This first post will be trite. There is nothing more trite than a 48-year-old single man seeking his identity by sorting through the different facets that make up his life. But, here I go….
Who am I?
Am I my relationships? Right now that is such a mixed bag.
My marriage of 20 years, technically 23 years but the marital relationship died 3 years ago, is dead and we are filing for divorce this month. We are friendly towards each other. We still see the strengths in each other and what the other has added to our lives. We will also always be tied to each other by our children, but she doesn’t love me and I am trying hard not to love her anymore. The last three years have been hell. I don’t know if I will go through the specifics in this blog, because I really just need to put them to death. The pain is still there, but is dulling and that is good. I have been able to use what I have learned, though, in talking to other friends going through the pain of death, whether the death of a relationship or that of a spouse. Death brings grief, and I have lived grief in my own experience and in that of my wife. Grief is very confusing when you are in the midst of it. You lose track of today, let alone tomorrow. Sometimes the death of a relationship can be harder than the physical death of someone you love. When someone we love dies, there is at least solace in the fact that it most likely wasn’t their choice to do so. When a relationship breaks, the grief seems deeper, because it feels so personal, as if their choice isn’t necessarily someone else, but rather, “not me.” Divorce for the person not wanting it, is the third most devaluing event that can happen to them, in my opinion. The top two being childhood sexual abuse and rape. But the truth is that both my former wife and I have our stories and we both were imperfect in our love to one another. That is how love died in the first place. We each chose ourselves in myriads of occasions. I guess we all naturally do that, but in a dying marriage, especially in middle age, we battle with the temptation to trade the imperfections we know for imperfections we don’t know and believe that somehow it will be easier. I still believe in marriage. I believe in it we learn the best of and worst of each other, yet, in thriving marriages, we choose to celebrate the best and give grace to the worst. In this fashion, we model to each other a mild approximation of the love that God has for each of us. That kind of marriage is invaluable.
I have friendships. I have seen how God has brought people alongside me when I needed what they specifically could give to me. While I was in the deeper end of the pool of depression and grief, I confess I really didn’t give much in return. Finally getting into shallower water, I am getting a footing and have been able to give back. I truly want my experience to help other people. The experience is still ongoing, and I believe as I continue to grow, the help I can give another will be more profound. Although getting support from another friend who hasn’t felt the crunch of intimate rejection in divorce is valuable, finding a partner in pain can be a life raft in a hurricane of confusion. Someone who doesn’t try to tell you what you should do until you are ready to take action. A person who validates our pain because they have felt it themselves, and take our side. It is so easy for a person being left to see there own faults, yet are unable to see the imperfections in the person leaving at the time. I hope to be a friend that mourns with those who mourn, listens when needed, gives perspective that heals, and loves in an unrushed manner.
Am I my talents?
I have never been someone that fits a stereotype. I was the jock who also sang in the choir and was fully both. I loved the physical contact of football and the creativity of basketball, yet also passionately loved the beauty of music. I also was good at sports and music. They came easy for me. So I worked hard at both. As I have grown older, I have found a strong artistic bent, especially in photography and writing. And music is still there. I also love good design and have had an increasing interest in…….interior design. I like music theater and the dramatic arts. But also love a sports bar. I confess that all the varied interests are really confusing. If I had 9 lives, I would still have difficulty in choosing a career for each life.
At the age of 46, I learned I have ADHD. Although the diagnosis explained a lot of difficulties I have with certain activities, I am trying to embrace the gifts of the way my brain works. I also know that there are responsibilities I can’t get away from just because my brain doesn’t respond to them in a traditional manner. I have always had difficulty dealing with finances. Though I see the value in meticulous accounting, I can’t imagine….. speaking of hell…. When I was in algebra, in high school, I understood how to process different equations, but I frequently screwed up in the simplist things…. like simple addition or multiplication or copying the same number on the next line of the equation. I have found that I understand the strategies for why things are done, I am a quick study, and can become proficient quickly. For awhile….then I make simple mistakes when I have to repeat the process over and over again. It’s like I get it right quickly, and my mind gets bored. My mind loves the opiate of new ideas. But when the high of one idea wears off, I search for a new high. That makes follow-through difficult and often ineffective.
Am I my own thoughts?
When I screw something up because of such simple mistakes, I am vicious with my own value. I am my own worst enemy. My self talk has been a topic of several therapy sessions. My therapist asked me to record my thoughts for one week and bring the list back to the next session. We began to look at each one, then turn it around. I started a process to see myself realistically. Looking at the times I succeeded and when I took risks… at when I was courageous. I started the process, but didn’t finish…………. Okay, so it was a good line….. I actually try to step back and see my successes from time to time, but it isn’t a habit yet. I do it when I remember to and it occurs to me that God reminds me to do it. Realistic appraisal takes the pressure off of having to strive for perfection. I choose to stand back and say, “Yes, I did that, and it was good.” Or, “Yes, I failed at that. So what? I am no less valuable because of it.”
Ok…. I gotta go today….. so I can’t finish this post right now…… See you tomorrow?