I’m coming up on an anniversary. In 2007 I spent five life-altering weeks at “The Meadows” where I went to finally come face to face with my childhood abandonment and trauma issues. Reflecting back I can see the experience with clarity as only a retrospective perception can give. Those days were absolutely the most meaningful but difficult of my life. It was the journey out of the darkness of my soul.
Six years ago on the evening of October 6th I stood at the admissions counter at the nurse’s station in Wickenburg, Arizona feeling fearful, cautious and in severe emotional pain. I had lost my second wife due to my inappropriate actions (I cheated on her). It was that loss that motivated me, or better stated, it was the almost unbearable pain of that loss that moved me to finally do something about my compulsions.
Some people drink. Others do drugs. Gambling is the choice for many. My compulsion was to seek a woman for sex to temporarily mask the pain. The craziness of frequently having at least two and sometimes more relationships at a time had been a burden I had carried since I has eighteen years old.
The majority of my ‘affairs’ were not causal. Factual or not, I largely believed that love was the motivator. Always searching and looking to find in someone else a way to fill in what was lacking in me. I did not realize fully that I was already well-loved. I lacked the ability to receive love as a ‘normal person’ would. I did not love myself. I blamed two wives and many lovers for an emptiness that was not their fault. I hurt a lot of people. What most probably have never grasped is my compulsions hurt me as deeply or worse than it did them.
While at “The Meadows” (http://www.themeadows.org/) I purchased a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love”. Reading it I underlined in pencil the passages I found particularly meaningful as is my habit. One particular passage has stuck with me. It’s describes well how I have always wanted to be love and be loved.
I love you.
I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long,
I will stay with you.
There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love.
I will protect you until you die,
and after your death I will still protect you.
I am stronger than Depression
and I am braver than Loneliness
and nothing will ever exhaust me.
That passage moves me to the point of emotional overflow even today. The desire for it is stronger than ever, but there is no definitive knowing if I could yet let it in from someone else. Sitting here telling the world is another small step in my healing.
In hindsight I was loved as Elizabeth Gilbert describes but could not appreciate it. It’s too late now to do anything but learn the necessary lessons from those relationships. At least then the pain was not for naught. To those women who loved me who I could not love enough in return I will always be grateful and deeply regretful for the pain I caused. Without those experiences I would not be the mostly happy and optimistic person I have become.
Forget past mistakes.
Forget about everything
except what you’re going to do now
– and do it.