Much of my work centers around my evolving emotional perspective. I strive to recognize my feelings real-time, something I somehow spent most of my life not doing. With practice, as well as a talented therapist, I’ve made great progress on this front.
In addition I’ve come to understand I can experience two, often diametrically-opposed emotions simultaneously. Happiness isn’t the absence of sadness. Excitement over my future, and mourning that which I’ve lost can co-exist. This evolution of perspective has unlocked the door to more authentic, honest relationships.
That’s not to say everything is perpetually peachy keen. There are setbacks. It is physically impossible to walk a straight line. I veer. Sometimes minutely, sometimes noticeably. Just like there are no perfect circles in nature, nor are there straight lines.
In the last week I’ve been emotionally pummeled and I’ve veered. Noticeably. It is Sunday morning and this is the first time my fingers have touched a keyboard since Thursday. I am fairly certain that’s the longest I’ve gone without writing since I began my blog last July.
Once upon a time, I would be terrified right now. Scared of tumbling helplessly into my personal pit of despair where I spent the last years of my marriage. But I’m not terrified. I’m not tumbling. I’m dealing with that which pummeled me, but didn’t knock me out.
My ex-wife said some things Thursday that triggered a shame tsunami. At first, the shame coursed slowly. I underestimated the damage it could wreck. Then it just keep coming, eventually knocking me off balance and then off my feet altogether, but never under.
I also realized I need to change my perspective about my daughters and my relationship with them. I’ve mischaracterized it as a rebuilding process. In actualality, I’m trying to build authentic relationships with them for the first time. As mindful as I’ve been in my attempts to connect, as gentle as I’ve been, I’ve pushed a little too hard. I get that. Right now the best thing I can do is just let them know I’m thinking about them, and I’m emotionally available. Patience is my strongest ally.
I’m also dealing with the loss of a friend who died this week after an eight-year battle with thyroid cancer. He was a good man and I will miss him.
Once upon a time, this pummeling from all sides would have driven me to booze or pot. Remarkably, I haven’t self-medicated. That fact alone is rather comforting at this moment. I also believe my clear mind is a major reason I’ve held on to compassion, despite the pummeling. Compassion for my ex-wife’s pain when she said the hurtful things that triggered my shame. And equally critical, compassion for my self.
Despite the self-doubting I’ve experienced this week, I’ve stepped backwards and regained the perspective I need to appreciate how far I’ve come in this journey, no matter how disjointed it appears right now. In that spirit, I put on Stravinski’s Firebird Suite, one of my favorite pieces of music, and started punching the keyboard again.
Sometimes that’s the best I can do. And that’s not bad.
Thanks for listening. Stay in touch. Connect.
P.S. A scene from The Royal Tennenbaums featuring a bad grandfather.