Revelatory: Finding Love Within myself

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The beginning of my journey of self-rediscovery and what I learned.

Submitted: January 05, 2009

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Submitted: January 05, 2009



Revelatory: Finding Love within myself

By Nathan Howell

I had just finished reading The Secret. I had first seen What the Bleep Do We Know six months earlier and all of this was being processed by my cynical and over-calculating mind. The beginning of 2008 seemed like it was going to be like countless years before it; which is to say that I had high hopes but no real faith that this year would bring any change to my circumstances. I felt the inklings that this Law of Attraction idea could work around two weeks into the New Year and indeed felt two relatively novel feelings: hope and wonder. I felt the first tendrils of happiness and I was determined to nurture it, but I was desperately out of practice. Valentine’s Day was approaching and I was pushing myself to put forth a valiant effort for my wife, to show her that I did indeed care. I’m ashamed to say that in this too; I was woefully out of practice. I additionally had quit taking the Zoloft that had been effectively blocking all of my emotion for three and a half years. I could feel that a great change was coming, but I was not prepared in the least for the Cataclysm that was coming.

I say “Cataclysm” in the meaning: “a violent upheaval that causes great destruction or brings about a fundamental change.” I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. I thought “What the Hell? I’ve been thinking positively, been making positive change my intention. What is this shit?” My wife, who I had been married to for nearing thirteen years, who had stood by me through every bout of depression and anxiety, told me as we were turning into February that she was pretty sure that she didn’t love me anymore. Did I still love her? “Of course”, I said, “Your just going through a phase of doubt, you’ll get over it.” Stupid, really, that this is how I dealt with this, but I really didn’t know how to deal with this. The way I had been dealing with problems for years was to step away from the situation, disconnect, coldly analyze the situation and then solve the problem. Efficient and kept me from getting hurt. It also kept me from becoming happy or sad or really anything. 

We had a reasonably good Valentine’s Day by my standards at the time, which were rooted in “fixing the problem”. And, for a little while, I thought that the “phase” was over. Then the Universe started whispering into my ear “Hey, you are the only one putting any effort into this relationship. Also, you’re the one who reorganizes your schedule to take care of the kids and when was the last time she did that?” So I told her this on a mid-March morning. She told me she definitely did not love me anymore and there was a coldness that sent me reeling. I sputtered and protested but couldn’t really convey what I was feeling, because I didn’t know how. I tried, but I really didn’t know how to deal with this. I told her that I was doing everything in my power to be the man I should be. But… it was a lie.

Now, hold on. Let me explain. I sincerely believed what I was saying, but there were little voices whispering to me in the dark, forgotten (read; suppressed) regions of my heart and mind. They would be patiently repeating themselves for several more months before my mind was sufficiently suited to listen. Oh, I’m pretty sure I heard them, but I wasn’t listening. What I was listening to were the million anxious thoughts shouting at me in the lonely nights after the kids went to bed, when the outside noise wasn’t loud enough to drown them out. These loud yelling thoughts were (almost) unfounded anxieties that just consumed me. To help combat this, I started keeping a list that I would inscribe each and every anxiety as it popped into my head. I did this because I discovered how ridiculous these “fears” were when I could see them on paper. When the list got to around a hundred in the space of 48 hours, I decided I would call a therapist to see if a professional might be able to “stem the flow” so I might get some peace. I called and told my wife that I was calling a therapist and she replied that it sounded like I had the right idea, and that she felt it was time that I started to Love myself. To which I said, “What if I come out of this and you don’t like what I’ve become?” That…is one of the most pertinent conversations that the Universe threw at me. I hated it at the time, and did not see what I was supposed to see.

After a couple of months of therapy sessions, my Anxiety problems had receded to almost nothing, and a new problem had emerged. I was a control freak. I was totally surprised by this. Me? Mr. Laid Back? I replied, how absurd. Maybe all of you reading this can spot what surprised me so much, but at the time I was completely blown away. I spent almost all of our time in session discussing what I was so entirely upset about: my wife and the quickly disintegrating state of my marriage. My wife was generally not coming home on the weekends, giving me vague answers as to where she had been, and basically treating me like I didn’t matter. And, of course, I didn’t. I wasn’t getting it. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. And the universe was putting it right there, in front of my nose. Like my younger sister’s husband saying, “Hey, I saw Brandy in Windsor and I said Hi to her, but she just walked quickly away. I can’t wrap my mind around why she’d do that?”

I started reading fantasy novels a lot. They provided a nice place to disappear into for little whiles. I also started to give her gifts I had made and it was one Friday night that I half walked and half leaped into Cataclysm number two. I was looking for our wedding album. That was my story. I believe that unconsciously, this too was bullshit. I wanted to remind her of her vows and thus why we had gotten married in the first place. Instead, I found the diary that I had given her a couple of Christmases back. In hindsight, I question my motives. What I consciously asked was “I wonder if she uses it? I doubt it.” What my real motives were, I can’t guess – other than maybe a quest for truth and pain. What I doknow is that I found out that she was cheating and I flipped out…and behaved like a wuss. Oh, I called it nobility and ‘being a bigger person’ and I actually did believe that’s what I was doing. I was, obviously, lying to myself. 

The next day, Cataclysm caught me on the backswing. I was reading Raymond E. Feist’s The King’s Buccaneer and the Universe said, “Here, I’m going to show you something.” The book was going into how the main character, Nicolas, had a club foot that nobody could cure. What caught me was when he was told that he was the reason that it was incurable. He was clinging to his deformity. Three magicians did a guided meditation that forced Nicolas to confront his fears. Long story short, this cured his foot. I went, “I’m such an idiot! Of course she cheated on me! I was expecting her to!” This was not the lesson I supposed to learn, so at the time it did me absolutely no good. But that’s okay. The lesson (which I will go into in much greater detail in another article) was the reason I was getting this life makeover was that I was holding onto my own demons, and that I would never become the person I knew I could be until I saw my own cancers that I was clinging to for the cancers that they were.

I was still clinging to the idea that somehow I would make it all work out. My marriage was being flushed and along with it my self-esteem. I took all of the responsibility. I must have pushed her to cheat, I must have treated her badly, and on and on. I decided that this would be a perfect time to quit smoking, and I did so on Independence Day, three days after our disastrous thirteenth anniversary. It turns out that sometimes absolutely insane decisions are the correct ones. To help with the cravings, I began to meditate to help calm myself. When everything was quiet, I could clearly hear the voices whispering in the space I had tried to seal away. They said, “Don’t you remember? You wanted to leave her twelve years ago. You even started looking at those other girls. Who are you to think that you have to fix all of this?” My therapist was saying the same thing. It was a month and four more increasingly desperate episodes on my part to bring order to our lives later that we unofficially separated.

Now, millions of people are going through this situation all the time. A little more than half, 51% to be exact, of marriages end in divorce the statisticians tell us. How bleak it is that they make our lives sound! I’ve wasted so much time feeling that everything was bleak and futile. And, quite frankly, it would be socially acceptable to wallow in the dissolution and betrayal inherent in this situation, especially since we were “separated” it was approximately one week before she found someone to replace me. But what would that serve? What does it cost me to move on and up? To be civil? No one and nothing for all three.

I went to see a man, in September, named Andy Dooley. Mr. Dooley is a motivational speaker and comedian. He was hilarious and one of the first positive parts of this series of Cataclysms. It wasn’t that he necessarily that he said anything new. It was that he crystallized all of the lessons that I had been too wrapped up in grief and struggle to understand into a lesson that I clearly could grasp and thus pull myself up and out of the pit that I entombed myself. He reminded me that I was someone, that I deserved to be happy, and that happiness attracts happiness just as negativity attracts negativity. I wake up from that day, through this and say “I’m going to have a great day.” I make that my intention. In short, I’ve become the guy I really hated in high school. This is progress.

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