Too Good To Leave, Too Bad To Stay: A Letter From A Broken Heart

Too Good To Leave, Too Bad To Stay: A Letter From A Broken Heart

As I was going through some old letters a few days ago, I came across a letter I wrote to a past partner years ago. It reminded me of the heartbreak that can sometimes come with love as well as the personal growth it can demand out of us. 


I feel so far away from the one that I use to be so connected to!

I wonder and ponder the questions in my mind endlessly

Has our time together come to an end?

Is it not possible to make it last forever?

Is it possible to re-embrace the feeling of being totally into you in the future?

Have the gifts given between us come to an end? Do I need to face living on my own again?


Jill came tumbling after...

By Staci Welch-Bartley

Tom and I were just getting ready to climb onto our respective massage tables in the couple’s room of Massage Envy when he shared with me that my son and his son had a verbal fight filled with hurtful accusations towards each other. My heart sank as I received the news. I had such a grand picture of what our independent families were going to be like when combined.  My head was filled with blissful connections, closeness, sharing, and togetherness. I had good reason for this, as Tom and I share such an incredible list of values where we are aligned. Loyalty, emphasis on family first, being there to love and support our children through the challenging situations life often brings. Surely because of this, we could together pull off the perfect blended family, right?

All at once while on the massage table, I became keenly aware of the potential slippery slope that Tom and I were facing as a couple. The attributes I said we shared above were now appearing to be more of a curse rather than a blessing. Loyalty to family stood out. Because of our loyalty to our respective families, there had already been comments between us in our brief exchange about the boys that indicated we were both beginning to stand up for our sons. I began to imagine us saying things like, “I can’t believe your son did son this!” and “Oh yeah, well your son did that!” And, the next thing you know Tom and I would be divided as a couple because of our intense loyalty to our kids.

By the time I crawled off of the table I had come to the realization that what had transpired between the boys was not my biggest challenge. How Tom and I were going to split our loyalties in this situation was the bigger challenge. All at once I found myself committed to doing whatever I could to communicate to Tom that my desire was to make sure that this event did not create division between us. My desire was for Tom and I to stand strong and unified, while inviting the boys to work out the upset between them. We communicated to the boys that we would both be there to love them as we encouraged them to seek resolution. Which is easy to say, and much more difficult to do. 

Tom and I were immediately thrown into the difficult position of striving to love and support our individual sons, while not pointing fingers and blaming each other, nor insisting one of us needed to side with any one point of view. We did not need to choose who was right and who was wrong for our relationship to remain true to the love and loyalty we had for each other. I am not going to lie; this was a very very slippery slope for us that was navigated with long heartfelt conversations, and many tears shared between us. In the end though, it added strength and deeper connection to our marriage.

When it comes to blended families, it is important that we remember and practice loving our partner first. Remember, this was the reason for creating this blended family in the first place. We fell in love and created dreams of a life together. It is so easy to get lost in all of the moving parts of a blended family if we become judgmental, or insist our partner must choose our parenting style and abandon their own. It’s important to give each person the space to love their children as they see fit, and stay focused on loving your partner above all else. 

If Tom and I did not have the foresight and ability to keep our relationship the primary focus as well as being able to authentically share with each other without judgment, this tale could gone something like this instead:

“Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after!”

Can we expand our capacity to love?

By Tom Bartley

For 28 years, often in the very early morning hours, I was blessed and grateful to expand and increase my physical stamina and fitness through riding either a mountain or road bicycle with a very accomplished triathlete and long distance athlete. 

Looking back from when I first started riding with my long time training partner and friend Bob in 1982, I marvel at what transpired through a steady and consistent practice to expanding my capacity for physical stamina and fitness. Could I have known when I first started back in 1982 what was ahead of me, or all that I was going to challenge myself with in the ensuing 28 years of 3-4 days every week for 28 years? Not even close. As over the years of my steady and consistent physical fitness practice, my expansion and growth pleasantly surprised me. Additionally, I am not the usual “bike riding size” person, as I stand 6ft 2in tall and weigh 210 +/- pounds. I quickly learned my friend Bob was not a flat lander.  We rode in the northern California foothills and elevation where size and body mass are not your friends. I was usually willing and open to the possibility, although there were definitely moments whereby I questioned my ability to expand to the distance and challenge Bob was proposing next, although my physical confidence and fitness was always continuing to expand and increase since day one of our training practice.

Since the moment I was given the gift of meeting Staci four years ago, and now being her husband, best friend, and business partner, I have been challenged again to expand myself. However, this time it’s not in the exercise and fitness area, rather in the equally or more important area of love and relationship.  Mine and Staci’s love and family creation, and all its wonder, is filled with many moving parts. We have 8 children, 11 grandchildren and we both come from large, loving families too. Staci and I also realize our “clan” will be continuing to grow and expand for many years to come; we are just getting started as we do the math.

Have there been some “bumps” in our road, often navigating our daily moving parts...oh heavens yes. Similar to my growth and expansion in my physical fitness journey, I have challenged myself to navigate our many moving parts with a view of love expansion, rather than love contraction. For those of you who exercise on the regular basis, you know the key to expanding our ability for increased fitness and muscularity is to stress our bodies, in a variety of disciplines, resulting in an expanded capacity for biking, weight resistance training, yoga, Pilates, dance, etc.

Are there times in the past when I have been concerned and challenged at my ability to expand my capacity to love my now larger family, and its human tapestry of life stories and journeys, and what I know is coming in our ever expanding family…of course. I also know deep within me, it’s never too late to learn and expand anything for which we have a potential and possibility within us. I also know deep within me, we cannot exhaust our ability to grow and expand our capacity to love, provided we are open, willing and ready for the challenge. One opportunity, one test, or one relationship at a time.   

We all have the potential for love. However, I’ve not ever seen true potential realized without work, practice, demonstration and expression. This work does not have to mean pain, or a renewed love practice filled with shame, guilt, or blame. This is often times our “story” around relationships, especially around relationships that may have ended. I know my ability to expand in love is learned, practiced and expressed best in wonder, in joy, in peace, in living, and a commitment to keep on keeping on, even when I sometimes question my capacity to expand and grow in love. How about you?