First, big hugs, @Dru!
Simply the fact that you have clarity around this desire/need is worth celebrating!
Sure, it can be hard to do that, but the first step is to acknowledge what you want and need… more S P A C E and time to feel into things, to see what ripens and shifts…
I can attest that @Rick is amazing at supporting others in this process!
When I was trying to figure out if/when/how to completely separate from my ex-husband (which took a few years!), I got a lot of practice at Being With the Uncertainty, and just Allowing things to Be as they were…
Until I felt my own clarity arise, or until new options surfaced, or new questions were called.
It took a lot of listening to my body, for one thing… learning what felt like a Yes or No or Maybe or Not Sure Yet.
And honoring those feelings, rather than pushing them aside or getting annoyed about the Not Knowing! It’s a skill that can get better with practice… (ideally with extra support to help talk/write/feel it out!)
I noticed that the more I honored the Pause, the easier it became to feel clear in (and able to honor) the answers once they emerged.
I literally had a reminder pop up daily on my phone that said:
“Live into the question in Wholeness.”
Just seeing that helped me Pause regularly, and not try to solve All The Things at once!
It reminded me that it’s ok to live the question rather than to force any answers that I hadn’t lived my way into yet…
As a mom, it reminds me of watching my kids grow and develop — I can’t force them to be ready to sit or walk or talk until they’ve developed the various skills and are ready themselves! And then, suddenly, it all comes together — and we can support them lovingly, maybe jokingly try to teach certain words before they’re ever likely to speak them, but there’s no pressure or value difference about when they learn new skills. They come when they’re ready!
Likewise, we can’t force big life changes or answers to our deepest questions when we are still in the process of living our way into knowing what’s right at the right time.
Just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we suddenly have any reason to be impatient with our development! There’s nothing wrong with taking time; shifting that perspective first can help immensely. Faster isn’t necessarily better.
Indeed, as adults, we may need even more time and spaciousness and gentleness with our development, if we take into account past patterns that we need to unlearn (whereas kids are starting fresh!).
(And yes, I do believe that finding clarity about relationships and life changes is a form of our development and ongoing evolution as adults!)
All that to say, be gentle with your sweet self!
I don’t know your situation, but weighing all the possible factors involved in maintaining or leaving or deepening or adjusting an intimate relationship can take a lot of time, energy, resource, compassion, and support…
It’s okay Not To Know.
It’s ok to give things (& people, including ourselves!) time to ripen, to develop, to evolve and unfold into what’s next. And not to know what that will look like until it happens!
Sometimes it just takes practice to reaffirm that this is all ok, and to keep noticing and living with the questions arising, feeling our way into what is ripening… And especially that it’s okay for that to take time!
Our culture is so goal-oriented that we often focus on the Yang Doing (& related tangible results) rather than the Yin Being (& felt experience in our bodies), as our society is more interested in the outcome than the process.
My guess is that no matter what answers eventually come, it’s the process of reaching those answers with clarity, in your own right timing, that will be the most powerful aspect of the experience… and it sounds like learning to appreciate that is part of it!
[Side note: my lawyer mother also used to say “Don’t ask questions you don’t want to hear the answer to.”
Curious if there are any parts of you that are resistant to hearing the answer, because it could involve some uncomfortable changes…?
I know for me with my ex, deep down, I knew the answer all along, it was just overwhelming and I mostly just needed to evolve enough to be able to accept it! And to get other things into place to support the changes I secretly knew were coming, before I could even admit them to myself… May or may not be similar for you, but worth considering!]
Anyway, sending courage and strength and gentleness, wishing you all the spaciousness and support you need, to allow yourself to live into the question in your Wholeness.