I Am and I Am Not

A drawing of Persian poet, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī who lived in the 13th century. He enjoyed a surge of popularity in the late 1990's
Persian poet, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273)

The title of this post refers to a poem by Rumi, a 13th-century Sufi poet. The poem reminds me of the challenge of binary thinking.

Pain or pleasure. Happiness or sorrow. Etc.

If I strive to live pain-free, I now realize, I will perpetually be disappointed. I am trying to understand and accept that I am and I am not.

Last week, I reconnected with Angie, a friend since college. I dropped her a line. I’m not sure why I hadn’t sooner.

In my email, I included a brief update on the end of my marriage and the new chapter I began almost half a year ago. I also invited Angie to check out my blog.

Angie’s response was kind, and encouraging. One thing she said about the blog stood above all else.

“I feel like I’m reacquainting myself with an old friend.”

“Reacquainting” resonated with me.

It hadn’t occurred to me I’d also reacquaint myself with parts of me  I left by the wayside.  I’m talking about life choices that ran contrary to who I am.

Caroline compromised on life choices along the way as well. We didn’t keep score, at least not while things were good.

I don’t think I understood I was harboring resentment over some of my sacrifices.

As our marriage fell apart, I became more focused on protecting my “self”. That pivot  enabled me to better understand feelings I had previously ignored.

If Caroline had demonstrated awareness of, and gratitude for the compromises I made, in the same way, I did for her, perhaps I wouldn’t have struggled with resentment.

One of the most difficult parts of my journey is reacquainting my daughters with their father, as he now is, not as he was when things were at their worst. The healing of our ruptured relationship feels  a bit like a Herculean task.

At this point, my daughters’ frame of reference is our past. Our present is limited by geography, their schedules, and lingering memories hanging in the air like stale cigar smoke.

Rebuilding will take time and patience on my part. I can handle that.

My therapist, Allie has emphatically reminded me that despite how estranged my daughters and I are, like me, they  desire a healthy relationship.

Keeping that in mind, I’ll continue to show my daughters who I now am. And I’ll continue to look ahead to the day when we have authentic relationships with a foundation of love, respect, and mutual support.

Stay in touch. Share, comment, connect!

PS: The poem alluded to in the title!

I Am and I Am Not

I’m drenched
in the flood
which has yet to come

I’m tied up
in the prison
which has yet to exist

Not having played
the game of chess
I’m already the checkmate

Not having tasted
a single cup of your wine
I’m already drunk

Not having entered
the battlefield

I’m already wounded and slain

I no longer
know the difference
between image and reality

Like the shadow
I am


I am not

PPS: For all fathers and daughters…


2 thoughts on “I Am and I Am Not

    1. Wow. It is so nice to hear someone connecting like this. One of my challenges is wondering if what I’m sharing means anything to anyone besides me so when you say something like that, it is sincerely gratifying.

      Good luck on your journey Janice!


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