February 21

If I had experienced different things,
I would have different things to say.

Mark Nepo
The Book of Awakening

It’s been a year since I read this meditation in Mark Nepo’s book, The Book of Awakening. I realize as I reread this post I wrote a year ago today that so much has changed and so much hasn’t. More work to be done but thought I should drop in a marker for next year.

I heard a woman say, “Change happens one funeral at a time.” At the time we were talking politics. However, in the years since I heard her say that I’ve come to appreciate this truth applies to a host of other places in my life as well. Fighting change invites suffering. Death is inevitable. The only way to grow and be healthy is to let go of the things that are dying.

Everything to its season.

As such, here is a brief summary of the deaths in my life that have created so much change:

  • The Knight died: I cannot go back to playing the Hero in my relationships. I’m seeking a partner that is willing to see my attempts at playing Hero as they are, and love me enough to tell me I am enough as I am and don’t need to prove anything. There have been moments where I have slipped into that role but I say what that looked like over the last year here, here, and here. I don’t want to be that guy.
  • The Queen died: A friend said to me this morning, she isn’t a Queen, she is a spoiled little girl. Ouch. I’m not sure I completely agree but I get her point. I’m seeking a Partner with enough self-awareness not to feed on my Patterns so as to prop themselves up upon a Throne of Appearances to avoid their own Uglies.
  • My integrity died: I killed it the moment I started lying and keeping secrets.
  • My Heart died: No two love experiences are the same. I can love again. I can love as deeply, passionately, thoroughly, but I will never love anyone the way I loved C. That is probably for the best. Looking at the patterns it was an immature love and I can only change my part of the pattern.
  • The Mythology died: I really believed, in my deepest, quietest places, I would share the last half of my life with her watching her paint and having her dance with me. We would own an old building in some quiet Mississippi River town, a studio and gallery on the first floor, our flat upstairs, and a motorhome parked out back allowing us to escape the winters. That death has been a hard felt one.
  • The Relationship died: There wasn’t just mythology, there was reality too. I believed, perhaps out of naivety, that as long as we were together we could overcome anything including the bad and Uglies…but it takes two and she isn’t interested.
  • Shame died: Either the shame died or I would die. Although, it’s kind of a walking dead. I just have to make sure I don’t let bite me again.

A few other things died:

  • My expectations
  • My romanticism
  • My identity
  • Shallow Friendships

Some I’ve grieved and realized they are better dead.

The meaningful ones I am still grieving. Some I will grieve for a long time. Regardless, the echos of these deaths and their meaning will ring through the rest of my life. The bell cannot be unrung but the law of unintended consequences means that there are unforeseen, yet meaningful, important, and beautiful outcomes too. Not all consequences are negative if I’m willing to adopt a healthy perspective. Karma isn’t intended to punish but rather it intends to reveal.

SIDEBAR: My perspective on grieving has changed. I thought it was about surviving the pain. It isn’t. It is about sussing the meaningful lessons from mythology. More on this later. Grief, the Law of Unintended Consequences, Karma, Pain, Suffering, and Loss are all Friends if I listen and be willing to let die the things that need to die and embrace the change.

As such, I thought I’d make a list of what did these deaths change for me and bring about?

  • Truer friendships and deeper connections
  • Travel opportunities taking me 75,000 miles across 16 states over 12 months
  • A reconnection with my writing and creativity
  • Freedom from shame, secrets, and lies
  • The reawakening of personal power and self-respect
  • I bought a convertible
  • My personal finances are much improved now that I’m not supporting C and her twins
  • Pain that pushed me to listen and seek healing and counseling
  • A growing understanding of people and love
  • I’m less judgemental and more accepting of others and their Uglies
  • I bought a sailboard
  • I have better boundaries
  • I’ve deep dived into vulnerability and it’s importance in my life
  • Thicker skin and a better ability to separate the meaningful criticisms from the noise of self-righteous flying monkeys and trolls
  • Improved perspective on myself emotionally, spiritually, sexually, and mentally

As a really wise woman said to me recently, “at some point I had to draw a line under the betrayal: what was is past, what is is future. I am sovereign over what happens next.” Looking at the changes death brought, and the change in my life, I realize how I leverage these experiences will determine my journey. I can either choose sovereignty over my life or I can wail over the casket of what was.

And for C? I’m not sure from her perspective, but this is how I see it (most days):

  • She found a Partner she loves, loves her and didn’t cheat on her
  • She has a relationship that is meeting her needs (else why be in it?)
  • She doesn’t have to struggle with the doubt, confusion, and anxiety of sussing out the intentions, meaning, and truths from our relationship that I see so many couples resentfully and bitterly trudging

I’m sure more will be revealed to both of us. Change, like death, is unavoidable.

36: Cleaning out the wound

The wound is the place where the light enters you. – Rumi

I occasionally get pushback from individuals that see my writing as a con. They think because they read my writing that they know everything there is to know about me or that it is just another game in some scam they imagine they know. As if looking at someone’s painting or pottery tells me everything there is to know about the artist.

Recently, C took the initiative and wrote to me. A lot.

I wrote back. Too much.

It was never a conversation just accusations and rebuttals. We ended falling back into the Pursuer-Distancer Dynamic. It’s unhealthy.

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via 36: Cleaning out the wound