“In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.” – Andrea Dykstra
For the most part I grew up not having to learn most things the hard away. I listened to my parents more often than not and typically made fairly smart decisions while growing up, however my yester-years had no barring on what was to come for me as an adult. Well lets just say, I really gave great advice when it came to relationships, but my ability to consistently practice my own advice fell way short.
It is not that I went out and deliberately deceived people or straight-out lied to them, (well maybe to myself I did) but some of the challenges that came my way, I quickly learned that I was not prepared to handle them appropriately, maturely or even sometimes honestly. I found myself taking the path of least resistance when it came to certain struggles. I mean do not get me wrong, just like many others I did give things my best effort, (most of the time) however on some of the major challenges, like keeping a marriage together, I cannot say I always did the right thing. To be blatantly honest, I totally did the wrong thing(s), when it came to my second marriage especially.
One would have thought I had learned a few lessons about marital bliss, or the lack thereof after 15 years in my first marriage. Not me, I needed more lessons to really get it I suppose. Well call me a glutton for punishment, a man who enjoys to bleed emotionally or maybe some would simply say I was an idiot. Perhaps I was a mixture of all three and then some, but thankfully we all have a breaking point. A point at which we have had enough of the pain, torment and humiliation and we begin to adjust our lives in a way that becomes congruent with the ideas of getting better or becoming whole.
So after suffering and causing others to disproportionately suffer, I came to my end. The pain became overwhelming. Like, have you ever felt suffocated by your own pain? Where nothing else seemed to exist, but your turmoil and you were reminded of it every morning when the alarm clock went off? Hello, that was me too.
However, as I mentioned earlier, at some point in our lives we all come to the end of the BS, excuses and blaming others for what is rightfully ours to own. A point for me of being exposed in a shameful way. A way that caused me to finally acknowledge my responsibility in the failure of my second marriage. I wish I could sit here and say that I finally came to my senses, but it was quite the contrary. Quite honestly I was responding to the overwhelming grief and pain I felt from how the breakup actually occurred. I would say I did deserve most of the treatment inflicted on me and it certainly had me standing in attention to what was going to become the next chapter of my life, because in that time that was all I had to hold on to.
It was like I was in a cave and the waves of water was beginning to fill every crevice. My air supply was quickly being overtaken and my instinct to survive kicked in. This time it was not a reaction to simply save myself, but to really understand how I got there. Not just from a, “I made a few mistakes point of view”, but sincerely acknowledging it from a deeper place. A place of ownership, taking full responsibility, and not seeking to point blame or make common excuses.
Of course it always requires more than one person to make a relationship successful, but this relationship/marriage was over and in this moment I had an opportunity to grasp for the air I desperately needed, even though I had failed to acknowledged this very same moment in times past. This time the pain changed me, broke me and thrust me towards my true reality of denial, lies and my own emptiness.
This was an unfamiliar place for me, but I cannot say that I was afraid or anxious to be there, because for the first time I could feel and see. See what was really in front of me, and feel the pain of decisions I chose to make that hurt other people. People I was supposed to care for and protect, but I did not do for so many reasons.
Today, although I am still growing and very far from where I desire to be, I am better. A better man, that acknowledges his failures, his weaknesses and his brokenness. I am thankful for every hardship I faced, every moment of despair and the pain never seemed to cease, however it gave me courage. The courage to believe that my past did not necessarily have to define my future, but it would take tremendous work on my part to not repeat the same failures.
“The work” that would ultimately change my life and future relationships. Pain truly changed me for the better. Today I am whole, yet not perfect, hopeful, yet with a clear view of my reality and I am my own greatest surprise.