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How an unexpected dream gave me the courage to leave an unhealthy marriage

I was curled up in a ball on the bed, tears pouring out of my eyes, begging God or any higher power to give me an answer. It was New Year’s Eve and my husband had just told me that he wasn’t in love with me anymore. I reached to kiss him at midnight but he pulled away. His eyes empty and cold. The look you have when you’ve mentally exited, walked away from all the emotions that kept you bound to a person you once couldn’t live without.

We had been through this before. Broken up, gotten back together. But never while we were married. Marriage seemed sacred to me, the safe haven. A place where all the pain and hurt we caused each other before would suddenly be immature and unnecessary.

In that kitchen, we were standing at a crossroads and looking at a marriage that was a mirage. He was giving up on us but had come back before. Would he do it again?

I had a choice to make.

Did I jump back on to the roller coaster, or did I dare to step away from that life and brave a world without him that terrified me and shook me to my core?

More: I’m thankful for my divorce even though it tore me apart

As I laid my head on a pillow drenched with tears, I started to fall asleep from exhaustion. It was a dream that happened in this moment that changed everything.

In my dream, I was kneeling beside my bed, curled up with my head tucked deep into my chest. I was crying heavily. Then, someone’s arms wrapped around me from behind and lifted my head up then spread my arms wide open. With my arms out and head up, I breathed a huge breath of air that stopped my crying and washed an incredible warmth over me from my head down to my curled toes. It felt like a breath of life.

I never saw who the person was in my dream but when I woke up, I was in that same position in my bed and I felt a sense of peace that I had not felt in months, perhaps even years. I knew what I had to do.

I walked downstairs and told my husband that it was truly over. I was going to my parents’ home for a few days and he should move out by the time I returned.

That afternoon, I flew to my parents’ house in New York. My grandmother had an apartment on the top half of the house and her kitchen window overlooked our backyard. It was January and I was outside in the cold, crying on my parents’ deck. I looked up at her window and I felt that peaceful feeling from my dream come over me again. I closed my eyes and suddenly saw myself in the future, looking out that window onto my future wedding day. I saw myself looking down at family and friends, and I saw an amazing man waiting at the end of the aisle. I didn’t see his face, but I felt his calming and loving presence. Two seconds later, I was shaking my head at such a crazy idea. I was so hurt and sad, there was no way I would ever feel love again or even get married. I was damaged goods, in my eyes.

More: ‘The moment I knew I wanted a divorce’ — women tell all

However, with one choice comes a new adventure. We divorced, and I moved into my own apartment, started to learn new activities and focused on getting to know myself. Once I felt a sense of peace with who I was, I then opened the door for someone else to come in. And he didn’t look at me as damaged goods; he simply loved me — the good and the bad.

A few years later, that vision from my parents’ deck came true. I looked out that window in my grandmother’s kitchen and there were all my family and friends smiling up at me. And as I walked down the aisle to that beautiful man, I could feel his calming and loving presence with every step. I was getting married again and it felt right. Finally right.

When I walked out that door years before, I made a choice that changed my life forever. I didn’t choose to leave a husband. I chose to leave myself and start over. I chose to find that feeling I felt in my dream. And I did find it, and that sense of peace has not left me since.

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