The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.
- H. L. Mencken
Man, this growing up thing is proving to be one Hell of an eye-opening experience for me. After almost losing a relationship that I've come to value and appreciate more than I'd thought possible, it's finally dawned on me that I'm my own worst enemy. Yeah, I know...like I'm the first person to ever come to that realization during the course of a lifetime, right? Still, even though I on occasion fancy myself an intelligent, intellectually agile sort, I can be stunningly dense when it comes to recognizing the needless worrying and suffering I've been subjecting myself to over the years. I've become the very definition of the phrase, "self-fulfilling prophecy."
Like many (probably most) of us, I'm a product of my own bad habits. Even worse, I'm a person who has allowed myself to live a life ruled by insecurities, most pointless and beyond silly. Still, there is some good news in this scenario. Bad habits can be broken. It takes time, patience, and a high degree of mindfulness, but habits can be changed...and I do want to change them.
Over the course of my adult life, I've never felt like an equal in any relationship. Were I to be honest with myself, and I have to be at this point, I'd admit that I've undertaken two marriages and numerous relationships with the same fears. The fear that I'd be found wanting and that the other person would go away. The fear that the other person would discover that I wasn't the person they'd thought I was. The fear that I'd lose their love and approval. I could go on, but you get the point, right?
The trick is not how much pain you feel - but how much joy you feel. Any idiot can feel pain. Life is full of excuses to feel pain, excuses not to live, excuses, excuses, excuses.
- Erica Jong
The good news in this sorry scenario is that, for whatever reason, I finally feel as if I get it. I've finally come to grips with the reality that I'm my own worst enemy, and that I have both the power AND the ability to change the way I approach both myself and my ability to function as a whole, healthy human being in a relationship. Of course, it's only taken me two marriages and numerous abortive relationships to get to this point...but at least I have. Realizing this is only the first step, of course. I now have to work on being conscious of what I'm doing and how I'm feeling about things. I have to be able to determine if something I'm fretting about is based in fact or fiction. "Fact", meaning that there's something that needs to be paid attention to. "Fiction", meaning that I'm worrying about things that my overheated imagination has made up out of whole cloth. Not exactly rocket, but it's certainly taken me long enough to see the light. Duhhhh....
(Cue the Stewart Smalley clip in 4...3...2....)
Thankfully, I'm fortunate enough to have someone in my life who's willing to be patient and grant me whatever time and space I might need to work things out. She could have walked away...and she wouldn't have been the first to do so. To say that I feel very blessed to have her in my life wouldn't begin to do justice to how I feel about her. It's good to know that she understands and is willing to be there for me as I try to change some bad habits and stop fearing what doesn't need to be feared. I don't know that I can adequately express how much that means to me and how much I value and appreciate her. Yes, I'm a lucky guy...and don't think I'm going to be losing sight of that anytime soon. In the meantime, it would appear that I have some work to do....
Changing bad habits that have accumulated over the course of a lifetime is by no means an easy thing to do. It IS possible, though, and I have 1) my own peace of mind, and 2) 5'3" of rich, creamy goodness serving as incentive. I want to be able to do things differently for myself, but I know that if I'm successful, the relationship I currently find myself in can only benefit...and the more I think about that, the more I want it.
Peace of mind is a good thing. A satisfying, functional, and rewarding relationship is also a good thing. Put both of them together, and...well, let's just say that I'd sure like to find out what that feels like. The beautiful thing about what I'm trying to do is that it's well within my reach and my ability. I CAN change...and with some hard work and mindfulness, I WILL change. I can hardly wait to find out what that feels like.