Monday, March 17, 2008

But ... Was It Marriage?

I have been engaged in a silent, stubborn, and reluctant struggle throughout all of this day. Those of you who have done me the honor of reading my heart’s expressions, have been so kind as to say things like “You are a rare man who is willing to ‘put it all out there’ without hesitation or apology." Well, my Dear, trusting Friend, I have been hesitating all day today.

My usual course is to post a fresh thought prior to leaving for work each morning. I often hear the guiding voice of my Dear inner Muse late in the day before putting an idea to paper. (That’s right … I do like to feel the heft of sweet old Waterman between my fingers, and the tactile delight of that magical ink being pulled from the nib by the waiting page.) I have all night to allow myself to listen to my Muses guiding revelations as I “sleep on” some topic that is usually completely alien to all that I have had on my mind during the days previous. Then, in the early hours, I assemble it all and type it into the computer. Not so today.

For, You see, Dear Reader, today I was not pleased with what Friend Muse had suggested last evening, and reinforced this morn. No, indeed! “It will be misunderstood!” I argued. “What will my new friends think of me?” I whined. And so it has gone for all of these past seventeen hours. “Who are you writing for?” that unyielding Muse insisted. “For your own popularity and acceptance, or for that One who is in need of what I have put on your heart to offer?” (and the “You self-centered coward” was silently implied, though not spoken)

So, here I am. Defeated! And damn glad that I am. For, you see, I would never have a moment’s satisfaction in failing to follow what I have committed my Self to … listening to Life’s leading; sculpting Life’s truth in a way that can be received and accepted; and humbly offering said Truth to whomever is trusting Life to hear their prayer and provide some helpful, sustaining, shred of hopeful insight that will allow them to take the next step in their walk down life’s pathway.

So, this evening, as shadows gather and weariness steals into my being, I offer what I have been so tardy in bringing to … that One who has been waiting.

But … Was It Marriage?

Yes! We exchanged rings. But… I was never… in my awareness; my innermost being; my soul and consciousness; married. Oh, if you looked in the County’s record books, there would be the indication that the person, known by all to be me, was legally married to the other person named there. Yet that person and I had acknowledged to each other the reality that we did not recognize our lives in the same way. We knew life and all of its elements through senses completely alien to each other.

We lived lives of accommodating separateness in the same dwelling for many years. We devoted our attentions and energies to the parenting and nurturing of our two children with a great measure of success and enjoyed the shared fullness of satisfaction in seeing our children flourish as individuals. But there existed absolutely no intimacy of conversation; shared time; spiritual awareness; physical contact; or interest in common, beyond the interests of our children, and the material requirements of daily life. For me, this bears not even the most remote, or distantly abstract similarity to marriage. Hence, I was not married. I was, however, in a relationship of committed necessity, born of devotion to the overriding needs and concerns of my two children. And that commitment; that mission; that devotion was the single constant source of joy and satisfaction in my life.

I am now (after many years of self condemnation borne of ignorance) conscious of the absolute reality that my most basic makeup; my innermost self; the element that drives my emotions, desires, needs, and tastes is, beyond all else, that of a certifiable, unchanging Romantic. This irrefutable fact has been clinically established by years or counseling, testing, and observation; documented and verified through experience. I am, therefore, constantly and perpetually vulnerable to the inclination to intimacy with every person and in every situation in my life. I am romantically predisposed toward life. This is common to all identified … (initially by Hypocrites and then by Aristotle, Plato, and myriad others after them … using differing labels … but all with the same definitions … ) as Idealists. I am one of them.

With this present awareness (which I was not conscious of during the first forty years of my life and was, therefore, left to cope in blind frustration) I can now understand the filter through which all of life’s experience has been known to me. And, furthermore, why I have always been vulnerable to the energies of those with whom I have shared life’s moments. And I would never wish to change even one of those often-painful moments at the cost of denying the Person that I now know and understand … the Person that was wondrously and specifically created to be … Me.

I write this to breathe a breath of hope and encouragement into the Spirit of One who may be struggling with conflicts between their inner senses and the preponderance of voices instructing them in the way that they “should be.” To you, Dear Reader (whoever you are) I say from the depths of my soul, BE who You are … embrace the wonder of who You are … protect and defend the unique and marvelous Individual that You are … and patiently, with gentle loving care, help those who share your world with You to know and accept You. This I write in hope and trust in the validity and worth of … You.

IMAGE: Doug Hough, The Lens flair


quilly said...

John-Michael -- I think most of your new friends will realize that one doesn't achieve the shine of loving inclusiveness without first going through refining fire.

Inner-peace does not come without much soul searching, an acknowledgment of mistakes made, and an acceptance of lessons learned. Besides, knowing that you made mistakes and have flaws make it just a little bit easier for others to hope to achieve a like place.

CrazyCath said...

Another good post JDM.

Why do you torture yourself so? Your words would never offend. They are YOUR musings, YOUR feelings, YOUR experiences. They are as valid as the next man's.

You only seek to share them in an attempt to help? support? share? say "you are not alone"? to that one person who may need it in this world. That is admirable and takes courage. It is something I understand, but I, like the rest of the most of humanity, hold back. Constrained by what has nurtured me and not by nature.
You let your nature speak. That is a gift.

John-Michael said...

The thing is, quilly, that what I know is, that what many consider to be "mistakes" and "flaws" , I have learned are elements of the very righteous "who-we-are." And that sometimes doesn't conform or match up with the majority "norms." A truth that gave me pause in writing a post that is decidedly unapologetic about the living realities of our unique personalities and temperaments. That truth runs afoul of what our world's desire, to have all conform to the majority perspective, beliefs, or politic would allow.

You sure are right about the "refining fires" of living a responsible life, though! And how!
I like your willingness to jump in here ... thank you!

John-Michael said...

Don't forget, my Darling Cath-Daughter, yours truly lived his first 40+ years in the religious/social/familial world of fundamentalist/evangelical/religiosity. That background sears a mindset of conflict avoidance and flow-going into the psyche. Sometimes old Deacon Me raises his head and says "Careful now!" And it took me all day to show him the door.

Recognizing and celebrating the Nature whilst identifying the imprisoning chains that had been for so long disguised as nurturing forces took a whole lot of determined growth and acceptance of personal responsibility.

See why this subject is so potentially beyond the limits of a blog message? It's a biggie.

And so is my love for You!

CrazyCath said...

And me to you.

Just don't like to see some one who is so spiritual wrestle so. BUT the fact that you did, and won, and then explained the wrestling is also helpful to us out here. We know we are not the only ones wrestling.

And I know what you mean about the background. "Nurture" is a double edged sword. And that's because no one is perfect. My nurturing of my children will bring different issues (for them). What is important (to me) is communication of emotion. If I teach them that, they will pass that on. As I said to the 10 year old last night (stolen from some one else's blog I visit and I forget who, then adapted) -
There are 3 reasons I kiss you...
1. Because I love you.
2. Because I DO want kisses back.
3. Most of all, so that you know how to kiss your children (and others).

[The original said some thing like "We don't kiss our children to get kissed back. We kiss them so that they will kiss their children". I thought - 'Hang on, I DO want kisses back and it is one of the ways I express my love to him also', so adapted it. Although I agree with what the poster was trying to convey.]

It's really late here now. Busy day tomorrow - gotta go now. Take care and sleep peacefully.


John-Michael said...

A "good night" to you, sweet Cath-Daughter.

Kinda looks like ol'Medlin' Muse knew what she was doing again eh? {Big Smile}

(And I bid a good night to all who have been listenin' in ... my love to each and all of You.)

skinnylittleblonde said...

Interesting & thought-provoking. Personally, I believe that if more people were honest with themselves, they would acknowledge that their marriages were not born, nor perpetuated, by such connectivity. But sometimes, the truth is hard to swallow & many folks live & die never searching themselves for such raw honesty.
On another note, I like how you acknowledge that because you are a natural romantic taht you are drawn to intimacy with everyone you come in contact with. I beleieve, this too, is something profoundly true about people, however so few realize it. A polar comparative is the person who is a liar or a thief... who lives their life believing doubting others or
feeling paranoid that others are going to steal from them. We, as people, have (imho) a great propensity to see and maybe even elicit from others what we know of ourselves.

quilly said...

Ah, my use of the word "mistake" was unfortunate. I meant it in terms of other people's perceptions. For instance, if you ask my sisters, the 14 years I spent married to an alcoholic were a terrible mistake. If you were to ask me I would tell you I wouldn't change a thing, because I like who I am and I wouldn't be me without those experiences.

Amy Y said...

You are very special :)

Jules~ said...

John Michael, (one the one hand I find it interesting to say this and yet on the other very matter of fact and I know you will understand) When I was reading your earlier post today and your consecutive comments, I knew there was something stirring in your mind and heart.

1) I know well that back and forth circular mind banter that takes a while to wade thru. You did a good job finding the outcome.

2) If it were always an easy breeze to share hearts then it would not mean half as much.

3) Your testimony, your experiences breaks my heart and yet I too believe that everything has purpose to make us who we are today and I the future. I can sigh at some of my situations but never do I regret a single decision. Doing that would mean that everything else around me would be different.

4) Thank you. I needed to hear your experience.

John-Michael said...

You know ... for an allegedlyskinnylittleblonde, you have an amazing depth of understanding of our Human condition. [warm, appreciative smile] Your "many folks live & die never searching themselves for such raw honesty" pretty much hits the proverbial nail on its proverbial head ... and makes clear one of the primary reasons for my compulsion to write. The need for an honest look at our "raw" perceptions, feelings, and pre-dispositions, drives me to place all that I can present of my own intimate, personal, and candid Self (in as uncluttered and evident a way as I can manage) on our shared "table" for examination.

Inasmuch as I am aware of the "pygmalion" tendency in all of us (to re-create the One of our focus to our desired image) I too am on my constant guard to discipline myself to acknowledge the unique and individual characteristics of the One in whom my affections are concentrated.

I thank you, quite sincerely, for you valued input here.


John-Michael said...

Thank you, quilly,for your clarification of a critical point, indeed.

John-Michael said...

And, I thank you Amy Y, for your kindness. From a Lady who stands so high in my estimation to say such a thing is high praise indeed.


Vi said...

No, I wouldn't class it as marriage either. Just an exchange of rings, the same as what I did. It's all apart of life. We all can't be happily 'married' as much as I would like that to be true. But hopefully... one day... that right person will come into our lives.

John-Michael said...

I love You, Vi! You are such a sweet breath of pure, honest air in the atmosphere of my world. How true, is your statement! And we shall both encourage each other in our mutually shared Hope. For ... "Hope springs eternal in the breast of (us)"

Classic Charm said...

The depth of your entry today will touch many, and it will help your readers to get in touch with their reality. For that I thank you. I personally will have a few read this today who share their daily struggles in conversations with me. This post gave me a clearer understanding of my own parents that I am older I understand that my mother was this person, and slowly and painfully I begin to understand her as a married person myself. She was in search of that "marriage"...And I will try to "Be who I AM" the older I get, the closer I am becoming to "ME" - thank you for helping me, guiding me...does this make sense? ugh....

John-Michael said...

Rose, you go far beyond just "making sense", My Dear One, You go to the very core of all that I had hoped to accomplish by making this exposure of my Self available to you. And I am immeasurable grateful for every word from your heart. You have assured me that Ms Muse was speaking Life's intention for You ... as the One, or one of the Ones ready and receptive for whatever lies within my message. 'Tis my prayer.

John-Michael (or Michael, as you like)

Don Mills Diva said...

This is a really brave post. I think many people live in marriages like the one you describe and they are not true partnerships at all...

Rob Hopcott said...

As a keen amateur folk musician, occasionally I make music with small groups of other folk musicians in UK pubs.

Sometimes, almost from nowhere, I find the music from my flute or sax intertwining with the minds and souls of one or more of the other players at a level that I can't put into words.

It is, quite literally, better than *** (I'll leave you to complete the sentence as I don't want to offend anybody).

One moment of this magical closeness of playing wonderful music with such special people is better than a hundred years of what I know of as marriage.

John-Michael said...

Jules~, you are (as always) so 'tuned in.' And you are (of course) quite right. That 'something' stirring in my mind is a Something that I have known as a torturing force in countless relationships all around me, for many years. The Something of a willing 'blindness' to the sacred worth of each Individual with whom we live. This indifference to others thrives in workplace, church, family, school, and community. The willingness to disregard each other as a way of living has burdened me for most of my life (for I have always been painfully aware of its presence.)

The "outcome" that I have sought for, in my concerned deliberations, has been a way to gently and lovingly awaken those (whose lives I am fortunate to touch) to the sad losses that we all suffer in a life-habit of unappreciative dismissal of the marvelous worth of each Person wondrously created and lovingly placed in our individual and personal world.

The only instruments at my disposal for illustrating and hopefully illuminating these truths ... are my most intimate and personal experiences. And when you, sometimes, hear me struggling with "laying it out here" … for You, My Darling Friend, and for each Soul searching, asking, and open to Life's helpful, guiding, and encouraging whisper …you are hearing the discomfort of saying what neither usual nor comfortable for folks to hear. (I am, in fact, quite concerned about the feelings and sensitivities of others [smile} though I speak of difficult and uncomfortable concerns.)

I love You, my Precious and caring Friend.

John-Michael said...

Precious Don Mills Diva, Thank you, thank you!!

Your thought just unleashed a recollection that will uplift and encourage all who I have so nicely pulled down today [sigh][but NOT sorry {grin}].

So, ("yes, Life, I am grateful for Your nudge to Miss Muse in bringing this to mind!") tomorrow, please look for an uplifting and FUN story of a couple that has thrilled me.

And, My Darling "In-No-Way-A-Diva" (you are FAR to caring and loving to qualify) THANK YOU for triggering a real upbeat eagerness to share what I have just been awakened to. You are good!

John-Michael said...

Rob Hopcott, you beautifu, man, you! I just simply love the hey-doodly-do out of you! What a marvelous thing you just said!

During my 20 years of unmarriage and unliving, I celebrated some blessed moments of spiritual, sensory, and emotional joy such as you describe. Singing hymns and special selections to and with groups (congregation singing is something that sends me into another place entirely!), speaking to all manner of groups of people (when we make that "connection"), and even portraying a character in a dramatic production (when that character takes me over and I am lost in something far bigger than myself.) Yes!!

And, sadly, to go from that isolated moment in a sacred place, of oneness with the heavenlies of heavenlies, and walk back into a coma of insensitivity and uncaring indifference ... is painful beyond description. Hence, I learned why most opt to the "flat-line" living that does not challenge the unwillingness of a partner to join in, in something requiring the surrender of control of Self.

You speak so well of a tragic truth, Dear Friend. I thank you!

Suldog said...

I hope I'm not missing the point here, but I would argue with you on this one, John-Michael. I think it was most definitely a marriage.

What is marriage? My understanding is that marriage is two people deciding to forego some individuality in favor of shared life. Most include physical contact and the other things you mention within that sharing, but none of them have to be there. The man or woman who is unable, for whatever reason, to fulfill a physical part of the marriage contract isn't necessarily any less married.

If you shared vows, then a home, then the raising of children, for twenty-some years, and did so without more animosity or spite than the concern you had for each other and for your charges, I say it was one heck of a marriage.

Have I missed something?

John-Michael said...

No Jim, my Dear SulDog Friend, I'd say that you haven't missed a thing at all. What I believe you have done, in fact, is illustrate my core message.

You see, Jim, what a person of my temperament and personality type ... (an inborn and mental/emotional set of mechanisms by and through which each of us takes in, and then processes all of life's 'stuff') ... senses and realizes as being joined together as One in a melding of personhoods (towit, marriage) is altogether different, in most every way, from what the majority of this world's population is comfortable with embracing as marriage.

My wife made it clear (after some time had passed) that her intent in marrying was to fulfill all of the duties and responsibilities inherent in her concept of a Wife. A structural and organizational st of expectations. And she expected me to do the same in my role.

The pain is created (and, please trust me on this one, Jim ... it was constantly painful ... laboring under the yoke of something that neither my mind nor my emotions could ever reconcile ... inasmuch as my personality/temperament type group is a mere 11% of the population) ... but, again, the pain was created by my natural sensitivity to and value assumptions based on my functioning on a level entirely immersed in intimate human involvement and interaction. The natural and normal system of inner "weights and measures" for her temperament/personality type (common to 78% of the population, by the way) is averse to any form of intimacy, immersion, or acceptance of intrusion into the roles, duties, and legal/social obligations of life, by personal or human elements. We, simply perceive and process all of life's input with natural systems that are alien to each other. The fact that our over-riding commitment to the welfare of two children whose development was dependent on our provision ... is a testimony to Character over personal needs being addressed .... on both of our parts.

You, can obviously appreciate her awarenesses ... whilst mine (on this topic) are foreign and somewhat agitating to your natural senses. It took me many years to understand, accept, and ultimately come to a respectful embracing of these Divinely created diversities in our innate make-ups. I am so glad that I now live in a comfortable harmony with the Creator's design in their balance in our world.

Please know that I am genuinely grateful for the compliment of your consideration of this topic, and your generous contribution it. I do love you, My Friend.

skinnylittleblonde said...

On of the things that I truly love about, often allows me to learn about others, and the more I learn about other people...the more I learn about myself. Recently divorced, I look back at my marriage as a legal contract, a personal, emotional & spiritual commitment & investment. I found that marriage takes more than love... a lot more. I married my husband out of love and I divorced him out of love...I was always committed, he wasn't. At first I thought it was because of something in the physical realms, but with time I discovered that spiritually, we were in two completely different ball parks. Things became as messed up a football bat & that's when I realized that I had to be me & he had to be him...our trueselves. It didn't mean that there should be hate or resentment, but a time to grow and learn. I never got married to get divorced. I never take my commitments lightly. It took me a few years, but I learned that I am committed to myself & what I know to be right more so than I was committed to losing myself into a world which I knew was wrong.

John-Michael said...

My very Dear skinnylittleblonde I hear some weariness accompanying your disappointment in the failure of something that You had hopes for. And a strengthening chord of resolve binding you back together.

If I am 'hearing' clearly, I would say that you are one remarkably blessed young woman. For you have allowed your Self to assume responsibility for yourself. And, My Dear One, this is no common occurrence ... no, indeed. Nor is it something, as you have already discovered and communicated so well, that comes easily. But Oh! the ultimate reward is such a sense of peace and quietude of spirit that is born of comfort in your growing and strengthening knowledge that you can look at yourself and give a good accounting of your place in life. For those who remain in an existence where they are continually (as you so perfectly described) "losing myself into a world which I knew was wrong," will never know such a peace as you can know.

You have humbled and quieted my soul with this compliment of your visit and comments.


Crystal said...

Oh John-Michael, so glad you wrote this post. A started my blog to give my kids memories of myself. After a while and meeting new people, I started writing for them MORE than why I had intended to. When I reached a point of wanting to quit, I did as you did. I starting asking myself WHY. I find that when we ask ourselves that question on a regular basis it helps to also keep us grounded in some area's that we might take for granted of even forget about.

As for the other half of your post about the marraige. I thought I was writing it! That's how I felt about my own marraige. Good post!

John-Michael said...

My Darling Crystal, I am so genuinely sorry that You are able to relate to this on so intimate a basis. I am pained to consider that You had to experience such unhappiness. If my shoulders of loving care can take some of your lingering recall of those minutes (for I all-too-well know that the pain of such an unhappy alliance is in every minute of it), I gladly carry them far from your memory.


Suldog said...

Thanks for the in-depth reply, John-Michael. You amaze me with the time and effort you put forth for your readers, your friends.

Off the subject, I see Buck O'Neil on your sidebar as a 'significant'. Indeed. What a beautiful gentleman he was (and soul he is, I hope.) So much in his life that would have been taken as pain and injustice by others, he transformed into dignity.

John-Michael said...

Mister O'Neil Is one of those whose grace, wit, and love of life are an abiding inspiration to me, Jim, my Suldog Friend. I like to keep reminders, like his image, close at hand. And am not, in the least, surprised to learn that you, too, admire the man.

As to my conversing with those who demonstrate enough interest and concern for my thoughts to invest themselves in the effort of a comment ... I would feel remiss if I shortchanged anyone who expresses a sincere perspective or idea to me. 'Tis a matter of regard, respect, and affection for me. I am appreciative of your mention of my efforts in that, though.


Crystal said...

Thank you for your kind and warm words. The way I have grown to look at the negative things in my past is this...I wouldn't be the person that is sitting here having such a WONDERFUL time with you and the other friends that I have met. Before I divorced from my husband I had the mentality of "submissive" with no direction. We use to have some BAD fights through our time together and I always wondered "why." Looking back, it's because I hadn't found my inner Self, who I REALLY was and that we were just two people trying to make something work when we knew it wouldn't. We were SO completely different. Like yourself, I am the romantic and VERY passionate about ALL things while he would show no emotion at all. BUT, in the end, I realized that if not for every single thing I went through during that spell, I wouldn't be who I am now. Funny thing is, even though he was unfaithful and I TRULY didn't find out until I left him(That was the reason why I did), I thank him for that horrible time. I've never hated him for it. After the hurt and anger of betrayal passed and I looked inward, it was like the old me fell away and the new me came out. (Like a butterfly;o)

My time for love and romance will come again. I know that there is a reason I haven't found anyone since him and it's been 5 years now. I've done so much growing since then. Until recently I was SCARED TO DEATH to try again. But, i'm learning, by taking little baby steps, to let done the walls that I have built around myself so someone else CAN come in. Trust, honor, respect, loyalty and so many others is so hard to find these days and so I have shut myself away so not to get hurt. But, change is upon us and i'm trying to help it along. Hopefully in the future i'll be able to post happy news of meeting someone, until then, i'll keep working on those walls;o) Thank you!

John-Michael said...

Perhaps, consider this, Sweet Crystal ... maybe there is another use for those "walls of insulation from threat" that would be worth considering. How about an excellent place from which to see farther into the distance of your life's possibilities. A vantage point from which to better see the arrangement of all of the elements of your life ... that you may be better able to assemble the "jig-saw" of aspects into a more cohesive "picture."

The walls are not an enemy. They are your resources for you to use in your responsible. comfortable, and prudent care of your Self and those depending on you for care.

I would suggest that you embrace every resource given to you by Life as something that you can enjoy and have peace with. The passage of time will permit you to know, with a certainty, when it is appropriate to cut gates into your walls.

I do love You!

Misty Dawn said...

As someone who has always changed herself and conformed so that she could please others and make those around her happy... your declaration of "BE who You are" is a very profound 'dare' ;-)

I think I would have to take some time to re-discover (or possibly discover for the first time) who that really is.

skinnylittleblonde said...

Thank you John-Michael. My blogging time is so limited anymore (11 hour work days + a yucky commute) and it is the wee of the night now, but I had to bop in. I often say, or at least think, 'words don't matter as much as what you do with them' and I just gotta tell ya that I take your words & tumble them around in my head like a stone getting buffed to be donned by the princess of the ball. TY...P&L

John-Michael said...

Misty, my Precious, Sweet Friend, how your words touch the very depths of my core! Accountability for my Self is the driving force and focus of my life. And it all began with my choice to "re-discover (or possibly discover for the first time) who I am.

That was the beginning point for a long and sometimes-uncomfortable ... but ultimately priceless ... adventure. My progress was slow. There were costs (Oh YES!!)(when my wife was explaining why she was demanding a divorce, she said "If you would only go back to who your were when we married, I would drop the divorce proceedings." I responded with "It has cost me too many painful hours in self examination and discovery, professional counseling, lots of money invested, and disciplined determination to be honest with myself and others, to turn around and return to my being a weak, insecure, confused, frustrated, discouraged, and disillusioned excuse for a human. The divorce was finalized. And I was set free of those confining and frustrating constraints to my individual growth. Whenever you want to discuss your choices, options, consequences, or any other matter of concern to your heart ... I am just an Email away. This is what being a loving Friend is all about.

John-Michael said...

Sweet skinnylittleblonde, to know that you honor me in such a way, is humbling and touches my spirit.

I do hope that whatever 'nuggets' you find, as you wade through these streams of my consciousness, will 'buff up' to enhancements and valued enrichments to your life's crown. You are more than kind to me. And I sincerely thank you.


nitebyrd said...

Becoming true to oneself is like being reborn. Difficult but so worth the journey.

John-Michael said...

NiteByrd, you spoke this truth so unerringly well!

I do adore your insight!

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