Sunday, July 13, 2008

Confession of a Bad Boy

When things go wrong, a man wants very much to look for the cause and find a simple fix. On a roof, I like to call it the “Poke and Hope” method of repair, where we look for a hole, fill it, and wait for the next rainstorm to see if it still leaks.

In my own life, it takes a second failing marriage, a perspective of constant financial struggle, and alienated children to realize the extent of the leak. Simple pokes at making more money or bringing home more flowers have not stemmed the flow. The time has come to strip and rebuild the roof.

There are some who judge that I will never be able to take responsibility for myself and the “real” truth behind my recent changes. They surmise that even this blog is an effort to shape my world in a favorable light, to cast myself as a compassionate, sensitive soul of the best intentions and boundless love, when in fact I am a mess of self-delusions and inappropriate behaviors.

Although in many ways, I admit to a perplexing blindness of my own foibles, I have no misconceptions about the pain and suffering my choices have caused. It is easy to see the stains on the walls and, disregarding the other 50% that is the marriage dance, attach enough blame to myself for the damage that has caused the imminent collapse.

I choose to go deeper.

In the past, with incredible optimism, confidence, and determination to do the best for my family, I have launched into my own construction business, secured enviable projects, only to be overwhelmed and plummet into huge debt—not just once, but several times. So many broken promises to clients and subs, so much money desperately spent to plug holes and pay the mortgage, I have squandered my integrity with people who trusted me, were willing to back me. Sometimes, it would be far easier to run away in the middle of the night than to just move across town.

At home, the financial and emotional stress has undermined every activity of the family. Beyond bills being late and the TV inconveniently shut off, my kids have been subject to relentless and harassing calls from creditors, and lived under the shadow of a tax lien. They have witnessed their parents' humiliation when their card has been declined to buy groceries. They have opened our door to the sheriff delivering papers to their father.

I have been unable to adequately communicate the love I felt for my wife. She has suffered an emotional loneliness that I have failed to fill. Worse, in my despair and insecurity, I have compulsively explored internet chat rooms as if some relief could be found in a computer, an anonymous woman, who “talked” back. And for many years, to avoid looking at the truth of all this pain, I misled, then outright lied about the business failures, the unpaid taxes, the time on my computer.

I write all of this not to prevaricate or flagellate, nor to throw myself on the grenade to excuse or protect my partner from her 50%. That could easily be done in the silence of my own misery. I regret my mistakes and am so very sorry to have caused such pain to so many, but I cannot stop there.

This blog is about making change. In the humility and embarrassment that is common to all of us, we could walk with our heads down, eyes lowered, our fences high. But out of this pain, I am learning the beautiful lesson that in sharing our vulnerabilities, there comes union with ourselves and others.

There is new growth.

I have a great grandfather who, as county treasurer in 1890 Texas, kept the People’s money in his own small safe. When it was robbed, he was held responsible and worked for years to pay it all back. Though able eventually to settle his debts, he could never ultimately reclaim his honor. He chose to leave his family and end his life.

I will not do that.

Instead, I choose to go deeper still, to uncover the muck of personality and old habits that keeps me from living an authentic and satisfying life. It is cowardly to hide. Emotionally, it creates so many more problems to take the path of suicide. A true man, a warrior, identifies that something is wrong and seeks resolution, choosing the time to be patient and the place to do battle.

As a New Warrior I am beginning to use the circumstances of my environment and relationships to mirror the aggressor in my own soul. I am learning from my ancestors, honoring my own journey, and considering my effect on future generations. Instead of waging war, I am turning inward to fight my own shadows, fears, and misconceptions; turning inward to find balance in my life.

And only being victorious there, can I walk peacefully upon this earth, and in love with others.

I am willing to replace the roof to save the structure.

Please share with your friends


Anonymous said...

It takes a lot of courage to admit mistakes. You've just taken a very, very important step in your journey. I admire your strength and honesty in doing so :-)

Be well

Pauline said...

Two Maya Angelou quotes come to mind after reading this:

"You did what you knew how to do, and when you know better, you'll do better.

People will forget what you said, poeple will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Recognizing our mistakes is the hardest part of not making them again. You have owned up - it's time to let go and look forward. Be happy.

TheElementary said...

Life is so unbearably short. All we can do in the time we have is learn where we went wrong, and try not to fall in the same place again.
Looking backward is essential in understanding that, but it's important not to keep looking backward forever. At some point you'll realise you've earned the right to move on and decide that your mistakes are in the past.

Jaime said...

I took the time to read this with great care and attention.
You are a beautiful writer, and this post is so honest and real.

I'm wishing you strength and courage and happiness and peace on your journey into healing. Your heart is in the right place.

Take good care.