“Restriction in the heart creates constriction of the mind.” JSM
The Second Month
Have you ever felt broken? Torn between what you want to do, and what needs to be done? Trapped in a place between places?
Before I continue the tale, something was shared with me last week that really caught me off guard. On the opposite side of the fence though, I’m not surprised a bit by what I heard. The words spoken made me stop and think and I couldn’t help but agree. After the conversations were over, I smiled inside.
I was approached by two different people and I was told by both, that what I post on TotC is really sad. Sad… as in depressing. It can be depressing to read this stuff.
I nodded my head in agreement. “Yeah. It can be sad. But… that’s OK and here’s why.”
In public reply, I need to disclose something to the readers and casual browsers. Ready? Dropping a truth bomb here.
It took thirty five years to find true happiness.
This November I’ll be forty one and five years into the new life. Had to iron out some rough spots here and there and smooth out some rocky roads, but all in all, complete happiness. Almost Zen-like.
I still have my stress and the things that set me off. Money, work, responsibility, balance, schedules, unforeseen changes and doing what I’m supposed to do. To say I’m completely stress free is a lie. However, I wake each morning with a smile on my face, prepared to tackle the day, and ready to sip some coffee.
Unless I’m ill. If I’m sick with anything, I’m a colossal wimp. Ask anyone.
I don’t dread the day anymore. I wake rested and anticipate my “me” time. In the past few years, I haven’t raised my voice in anger once. I don’t have conflict or arguments. I feel as though I’m living the life I’ve always desired to live. I do what I like to do, go where I like to go, focus on the future, follow my passions, engage in my hobbies, answer to myself and co-exist with the people in my universe symbiotically.
Have I gone through moments of hate, anger, vengeance, adopting a superiority complex, lashing out and screaming to the sky, self loathing, impostor syndrome, despair and personal Hell? Absolutely.
But not for many years.
And I have the old life to thank for that. Everyone I’ve encountered. All my experiences good and bad, and knowledge gained. All the people who’ve hurt me, made me feel small, lifted me up, stolen from me, stood by my side, lied about me, created scars and demonized me over my life, I say thank you. Thank you! From the bottom of my heart. Without all of you, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I like who I am. I didn’t see that until it was almost too late.
For the longest time though, I felt trapped. Over time, little clues started popping up and conversations branched into others and my restricted mind opened a bit. Things started to fall into place and the foggy areas lifted once entering the second month. Incrementally.
It didn’t happen all at once and overnight.
While multiple tales may be sad, not all of TotC is depressing and tragic. It stopped being that when Nancy barged into my world like a bull in a china shop and wrecked everything I had come to understand.
She was a force of nature, but more on the gentler side. A warm and steady spring breeze, after a frigid and brutal winter.
When she made her presence known for the first time, she was a light filled whirlwind and still is today.
I lived with blinders on. Everything outside my small tunnel of vision didn’t exist. When speaking with someone, all I saw was that person. The folks around me in the periphery were shadows and static; white noise. Only what I wanted to see and hear, would I allow myself to see and hear.
As a result of my upbringing, I was forced into a schism of the mind. Having been raised in a religious home and adopting specific mentalities over time, some spiritual components always resonated and stuck around. Things as easy as the standard commandments: Not stealing, being nice to others, not coveting what others have.
Then the other, bigger, more looming ones made themselves known. Such as, divorce. Big no-no.
I have always made strides to be sin free.
I was married in a church with a ceremony performed by a local pastor, and I vowed to abide by my vows. Therefore (at the time) in my spiritual frame of mind, engaging in divorce was going to bite me on the ass in the afterlife, and be frowned upon (it’s OK to snicker at this time. I get it). Since the divorce was mandatory, all I could do, is continue to believe that it was the right thing for myself and the people I care about and move forward with my head held high.
However, during the days of separation and even beyond the divorce, I maintained my vows. Never once steered from them, even when I thought I wanted to. I was determined to be better than that.
I maintained my visual blinders so I could focus on myself and the kids and not see others around me. I had to ignore the world in order to navigate it’s dangerous terrain.
Unfortunately, I was convinced something was wrong with me. I was broken. Maybe at the time I was. I had conversations with myself about avoiding relationships. No one will want to share this baggage.
Instead, I was going to fight against the single father statistics, stereotypes and numbers, and prove a point or two. Show everyone I can do it solo. No dating profiles. No casual encounters. No bars or clubs. No singles nights or parties. No online social groups or chats. I refused to put myself in a position I would possibly regret the next day. Always trying to think it through and ignore impulse. Focused intently on trying to do the right thing.
I never believed I was robbed of time and had to make up for it. I didn’t have any wild oats to sow, or inclinations to pursue anyone. At that moment in my life, all I wanted, was to get through the day and find my place in this world. It was tough enough looking people in the eye, let alone initiating conversation. Dating? HAHAHA!
Screw that. I had a new life to build. No plan to introduce anyone to the shambles of my broken world. People don’t deserve to walk beside me. Why would I wish to subject anyone to my way of life? I’d be introducing them to the other, darker side of living. An unfair idea.
Too busy for that. I was in a life competition miles away from a finish line, and felt as though I was fighting to stand upright. I’d score some points in the game now and then, but the experience was always three points ahead, then lose three points, and the finish line was moved from sight. Always a personal stalemate. I learned through a trial by fire that some games and some competitions need not be played. Trying to win will make you go crazy and the schism widens.
I didn’t want to play games anymore, get embroiled, or become involved in one-upmanship with the world. Even though it was me against everyone, I was sick and tired of playing the game. I quit the life competition and decided “keeping up with the Jones’s” and wishing my life was different and better, was a lost cause. I stopped guessing why. I eventually made peace with all of life’s scenarios.
As an avid lover of Chess, I’ve always known when to knock my king down in defeat and surrender. There was no way on this green Earth I had the ability to compete with the world in my current state. Too many hurdles to jump and miles to run to find success. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Strive at all costs for success? That’s where happiness hides in quiet patience waiting to be found. I wanted to be happy with life and I couldn’t find it’s hiding place.
I quit searching for success and decided instead, to stop looking. I don’t compete with life anymore. My only competition today is an online game, Super Mario fighting against the turtles, my kid and I battling it out in a virtual arena, or a table top game with friends.
Once everything started clicking and I returned from La-La-Land and the abyss’ edge, I came to a conclusion. Don’t compete with others in life. Compete with self. When you compete against yourself, the finish line is easier to locate and push for. The hurdles are as high as you want them to be and you can stop and take a break at any time.
If success equals happiness I’ve already won. Game over.
The journey to find game’s end, however, was madness.
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