hard, it's much easier than what would've happened if you didn't listen to yourself and trust yourself.

It will get better.
posted by a strong female character at 8:25 PM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


You are brave and wise and this hurts like holy shit, I know, but you will be so glad you were true to the little voice.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:55 PM on December 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Good for you! It was a happy happy day for me when my best friend broke off her engagement to the good man she wasn't sure she should marry. It took guts. She is sooooo much happier now. I hope you too will find happiness.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 9:10 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Confession time. I was you, except I did not consult Metafilter.... and married the guy. Many moons later, we are divorced. He was unhappy about my decision. It was awful..... but now he has met a girl who suits him perfectly...... so do not despair. He will move on, and you will feel better, in time, as well.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 9:13 PM on December 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Doing the right thing hurts sometimes. I broke an engagement years ago myself and it definitely was one of the top ten best things I have ever done.

Welcome to freedom!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:47 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Congratulations on being brave and doing what you knew was right. I hope the awesome in your life commences immediately and stays for good.

Really, that must have been hard. It took great strength to do what you did.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:03 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Congratulations on taking such a big step towards fully owning your life. We'll be here!
posted by like_neon at 2:45 AM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Good for you for making this very hard decision, I have been there, and it hurts like hell at the beginning, but I am so much happier now than I would have been if we'd married.

Thinking of you during this difficult time.
posted by ellieBOA at 3:04 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dear umwhat,

We love you too. You're awesome.
Let's keep in touch. We're here when you need us.

Hugs,
MetaFilter
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:05 AM on December 7, 2015 [26 favorites]


It gets better, it really does. You did so well listening to yourself.

And yeah, from one unconventional person to another, the best part of it is that you learn just how much happier you are, even when making painful decisions, when you know you're being true to yourself and that it's the best thing for everyone. Because it really is. People being true to themselves and taking responsibility for their choices has profound and far-reaching effects you cannot imagine at first.
posted by fraula at 4:47 AM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


the voices from a future version of myself

I am so glad that Ask Metafilter enabled you to hear her. (Hug)
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:26 AM on December 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I read your question with a lot of interest because I was in a similar situation for a long time. We broke up, and I'm now engaged to someone who makes me ecstatically happy, so I know I made the right choice. There is some of the shared past and old friendship-type stuff that I miss from my ex. But it's a very small, very benign feeling compared to all the gnawing anxiety I had during the relationship. And I now look back on the year+ after that breakup as one of the most profound periods of personal growth yet in my adult life. It was painful, but it made me a better person and a better partner. I wish you lots of luck and support and hugs as you work through this process--it really does get much, much better.
posted by witchen at 7:32 AM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sorry that you have had to go through this, but I'm glad you were able to make the change before it got worse.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:37 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Damn. We hit a patch about 3 years ago where we were drifting apart in a pretty bad way, after 15 years married. I had to literally look at my wife and ask "Do you want me to stay?" It was the hardest question I have ever asked, and the brief 2 second pause before she said "Yes." was the longest two seconds of my life. We hashed out conditions, & we've been working hard to keep it on track since then, and it's going really well, but we were at the point you got to, so man, do I know the feeling. Hang in there.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:05 AM on December 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


What up! I'm crying about this! I'm extremely crying about this! I hope your life is full of joy!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:08 AM on December 7, 2015 [22 favorites]


This made me cry too. I'm so happy for you! And impressed by you. Metafilter has helped me so many times when I was just lurking and reading the questions and answers. I'm sure your post will help someone too.
posted by areaperson at 8:15 AM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I remember this feeling so well. We weren't engaged, but if I hadn't broken it off, we were about to be, I think. It doesn't stop being hard for a long time, even though you were the breaker-upper, but it is so, so, so much better this way. Congratulations, and also I'm so sorry, and also good luck!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:18 AM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


You are brave and awesome! I'm speaking to you from the other side. I didn't listen to myself (or Metafilter, though I'm not going to link here to my handful of anonymous questions about it) and stayed for eight years with a "nice person" who was very much not right for me. I'm now at the beginning of the divorce saga. It's awful. You did the right thing. It was not the easy thing. You are brave and awesome.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:30 AM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I hope your life is full of joy!

All I can do is echo this sentiment. I hope for so much joy for you!
posted by ocherdraco at 9:43 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Two of my friends are in the long, painful process of ending marriages that, in retrospect, shouldn't have gotten off the ground. You absolutely did the right thing. The holidays can be a particularly hard time to end a relationship, so be gentle with yourself on rough days. Good for you, and good luck shaping your new future!
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:06 AM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm really, really proud of you. It was a hard decision, but it was the RIGHT decision, no matter what.
posted by palomar at 11:03 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the update, and well done to you for facing this difficult task head-on.

If it helps reduce your feelings of guilt, consider what happened with me and my ex after I postponed our wedding and, eventually, broke up with him: we remain friendly (emailing every once in a while with life updates) and he later thanked me for what I did, as he came to see that it was the right thing. Today he is married to someone else and, as far as I know, they are better suited to one another.

So you and your ex will both come out on the other side of this into sunnier days. I promise. :)
posted by Halo in reverse at 12:02 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thanks for being willing to share this; I'm glad the community was there for you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:19 PM on December 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Making a move like this is making an important statement to yourself - that what you want *matters*, and it matters enough to stand up for it. Whenever you are in a situation in the future where you have to make a difficult choice, you will be able to look back on this moment for inspiration and the memory that you care about yourself enough to make painful changes.

Thank you so much for sharing this update.
posted by jasper411 at 1:30 PM on December 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


You are so powerful, a hug for you now and a hug for the rest of your life!
posted by yueliang at 2:03 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow. You and AskMe are Both. So. Awesome.
posted by freebird at 3:01 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


From someone who lied during those vows and still, to this day, regrets that more than any of the other crap that happened: girl, you did good. You did so good, that you won't even know fully how good you did until much later but when you know, man are you ever gonna know. HUGS.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:16 PM on December 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


Hug from me too. Take care of yourself.
posted by stellathon at 8:09 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hugs and good luck to you!
posted by colfax at 3:29 AM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Very much hugs. I once broke up with a great guy because my heart wasn't in it, and he remains one of my best friends, almost a decade later. It's a hard road, but one that is totally worth it. All the best to you.
posted by jet_pack_in_a_can at 5:52 AM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


So very proud of you for finding the strength to do this. You have saved yourself, and him, so much heartache. Good for you! Wishing you happiness as you move forward!
posted by puppet du sock at 8:01 AM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yay I'm so glad! I was thinking about you and wondering how everything was going. It's hard as hell to break up but GREAT JOB for doing it and being true to your own feelings!
posted by ukdanae at 8:49 AM on December 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wish my then fiance asked a hard question on Meta :(

But super congratulations to you! Making choices that hurt those we love is super hard. And brutally painful. But you did the surgery when it was required, and I think you will be happier. Just don't beat yourself up.. relationships are complicated, and can fail even when two reasonably healthy people are both doing everything they can do make it work.
posted by Jacen at 3:36 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Four years ago last week, Askme was there when I decided to walk away from a terrible marriage. I wish I had asked the question eight years ago instead of four. Reading your question brought a lot of that back.

Metafilter helped save my life.

I'm so proud to be part of a community where this kind of insight, community, and ethic of care isn't a one-off thing. And I'm so proud of you for not only having the hard conversation, but following up in therapy. Those were, at the same time, the hardest and most joy-filled two years of my life.

I wish you so much joy. You're incredibly brave.

Take care of yourself.
posted by guster4lovers at 6:11 PM on December 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


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