Articles

Living in Limbo

Accepting our Less-Than-Perfect Lives

“When I drive out of town I notice the motels. I guess how much it would cost per night and estimate how long my drive to work would take. Every month when I pay the bills I contemplate how much money we have in our dwindling savings, and how far it would get me. At work I google beaches and try to figure out how much it would cost to live there. Whenever I pass a “for rent” sign I dream about signing a lease; I’ve been doing this for years.”

I hesitate, but I have to ask. “Do any of these plans include your husband, your children, or your dogs?”

“Nope. Just me.”

“Why don’t you leave?” I wonder out loud.

“I don’t have a good enough reason. He doesn’t beat me, he’s not a bad father, he provides for us and he’s still reasonably attractive. Realistically if I was a single mom, what are the odds of finding someone better? Besides, it’d be more expensive to get divorced.”

“Do you love him?” I ask.

“What does that even mean?” She retorts. “I care about him. That’s love, isn’t it? It’s not like our life is a movie, but who’s is? In fact, I don’t even know why I brought this up.” She dries her tears, sits up straight, and looks at me expectantly.

Adrienne might choose to live in this limbo for years on end. She can continue to look for the good, downplay the negative, and minimize how often she dreams of leaving. On the other hand she could go home, look her husband in the eye and have an honest conversation. The first option is one she knows well and can do on auto-pilot. The second option is completely unknown and terrifying for her. This reminds me of the (somewhat extreme) Irish proverb from the 1500’s: “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.”

Change only works when we’re ready for it. Until then hunker down, notice your surroundings, know your resources, and make the best of what you have. Where do you need to practice acceptance?