Begin Again (Again)

Another year, another month in rehab; seems like this cycle never fails to repeat itself. Stress, depression, poor coping skills and ultimately, drinking. Drinking is not the origin of the problem, but the one that usually brings the issue to life in glorious Technicolor and Surround Sound. Learning who I am and why I do the things I do will more than likely be a lifetime project, but I am getting closer to my truths each time. How many times does one have to travel down a road before they recognize it leads to a destination that is not the one they want? How many times do I try again, only to fail? How many times can people be there for me, encourage me and help me when I just fall back to pieces again? Compassionate people have their limits and everyone has something they are battling, be it depression, simple unhappiness, a toxic relationship, addiction, avoidance and a painful past. The painful past doesn’t stay in the past; like a child coloring for the first time, it goes outside the lines of the past and bleeds into the present time, often without our knowing.

One of the things we learn in therapy is why we react the way we do to certain people, places and things (emotions can be included with things) and I am learning that my painful past is fully present in my present day. The strings that lead back to the original pain are like telephone wires, communicating and echoing the pain of the incident long ago. If I do nothing to cut those ties, heal those wounds and exorcise those demons, I will be destined to repeat this process over and over again, until I can fight no more or until I am dead and gone. This is not a post about blaming others for my past, but more to understand how the past is still manipulating my thoughts and with them, my emotional well-being. I have created a great deal of my painful past, simply by being a human being and trying to make myself happy, without having the understanding of how to create real happiness. Alcohol made me happy until it made me dangerous to myself and others; men made me happy until I realized the emotion I was feeling wasn’t happiness, but some ugly deformed cousin of happiness in which their happiness (supposedly) made me happy. The old saying “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” may be true, but it’s better to not pretend love when it’s lust you’re feeling. Not to confuse the two, which I have done for most of my life. If you’ve never felt true, unconditional and pure love from someone, how would you recognize it? The thrill of the love affair brings about emotions that could be mistaken for happiness, but I’m fairly certain that the formula for happiness does not include compromising ones morals or living in secret, experiencing alternating moments of bliss and shame. My life is what I have made it and will continue to be a mix of good and bad, but mostly what lies between the two. I am responsible for my happiness and my well-being. I am not responsible for everyone else on the planet, I cannot save anyone except possibly myself. Others may care, but their lives demand their time and attention, as it should be. The choices I have made in the past have led me to the place I am today as the choices I make today will lead me to tomorrow’s destination.

My painful past is not without its benefits, as pain is a sure sign of growth. I have learned how precious life is and how easily one (me) can believe that I am not worthy of such a precious gift and try to return it. I’m pretty sure God (or Buddha, or my Higher Power) doesn’t want me to take that gift and s**t all over it and return it to Him with a single finger salute. I’m pretty sure the idea is to live the life, to the best of my ability with whatever gifts and challenges that come with it; learn and grow, love and give, have and hold forever and ever. Understanding that to error is human and to forgive, divine is the formula and there is no pass or fail, there is only learning and growing. To love oneself seems simple enough, but for some of us, it is the most difficult challenge we face, every single day. So, I will begin again (again) and keep trying, keep learning and hopefully, ultimately, I will love myself as those of you who love me do. This is my wish and my most passionate prayer. For a life without love is no life at all.

BrotherWord-Love-Thyself

Building Mr. Right

I have been thinking for a while about diving into the waters of the dating world again and as always, I ask myself what kind of man is it that I’m looking for? If I could build Mr. Right what parts and pieces would go into his creation? Kind of like a puzzle but with body parts, personality, moral and ethical laws and whatever form of spirituality he may possess. That led me to thinking about the men in my life; past, present, good, bad, ugly, beautiful, sad, bad & everything in between. What was it about the Bad Boy that made me so weak in the knees? What was it about the Desperate to Please that made me so irritated? Why did I immediately like that guy, only to find out that he was a liar, (note to cheating married men – we can go online to see if your “divorce” actually happened, so quit being dumb asses and telling such pathetic, easily verifiable lies) why is it that the perfectly available, ready to settle down, single guy makes me want to jab my eyes out to break the monotony of listening to this safe, clinically sane man who is more in love with himself than he will ever be with any other human being bore me to tears with his painfully dull monologue about how great he is? All these things considered I came up with the following:

My dad, was of course, the first man in my life and to say that we had a complicated relationship would be akin to saying the sinking of the Titanic was an unimportant event in history or that the parting of the Red Seas was a neat trick (ok atheists – settle down over there) neither does them justice or tells the whole truth. At any rate, my dad had some outstanding traits such as he was a “thinking man” who loved the Greek philosophers, debating pretty much anything and had a thirst for knowledge that was unquenchable. He spoke to me as an adult, even when I was a child. He gave me the belief that I had something to offer in any conversation, regardless of content or who the participants were. He never treated me like I was “just a girl” or “little Princess” (thank God!!!!) so I grew up a tomboy, blissfully unaware about gender roles, as they applied to me. I was able to hit the speed bag just as well as my brothers when I needed to blow off some steam; Dad knew that my temper would be my downfall and tried to give me healthy ways to deal with it. However, Dad was also an alcoholic for the first 20-some odd years of my life, was an unhappily married man for most of those years (yeah, my poor choices in men are no longer a mystery) and I’ve been there, done that and have no desire to return. So married would go to the top of my “Non-Desirable/Deal-Breaker Traits” list.

All of my five brothers were the next important men in my life and I could fill a book with what they taught me. But the traits I admire the most are their very unique and individual senses of humor, their tenaciousness and ferocity in protecting those they love. They are good husbands, fathers, uncles, friends and of course, brothers.

My first husband, who taught me that I was worth loving, that there was a man in the world who could look past all the Crazy and see something worthy of love; that man had patience beyond saintly. He was the first man who would have stuck by me through better or worse, in sickness and in health; truly until death do you part. So naturally, I was terrified that I was responsible for yet another person’s happiness and blew that relationship to smithereens. However, all I need to do is look into our son’s eyes to know that it happened for a beautiful reason, a wonderful gift of life and love. He has since remarried and is living happily, hopefully drama-free and enjoying the life he chose to live.

Along with my brothers, my dear friend JJ would be the next hugely important man in my life; because of him I found the courage to seek out sobriety, to see myself in an entirely different way and to appreciate the small, beautiful, everyday things that I’d always taken for granted before meeting him. His friendship was solid gold, true blue and forever; no false platitudes or sugar-coating from him. You never had to ask him what he thought because he would just tell it like it was, the good, the bad and the painful to hear because it was true.

The other men I’m just going to let them remain nameless, to protect the guilty and the innocent alike. One of them, let’s call him Walt, always loved taking off on spontaneous trips (which I would never even consider) to places nearby for a weekend or even just a day. On the down side, he was a freak off his leash, meaning he couldn’t keep “It” in his pants. Another man, who we will call Tom, taught me about living life Post Divorce, how to survive when your kid is in another state, with another woman raising him, who is a complete stranger. This man had infinite patience with me and more love and kindness than I could have ever hoped for. On the down side, he was married, so yeah. You see the pattern, right? Good stuff, not so good stuff. There are more men who taught me to enjoy fine wine, music I had never listened to, books I’d never read, movies I’d never seen. The varied and infinite degrees of love, the different chemistry, the short or long lasting fascination with each other; all different, but all playing important roles in the Story of My Life.

So, to sum it up, I would love to meet a man who is patient, fearless, loyal, kind, generous, not married, hopefully sober with a great sense of humor but doesn’t take himself too seriously, is forgiving, loves and appreciates the small things in life, has some battle scars and war wounds but is a survivor, a fighter fighting the good fight. Of course, he can’t be perfect, so he’ll have some flaws or some issues he’s working on, as we all do. Or he snores, leaves the toilet seat up, turns the toilet paper roll the opposite way I do or doesn’t put a new roll in when the old one runs out and instead sets the new one on top of the empty one? Maybe he has a Man Cave that no cleaning products or vacuum cleaners are allowed in. Maybe he likes gangster rap (hold on; that may be a deal-breaker) or listens to Fox News (ok – maybe another deal-breaker) or maybe he cross-dresses. Who knows? The point is that there is no Mr. Right; there certainly is Mr. Right Now but we’ve met and he’s not for me.

I guess I’m looking for Mr. Right for Me.