"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anaïs Nin
The news came like a sudden gust of wind, blowing away the leaves of complacency that had settled on my life. My best friend had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and his life expectancy was reduced to a mere 12 months. It shook me to my core, prompting me to question everything I knew about life and my choices.
Sixteen years earlier, my wife and I had married young, at 26, after living together for four years. At first, we were good together. We both had jobs, made a home with cats, and formed friendships with other couples. We were content without children, as she never saw herself as a mother. Our travels were limited to Europe, as she disliked long flights. I focused on my career and being an entrepreneur, mostly going along with her preferences.
But like a frog in slowly boiling water, we grew apart without noticing. It wasn't until my best friend's disease and impending death that I began asking myself, "What would I do if I had 12 months to live?" None of the dreams that surfaced involved my then-wife.
I embarked on a journey of self-improvement and unsticking myself. I discovered my skin hunger and that our relationship had become virtually sexless and without touch. My bucket list began to form, including travel, spiritual growth, skill acquisition, and sexual experiences. I realized that we found only comfort with each other, which made me uncomfortable.
I formed a close friendship with a colleague, though we never touched inappropriately before my separation. I started a new business and traveled extensively, yet I never felt the urge to cheat, perhaps due to a lack of sexual confidence.
One day, I began making drastic changes in my life: I stopped eating meat, started working out more seriously, and pulled myself out of my comfort zone by taking a free fall para-jumping course. It turned out my wife had very little interest in the new me. To this day, she always denied having an affair; perhaps she became asexual?
During a vacation together, I asked her if she was happy. She said yes, but I confessed that I wasn't. We talked for seven days, yet she was unwilling to change anything about our relationship or her inhibitions.
It was there and then that "we" decided to separate.
I didn't have the patience or love to wait for her to change and for us to become more compatible. We divorced after a three-month separation, during which I started celebrating my single-hood.
Later I often wondered if I had forced the separation too quickly or if I had been even open to any other solution. But during a Vipassana meditation retreat, I realized that our marriage had already broken for 12 years. We had grown up in different directions and lost each other along the way.
TRUTH: Even after 10 years, I can say with humility that leaving her was the best decision of my life, and for her as well, as it forced her to grow independently. Although we have not been in contact since the day she moved out of the house, I am sure she feels the same.