The clock read 9:11 for about the thousandth time.
The number appeared on license plates, receipts, in a series of numbers. You name it, I saw those three little numbers in sequence daily.
For darn near two years.
There was no emergency, I told myself. To be honest, I convinced myself of it and told myself I was “in rhythm.”
In other words, I was full of shit. More accurately, I was dishonest, self-deluded, self-centered, and arrogant. Such are just a few of my many many character defects of which I’ve made an extensive list.
For those of you reading this who are familiar with my blog, you know I typically write, in addition to flash fiction, essays on religion/spirituality, mythology, and culture. I write of things that I find interesting, beautiful, thought-provoking, and maybe even inspiring. Thing is, I’m a hypocrite in that I haven’t practices what I’ve preached.
And now, as a result of being who I’ve been, I sit here, in my little room, writing.
I have a beautiful wife of nearly seventeen years with whom I have three wonderful children. We lived together in a nice four-bedroom house on nearly 1/2 an acre on which I created a lovely garden.
I fell and fell hard.
Such is not to complain, for I know I am lucky to have been able to move into where I now live and am grateful for the opportunity to finally work on myself.
I call it my Monk’s Cell, for it is from here that I will focus on bettering myself for my own health and hopefully the health of my family and my marriage, on which the door has not been totally closed.
Like many of you out there, writing helps me process and I will write of this process as I go forth, not simply to tell my story (I’m really not that important), but with the hopes that maybe someone out there who has ever despaired and has found him or herself in a similar situation may find in my story a little inspiration, for I have vowed to come out of this a better person, a better father, and, possibly, a better husband.
So what happened?
Nothing in particular. No big fight, no affair, no one thing.
But that was also precisely the problem.
Again, I convinced myself there was nothing wrong and, deluding myself as such, did nothing to change. Sure, I tried to make my home life better, figuring if what was outside of me was in order, then I would be in order. So yes, I worked hard on doing that. Clearly it didn’t work.
There have been times in the past that my wife said she wanted to leave. But I convinced her, persuaded her not to. I loved her of course.
This last time around, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, she came home again and made the announcement.
This time, I finally accepted the damage I’d done to her. I couldn’t do it anymore, so I didn’t fight it. I keep her bound and say I love her at the same time.
I thought being sober would be enough and in thinking that was enough–sober for over 2.5 years now–I didn’t take necessary action.
You see, I’d been living with one hell of a lot of shame, shame and self-hatred. Shame and self-hatred mixed with an extremely low self-esteem sure as heck don’t add up to a happy person and can’t make for a happy marriage and family. I’d been too scared to look at an episode in my life I experienced several years back during a previous separation from my wife and in not dealing with it–which I will do in a later post–I exchanged shame, self-hatred, and low self-esteem for the garments of arrogance, selfishness, self-centered and the like.
Thus our separation was a long process of buildup. I’d essentially sucked the life out of my wife and I was not the father I wanted to be. I was not the person I wanted to be.
Since the shame has lifted and I have begun to gain some self-esteem, but the process, of course, is a long one and it is to this process do I dedicate the next period of my life.
Sure, when she made her announcement I experienced a lot of grief, but instead of wallowing in it, it was, needless to say, a wake-up call and lit the fire under my ass. I created a healing plan of action. I need to heal, my wife needs to heal, and my kids need to heal.
On my end, I secured therapy, I started taking chi-gong classes, signed up for an anger management class, and began reiki treatment. My approach was to do something of a healing nature that could would be beneficial from a variety of angles–to heal from all sides.
And in the weeks leading up the inevitable, I think the relationship between my wife and I grew a little bit. We were not a couple that ever fought or argued, and I enjoyed what I considered to be a progression in our relationship, a progression which I hope will one day lead to reconciliation.
But neither of us is no where near such and in those weeks I began to understand the upcoming period of my life as the archetypal hero’s journey. Now I understand the dangers of identifying with the hero when on such a quest, so I must be vigilant, for as James Hillman and others have pointed out, the “hero” can all too readily serve the ego and if anything, I don’t need any more ego-serving. On the process of this understanding I will explore at a later time, but suffice it to say that I began to envision those various angles of my healing plan of action as getting ready, as preparation for the long journey to come.
I moved yesterday, had trouble falling asleep last night in a bed I’ve never slept in, in a room I’ve never slept in, in a house I’ve never slept in.
The hero’s journey consists of several stages.
Having entered the unknown, I have walked into the dark.