When I turned 40 I still felt fantastic, my life was not perfect, but I felt like I could deal pretty well. My life had been really good, for a long time. Sometimes it felt too good to be true, like I was trapped in a fairy tale. I had so much to be thankful for, so much gratitude every day for the good things in my life.
Then everything crumbled. I felt like I was watching 9/11 unfold in my own life, watching those buildings fall down again and again on every channel. Over the years I had known tragedy and calamity but also moments of great joy and ecstasy. My life had become just too good, like a junkie running dry it was all going to end.
My mind started to slip, I became unraveled. In the darkest depths of the darkest moments of my life I never imagined that I could feel so low. It didn’t let up. Everything important that I cared about just slipped away.
My work, my relationship with my son and his mother, my friends, my passion for life. A darkness descended upon my soul the likes of which I never imagined I would have to endure. Yet somehow I made it through. Months went by and every day was a struggle, my sadness became the strangest puzzle I had ever tried to solve.
I started with the edge pieces. There were days that I worked so hard to get ahold of anything, to find anything that mattered. Slowly I put the pieces of my life back together. Every time I put a piece in I thought I had solved the puzzle, but there was always more pieces. I felt like a man in the desert, walking at night in the freezing cold. Blinded in the darkness, but unable to walk in the daytime knowing that I would die from the blazing sun and the thirst it would cause. The thirst for love, it was all around me, but I couldn’t accept any of it. In my heart I could not get away from the feeling that I just wasn’t worthy of love.
I forced myself to do the things that I remembered that I used to enjoy. I danced almost every day even though when I heard the music I would always cry. I visited my brother almost every day for months on end and watched him slowly wither away and die from cancer. I tried so hard to be present for my son even though I was a hollow empty shell of the man I used to be.
In time all pain fades, loves that I had known that had disappeared forever over time would fade. I thought the pain would never end, but it did. Suicides leave a rift, and it is so easy to judge those that you care about dearly that chose to take their own life until you are standing on the edge of the cliff yourself and ready to jump. Four good friends and one woman who I loved dearly all took that path. There were months in this last year where every day all I could think about was jumping. The freedom, the release from the pain.
It was cheating. There is plenty of suffering and pain to go around, and by ending my life and trying to cheat my own karma, others would suffer horrendously for my cowardice. The thought of my son growing up without a father, knowing that it would kill my mother with grief. That knowledge kept me here, grounded in my own pain in this place.
There was so much I didn’t know about my self, so much that I learned in the darkest depths of my own soul. I will look back at my 40th year as being the hardest year of my life, but also the one with the most personal growth. I made it, another trip around the sun. The planet passed the starting line, the finishing line, 41 times over.
Never have I felt so much cause for rejoicing. It was the year that I didn’t think I would make it through. Lost out to sea in the prison of my own mind I managed to collect myself from the darkest grief and to grow from it. To learn, to better ourselves. That is why we are here so we can help others to better themselves.
There was so many doctors, so much time researching and reading, so much money spent to solve the puzzle. In the end there was lots of pieces, but only one piece that was the most important. I had to learn to love myself again. I had known that love in the past, but it’s something you forget so quickly when you put your happiness in the hands of another. In time I remembered and could see my own beauty, my own majesty, my own grace. I fell in love with myself again, then something amazing happened. I was able to accept love from others again.
From my son, his mother, my family, friends and then finally from a woman. I was so afraid of getting hurt, but also seeing my brother pass from this earth last month without ever knowing the tender healing power of romantic love. Then I met a woman and she drastically changed my life for the better.
Every time I would date anyone new I would pray afterwards and ask myself if I should be vulnerable again. The answer was always no. After months of countless romantic self-rejections I met a woman and after a month together the answer I gave to myself was a clear and resounding ‘Yes’.
I said Yes to myself and I said Yes to love. Her name was Thilde Jensen.
Thilde was a tall and beautiful Danish photographer with golden waves of hair that radiated from her soul like a princess. She drove a giant red truck with the insides ripped out like some kind of crazy mad-max death machine. Both practical and funny, she could swing an axe in her living room with a frightening intensity that drove me mad with lust. For 8 years she suffered with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and had to wear a respirator. There was a deep sorrow in her eyes and a depth of character that you never see in the glazed eyes of the drunken college girls giggling into their Iphones at the local bars. Her straw bale home was built with her own hands at the top of the most beautiful hill in Truxton that was always covered with snow. That palace of snow became my shelter, my solace, the place I could find peace again. We spent hours skiing and hiking in the forests and fields every weekend. She won me over with her kind heart and her incredible healing energy.
More than that she won me over with her profound and boundless quantity of love.
I soaked it up like a sponge, in so many ways I couldn’t get enough. I found myself constantly testing her, waiting for her to get angry and yell at me or go crazy. It never came, no matter how outrageous I got, she held a calm loving space that I felt like my soul could just melt into.
Sometimes in the very darkest moments of our life there is something wonderful waiting to happen and we just need to be open to it.
My tenant and good friend Cathy gave me words to live by as she went through round after round of chemo. She said that everything happens for a reason, but a lot of the time we just don’t know what that reason is. If we can give up on the need to know why everything is happening and can just sit back and let it happen then sometimes we can find more peace within ourselves and more joy in our lives.
Massive changes in diet, regular meditation, vitamin supplements and a strictly regimented dance schedule are all now a big part of my life. I’m working to undo the damage to my mind from the past and to try to reprogram my traumatized brain to better face the future. I’m hoping that I can find joy again, but knowing my own commitment to self-improvement helps me to remember what is really important.
Somehow I forgot, but then I remembered again.
Love is why we are here. Love is what its all about. No matter how far we fall from Grace we can always come back if we can remember to love ourselves.