Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Passion to the Third Degree.

Maybe it’s the fact that my firstborn will be leaving the nest this time next year. Or maybe it’s just a drug-induced epiphany from the allergy meds that are helping me fight the dust and smoke that seem to be consuming the other half of Florida and Georgia but are drifting this way. In any case, I called in sick and went back to bed, but curled up in Shannon’s bed instead of my own.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

I could have sworn I heard a couple of angels whispering about being free to go. Like I said, drug-induced haze.

And yet, it’s a meaningful term to me. I knew a year-and-a-half before I filed for divorce (3 years ago this month), that the marriage was over and there was nothing that could save it. But I held on and kept trying everything I could think of. Meanwhile, I felt imprisoned.

I remember several people who didn’t “understand” telling me I was free to go. I didn’t feel free to go. There were ramifications of leaving. Too many risks. Too easy to pretend the hurt wasn’t there or look the other way or tell myself it would get better. When I finally did go, I wanted to kick myself for waiting so long. I’d truly been free to go for many, many years and had put myself in this prison, forcing myself to stay where I didn’t want to be anymore, and where I really didn’t have to be even though I thought I had no choice.

I see so many people around me in similar situations. They talk about being trapped in a bad marriage, about being trapped in a job they hate, about living in towns they dislike, about being stuck in situations of their own making.

And they are all free to go.

That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. That doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences of those decisions or that things won’t have to be worked through with at least some effort.

For me, the stress was all about being in the prison and how could I possibly break out and if I’d fall on my face in my new-found freedom. Once I broke through that first wall and ran, the stress was never again that bad.

There are still prisons in my life, though much fewer than ever before. I am actively working on freeing myself. I know that I can. I know that I will. I’m just now tossing the rope over the battlements in preparation to escape. The decisions have been made and I am in the process of going free.

Because even though I have stayed in situations for a very long time that felt like prisons, I am and always was free to go.


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