c/w Depression / Addiction
We have to hurt to know; an unfortunate truth. This is a lesson older than time. I was raised to learn from my mistakes. I was usually told of the consequences, and then the choice was mine to make my decisions. As children, we are warned not to touch a hot stove. As adults, we have to know that we shouldn’t do certain things. You know you shouldn’t do it. Even as children, sometimes we know. We can not help ourselves, though, can we? We touch the stove, and of course, Mom was right. It hurts. The decision was ours. Now that we know the consequence will hurt, we have to, or we should decide not to touch the hot stove again. The decision is the hard part. Call it curiosity, defiance, or even confidence that you can handle whatever the consequences are; you are tempted. As you grow older, you may learn to listen and protect yourself from physical pain. It’s the heart we forget to protect with the same veracity. My heartbreaks, no matter the reason, have always taught me lessons. I may not have applied those lessons immediately, and that is my bad. Looking back, I see that the mistakes made more than once were my fault, my responsibility. I can blame other people or other circumstances, but if I was in a situation and it didn’t work, and I got back into that situation again, I can only blame myself. Does hurt always equal knowledge? For me, it has. I benefit from being older and looking back at the chapters in my life and seeing the patterns of hurt that followed my pattern of mistakes and bad decisions.
We have to fall in order to grow
When I read this, it resonated on multiple levels for me. To continue the analogy above, when we are younger, we first learn about falling while learning to crawl or walk. To get good at anything, we have to keep practicing. In that vein, we also have to keep trying to get what we want sexually, our happiness, in our family, etc. I still look back at times I have fallen with regret and sorrow. I think that is somewhat normal. It is easy to look back in hindsight and see where we went wrong. In gymnastics, the gymnast tries a new move multiple times before getting it perfect. Why is love any different? I look at couples I went to high school with (which was quite a few years ago), and I see many of the that married early are still together. Celebrating 20 and 30 years together, seemingly disgustingly happy. (At least on Facebook). I am sure there were issues along the way, but they kept at it and made it work. That makes me sad for myself at times. I have two divorces under my belt, one for each team, and a few relationships that I wish I had never had or wish I had done work. Recently, I have tried to have a better perspective. The relationships I had, my marriages included, were right for me at the time. There were mistakes where blame could be laid on either my partner or me, but what good does that do? I have jokingly said I have a 10-year threshold before things start to go south. My marriages, 20 and then 15 years, were good at times and gave me joy. I shouldn’t be sad about that. I can be sad about my mistakes, but they are only stupid mistakes if I don’t apply the knowledge I gained from them.
We have to lose to gain
Loss is something that is in a category of its own. I have had a lot of loss recently that I am struggling with on a larger level that I have experienced in the past. Perhaps it is because it all seemed to come in rapid fire. It started in 2014 when my daughter bravely told me of her addiction to heroin. 2015 and 2016 was getting her clean and healthy. There was loss there. It was a loss of her innocence, of the little girl I raised, and mostly, of life as I knew it. I spent my time reliving my parenting like a movie in my head, picking out the mistakes one by one. She is my only child. I knew there were no “do overs”. I had fucked up. I had fucked her up, failed her.
2017 saw the end of my second marriage. My wife was never comfortable with parenting my daughter but always let me know when she felt I wasn’t strict enough. The two of them never got along, and I just kept telling myself they would be great friends when my daughter was older. That didn’t happen. I mishandled things with my wife. I had shut down, and there were things I didn’t share with her. She felt left out. In my mind, she never wanted to be a mother to my daughter, so I took the stance that this was my fuck up (it wasn’t, and I know that, most of the time), and I would fix it and save my daughter. My wife wasn’t comfortable with the time this new issue had me spending with my ex-husband. He was my daughter’s father, and of course, he needed to be involved. All of that to say, we didn’t make it. The separation was hard and rude. The farm we had dreamed of and worked hard for had to be sold. To this day, it was one of the worst things that have happened in my life, aside from my daughter’s addiction.
The two years after all of this was the beginning and continuation of rebuilding my life. Stumbling over a loss to find what I have gained has been difficult. It has been unsuccessful mostly. I am trying to change that with a new perspective, and writing about these mistakes helps a little but falls short most of the time. It will take time, I suppose, to find that balance of loss and gain. I am still working on it.
Most of life’s lessons are taught through pain.
Doesn’t that fucking suck? There are times I am sure I have had enough pain to last a lifetime. There are also times that I know there are people out there dealing with way more pain than I am. I always try and stay positive about my situations. I also am trying to remember to give myself a break and allow myself to feel how I am feeling. Sometimes we need to be sad. If you are learning all your life lessons through pain, you are going to have some sad times. That is okay. I know there are folks that truly struggle with depression and I believe we all have to do what we need to do to be and feel okay. Sadness and depression are such an individual part of our lives and how we handle them is individual as well.
I handle my sadness at the moment. I let it happen but get on with my day, week, or month—the sadness and remembering the things that bring on the sadness creep in at random times. I could be driving, watching a movie, see another couple that looks extremely happy and in love. I could be listening to Mom talk about her worries and concerns, and her sadness. Yes, we have to learn through our life lessons and know that what we have been through is building blocks to where we can do. That is easier for some. We have to be able to process those things that hurt us or almost break us. We have to do a lot of things to keep ourselves on track. It isn’t easy, and I don’t mean to make it sound that way. If I had all the answers, I would list them here, write a book, and retire early. There are systems in place. We have to find the ones that work best for us as individuals. When we choose a system, and that system doesn’t work for us, we have to try another system. I have learned that I have to keep trying different things. Maybe it isn’t a completely different system. Maybe it is simply that I have to alter one or two steps in the system.
It is an ongoing challenge that we all have to face. Like it or not, life is going to teach us. Just like when we were kids, there are lessons learned whether you want to be schooled or not. I want to move forward by embracing these lessons. Hopefully, the older I get, the fewer regrets I will have from these lessons. I hope so. I know there will always be regrets because I am not perfect. That is something else that I have to embrace. I am not perfect. No matter how hard I try or want to be, I am not perfect. I will try to improve, learn, love, and laugh more freely and willingly, not because I have to, but because I know that from all these lessons comes growth and balance.