Had a dream about my wife last night. We had been in the heart-pounding throes of an especially passionate foreplay session when suddenly everything dissolved and I found myself awake…alone…and reality came rushing back in around me. That cold, dead vacuum of awareness…then a deep, low anguish, with the recognition that the part of my brain whose job it is to cope with grief had been reset back to zero. This happens a lot.
There is a poetic justice about the whole thing. For years, I’d sunk deeper and deeper into my own, self-centered world of intoxication, indifferent to the pain she was experiencing as she pleaded with me to pull away from the bitterness and the lies, and to come back to her. In attempting to escape from one dimension of my emotional reality, I had inadvertently caused my mind to withdraw from everything and everyone, until, for all intents and purposes, there seemed to be no one left. I had undone my own humanity, and there she was, alone to languish. I can only imagine the hell she would face each day as she struggled to hold it all together, to take care of our two small children, go to work, and try to keep a brave face on things as the brittle husk of the man that I had been floated out with the tide every night, and washed up on the shore again each morning. How had she managed to do it?
There was a lot of stuff that happened. I was oblivious, just nursing my addictions in one form or another, even after having gone through treatment, gone through college, graduated with honors, found a job in my field…to all outward appearances, I was moving forward in life, overcoming my hurdles, and becoming healthier all the time. The sad fact of the matter, though, was that I was still withdrawn and resigned within myself. Though I was learning to become functional, I was checked out. Then, she left. Almost immediately, I snapped out of it, and, to me, it was like coming out of a time warp. The last ten years had been a blur.
[INTERMISSION — Go get popcorn. This one is long. Please accept my apologies.]
The problem that I have with faith is that I don’t get to know for sure how things will turn out. The basic conundrum of existing as a human (for me, anyway) is that when circumstances seem to reveal the slightest indication that things will turn out for the worse, I immediately revert to fear (the opposite of faith) and reach out in an attempt to control the situation through manipulation. That seemed to work out for me for a really long time there, but it was an illusion.
When I first took my family and left the cult, my only thought, the only thought I could still honestly call my own, was to escape. Just to survive. I made some really poor choices in the way that I chose to go about trying to do that, though, and in the long run those mistakes have cost me everything I cared about most (my family.)
I want to share some things that I wish I would have known ten years ago that could have changed the way this whole thing turned out. I mean, people told me these things, and I read them, and they seemed to make sense…but I didn’t know that they were true like I do now, on the other side of those ten years. I would have had to accept them in faith (an area in which I was severely crippled at the time.) I had to learn the hard way, though. Hindsight, and all that.
So here are the things:
- Just because you don’t see permanent, life-destroyingly negative results coming from your bad decisions (like the decision to get too drunk to exist without the cops being called on you, for example,) doesn’t mean that they won’t arrive. You really, really do reap what you sow. Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a destiny.
- The idea that escape from reality is possible is a complete illusion. You are actually still contributing something to reality, no matter how obliterated you are. You are still putting the building blocks of your world (and the worlds of those connected to you) in place by what you are doing, whether you’re taking or giving.
- It has been rightly stated that unforgiveness is like you drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. We need to forgive for the sake of our own heart and soul, not simply because of some perceived moral obligation. To neglect this is nothing less than outright self sabotage.
- It is absolutely imperative that you trust the people in your life who really do love you and have your best interests at heart. This can be all but impossible at times if you’ve been abused and have trust issues, but if you are hurting, isolation will destroy you. Believe that.
Above all of these lies the overarching theme of the power of the present moment. I can only change what happens in the now. I can’t change yesterday. I can’t do anything tomorrow, or even a few minutes from now. I can only do something here. Now. Right now I have the power to make a difference. We all do.