Letting go

As I try to move forward in my life the number one thing that keeps holding me back is my inability, or perhaps my unwillingness, to let go. I can let go of things. I can let go of the past. I can let go of expectations. I can let go of shame, fear, regret, resentment, anger and pain.

Sometimes however, I simply cannot let go. I’ve been reluctant to write about this specifically until now. I have been letting it rattle around in my brain but it is weighing me down. I still don’t have the answer but sometimes writing can help me get a little bit closer.

You see, when it comes to moving my life forward there is no greater motivation than love. While I may not fully understand what love is, I know where it lives. It lives within each and everyone of us. It lives in people. My cat might have it too, I’m not sure.

I’m not willing to let go of love. I am not willing to let go of people. I am not willing to give up on anyone. I’m just not strong enough to do it all on my own. I need love. I need people. I need people who will not give up on me.

And there is the bind that I am in. That is my delima. That is my struggle and in it is where I find my suffering.

Knowing that I can’t get through this life alone I have been reaching out and trying to reconnect with the people who have meant the most to me. One was an ex-girlfriend. We broke up many years ago but I never stopped loving her. For five years she refused to have anything to do with me but we finally did reconnect a little over a year ago. I thought things were going fine but my recent attempts to make contact have gone unanswered.

Until I received this:

[Contents deleted – It’s not like to to censor myself but since these aren’t actually my words I don’t feel justified in posting them. You can use your imagination but in essence I was told that I was not trusted, that I was a violator and that this person did not want to know me anymore.]

Okay. That’s pretty clear. I can accept that. While much of it may be out of line and unwarranted I’m sure that there is some validity to it. I am after all the asshole who just posted the entire contents of a personal text message to the internet. I’m somewhat conflicted about that. I may come to regret that decision but it is my way of letting it go, moving on and finding peace. I may not be able to let go of the love I feel for this person but I can let go of the hate. I just need to take it out and look at it one last time.

[I did that and then I deleted the contents]

The next story is much harder for me to deal with. Over the summer I lost the greatest love of my life, the best friend I have ever had. There is no way for me to write about this without welling up in tears.

For the first time in my life I felt like I had someone who loved and accepted me for exactly who I am, warts and all. For the first time in my life I was able to completely let my guard down and just be me. For the first time in my life I didn’t feel like I was with someone who was trying to use me or change me to meet their needs. For the first time in my life I actually felt safe in love.

Maybe that doesn’t really exist. Maybe I was just under a spell. Maybe it was all a delusion but it felt real to me and I want it back! All I have ever wanted in life was to find one person who could accept me, all of me, just as I am. Maybe that’s not possible. I mean really, if anybody should, it would be me and I can’t do it. I want to be that person for myself but I just don’t know if I can do it without help.

Maybe that help doesn’t come in one person. Maybe it takes lots of people but I’m not willing to give up on this one. This is the closest I have ever gotten and I’m not ready to let go.

As hard as losing my best friend is there is one loss that is even more devastating.  I haven’t talked to my daughter in over two months. If I’ve done anything wrong here, I have no idea what it is. My suspicion is that it has more to do with her mother than with my daughter and that really frustrates me.

The cause is unimportant, the result is still unacceptable. I may not deserve a daughter but my daughter most definitely deserves a dad. I am not willing to give up on her, I’m just not strong enough to navigate her mother. I never have been and I’m feeling defeated.

Not letting go is holding me back but when it comes to the most important people in my life, I’m not willing to let go; especially when it comes to my daughter. I’m not willing to just sidestep the problem and move on. So that means I must carry it with me wherever I go. I just wish I was stronger.

Yeah, I wish I was stronger, I wish I knew more and I wish that I could just fix everything! But some things don’t get fixed. Sometimes there is no workaround. Sometimes there is nothing to do but go through it carrying the load that brought me here.

I had really hoped that I would have come to a better conclusion after writing this. It wasn’t easy but it was worth a shot. I still caved and made myself a cocktail to get through the last half. I had no intention of drinking today.

Anyway, maybe I’m missing something (I do have only one eye and I miss a lot). Maybe you have some insight. At this point there are nothing but wrong answers so don’t be afraid to give me yours.

Advertisements

Nice guys finish last

We are still back on last Saturday. My bff and I were waiting for her sister to arrive at the apartment before heading to the show. With a few minutes to spare I offered to run up to the liquor store and pick up some beer. She handed me a twenty and a five and I walked the two blocks to the store. I grabbed a couple six-packs and headed to the cashier. It should have cost $22 or so but when I handed the cashier the twenty he started making change. I was momentarily confused until I realized he only rang up one of the six-packs. I let him know and we figured I owed him double what I had been charged.  He apologized for his mistake and thanked me for being honest.

“It’s a curse” I replied.

Fuck! I could have walked away with a free six-pack. Granted, it wasn’t my money in the first place.

Would I have been so honest if it was?

Absolutely, but it’s not a curse; it’s conditioning. I have made a very conscious decision to live life as honestly as possible. Despite what I know some people think, I’m not naturally a nice guy. In fact, I’m perfectly capable of doing some really horrible things. I can be an asshole, and at times, when I’m not on my game, that part of me still comes out.

So why not embrace it?

I’ve seen how people can benefit greatly from lying, cheating and stealing. People get away with doing fucked up shit all the time and even if they do get caught the consequences rarely seem to eliminate the gains. Nice guys get screwed over all the time.

Why would anyone choose to be a nice guy?

Well I do, because at the end of the day, I have to be able to live with myself – not because I need to believe that I am a nice guy, I know who the fuck I am. It is quite literally about my very survival. I’ve seen the harm that abuse, corruption and dishonesty can cause and I don’t want to live with someone who is causing that kind of pain. Life sucks enough as it is. I can’t bare the thought of making it anymore difficult for anyone else. Perhaps, if I were a stronger person I could stomach being an asshole, but I can’t. I’ve got a brain that routinely tries to kill me. I don’t need to give it any more ammunition.

The good news is that there is an upside to treating people with respect, kindness, honesty and generosity. There are benefits to being a decent person, but not without humility. Humility is probably the hardest part, and while it may seem a bit counter-intuitive, it is the key to making the “nice guy” way of life self serving. I may be nice guy for purely selfish reasons but there would be nothing nice about it if I thought it made me any better than anyone else. You can’t fake it. You have to be it, but I believe it is within all of us. Hell, if it’s within me, I’m damn sure it’s within you!

So what are the benefits to being a nice guy?

For starters, you can do away with shame and guilt. I’m not saying nice guys never fucks up, but if you are respectful, kind, honest, generous and humble you can own your fuck-ups and not let them get the better of you. You can apologize, learn from your mistakes, and know that your transgressions don’t define you. You don’t need to keep secrets and you don’t need to hide from who you are.

It also makes you less susceptible to manipulation and coercion. The adage that, “you can’t con an honest man”, I will go on record saying is complete bullshit.  But, if you are truly a nice guy, you won’t need the external validation that will make you susceptible to this kind of manipulation. If you capitulate it will be by choice, because it’s your nature or who you have chosen to be, not because someone pulled one over on you. Coercion involves force, which you would think a nice guy would have a harder time defending against, but most force is primarily psychological, not physical. What is usually being threatened is your sense of power or prestige but a nice guy knows these things come from within and cannot be taken through intimidation.

The best thing you gain by being a nice guy is the relationships you create. People will like you. Obviously, not everyone. Some people will have a really hard time with someone who is shameless and can’t be manipulated – that’s okay. You don’t need everyone to like you. Even an elected official only needs 50% + 1 of their constituents to like them to get elected. Okay, I don’t know if that is a good example. I don’t think I would conciser most elected officials to be nice guys but I think that most nice guys have higher approval ratings than elected officials. The people who will like you will like you for who you are – not for what you can give them.

I don’t have money or leverage but I still have people who like me. I have a phone with over 1,000 phone numbers of people I consider friends. These people mean more to me than all the wealth in the world. Because I have built this network of people, by getting out there and meeting people, by being genuine and honest, by being a nice guy, I know that I can make it through anything.

And this is what this entire post has been leading up to…

At two o’clock on Sunday afternoon I found myself in need of a date for a seven o’clock play. It’s an amazing play by the way, it was written by Jon Robin Baitz probably best known as the creator of the ABC drama Bothers and Sisters, dealt with the issue of writing a memoir and the damage it could cause to family members, something I can relate to oh so well, but that’s not my point. My point is that I had three hours to find a date on a Sunday afternoon. I can remember when this would have seemed like an impossible task, but now I totally felt confident that I could do it.

I started going through my contacts. I didn’t call everyone but it still took me up to letter J before I got anyone to answer their phone. Are J named people really better? I like to think so but no… it was just coincidence, just luck, just fate, actually, it was just the way it worked out. But I couldn’t have been happier. I wound up with the best date I could have hoped for.

I didn’t get laid. This is an area where not being a nice guy may have gotten me further but using my not-so-nice-guy skills is not the way I want to have sex. I am grateful that I no longer feel like I need to have sex at any cost. I still get laid but I do it with respect, kindness, honesty and humility.

Yeah, nice guys may finish last but life is not a race, it’s an adventure you want to last as long as possible.

I will leave you with a quote from a man who by all accounts was a nice guy. He came from extremely modest beginnings but became extremely successful and spent 88 years experiencing this thing called life.

“You need power, only when you want to do something harmful, otherwise love is enough to get everything done”  – Charlie Chaplin

 

%d bloggers like this: