08: Attitude

35687098_168769543979334_6748046426980220928_oThe longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than success, than what other people think or say or do.

It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.

We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you, we are in charge of our attitudes.

Charles Swindoll

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A few weeks ago I had a significant shift in my attitude and approach to dealing with my pain and loss. The way the day unfolded was a long serendipitous experience.

The lessons will last a lifetime.

My doctor’s approach of integrating therapy, storytelling, and meditation shifted my perspective on my life and my life with ©. Dr. Deb helped me in four hours finish what I’ve been working towards for eleven months. When I left the Doctor’s office I still loved © but I was free of any responsibility for her, trying to change her perception of me or Us, or any concern for her well-being.

Essentially, I let ©, my life with ©, and my dreams of a life with her go.

Later that night, © did me an unintended kindness.

img_20180202_161521339As one more enthusiastic Beau, embracing the mantle of Drama Hero, stepped forward to jump-start one more Drama Triangle they iced the cake on a great day. They gave me a gift, allowing me to see first hand how unhealthy my relationship with © was for me. They let me see the Pattern I am breaking.

In reality, it helped me move further down the path of loving her, but loving her from a distance. I’d rather be perceived as the Villian than be forever trapped by the unrealistic expectations of being the Hero. I’ve always tried to be the Hero – even if I had to lie, secret-keep, and manipulate to keep the armor.

C’s behavior answered questions I’ve struggled with from the beginning, allowing me to see her Ugly. Her behavior revealed a truth about our relationship: while we may have been “the cutest couple at summer camp,” I was blind to the rot that was underpinning our relationship anyway.Screenshot_20181101-105413.pngI hate the idea I was so blinded by the shame and humiliation of my own Ugly I didn’t see hers, and whenever I did, I excused it as being my fault.

Don’t misunderstand, her Ugly was never a justification for my betrayal. I still believe that, unlike some couples where abuse and neglect feed justification for cheating, my behavior was purely driven by an immature pride to be everyone’s Hero, including K’s.

In truth, for better or worse, I would have stood in the fire I created for C and I, dealing with the damage. I really did believe in Us but as my doctor reminded me last night, “Sean you were never her priority. She told you her priorities: mother, painter, bohemian. You were a distant fourth. If you were more important she would have stood with you.”

In hindsight, I probably wasn’t fourth.

Regardless, that is not a criticism of ©, it is simply the Ugly, cold truth…and once again I’m reminded how I have romanticized Our relationship and loooooove…

But now?

Although I would still talk with her, I would never go back to the way it was. I certainly cannot go back to the way I was. Now, I am relieved to be free of the secrets and shame. I am relieved to be free of responsibility for C’s well-being, needs, and wants. I’m excited to no longer be guessing.

Now, instead of feeling as if there is an inferno raging across my life, I recognize the benefit of the fire for what it actually is: a controlled burn clearing the undergrowth that was choking out the light and nutrients needed for a healthy life and a relationship.

I realize, freed from the shadow of my secrets, that I have many excellent and desirable qualities, it is why © loved me. It is why K went to such lengths to keep me in her life.

I have great trees in the forest that is me, I have deep roots and a rich and diverse life. I am far more than the sum of my Ugly, but like everything else, you will only find what you are looking for…my shame and humiliation focused all my energy on the Ugly.

This fire cleared the way for me to see the forest for the trees. And revealed the truth of who I am. I’m eternally grateful to the pain and loss: from the nutrients of the ashes, something better is growing. The ash mixed with the bullshit of my behaviors is now fertilizer for the fields of my life. I will focus on, as Voltaire wrote, cultivating my garden.

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2 thoughts on “08: Attitude

  1. I love this !!!! I wrote about this on another post but it never got approved.

    While I agree no one makes a person commit infidelity, the cheater alone is responsible for their behavior, I don’t believe that cheating happens in a vacuum. (except maybe in cases of sex addiction)

    I do believe that a relationship is comprised of two people and therefore those two people’s dynamics have to be viewed pretty closely. If the relationship didn’t work than a post-Mortem behavioralal analysis should be done of the relationship to look at what preceded the cheating. How healthy was the relationship? Did it feel safe, comfortable, happy for both people? Were both people’s needs getting met? Sexual, emotional, intellectual? If they were not being met were those unmet needs being communicated to their partner?

    I was cheated on by both a “normal guy” and a sex-addicted sociopath. I look back at the climate of that first relationship and see what ways in which I failed and what I could have done differently. I needed to look at my “ugly” to grow was a person. With my “normal” guy I was no picnic to live with. I was an intense, moody, hen-pecky, domineering hot mess at times. That was really hard for me to acknowledge in my individual therapy. It was all too easy to stay in the victim/martyr role, and place him in the “ugly” villain role . There were reasons and functions behind my behaviors but they were still unacceptable. To not think that I couldn’t have been a PART in his decision to cheat is absolute bullshit.

    I thinks people’s hesrt’s can starve, that’s completely valid. Mine sure was starving during my relationships. It just wasn’t working. My heart starved even more once he was cheating. No matter what I did or didn’t do in those relationships though, I never deserved to get cheated on and have my health put at risk without my knowledge for it.

    If we are rigorously honest, we all have ugly and beauty inside us. We are all victims of, if nothing else to loss, and if we don’t forgive…. we all will stay villains.

    Great post.

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