Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sage and Youngster

In some aspects of my being, I am a sage. Often called “wise” by some along my life pathway. In other aspects, I am but a youngster, just learning to recognize, and respond appropriately to (and how to recover from inappropriate responses to), the new-to-me environment of an independent man.

Yes, I am all too familiar with my physical chronology. I am appreciative of my emotional and mental prowess … and am grateful for my attained perspectives of and understanding of my place in the universe, time, and, indeed, eternity. I know my Self. But Consequently, I am also quite aware of, and respectful of, the chronology of my male personhood. And, My Dear Friend, that area of growth is a world of experience and development apart from all other aspects of my human totality.

You see, I forced myself (by virtue of choices made, consequences stemming from those choices, and accepted responsibilities toward those consequences) to put aside, retard the development of (if you prefer to say) my individual maturation in and skills in relating to my world as a man … independent of the needs and requirements of a spouse and children.

I married, in large part, into an unspoken arrangement in which I could continue to exercise my strong suite in generating and supporting relationships with others. I was a guy who was well received by and even greatly admired by most of those in my social, business, religious, and communal world. But I had absolutely no idea of how to take care of the “business” of living. The details (how I detested that word) of maintaining a household with all of the nagging necessities associated with day-to-day living. I am a “conceptual” and “visionary” person, by nature. Hence I had an undefined, but recognized, need for someone to assume the management of my daily living. And the woman, who I married, was quite comfortable with the management of day-in and day-out details and household management … but lacked the social magnetism and charisma that were my natural gifts. She had a natural gift for, and desire to engage in, managing and controlling a home ... and a marriage. So, I made life fun … and she made it run … and we shared in the fun and comforts of a well-run life.

And all was going splendidly well until my son was diagnosed (in his first year) with cerebral palsy. That changed the entire dynamic of our world. For, you see, I was confronted … on the day of his diagnosis … with a new reality. Everyone was going to pieces … and my precious son had an IMMEDIATE requirement for a solid, sure, constant rock upon which he could count for his best shot at whatever potentials his uncertain, now-fearful, threatening, and potentially overwhelming future held. And I was, by obvious default, elected. No discussion with anyone (everyone was too occupied with hand wringing, emotion venting, theory swapping, tales-of-woe sharing, sympathy harvesting … and on, and on … ). So I flipped some unseen inner switch, and assumed, from that day on, the solitary (and excruciatingly lonely) role of Gibraltar. The rock!

No one (save my partners and the staff of the agency that I sold life and health insurance from) knew of the three months of isolation that I went into as I wrestled, in solitude, with the enormity of this non-negotiable responsibility that was suddenly upon my, heretofore life-detail-management-incompetent, shoulders. For, I would, every day, just prior to time for leaving the office, go into the men’s room, wash my tear encrusted face, straighten my neck-tie, and ready myself for “The Rock’s” return home. This was done with such success and unwavering steadfastness that, when my son was five years old, his mother commented to me “We have all been worried about you for a long time now. You have always been the sensitive and emotional One in the family. But none of us (meaning her parents and sister, as well as friends) have yet seen you shed even one tear over your son’s disabilities and handicaps. This is so very much not like you that it causes us to worry.” It was then, for the first time, that I told her of my chosen resolve and commitment, in response to the chaos and madness exhibited by everyone else, to the role and responsibilities that I had assumed for our son’s benefit. And she agreed to the reality of all of the elements of my choice.

And, Dear Friend, that role and commitment held true until circumstances brought about the current isolation that exists between my children and myself. I made the very conscious choice to ignore my personal and individual wants, appetites, needs, and desires in favor of those of my children. I am happy with that election. And … might I add … I bow, in honor and admiration, to all of you who are presently … and have, in the past, made that same selfless commitment. This little memorandum today is to encourage and, hopefully, help sustain you.

My son is now thirty-four years old, and all that I invested in him has paid dividends in his growth and development beyond even the most optimistic fantasies forecast by the most positive specialists along the way. So, it is cool!

Now then, to this “empty nest” question. Yes, the development of my present circumstance presents my very first opportunity to step into the world as John-Michael … free of any and all encumbrance and/or demands by anyone. And none of those powers … none of the maturations … no part of the image or the role that I was known by and seen as … is transferable. I am learning from the primary level. And it is, sometimes, humbling. Often trying. Occasionally daunting. But never dull! It is, in fact, quite an adventure! Always learning.

Hence, you have accompanied me here, as I revisit some of my experiences as I recall them now … whilst I re-examine their meanings, import, significance, and potentially-translatable insights into my current growth and development. All part of this new adventure.

Thank you for traveling along with me. I am humbly grateful for all of your enabling, encouraging, and delightful remarks and comments. I will continue to truthfully and faithfully keep you abreast of the emergence of this newest aspect of my ever-developing Self.


Marcy said...

John-Michael, there is still "you." That is what I am interested in - the man that exist NOW. Yes, your past has played a huge part in your story, but how I celebrate the man you have become and are becoming. Your children are not you, your x is not you, I celebrate you in your wonderful essence and look forward to the future story as well as the joy of watching your present loves, life, joys and sorrows. Love,Marcy

John-Michael said...

To provide anyone, feeling alone or uncertain in their own pilgrimage, a word of encouragement, understanding, and camaraderie … I share bits of my own “travelogue” as testimony to the possibilities that life may hold.

Hoping, all the while, that their loneliness and fears (that were mine to deal with alone) will be diluted for them in my sharing.

I am ever-grateful for you and your kindness, laughter, and insights. You are a Dear!

Lovin’ Ya, John-Michael

Marcy said...

How true - a sorrow shared is half the sorrow, a joy shared is twice the joy. Thank you for giving yourself.

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