I have also been grieving the loss of my father and coming to grips with my broken relationship with one of my adult children.
To say I’ve been navigating a few life crises is a bleeping understatement.
But, I’ve also been doing a lot of soul searching – personal crises tend to do that to me – and I’ve gained some personal insight in this process. Thank God.
I turned 55 this year. Not exactly a spring chicken anymore, and it is a bit disconcerting to be facing another divorce at my age – the second.
It has thrown me into a bonafide existential tailspin complete with panic attacks, wrenching crying jags, depression, and more than a few fits of rage where I’ve shaken my two fists right up at God and life. So there. But if you’re going to have an existential crisis you may as well learn something – and I have.
Numero Uno: Take complete ownership for your own personal and moral failings which have contributed to your misery.
That’s a tough one. I’m all for blaming other people. It feels so much more gratifying, you know? But I want to grow in this life and be happy. In spite of my two failed marriages and a few other big, fat, moral failures, I have learned a few things. Such as:
Bitterness, rage, and refusing to take responsibility for your choices is a spiritual straight-jacket. You do that and “you ain’t goin’ nowhere, sister.”
So I’ve had to take more than a couple of long stares into the mirror and call it out the way it is. My own choices, my own actions, and my belief system have all brought me exactly to the place that I am now standing. So, fine. I’ll take the responsibility. It doesn’t mean I have to like it though, right?
My favorite contemporary poet, Maya Angelou, says
“when you know better, you do better.”
Well, at the glorious age of 55, I think I finally know better. I know why I keep attaching myself to people and circumstances which do nothing but bring me pain and reinforce a faulty self-image.
Self-worth is a fragile thing. It’s a lot like an oak tree, I think. It takes years and years to grow and only one fell swoop to knock it all to hell and back. Here’s another thing: you are the only one who can really give it to you. The value you place on who you are directly impacts the value that others will place on who you are. I know it all sounds trite. We hear it everyday, don’t we?
“You’ve got love yourself, sister!”
“If you don’t like you, who will?”
“Be kind to yourself!”
And blah, blah, blah. But the truth is this: If you think nothing of yourself, no one, absolutely no one else will either.
End of story.
I had a friend who was a professional dumpster diver. The guy believed that all of the treasures on this earth could be found in a stupid dumpster. He looked like a walking dumpster too. His hair was greasy and oily. His fingernails were always dirty. His clothes were smelly and raggedy.
But he was happy.
I could never understand it. I mean, I couldn’t accuse him of being a miserable dumpster diver. He wasn’t. He was one of the happiest, kindest, jovial people you would ever meet. But, deep inside, he didn’t believe the things he wanted out of life were anywhere but in a dumpster. Now look, if that’s where you want to be, far be it from me to suggest otherwise.
But for me? I’m tired of the fixer-uppers in life.