Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Perspective (Re Post)

I have always been a guy that talks about "perspective" as it pertains to an individual's situation. One who asks those who are complaining about their life or their dilemma to put on the shoes of those far less fortunate and try to imagine the pain and reality they endure in order to lessen the blow and give proper weight to one's suffering. However in recent days I have begun to feel and comprehend something that I heard from my father a long time ago, and it's so simple and yet so very profound: "Your pain is your pain." 

The simple truth is that there are grades of misery and anguish, a sort of "ranking system" to how painful things we experience in or lives are, or at least should be. For example, if you fail a final exam while taking an online college course it's certainly going to be a bummer, but it won't wipe you out the way being fired from your job might. If you spill coffee on a new shirt that you love you'll be annoyed and pissed off, but far less than if your house burned down. Grief and suffering are never fun but we have found a way to compartmentalize and prioritize these sufferings based on the impact they have on our daily lives. However, pain and suffering in the emotional realm, especially loss of a loved one or experiencing a highly traumatic event can throw things completely out of whack and it's where I have begun to understand what my father told me.

When I found out I couldn't have children of my own I was upset, certainly, and it was even more difficult because it prefaced the ending of a twelve year marriage to a good woman. As painful and difficult as this time was I avoided dealing with the trauma head on because I chose to "put things in perspective" and convince myself that so many others had so many troubles worse than I and spending time crying or dealing with these issues was foolish. I could be in Iraq and have my leg blown off, I could have cancer, I could be living in a place where there was no freedom, etc. Perspective.

As my divorce went by and I was already involved too soon elsewhere, it became brutally apparent that the woman I loved was not only far from being ready to divorce her husband, but that in fact the mere presence of me in her life had caused great trauma of it's own, and there were many terrifying nights and depressing days enduring what transpired in that heavily flawed situation. As I finally extricated myself from it I did my very best to convince myself "it could have been worse" and to move on with my life without getting bogged down in the details of what had happened over that past year or so of my life. Who was I to complain, really? I made my choices and I had to live with them...

So I took all that baggage into another person's life and luckily she saw right through me and knew I wasn't ready and she walked away, and it hurt like hell. With that one I began to feel the impact of all that had transpired before and I began to feel myself sinking a little but my father, as he always had, reached a hand out to help me up and also force me to face some of the realities of my life and the choices I had made. My mom and brother and many of my friends were also vital at that time and I might not have survived emotionally had all of them not been there. However, I wasn't truly dealing with the pain, or fixing any of my issues, I was just leaning on those around me to help the hurt feel a little better, and before long I was back to perspective arguments with myself. Convincing myself I had no right to even grieve because in my case especially, with so many bad choices, I hadn't even really earned the right to be upset or in pain. I deserved it.

Well, a few quick relationships where I was totally unavailable and hurting a few people in the process, and I found what I thought was to be my savior in a beautiful woman with four kids. The problem was, of course, I was the only person who could save myself and the pressure it put on that relationship was too much to bare, as could only be expected.

There's no need to go into the details of why "that girl from Avon" and I failed, because the truth is that as much as I had to endure things that had no place in any relationship, I chose to make that move. I chose to get deeply involved with a woman with four children weeks after I met her instead of take my time and let things grow naturally and assure that the kids had plenty of time before forging bonds with me, only to be hurt with our inevitable failure. My selfish desire to heal myself through the promise of new love and the excitement of an instant family was the warm embers that lay resting beneath the wicker frame of our union that so quickly ignited and burned us down. All the while, the source of so much of my strength and support, my father, was tearing himself down from the insides as well, only to be gone before I even had a chance to say a real goodbye.

I know that many times in my life I have experienced joy and happiness, and it felt great. I know that I have been proud of myself at times and felt good about a choice I made or an action I have taken. I am certain that I have given and experienced love and understand how blessed I am to have that in my heart. I also know, though, that in the last few years I have been in a tremendous amount of pain. Deep and debilitating pain, some of which is of my own cause and design. The rest is just along for the ride and it's a bitch as well, and it's time for me to stop trying to put it in perspective for awhile. If I don't let my pain be MY pain and stop trying to minimize it as a comparison to everyone else that suffers in the world then all I am is just someone floating in the river of denial, with no chance to heal and move on. If I blame myself for everything and never forgive myself then I can never love myself, and then it's truly impossible to love another person. I don't want to live the lonely, empty life that I know that would be.

I am horribly saddened by the loss of my father, and I miss him more every day and I'm afraid I haven't fully even come to terms with it yet. I wish I could have children of my own and there's not a day that goes by that I don't get a little sad about that. I wish I had made better choices in relationships and didn't hurt the people I did with those choices, some of them very selfish. I wish I realized some of the great things I had in my life sometimes and hadn't taken them for granted. I wish I didn't act so impulsively at times and have to endure the pain of what followed those actions. I know in my heart that I am a good man, but I am one that's in dire need of a "searching and fearless moral inventory", followed by some long and deep healing that I WILL do, because I am not going to let myself talk myself out of feeling my pain anymore. There is always someone who suffers more or endures worse, I know that, but I am not them and they are not I, and the only life I can control is my own...and it's time I start doing that. 

And I will. :)


1 comment:

  1. I have learned through years of therapy and just life in general that you must grieve every loss. No matter how slight you or someone else may feel that loss is, it is a loss. Whether it is a relationship, a death, an illness,the ability to have children, an addiction, a past or a future as you pictured it, it must be grieved. You must feel the pain and experience it before you can move on. Rationalizing, ignoring or downplaying the pain does not make it go away. It is simply covered up. I think we are programmed, as you said, to buck up and remember others are worse off. Do I think we should lack empathy for others, of course not, but we must remember to have empathy for ourselves. We must allow ourselves time to realize exactly the magnitude of the loss and its impact on not only our day to day lives but on our future. We must feel it and grieve it before we can move on. That is difficult in a world where we are taught that that is a sign of weakness or selfishness. It is especially difficult if it was brought on by our own poor choices but it must be done. We all make mistakes and those mistakes lead to pain not only for us but for those in our lives. It is imperative that we forgive ourselves and acknowledge our responsibility WITHOUT negating our pain. So, here's to you....grieve your losses ALL OF THEM, however you need to for however long you need to and realize that even once you are through that process the pain will still pop up when you least expect it. Then embrace who you are NOW and who you can and will become in spite of and because of the path you have traveled.....LOVE YOU FIERCLY


Writing: The Most Rewarding Form of Self Torture

One of the best books I've read in the last few years is "The Courage to Write" by Ralph Keyes. Without doing a full review, i...