In January of last year my then Wife of 4 months and I separated. I had been lying about my finances, whereabouts during days off, and whether I was, or was not paying certain bills off (this is the condensed version). I justified my dishonesty with the fact that I was loyal, and would never cheat. I believed this was the highest of sins in a relationship, so that fact that I was making poor financial decisions, without her knowledge, was permissible. I’ve learned a lot about the complexities of relationship and what it means to be an individual person since this, but the lesson was there nonetheless.
Hindsight is always 20/20 (if not brutally more clear than that.)
I had been with her for over 5 years at this point, and no doubt I loved her with all my heart, but ultimately I failed to see what that truly meant to her. I had grown up with the expectation that pragmatics in a relationship were far less important than being supportive verbally and emotionally and creating shared experiences. Both things I excel at, but the other side of the coin, I failed to educate myself on and practice. I’m in the crash course now, which is always somewhat inevitable in a separation (and should not be avoided), and there is no timeline one can put on completing that secondary education. Everyday I am thankful for the grace and bravery my she has had in this process. She is a strong, loving Woman from whom I have learned, and am still learning from daily. I’m thankful that she has always supported me in my growth.
One of the foundational lessons I have learned from all of this, is that life is in no way predetermined. That often the beautiful thing about any situation, is that we can see the reason for why it happened, not that it happened for a reason. Humans are very good at producing pain, intentional or unintentional, and I can’t align with a universe or higher power that would lay a road map out wherein it must happen in order to unlock the next path. I didn’t want to hurt the people I have hurt in my life. I love these people dearly, and so the idea that the powers-that-be planned for me to make the decisions I made, is the most capital of cruel designs.
No. I must take responsibility for my actions, for this reinforces the notion that I indeed do have control, and that my actions do dictate the outcome of many things. Good or bad.
You CAN have your cake, and eat it too, but the rules still apply. Eat too much at one time and you’ll get sick. Eat too much all the time, and you will need new pants. On the flip-side, you can also share your cake, and everyone gets to enjoy it. My actions, my choices. Eat it all, or share it.
I think many of us navigate daily in this space. Asking those questions of why or how could this happen. In tragedy or joy, at some point either we made a decision, or someone else did, that produced the outcome for which we now suffer or rejoice. This is why it is so very important we remember that the choices we make, small or large, effect us and everyone around us. We are all connected, for better or for worse, and that is the only pre-determined truth in my opinion.
“Life being what it is, if we don’ make a difference by trying, we will make a difference by not trying.” — William Sloane Coffin
In my relationship I tried at many things and made a difference, and didn’t try at other things, and made a difference.
Life is tricky, and messy, but always worth living to the fullest. The more we can understand and see the impact we have on a micro level, the more so we will understand why things happen at the macro level. It is a wonderful thing to be able to steer the ship, and though sometimes we don’t control the storms that roll in, we can decide to anchor, push forward, or turn back for a time. In any of these situations, we have to accept the outcome, because we are the ones steering the ship, and that is both scary and empowering.
That just may be the secret-sauce to a life, fully lived.