Friday, March 27, 2009

Flood Waters Released

Sometimes to move forward, we have to take a good hard look back.

Just knowing that we want things to be different is not enough. Like a side pool of near-stagnant water circling endlessly, the same subtle undercurrents that caught us in this place, keep us trapped, no matter how clearly we see the middle of the stream.

For many years, through two families, I had a strong grasp on the secure, solid, and stable lifestyle envisioned for my children. Blessed by the opportunities and the loving support provided by my own parents, I could only imagine the same for my family, colored this time more brightly by a little more involvement of the dad in our daily activities.

With the vision so strongly before me, I lived the reality in terms of the physical presence, involved and caring, but the actual sense of complete and utter safety—so evident in my own youth—has always been elusive. For all of my children, the solid foundation that I experienced has rarely existed.

Contrary to all of this New Age philosophy and Quantum Physical proof that we create our own universe through the translation of our thoughts into reality, my adult life has been so distinctly insecure and fraught with such emotional violence, I worry it will require too much hard work and tenacity for any or all of us to undo. My children consciously and sub-consciously suffer the legacy of my fears and foolish choices, despite the indomitable man of unconditional love and emotional openness I aspire to exemplify.

The first step of healing begins with me: identifying initially the depth of my discomfort, then understanding some of the forces that continue to harm the best laid plans, hopes and desires.

For all the betters or worse, there is no problem enumerating the parts that have not worked in my life over these many years. Judged solely by the measuring sticks of my bank account, credit report and accumulated assets, I am a dismal failure of a man.

My unbounded optimism, however, placed the blame squarely on a lack of money forcing pressurized decisions that often resulted in only making things worse. If I could just throw a few more dollars at a problem, I kept thinking—believing with all my intellect—there could finally be the breathing room to make healthier choices.

My father, bless his caring heart, listened with the same concern as I when my friend’s doctors assured us we could not possibly want to deny all the tools we have available to help. He bailed me out with dollars that were just as quickly swallowed in the business that artificially nourished and supported my life, but never truthfully satisfied my soul.

Excuses abounded to allow the question of whether the stress of the business strained the marriages or the other way around, but all of the arguing was distraction from the real insight that I was not living as I loved. Although I learned to justify that being involved in renovations all my life meant I loved it, in truth, earning an income through construction had always been secondary to my passion to play music and write.

At first in college, then living in Oregon, it was an easy way to earn dollars quickly, paycheck enough for “X” number of hours worked. Transient and flexible, the work was ideally suited to pay bills while my creative career was established. Over time and increasing family commitments, however, the nailbelt carried a life of its own, requiring more attention as the size of the tools grew with the size of the projects.

Needing definition in my life as well as dollars, I more often called myself a carpenter and responded to the demand by hiring more help, then taking out an expensive add in the Yellow Pages to feed my employees. Soon my writing pads and computer screen only showed dimensions, spreadsheets and lists of things to do, while my guitar was shut away unplayed, the case collecting dust unseen in the corner.

Now that New Age thinking resonates with more clarity as I begin to understand the currents that led to my particular over-flowing pools of stagnation, unwanted addictions, and sense of abundant failure. The half-hearted effort to work with my own hands or, later, to design and direct others to build (in some small measure imitating my architect father) was just so half-hearted, no matter how well intended, and therefore doomed.

Only now, at midlife, hopefully before it is too late and I truly regret never having tried, by embracing the activities that whole-heartedly inspire my passion, doors begin to open, leading towards my most intimate hopes and dreams. Opportunities I once imagined with both wonder and fear are actually manifesting.

Rather than avoiding it and living falsely, by recognizing, acknowledging and learning to live with that fear, I finally stand a real chance of moving forward towards the happiness we all deserve. In fact, after two failures, I see a glimmer of hope that I might even make a good husband yet.

For now, I am focused on being a better father.

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5 comments:

Laurie said...

I think it is amazing that when you take care of yourself, you have more to give. By living authentically, you make yourself healthier and are a better father, friend, lover etc.

You said, "Judged solely by the measuring sticks of my bank account, credit report and accumulated assets, I am a dismal failure of a man."
I have figured out that men measure their success using the measuring stick of money and assets, but may I suggest another scale to calibrate your worth against? How about using your heart to determine your value and success. How about the love your son has for you or your integrity. To me, those things matter so much more than money. Any woman worth her estrogen, will value those qualities more than money and bank accounts as well. Kip, don't sell yourself short. You are a great man.

Carol said...

I have to agree with Laurie :-)

But from your post itself, it is quite apparent that you wish to move forward and judge your value as a human being in an entirely different way. And this is good :-)

Erin said...

remember...."third time's a charm!"

Hayden Tompkins said...

"Just knowing that we want things to be different is not enough."

You sure know how to put a whole lot of wisdom into such a little sentence! This is very true, especially since much of our 'knowing' is related to the mind while much of our actions comes from the promptings of our heart.

As for being a failure, do you know how successful you are?? The money, the credit reports, assets - none of that really MEAN anything. They're all man made inventions. But your spiritual and personal expansion? Opening your heart? Love and giving deeply and fully?? That you can take with you.

I don't think that success can be found in anything which can be measured.

I'm actually happy for you that your business blew up in your face. Would you have taken such brave and transformative steps otherwise? Would you have reconnected with your gifts?

That you had the sight to see it for what it really was...an opportunity for transformation.

Kip de Moll said...

You four collectively make up quite an impressive team of cheerleaders!

If I really did measure myself by those male standards, I'd be a miserable curmudgeon, probably on suicide watch. I guess it's all this female energy in my life (especially my mother) that always has me see the sunshine behind the cloud.

Hayden, I agree, moving away from the business has been a great thing, and the need to do this other work has likely been a major reason the business never went well. I was just so damned determined to be successful (like my dad)!

It's amazing to hear my oldest say "I've got my Dad back!", or high five Sawyer's fist on the slope, or feel those Skatter Monkies snuggle in. I know I'm doing some things right.

But mostly, it's the joy resonating in my own heart that warmns me before flowing outward. The more I focus on that, the more clearly these words and the music become apparent.

thank you all for being such great support!