Between you and me: Independence Day

Between you and me: Independence Day

Lisa Vallejos

As the nation prepares to celebrate our freedom, I have another type of freedom on my mind — the end of a relationship and the freedom of being single again. Recently, I’ve been contacted by a great number of people who have either recently ended a relationship or are on the fence about doing so. As anyone who has ever been though this experience can attest, it is a heart-wrenching decision — even more so when the relationship has been long, or when the couple has children. Breaking up is, indeed, hard to do. Ending a relationship is scary for many reasons and many people stay because the fear of leaving is greater than the pain of staying.

There is hope, however, for those who do choose to move on from a dead or dying relationship. Beyond the fear lies freedom. I imagine that when the Founding Fathers of this country began considering declaring independence, they considered the consequences, the possible ramifications and what being independent would actually mean for this fledgling country. There would be no more relying on the coffers of Great Britain to survive. There would be no large military to call upon if war became necessary. There was only the little United States of America, left to rely upon itself. The USA was independent and thus, fully responsible. If they could see the USA today, there might be things they do not approve of, but we are still living in the land of the free.

This is what many people who are facing divorce, separation or the ending of a long-term relationship feel when begin exploring what this means. If they leave their relationship, they will no longer have a partner in the home to help them. They will not have a two-income household. There are many losses that will be faced: the loss of couple’s weekends, mutual friends who choose sides, relationships with in-laws, and the identity of a married/partnered person. There will be new challenges to face and there will be times of great loneliness. You will likely question whether you made the right decision many times during the process because sometimes the “devil” we know is better than the unknown.

If you are going through this process, there is hope. This will pass and things will get better. You have an active role to play in how quickly that happens by how you handle things. You can engage the post-separation process and move the healing process along or you can choose to deny the process and slow it down. It really is a matter of perspective because you can see this as the end or as a new beginning. At the end of the day, you will be the one who defines how this will go. The ability to choose one’s own way and to make meaning out of what can seem to be meaningless circumstances is the true essence of freedom. You may not be able to control how the process goes but you can choose how you interact, what you accept and how you respond.

So, if you are in this tough spot, I encourage you to seek the silver lining and know that someday, you will look back on this time with fondness as one of the most meaningful growth periods of your life. Here’s to independence ... America’s and yours.

Lisa Vallejos, MA, is a dating and relationship coach in the Bay Area. She is originally from Colorado, where she is a licensed professional counselor. You can send your relationship questions to Lisa at or at