Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite days of the year.

But not this year.

This year I was packing boxes.

Boxing up memories and baby socks while unboxing my fears and expectations…

I thought I was quite accustomed to all of this. I have moved four times in the past two years. I am no stranger to moving, packing, unpacking, and emotional changes (and then deciding it’s time to do it all over again). I am confident and strong when it comes to change.

This time was much different.

Two years ago, I was certain that my divorce was the hardest thing I would ever go through.

I was wrong.

My breakup with Lily’s father has been the hardest experience and the toughest decision I have made thus far.

The weekend of Valentine’s Day, I made the decision to end our intimate relationship.

The universe has great timing, right? Ha. For fleeting moments over the weekend I felt empowered. I spoke my truth, so why wouldn’t I? Other times my positive feelings were overcome by ones of despair and uncertainty as the romantic Valentine’s Day posts continued to fly through my newsfeed. (I was thinking to myself, “Can there seriously be any more f*cking roses and family photos?!”) That weekend was an emotional roller coaster to say the least.

Without getting too deep into the details, two years ago, at the commencement of our relationship, I decided to be more open and try something new. I decided to go with to my heart and not listen to the chatter in my brain. I did what many people do after a breakup – I chose someone completely opposite in every way from the person before. Many of the opposites were (and still are) endearing, and other qualities are ones that I worked to accept in order to give our relationship the greatest chance and our love the best shot.

Then Miss Lily came along. 🙂

With the many life changes that a baby brings, you may be asking yourself if I left the second things felt uncomfortable… The answer is no. I spent many anxious days and nights thinking about my relationship. I never intended to leave the man that was to become the father of my child. I went through fierce soul-searching that consisted of self-doubt, guilt, fear, uncertainty, restlessness, and finally, peace. I recognized the parts of our relationship that were different than I was used to, and I let go of all my expectations. I let go of the the little things that didn’t fit into the model of my world and tried to find joy and admiration in all the things that were different and unique about us. In the end, I decided that our lives were leading us on different paths, but I felt confident that would be able to navigate our new relationship in a manner that is most positive for our daughter.

I strongly believe that he and I were meant to have Lily together. I don’t think that either of us would have had a child if it hadn’t happened the way it did. It was the most fortunate surprise for both of us. By no means do I think our relationship was a mistake. Having Lily and the experience of our relationship was everything he and I needed to shape us for the next stage of our life.

I don’t have postpartum depression. I do accept the fact, however, and I am completely aware that emotions run very high after having a baby. Part of my personal situation is best described by my good friend and relationship coach, Zoe Kors. She went through a similar situation after having her first child, and says that her daughter “flipped a switch on her way out” and everything simply became more clear. I couldn’t have described it better myself. Having a baby changes everything, and you see life in a different way.

The decision that I made has pushed me to look into the science behind relationships and to expand my views on personal growth and development. There is never just one person with all the faults in a relationship. It is never just one reason or one party responsible. Relationships die by a thousand cuts.

Making the decision to leave your relationship doesn’t signify weakness. In fact, it is the opposite. Weakness is staying in a relationship because the uncertainty you would face on the other side would be too much to bear. Often people stay in relationships because belonging is greater than authenticity.

Some will say that the one who walks away wasn’t ever really committed in the first place. I see that as complete bullshit, as often the person who walks away is extremely attached. They only follow an instinctive knowing that there is a different life better suited for themselves on the other side.

Regardless of the details and who left who, a few of the most important things to remember during a breakup are 1) you can’t control your partner’s reaction 2) there’s never a right time to breakup with someone 3) telling your personal truths will set everyone free.

When there are children involved, a breakup should be a mature process that establishes, what Jamie Greenee, Los Angeles coaching therapist, calls “seamless parenting.” Seamless parenting has to do with being clean and being complete so that you can work together, support each other to win, and respect each other.

In my opinion, there’s nothing honorable about staying in a relationship just for the sake of children. The biggest gift you can give your children is an example of a spectacular relationship. This requires authenticity and the abandonment of fear-based thoughts.

I recently attended a workshop by Mark Groves and Kylie McBeath on “How to build an epic relationship.” One question that really hit home for me was “Could someone else love them better?” Such a profound question. If you answer this question honestly, the answer is your answer.

I still have days where I feel anxious and uncertain, but I acknowledge the uncertainty and feel the love. I find comfort in the fact that we can still love each other and have a wonderful relationship that supports our daughter.

For anyone who has left a relationship or who is contemplating it, I encourage you to give yourself the permission to feel everything. All of the emotions, especially the uncomfortable ones, are an opportunity for massive growth. Give yourself the time to grieve…even if you’re the one leaving. Each tear is one step closer to a smile. Give yourself permission to feel joy. It’s perfectly beautiful and okay to laugh with your girlfriends, to feel empowered, to feel a sense of self, and to maybe even to feel a sense of liberated freedom.

The strongest people know to listen to the sounds that the universe whispers before they become screams.

12 comments

  1. What a beautiful post Ash. Such a difficult decision to make with the judgement that comes from society when children are involved.

    As a Social Worker with 10+ years of working with children and families I can’t support you enough – parents should never stay together for the sake of a child, it should be a decision based on what’s right for everyone. Lily is lucky to have such a courageous and brave momma who made this decision despite the potential for backlash. Children need love and they need stability. That doesn’t mean parents living in the same place or being in a relationship.

    Thank you for being open and honest – we all need this kind of thoughtful authenticity in our lives! 🙂

  2. Wow. Thank you for sharing your brave story. You have brought light to me and other women who may be going through similar emotions with your strength. Especially centered around birth. Much love ❤️

  3. I agree. It was super hard for me to leave my ex, the father of my daughter. But, by being apart, we can give more love to our daughter, and each other, and that’s what it’s all about. Stay strong Ashley. Follow your heart. Amen!

  4. I’ve been following your website for a couple years now, and I just wanted to say I’m sorry you’re going through so much. I also went through a serious breakup while pregnant with my daughter, and it was a rough experience. Have you ever read Men are from mars, women are from venus? It’s an older book, but it completely changed my outlook on myself and relationships more than anything else ever has.

  5. It takes so much for a women to do what you did and I wish I can just have a quarter of the courage you have. Thank you for sharing

  6. My son’s father and I divorced when our child was 5 years old. We tried so hard, for years. But finally accepted our differences and found the strength to have an amicable split. Now we have two happy, loving homes where our son is the priority. Since our divorce four years ago, my ex and I have developed a friendship and coparent so well that we even take vacations together. I know not everyone is able to have this same experience, but I hope you will since it’s for the benefit of your daughter. My son is half his father and I see all the amazing qualities, quirks, talents from that side. I will always love my son’s father. Our marriage did not work but that doesn’t mean we are forever a family. Wishing you peace and love.

  7. Thank you for authenticity and the courage to share your truth with us all. The biggest gift we give our children is the example of what a loving, healthy relationship looks like. Children learn what they live, then go on to live what they have learned. I wish you and your beautiful Lily, much love. I have no doubt with you as her mama.. and her example. . she will soar <3

  8. I too had to make a hard decision when I left my husband. It was made harder by the fact that my kids would be staying with him. I couldn’t be there for them like he could, working a midnight shift. I mean…it would have been possible to manage, but when I really got honest with myself I knew that they deserved better than ‘managing’. Hardest decision I ever made in my life, and I still think of it daily. Five years have passed, and they have blossomed into loving, caring and thoughtful kids because they had two parents who were able to make a mature decision, and were better equipped to support them in our individual and collective ways.

    It sounds like your precious Lily is well on her way to having the same love, support and thoughtful parenting. The kind of parenting where her well being is put first and foremost, regardless of how much it might tear at your hearts. In the end, you will likely have a strong, independent woman who understands what it means to love and be loved.

    All my best!

  9. What a beautifully written post, I read it from the beginning to the end! I’m so pleased to read you’re well and feel confident about your decission. I totally get you, whether it’s a romantic relationship, or a friends relationship, not all of them are meant to last but they all have a purpose and teach us something to hopefully pass on to the next generations. I’m sure your beautiful baby will learn so much from her mommy!

    Love from London,
    Whit

    http://www.whitneyswonderland.com

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