Mother Teresa once said there is good in everyone. Of course, to my knowledge, she never experienced separation or divorce.
Mother Teresa went on to say that some of us hide this goodness and some of us aren't even aware of its presence.
I like her idea. It reminds me that awareness of myself and the people around me can lead me to back to my own goodness and from there to happiness.
I believe finding this self-awareness is easier than it sounds. For me, it starts by letting go. Instead of always trying to do or produce or perform, I first let myself be.
I realize this may sound silly to some of you. After all, being is a bit like a car idling -- it is there, a sort of foundation of existence. So what?
Well, I'd say "being" is a lot more interesting and satisfying than it sounds. Being is enjoying the moment, not being distracted by worries. Being is the awareness of feelings and things that are happening right now. Being is accepting life. And accepting life, like accepting myself, gives me a balanced start to whatever I chose to do. Being is also relaxing. Some people live in a state of seemingly perpetual stress; they can't let go. Because they hold on to their anxiety, it becomes their present and blocks out what is actually happening.
For me, it's a bit like going to a movie and then listening to music on a Walkman while I'm trying to enjoy the film. Impossible. Movies are in the present. If I want to enjoy them, I have to be in the present, too. And if I can manage to do that at the cinema, why can't I do it for myself, and around the people I care about and work with? Why can't I live the present fully?
Well, my answer is that I can. And I believe you can, too. Here's what I said about it in my journal.
August 9, 1996
Home. Coffee in the sunshine with my three-year-old draping himself over me like a floppy doll from time to time. Then a long game of basketball . . and skipping to the corner store for milk . . . and a slow lunch . . . and reading books and his sleep. And as these things unfolded, I was aware of a calm feeling inside myself. Not elation. Not great enjoyment. Not excitement. But definitely happy. I felt like myself. I felt peaceful. And I felt I could cope with and enjoy what life brought my way. And for a moment, I was both feeling this and aware that I was feeling it. It felt new. It felt good. . . . I think I understand that phrase "making your peace with yourself." I think we do make it. In part by letting go of detailed plans and itineraries of living. In part by being aware. In part by responding with love and patience. In part by waiting without anxiety.
I realize I may be sounding like a six foot six human greeting card. But, you know, Grandpa, it's where I'm at and being at peace FEELS GOOD.
In my experience, just being reminds me that after all, life is simple. Even with the worries and the loss and the hurt of separation, I am able to engage with an awe-inspiring spectrum of feelings and experiences, able to love and be loved, able to watch and listen and create.
I am a separated man.
I am not a defeated man.
I am a deeper man now.
Awake. Aware. Alive.
I nurture and honor the sense of possibility.
I have seen my hope die, and then seen it come alive again.
That sense of hope, of the resiliency of hope, is enough for me.
This is part of my Huffington Post blog series. I call it "For Men Who Have Everything, Including a Broken Heart -- Thoughts on Surviving Separation."My goals are straightforward:
- Offer hope and humor to men who are disconsolate after a relationship has hit the rocks
- Offer a resource to women -- sisters, mothers, friends -- who care about such men
I wrote "For Men Who Have Everything, Including a Broken Heart" because I would have liked a book like this when my first marriage nose-dived.
I offer it in a spirit of brotherhood and with a strong faith that once our broken hearts mend, we have the capacity to be more compassionate, wiser, more resilient and stronger than we were before.
For those interested in reading the earlier posts of this series, links are provided below:
#1 -- For Men Who Have Everything, Including a Broken Heart, Thoughts on Surviving Separation #2 -- Grieving is Healing #3 -- Beware Precipitous Action #4 -- Love Thyself #5 -- Deal with the Real #6 -- Blame is a Trap #7 -- Create Multiple Explanations #8 -- Freedom, Courage & Splitting Up #9 -- Parenting Apart: Soccer and Wandering in Life's Changes #10 -- Cut the Conflict in Front of the Kids #11 -- The Next Relationship #12 -- Beware the Penis Imperative
#13 -- Surviving Separation -- Getting to Know Myself Again #14 -- Something All Men Share