If you leave him, you will feel proud of yourself. It’s what you know you should have done all along: He wasn’t right for you and you weren’t right for him. You will have celebratory drinks on a Friday night with girlfriends; Toasting your new life, your new plans, the new road that stretches ahead of you. You will feel born again – free and invincible. Like nothing can stop you now that you’ve made the right choice.
If you leave him you will struggle. You will try to re-build your old life and encounter more changes than expected. You will forget how to be alone: How to re-start, how to prosper, how to make your own decisions without having someone else to back you up. You will feel saplings of doubt growing inside your stomach, uncomfortable uncertainty looming over your choices. Perhaps you couldn’t do this. Perhaps you were all wrong.
If you leave him you will regret it. You will call him after midnight on a night when you’ve been drinking and repent. You will beg him to take you back, beg him to forgive you. You will sullenly grow to understand that you cannot take back your decision. What’s done has been done and you are stuck with the life that you have. Now the only way left to go forward is to move across unstable ground.
If you leave him you will learn to be yourself again: You’ll pick up the hobbies you dropped off, re-connect with old friends and move cautiously back into yourself. You’ll go to work and feel productive. You’ll go out dancing and feel sexy. You’ll remember that you had a life before him and you can have another life after him, too. A different life. A better life, even.
If you leave him, you will thrive. You will remember all the ways in which he once held you back and you’ll reject them. You will learn from them. You will follow the dreams you once wanted, move toward the future you’d forgotten. You will realize that you are better off without him; Realize that bigger and better things were calling your name all along. Realize that all the stories you were telling yourself about the life you couldn’t have on your own were just lies. You have a new story now. One you want to see through to the end.
He is not always a person you’re in love with. And he is not always a man. He is the personification of every wrong choice you have ever made – each decision you came to for the sake of security rather than passion. Every career path you followed based on someone else’s dream. Every right turn you made when you knew that you should have curved left. He is the life that you know you should be living when all of the doubts and insecurities quiet and slink out of the back of your mind. He is whatever is holding you back.
If you leave him it is going to hurt. It’s going to be painful and uncomfortable and scary as you fight your way out of the life you’ve fallen into and into the life that you’re meant for. And that’s the unfortunate truth about growth – that it is every bit as excruciating as it is empowering. That every step forward leaves you sorer than the last but if you can fight through the achy parts, you emerge in the most beautiful place imaginable. A place where you remember how to stand on your own two feet again. A place where your life belongs to you. A place where you realize all that you’re capable of – and that that you never really needed him at all.