Guest Writers

Leaving My Safety Net: A #LessonLearned by Shannon Pruitt

Shannon & her kiddies

I “met” Shannon Pruitt from MyNewFavoriteDay at a Super Secret Underground Facebook Society. I still can’t even believe she noticed me. I mean Shannon is a machine. She has this super huge Facebook presence with sixty-four bajillion followers, but we started chatting and she asked to interview me for her blog. Whaaaat? Interview me?

But that’s how Shannon is. She makes everyone feel noticed. Special. Recognized. Affirmed. Her goal is to have people recognize the most precious moments in their lives so that time doesn’t pass us by. She wants us to appreciate all we have in each day. And she succeeds.

Like the sound of that? Read her blog and follow Shannon on Twitter at @newfavoriteday.

{Oh, and if you want to read the interview Shannon did with me at her place, click HERE after you read her fabulous, nostalgic post.}

Click on the teacher lady’s elbow to see other folks who have posted in this series!

• • •

Leaving My Safety Net

I remember Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” was playing through the computer speakers when J came to sit down behind me.

A look of concern had been the constant mask glued to his face as of late. I knew he knew something was wrong, how could he not know?

He shifted my hair across my back and put his hands on my shoulders.  I stared at the screen in front of me, scared to move, scared to speak.

The words were there on the tip of my tongue.

I have always been impetuous in some ways. When I spontaneously changed my major to Japanese my Sophomore year in college because I thought it would give me an advantage over all the other business majors, I didn’t think through the ramifications:

1) I would have to stay in school an extra year,

2) I would then need to spend some time in Japan to make it all worth it, and oh yeah

3) You had to be in class 5 days a week, and I was already paying for school and working full-time.

It would seem my impulsive nature was code for “not thinking things through.”

J quietly shifted in the chair and said, “What’s wrong?”

I choked on the lump building in my throat.

“It’s us. We are what’s wrong.” I whispered.

His hands fell next to his side.

“I’m not happy.  We’re like roommates, best friends but roommates. We’ve only been married four years. I don’t want to be just roommates.”

The words tumbled out of my mouth and I knew in my head and, in my heart, I wouldn’t turn back now.

J was my safety net, a sense of home, a rock in what had always felt like a tumultuous sea of self-preservation.  He stepped in, became a real love, a love that I could call home. When he asked me to marry him I was 23 years old, and we’d only been together for 6 months.

I said yes.

He moved to Japan to be with me and we stayed there for another 18 months. When we came (to where) so I could go to graduate school, he went back to manage the restaurant where we had met.

And I started to sprout wings.

Little by little, year-by-year, my little bird-wings strengthened. And, with each year I flew slightly further from the nest, from home, from him. I was full of passion and excitement about life.  J loved me so much, he would do whatever I wanted, go wherever I went, and love me no matter what.

But I longed for life and experience.  I wanted to fight with him sometimes. I wanted him to fight with me. I wanted him to fight for me.  To tell me No! I couldn’t leave. Nothing was wrong with “us.”  It was me.  I could be happy with him, we just had to try harder.  He did not say these things.

He let me cry. He cried too.  He let me leave.  He let me walk away.  I walked.  Had I not, I wouldn’t have the wonderful life I have to today with my husband and children.  In that moment, had he fought, perhaps the impetuous me could have been tamed for a little while, and the lesson could have been a different kind of growth.

Instead, I reached out eagerly to a new experience 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles.

Some days, I still miss the nest. But I am glad I followed my heart; for had I not, I would have missed all of this life.

Have you ever had to leave someone you love to find freedom?

Tweet this twit @rasjacobson

23 thoughts on “Leaving My Safety Net: A #LessonLearned by Shannon Pruitt

      1. 25 years of happy marriage with a different guy after dating the wrong one for nearly 3 years. No regrets since the road led me to this fantastic life!

  1. Shannon! Thank you so much for being here today. I think nearly everyone has that one love story where it just doesn’t feel right. It is awful when one person loves the other more. It hurts to have to say it and leave, when — as you said — where was really nothing wrong and so very much right. But I’m glad you took the chance. So proud of you for being so brave.

    1. Thanks my friend. Thanks for having me and letting me be here with you today. For giving me this little bit of what will likely always be a necessary bit of healing. I think looking back we both had to be brave but I believe everything and everyone happens for a reason in our lives and this is a case where I know very well why I was given the gift to be with him and now with my new family. Thanks again. xoxo

  2. Whoa. No, I haven’t. Wait, yes, I have. Maybe.

    When I married Mr. Wonderful he was a brand-spanking-new 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. And they decided where life would take us. We got married on a Saturday morning and left for his new duty station Sunday morning.

    When I chose to follow him I left my home, my culture, my family, my friends. Not exactly the same thing (more like your Step 1), but it was the launch point for a beautiful marriage and family.

    While I didn’t find freedom, I did find myself, and confirmed that I had found the love of my life.

  3. Wow. This was so intimate and honest.

    When I was 23, I began dating one of my sister’s husband’s best friends. It seemed like a match made in double-date heaven. He was kind and had integrity; was successful and a few years older than I.

    He knew I wanted to get my PhD, to write, to spread my literary wings. He said, “Be with me and you’ll never have to work. You can devote yourself to your studies and writing.”

    But I didn’t love him.

    Six months later, he proposed to a woman who looked eerily like me. She quit her job and set about planning their wedding, having their babies, decorating their home.

    She is lovely and (I hope) she loves him. We’re still in touch, after all my years of teaching, of NOT devoting myself to studying.

    But I was devoting myself to the right marriage, the right man.
    And now at 43, I’m living the dream I had at 23.

    With the right person.

    1. Julie, as always, even your comments are stunning. I’m so glad you picked the right guy and not the one who looked good on paper. You were pretty smart at 23.

      Now I’m wondering about that girl, her happiness. I hope she got what she wanted.

    2. Julie, this response is so intimate and beautiful! It’s amazing when you look back and can see even more clearly what was happening at that time. I think we always hope they find happiness and love if they are good people. I am glad you found your dream, it’s quite remarkable in this great big world:)

  4. “Nostalgic” is right. This is beautiful.

    I left someone I loved to come to Los Angeles the second time around. I couldn’t find it in my to speak the words before I left, but I mustered them when I came to collect my dog two months later.

    It was so hard to say that farewell in light of all our history; he was the only one of my friends who’d known my mom pre-illness, after all! But I needed to leave that life to find this one, and, like you, I am so grateful for what’s sprung from that.

    1. Deb! I know this story, and I think it is very brave. I loved someone with all my heart. But he was so broken. I finally asked him the question: Where did he see us in 5 years? He was befuddled. He oh,d t answer. It had already been five years. I was madly in love. How could he not want me?

      So I moved out. Hardest decision ever. But best decision to unstick myself.

    2. Oh Deb, it’s so hard to find the words! To let them start to come means you can’t go back. That was the hardest part, to know once I uttered one single word things would never be same. But you did find your words and you have a lovey family to show for it, but not sure some of those feelings from those memories ever really go away. At least for me Thanks for sharing your story, very fun to learn another amazing thing about you my friend. xoxo

  5. This is so neat. Shannon is a fantastic writer, I especially liked the paragraphs about bird wings.

  6. Shannon, I just LOVE this line: Some days, I still miss the nest. But I am glad I followed my heart; for had I not, I would have missed all of this life.

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