I was trying to talk with my friend about some struggles she’s currently facing and I kind of had an epiphany. I love the synchronicities of my life. Not too long ago, I was feeling exactly as she is right now. Every day I felt more and more like a failure. My house is a disaster. I am sure the idea you have of my house is nowhere close to the mess that I am living in. In your wildest dreams I don’t think you could picture what I’m working with. lol But I digress…
My house wasn’t clean, I didn’t feel like I was instilling the proper values in the girls, I spent money on myself when we are short on it in general (it didn’t matter that the money I spend is almost essential to live yet I still felt guilty), and I never felt like I looked put together. Everything I felt, she told me she was feeling too. And so I asked her the big question I finally had the guts to answer honestly.
Who are you failing?
Like me, her initial response was to feel she was failing her family. But after pausing, she realized that she was failing her own expectations.
What are your expectations?
Just as I expected, her first thought was to make her family happy. And when I tried to explain to her how I found my happiness, I had my epiphany. Like myself, she so desperately wants to make sure her family has everything they need. But then it clicked, how can I ever give happiness if you I am not first in possession of it myself? As long as I am waiting for others to be happy, I am never going to be happy myself. And the people who I am so desperately trying to make happy will never find true happiness, because I’m not giving them true happiness because I don’t know what it is. I’m giving them a weaker version of it, the best version I can.
This line of thought answered another question for me.
Which came first – the chicken or the egg?
People have been asking this question for ages. Perhaps the answer is the hidden third choice, because in life everything happens in threes. Which came first? Neither came first. Because the question isn’t possible. You cannot first have a chicken without having an egg. And you cannot have an egg without first having a chicken.
What the hell are you saying to me?
I believe some information has been lost over time. We have forgotten that before we can expect to make anyone else happy we have to first be happy ourselves. You cannot give out what you have never known yourself. And there is no part of me that believes that happiness isn’t possible for every single person. Every single individual on this planet of more than six billion people.
How do I make myself happy?
I can’t tell you that. Just like I can’t tell you what you’re thinking. Only you can figure out what will make you happy. However, before making any decisions, you need to weigh all of your costs. Because true happiness has its price. It’s a pretty steep one too. But man, the reward is worth the price.
How much is this going to cost?
This depends on how difficult you find thinking in black and white. Are you happy? No. Do you want to be happy? Yes. Thinking in black and white. Another term for black and white is truth. You need to look at yourself and find your truth because it is different for everyone. No one person on this planet is like another. I can show you how I found my truth, but my path and answers will never work just right for you. It can’t. Because I am not you. And I think differently than you do.
What’s this path you’re talking about?
I say it is a path to getting to know yourself because I truly believe it is a process. It’s like peeling back the layers of an onion. Start accepting little truths about yourself if you find the big ones too difficult. I’ll show you what I mean:
Truth: I’m not good at keeping a clean and organized house. Do I feel the need to keep a clean house? Yes. What do I think constitutes a clean house? I believe a clean house should be free of any offensive materials to children. What constitutes offensive material? For me this is disgusting things like mold and filth. If I have a sink full of dirty dishes from a couple days ago. Okay. If I have a sink full of dirty dishes that have been there for longer than I remember and are accumulating mold and decay. Not okay. Do I feel the need to keep an organized house? No. What’s wrong with an organized house? I would like my children to be able to find their things without it being right in front of their faces. When things are not perfectly labelled, or perfectly explained, or where they should be – I expect my children to be able to MAKE IT WORK regardless of the mess they are in. In their home and in their lives. And aren’t our homes just a practice ring for when children grow and enter the real world? I have made my house like the world. It is a messy chaotic place and I want them to be able to work within the chaos. So in a way, my messy house is perfect for me. No more need to be upset over that. Layer one, check.
Truth: I can be a raging bitch to live with. Why do I feel I am a raging bitch to live with? Well for one – I feel I yell a lot when I am disappointed in the choices my family makes. Why do I feel I yell a lot? I feel my family is making some wrong choices revolving around truth. Truth in words, truth in actions, truth with themselves. All of these things, I struggle with myself because you know what? I’m fucking human too. I mess up. I make mistakes. I choose incorrectly just like the rest. When I mess up I accept the responsibility for my choices. I accept responsibility for the part I played in getting to where we are. I do not feel the need to point out where others have contributed nor do I want to hear that from my family members. Why do I not want to hear about it from my family members? I do not believe in accepting any version of the truth that is not black and white.
Isn’t all truth the same?
I do not believe so. If I tell you how great you look in an outfit. And then I immediately tell you how much better I look in it. Do you feel like I gave you a compliment? If you answered yes. Then you and I are on the same page. You can skip down a little. 🙂
But for those who answered no, let me get you closer to where I am at. When I tell you I think you look great in your outfit. I am saying that because *emphasis here* —> “I” believe you look great in your outfit. Along those lines *just as much emphasis here* —–> “I” believe I look better in that outfit. Regardless if that is the truth or not, it is how I feel, it is the truth I believe. And how I feel, what I believe, shouldn’t affect how you feel. The truth is I believe you look great in your outfit. That is black and white truth.
Another truth is I believe I look better in that outfit. If you get offended because I stated my truth. You are choosing to be offended. Just because I said something, does not make it truth. By reacting to my truth, you are accepting it as your own truth. You’re probably understanding the raging bitch comment more now. To be fair, I choose not to share all of my truths. Just because I believe I look better in the outfit, does not mean I actually look better. I just think I do. So why tell someone something that might not be the truth for everyone? For me, I don’t have an answer. And so I choose not to speak about it. I will never tell someone I am better than them. Because I will never know I am better than someone.
You want to know my big truth, my dirtiest secret?
I’m scared to be alone because I don’t feel strong enough to stand on my own.
It has been coming for some time. A cliff I felt like I was hurdling towards with no idea where I was going, when the edge was getting close, or why I was running towards it. I felt it though long before my mind could make the connection. Today, Patrick and I found ourselves at the edge of the cliff. The worst thing I could imagine for the past twelve years has happened. Patrick and I have broken up. I am alone.
Are you freaking out?
I am perfectly sanguine about this break in our relationship. This is what is supposed to happen, what I believe needs to happen. Because I have peeled back my layers. I have asked every question I can think of right now. And I have found my truth. I found what it is going to take for me to be happy in any marital relationship. I need to know I can stand on my own. I need this. Because like above, how am I ever going to be able to trust Patrick if at my core, I do not trust myself. I see now as long as I have Patrick beside me, I will never truly feel I am doing it on my own. And so we set each other free. Patrick does not agree with my truths. For that I am sad. But I know they are not his, and though I have great insight into his truths – I can’t be sure my insights are black and white. And so I need Patrick to go find his truths.
My parents had problems in their relationship. My siblings and I knew from a young age they were unhappy and that they would divorce as soon as my little sister turned eighteen. They yelled and they screamed. Constantly. They raged at us. They raged at each other. My mother lied non stop. To us, to my dad, and to herself. My dad completely withdrew from reality, drinking away his connection to the unhappy environment he chose to tether himself to. We were aware of all of this, but they thought it was best to stay together. I am not angry with them for that. Because I know they believed they were doing the best thing for us. And if they hadn’t stayed together, I would not have felt so strongly about leaving a bad relationship. Their choices helped shape who I am today. I can’t be mad at that.
Though they thought it for the best, their choices did have a lasting effect on their children. It took more than twelve years and it cost a great person. Patrick I cannot tell you how hard it is for me to handle that I contributed to how low you are right now. Even more, I am saddened that I won’t be there to nurse you back to whole. But while it saddens me, I understand the necessity.
Nursing me back to whole completely broke you. You are a shell of the person when we met. You have admitted as much. Life, stress, and giving all of yourself for twelve years to a child who didn’t know how to give it back, took everything you need to be great. But along the way, you showed me how to nurse a broken shell of a person back to whole. What you don’t realize, is how you were giving me the Patrick-tailored instructions, perfectly designed to get you where you are meant to be. You showed me what it takes to nurse you to 100%. I think you might come to understand this because while you helped me along the way, we struggled. Man how we struggled.
You would always tell me you were just trying to help me, but I couldn’t hear you Patrick. I couldn’t listen to it. Because I wasn’t ready to hear the truths you had for me. Just like you aren’t ready for the truths I’m telling you now. I don’t think you need to change at all. I don’t think there is anything wrong with you. I think you are absolutely perfect, just the way you are. And just like you told me all of those things before Patrick, you can’t trust I believe that. Because you don’t believe that yourself. All those times you told me you were doing the best you could, doing what you thought needed to be done. It didn’t matter because our struggle came from our differences. I now think in black and whites while you have started living in shades of grey. You plan was difficult for me to accept, and for so long I resisted, but one of the very first things you felt I needed was to go off on my own. To grow up.
However, while you were a functioning man, you were not whole yet, so none of those separations stuck. I never took the chance to grow up. Because at the time, neither of us were strong enough to do what needed to be done. But that isn’t the case this time around. Now that the shoes are on the other feet baby, I know the right path we need to take. You showed me the way. And aren’t you the one that says you are always right, that no one ever listens to you? I listen angel. I listened to it all. And this time, I’m going to take your advice before we everything goes wrong.
This time around, one of us is whole. I am strong enough to take the leap your brain used to tell you is right. You’ve lost your way sweetheart and your brain isn’t telling you the same things. And even worse, you don’t have the confidence to know your brain is a little off track. And no matter how many times I tell you the things you used to know, you’re no longer ready to listen to them. To hear them. Because my truths are not your truths.
I am taking a break from the relationship, because there are issues in our relationship that are not being resolved while we are together. Being apart gives me the time I need to prove I can stand alone. I hope you take the time to find out what it is you need, what it is going to take to make you happy. Because I feel you are under the impression that you have to sacrifice your dreams for the sake of responsibility. And you are the most responsible person I know. You will give yourself to the ends of the earth. Always sacrificing. However, while your version of love is amazing, you deserve better. You deserve it all baby, nothing but the best.
And I believe your heart has a little crack it. Like a bone that hasn’t set correctly, sometimes you have to break it to make it heal properly. I’m sorry if I broke your heart, you told me Mom once said I was going to break your heart. She was right. But what she might not of realized is I’m doing my best to fix it they best way possible. Know that I am doing it with the best of intentions.
I love you Patrick. For eternity and then some. I love you enough to let you go. Truly let you go. Please come back to me. But if you never do, because I needed this time to complete the task you took to 99%, I understand. Some choices have consequences you can’t come back from. I sincerely hope this isn’t one of them.
I have eternal faith we are meant to be in each other’s lives. So many reasons I could list. But I don’t need to because I think you know them to. Yin and yang baby. That’s you and I. You told me when you put your arms around my waist, it just feels right. I agree. It is right. However your part of the yang isn’t complete. I’m the heart of the relationship and you’re the head. But like yin and yang, each side has a little of the other. I love you and I know you love me. That is black and white truth. But you haven’t learned to trust your little piece of the yang. That’s why this has to happen Patrick. You have to learn to trust yourself. Even if it is only a little bit. Because until you can trust every part of yourself, love every little thing, and know that you are perfect precisely the way you are. Until you know that you are the most perfect version of yourself. You are right you can always try harder but you can never be better. And I believe wholeheartedly you will never be able to love me the way I need until you believe that too. So go learn to trust yourself, before we get too old.
So when we come back together, and dammit I believe we will, we can give the girls everything they deserve. And that is a properly functioning family. I won’t do to my children what my parents did to me. I love myself too much for that. You should too.
Do you want the girls growing up believing they cannot dream? Because that’s what they are learning right now Patrick. They see you struggle. They see you withdraw from them. They feel that just like I do. Do you want Patience to shelve her dreams of being an artist like Mommy? Because one day she will if she takes after Daddy as he is now. Daddy gave up his dreams and she is just like you baby. Just like you. A mirror image in the form of a six year old.
And so when you go I will give you custody of the children. I am not going to make this difficult. My bond with the children is unshakable because I gave them life. Despite all of the troubles between my mother and I, despite the fact she does not have very big place in my life, I will forever be connected to her. Her sacrifice gave me life. That bond is eternal.
But Patrick, I know a father’s bond can be broken. Sadly I have experienced that one too. A father needs to be present in his child’s life. He needs to show them every single second of every single day that his love is very real and very present. He need to make sure the feel safe, protected, and stable. I could not think of a better person for the job. And so I want you to have the girls.
I hope you will let me see them. But I understand if you won’t. I hope you won’t make them think poorly of me. Because my parents did that when they finally separated. It is a difficult pill for a child to swallow hearing one parent say anything negative about the other parent. It makes them doubt everything they know.
Children are like mirrors. They haven’t developed their own sense of self yet, so they truly are a reflection of their surroundings. They are a reflection of the behaviors you and I are first showing them. When I was yelling and screaming at Prudence about how it is important to mean what we say and follow through with our promises, I had another epiphany. She was only doing what I taught her to do. How often do I tell her I will get her something, do something for her, and then forget and never deliver on my promise. My anger was not at her, it was at myself. So if you tear me down, please know the girls might feel like you are tearing them down too. Because they are a reflection of you and I. And what you might not like about me is fine, they don’t need to know you don’t like them. Because a child doesn’t look at a parent and see mistakes. Our girls look at you and see in black and white. All that you are is everything you should be to them. There is nothing you could do better.
And so you go with your mirrors Patrick. When they are reflecting black and white back at you, when you find your happiness, I think it’ll be time for our paths to join again. I hope you feel the same way.
I have my own question to answer. If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it, did it make a sound? I can’t answer that because I have never given myself the opportunity to stand alone and fall. You have always been there to catch me. I need to let go of my safety net so I may truly soar. And angel, I’m ready to soar. Please don’t hate me for needing to fly because you are the one who gave me my wings.
Now go get your wings so you can meet me up where we belong.