Here is an abridged extract from my yet-to-be-published book, THE WISE OLD MAN & THE KID, A Guide to Living a Positive Life. The old man, Davey, has struck up a friendship with 15-year-old Noah, as they go fishing together most days over Noah’s school holidays.
Davey, a successful writer, is spending some time re-visiting the place where he grew up, in order to fine-tune his autobiography. Noah is a willing and interested listener as Davey tells him about his life’s trials and tribulations, and what he has learned from them.
The following extract continues the theme of relationships and commences with some observations from Davey’s autobiography.
I now understand that relationships - all relationships, even those with people I’ve considered to be my enemies – have provided me with the best, and most effective way, to learn and grow. However, my close-minded resistance to these opportunities through fear, judgment or anger, for example, has only brought me pain and has stifled my growth. It’s taken me a long time to acknowledge the need to be open and receptive to the opportunities relationships offer. I kept repeating my mistakes, thinking, like an insane person, that reacting the same way to circumstances will produce a different result until, through synchronicity repeating the lessons to be learned, I eventually got it and began to choose to respond to people and situations differently.
Focusing on my romantic relationships in this regard, I drifted from relationship to relationship, from one marriage to the next, repeating the same mistakes over and over.
On reflection, I now believe I began to build up a defense system in my own mind, so women would never get the upper hand over me, as a result of my formative experiences. I was determined, by building a wall around my feelings and emotions, no woman would ever pull my strings. I was going to be in charge. I was going to be the one in control. There was no way any woman was going reject and hurt me!
I had little respect for women and I was never going to let them dominate me again. The way I put this into practice was to treat my female partners very badly. To me, women mainly represented one-dimensional sexual objects. They were to be used to satisfy my own selfish needs and discarded when the novelty of physical intimacy began to diminish and my shame and guilt became too much too bear. Of course, I would always place the blame on them for the break-down of our relationships. I always denied any responsibility.
My first two marriages were based on this one-dimensional view of women. I chose partners who I thought would be compliant to my needs, as well as be dependent on me as the person who called all the shots in the relationship.
For a while, things seemed to go according to plan with my marriages. However, although I chose to deny this at the time, my shame and guilt for using my partners in this way began to gnaw away at me. I then fell for the ego’s trick of dealing with these feelings by projecting them onto my partners. Finding fault, unfairly blaming them for a multitude of imperfections. Building up a watertight case in my mind they were to blame for all of our problems.
A one-dimensional view of one’s partner is so limiting and lacking substance. When the honeymoon period was over, I found there seemed to be no solid foundation for the relationship. I drew the protective shell of withdrawal tightly over my feelings. I withdrew my affection, attention and appreciation of my partners. Because my guilt and shame were too much to bear, I then convinced myself I wasn’t to blame. I felt let down and betrayed and then, through faultfinding, I projected my guilt and shame onto them. My marriages lurched from one crisis to the next.
I was effectively crippling myself emotionally by becoming increasingly self-centered, cold and uncaring. I was stunting my growth, not only emotionally, but also physically, mentally and spiritually. Physically and mentally through stress and illness and spiritually, by further disconnecting from the positive power within my mind.
I’d convinced myself that suppressing my emotions was the way to ensure no one could hurt me. In fact, I was only deceiving myself. The bottling up of my emotions progressively built up feelings of frustration, anger and self-hatred and eventually despair and depression. I’d always convinced myself that not displaying my emotions was a strength, while all along this behavior was bringing me to my knees. The result of mounting this ‘defense’ was slow self-destruction.
“What about with your last wife, Laura? Wasn’t that a holy relationship?” asked Noah.
“I’d like to think it was definitely heading in that direction,” replied Davey. “Certainly towards the end of her life, we’d moved well past dumping our guilt onto each other. And I reckon we were very much on-song regarding our goals and values. We shared a common purpose of helping each other walk the path of light towards awakening and God.”
“Didn’t your relationship with her start that way?”
“No. It was a typical romantic or special relationship to begin with. I certainly leaped into the relationship with Laura thinking she could fill the lack I felt in me. I didn’t realize that the emptiness, or lack I felt coming from my unconscious mind, was my deep longing for God’s love that I thought I was missing out on because I had abandoned Him. Maybe Laura was coming from a similar place and thought the same about me.
“Typically, after the ‘honeymoon period’ was over, cracks in the relationship began to appear, as both of us were disappointed that the other hadn’t lived up to expectations. The relationship progressively degenerated into a battle between our egos, with blame, guilt-trips, denials, defenses, anger and conflicts rearing their ugly heads.”
“How did things change?”
“Paradoxically, because we were both students of A Course in Miracles, we had a pretty good idea of what we were doing to each other and to ourselves. But our egos were up to the fight, even though there could be no winners and our relationship was in free-fall. Fortunately, we both came to our senses after my unsuccessful suicide attempt.”
“In my case, I realized that my life was spared for a reason – even if I didn’t immediately know what that reason was. As for Laura, I think the shock of my attempt on my life profoundly affected her. As a result, she allowed more of her real Self to emerge – the Self that’s connected to God. Her non-judgmental, forgiving, caring and loving Self, not her ego-dominated self. From that time on, our relationship began to heal, as I reciprocated, and we grew closer and closer together as the years rolled on.”
Your feedback on the above would again be appreciated.