The title of this site is an excerpt of a quote from Mother Theresa that encourages the reader to not let others’ actions or attitudes define your actions. To draw upon your strength to do the right things irrespective of those around you or the situation you find yourself in. The words have resonated with me since I first heard them recited by the late Leo Buscaglia, perhaps 25 or 30 years ago, and I was reminded of them recently. I certainly have not followed them consistently in the past but reading them now gives me renewed confidence that while the world swirls around me with all its vagaries and pain and chaos, my actions should always come from a place anchored by joy and wonder and grace.
Those are the words I uttered or wrote, or some variant of them, every morning for nearly five years. When together they were spoken softly in her ear as we lay next to each other in the morning but often enough it was via text as I was traveling or we were apart in our respective homes with our kids. It was my way of reminding her, my lover, that she was in my mind first thing every morning. No matter the issues of the day before or the challenges facing us in the day to come, the “good morning” helped anchor each to the other. To know that no matter what happens during the day that we can take refuge in the knowledge we are loved so deeply by our partner that we will get through whatever faces us. We face the day together, regardless of where we are.
But the challenges we had we let get the better of us. We crossed lines that neither of us should have crossed and that neither are ever able to take back. We hurt each other profoundly. I have deep regret and remorse. But remorse doesn’t fix us and we broke. She rightly pointed to a singular element of our relationship that was a persistent issue and everything else was wonderful. We both envisioned ourselves together when we were 80. It was easy to imagine. It was easy. It was transcendent. So much so that we ought to have been able to conquer the stuff in our way. We each have our own demons and we let them conquer us instead of being strong enough to conquer them. I am still shocked at the reality of it all. At the behaviors we exhibited. How can there be any way back from things said and done on both sides? Have I lost the love of my life?
I write because while she has been able to express, to me and anyone that will listen, whatever occurs to her to share as far as her hurt, her feelings, or my failings, my thoughts and pain have been bottled up to silently work through on my own. Maybe deserved, but when I tried to communicate early on my words were turned against me. When love and kindness were extended, spite and hate were sent in return. So now the silence from me creates a void she fills with the horrible claims, false assumptions, and lashing out. It’s incredibly painful to hear hate from a person I love. I am a monster and irredeemable in her eyes. I will be honest to myself about my failings and I, like her, have many but I am no monster. She is in pain. I am in pain. We process our pain in different manners but pain is no excuse to be unkind.
I heard this song the other day and its fitting given the point we are at, from her perspective at least. I know I have many things to improve upon, many of which I was already actively working on and making progress towards, some of which she pointed to and I avoided, some which I only discovered through the crucible of a horrible ending to our relationship. So many things are shocking to me how it ended and it will take time, focused thought and attention on those things to truly understand what happened and why. Whatever the results and ignoring, for a moment, the truly hurtful, harmful things she has said and done, I can confidently say she deserves a better man, whether that be me in another time and place or someone else. She deserves someone that fills her with confidence and love and a sense of safety. I gave her all my love, truly. I held her tight when she didn’t feel safe, until her breathing calmed, until her heart rate slowed, until she knew that this soul holding her was hers. What I didn’t accomplish, maybe out of neglect but never out a desire to make her untethered, was to make her feel safe. To make her feel special. I don’t know if I could have filled the hole, but I certainly could have done more to try. I could have been a better man.
Too often I am told I don’t understand. I do.