Tuesday, March 28, 2017
The beginning of the end, and new beginnings - Part 2
There's nothing I detest more than people constantly posting their break up drama for everyone to see. We know why you do it. Because you need all those "friends" (real or not) to comment about how
bad they feel for you, and how the other person is a piece of trash, and you deserve better, and how the right person will come along, and this and that, and I could go on forever with all the canned cliches that will be offered up.
"Girl, you deserve better than that."
"Dude, she sucks. Just go bang her friends."
Phrases you're probably not going to hear from educated people who actually work to help those through difficult phases in their life in regards to heartache. Also, and let's just be honest, there's often not any words that are going to just lift the pain and give you instant clarity in regards to moving forwards in your life once you're single again. Generally, you pour out to friends because you often just need an ear during the worst of times so you can vent about all the pain and anguish and confusion you're dealing with.
Friends can often be your worst enemies during these times to be honest. Or let me clarify, friends that aren't honest with you about your own problems. Your own baggage. Your own repetitive cycles that keep manifesting in your life that leave you saying "there's no good men/women out there!" without ever considering that right now, maybe you're not the good man, or the good woman.
Great friends are the ones that know you well enough to point out the issues you keep creating. And have the courage to tell you the things you really need to hear, and not want to hear. Bad friends are the ones that keep telling you about all the things you deserve, and ignore all the flaws you need to fix or at least become aware of, that serve as the root cause in all the failed relationships you keep having.
Good friends aren't going to tell you how you deserve much better than him, if "him" looks just like the last 4 guys you dated in regards to how he treated you. They are going to tell you that there is clearly something wrong in your selection process that needs to be addressed. That you are the common denominator in choosing these same types of men.
Good friends aren't going to tell you to "go bang her friends" because that's seeded in a form of revenge. And as the saying goes "anytime you set out on a course of revenge, make sure you dig two graves."
I can't tell you how many times I've talked to people who have told me about all of the bad decisions they made after loss...after heartache. And how much they regretted those choices. Letting your emotions rule you completely during this time is like covering a gaping would with filthy bandages. It only makes the wound fester and takes far longer to heal. Unhealthy coping mechanisms are what we use delay the inevitable. That is, coming to grips with what we lost, the choices we made that caused said loss, and then the recovery that has to take place in coming to grips with all of that.
In all honesty, even true friends often give bad advice during these times, so maybe I'm not being fair. The reason they usually do so is because they know you're in pain. They know about your loss. But sitting down across from someone you know is in pain, and telling them that a lot of it was self inflicted isn't a conversation most friends have the courage to do. But they know about your issues. I mean the ones that you played a part in creating your own mess.
Trust me, they know them. Because they most likely talk about them to other friends, then tell you to your face "you just need the right person."
Good friends who know you well enough also aren't going to tell you to keep trying to salvage a relationship that has been vaporized. You don't take a car that has been totaled to the shop and ask them to fix it. You understand the vehicle is no longer worth saving, and you purchase a new one.
All romantic relationships get fender benders. Things that are fixable. And some romantic relationships get totaled, and people refuse to acknowledge that it's done and that no amount of work could really make it driveable again. I can't tell you how many couples I know that are in totaled relationships that refuse to acknowledge that the scrapyard is the only proper place for said relationship to go.
"You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away, know when to run." -- Kenny Rogers
After my divorce, I knew I was screwed up. My closest friends were there for me, but they also didn't enable me continuing down destructive paths that were leading me straight into hell. They told me I was screwed up. And I'm glad they told me that, because it's what I needed to hear.
I had devolved from the man I had been for a very long time, into someone I didn't recognize anymore. And I knew that. I knew I had strayed from so many of the principles that I had built my entire life around.
And each and every one of them told me the same thing. That I had to make choices to change things. That it was on me. Which is also what my therapist told me. Which is what any good therapist is going to tell you. A good therapist isn't going to ask you "how does that make you feel?"
More than likely, you already told them how you feel. The question that should be asked is...
"what are you going to do about it?"
Do you even need a therapist for that? Once I accepted all of the things I had control over, and let go of the things I didn't, I realized I had an enormous amount of power and capability in my life. And most people truly, I believe, are afraid of that power. Because then the onus is completely up to them to "fix" whatever it is that ails them. And there's a lot of people that love to squat down into suffering and not move, because of how hard change can be.
But change, no matter how painful, is a lot less painful than being emotionally isometric and not doing a damn thing to get out of the mess you've made of your life.
Think about it; when you have this great big emotional crisis in your life that you can't or won't properly address, every other problem that comes along feels ten times larger than it really is.
Don't read past that and not let that really sink in.
People talk about how problems come in bunches, but for the most part, we usually have all of the little problems going on, that roll off of us like water off a duck's back. However, when there is a huge emotional cyst in our life that we won't pop, then suddenly all of our problems loom much larger than they normally would. Everything feels "heavy". Everything is a crisis. Because underneath it all is this groundswell that we refuse to address.
Fix that big problem, and the little issues tend to take care of themselves. Or let me say, at least we have the emotional strength available to us now, after addressing the big problem, so that the little problems become "little problems" again.
Since I've spent a lot of time owning that I did so many things wrong that caused my problems, I can also say with all honesty, I did a lot of things right in the aftermath of my separation and divorce.
Namely, I spent time alone. Even after the former Mrs. Carter and I came to the conclusion that we wouldn't be reconciling, but that we weren't ready to divorce yet. I didn't go out and date. I spent those months working on restoring myself. Identifying where I lost my way, why I made certain decisions, and what needed to change in my life in order to grow into the man I wanted to be.
Someone told me during this time, "the path a lot of men end up finding they walk when they go through this is that, they lose who they were for a while, then come out on the other side a better version of the man they were before all of this happened."
I knew that's what I wanted to get out of all of this. I didn't want to continue sinking into the emotional abyss that had consumed my life, and left me in a place where I would lie in bed some nights and cry until my whole body hurt because I was ashamed of what I had let my life spiral into.
I knew for me, I needed to put my energy and efforts into myself and into the people whose lives mattered the most. And you know who that was?
Let me be clear about something here that really annoys me. If you want to fix your life, you have to be selfish enough to fix yourself first. I've written many times about how on a plane, they tell you in the case of an emergency that you need to put your oxygen mask on first before putting it on your child or someone who can't take care of themselves. It's called healthy selfishness. You can't be good for anyone until you are introspective enough to understand your own problems, and then take steps towards fixing them.
You should see a pattern developing here if you piece it all together.
I didn't band aid my problems with unhealthy coping mechanisms. I didn't have friends enabling my previous bad choices. I owned my part in how my life had become unraveled. I worked on taking steps towards becoming the man I really wanted to be. And that required me putting myself first for a while, so that way I could be the best version of myself in order for that to transcend into the lives of those I loved.
If you wanted my recipe for how I got my life back on track, I'd say those were the ingredients.
But there was something else that happened in all of this that manifested in my thinking....
My struggles didn't have to define me.
I know far too many people who cling to victimization and allow all the bad shit that has happened to them define who they are. We can make poor choices and grow from them. Or we can let them define us and our life because we sit down into those choices and say "this is who I am." instead of saying "that is who I was, and those were the choices I made, but it doesn't wholly define me."
I also wasn't going to let other people define who I was, because I can tell you this. When you let other people define you, especially the people who want you to live in a way they think you should be living, they will always make you smaller than you are. Those people will define you by your mistakes, and by your poor choices, and leverage that against you emotionally to manipulate your life so that your future choices are based on making them happy.
My dad tried to do this to me. He called me and told me I was a fool for allowing my marriage to slip away. He tried to shame me into going back into it. I wasn't having it. I knew that I couldn't be happy in that relationship anymore, and that we were not going to create the model of a marriage that I would want my kids to be in. I knew I couldn't make her happy, and she knew she couldn't do the same for me. No one was going to shame me into a life I didn't want anymore. If you ever want to know the true definition of selfishness, it was written by Oscar Wilde....
“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. And unselfishness is letting other people's lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognizes infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it. It is not selfish to think for oneself. A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. It is grossly selfish to require of one's neighbor that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he? If he can think, he will probably think differently. If he cannot think, it is monstrous to require thought of any kind from him. A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.”
It wasn't selfish to want to move forwards into a new life. Into one where I could make choices to invite happiness back in. To allow healing to take place.
It was healthy. And I couldn't be the man I wanted to be if I wasn't healthy, and happy. Single, married, whatever your relationship status may be, it all has to start there. If I was ever to be good for someone again, I had to be able to bring a healthy and happy Paul to the table.
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Posted by Paul Carter at 7:51 AM
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