Choosing

The dissolution of my marriage is occurring for me as life up-ending, life threatening, life diminishing, life altering, and the tragic end of a way of life for which I had so much hope for success. This is the way the world is occurring for me at this moment– distorted by the context in which I’m experiencing it, the way in which the situation is occurring for me right now.

Where does this default context of despair come from? What past experiences frame this present situation? Why does this divorce spell only doom and gloom? Is there no alternative way for it to occur for me?

My first marriage, of twenty-five painful years, ended in a deathly, injurious three-year divorce, during which time I suffered PTSD, diagnosed by three psychiatrists. It took a long time to recover (if I have.) I vowed that if I ever had another relationship again, it would only be with a woman who loved me as much as I loved her, that we would trudge the happy road of destiny together, to death due us part.

I failed to achieve this.

Maybe trying to figure it out is the wrong answer. Life isn’t lived by trying to figure things out. Knowing why isn’t experiencing a new way of being. If you’re Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal’s serve is coming at you at 95 miles per hour, you’re not figuring out how to return the ball. You’re in the game and acting intuitively, spontaneously, in that instant. Maybe later you might analyze what you did, but not in that moment on the court.

I need to be in this moment–not figuring out this moment.

Let’s suppose for another moment I am not my internal state. That I am not the context of how this situation is occurring for me.

That I am not what my wife said.  That I am not the man to whom I refer as “I” or “me.” That I am not the subject and the rest of the world is the object?

If I suppose all those things, what’s left? What possibility opens up for me? How could I own myself?

I don’t have an answer…yet. But I know this is the territory I need to mine.

In the leadership course I’m taking this week at UCLA, we were asked to “choose” to commit to the obligations we must address in order to fulfill the promise of the course instructors: “to choose” as an action, an enrolling verb, a spoken commitment.  As an assignment we were further asked to think of other obligations in our life that if we actively “chose” to do them, the commitment would look and feel different.

I am obligated by agreement to move out of my wife’s house on September 1st. It’s an unwanted, and darkly emotional obligation. It’s nothing I chose to do; it’s something I must do.

But if I reframe this obligation as “I choose to move out of my wife’s house on September 1st,” what new freedom does this open up for me?

The answer has yet to be discovered. I’m working on it.

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