One year ago, I sat at my kitchen table, on this computer, and typed my first words as The Self-Help Whisperer™. Little did I know that the words “Who is this person? Self-help whisper-what? Let me explain…” would begin a journey that has become (finally!) my last (Swan Song?) blog.
All hail that which is good and holy! And surely, this space is that! At least, for me. 🙂
I wrote a second welcome post ( <<< both linked here) only last month, so I won’t go into any of what I covered there. However, I will say this:
Readers have asked me how I come up with all these books and also, have I really read all of them?
They’re in my bookcase and yes, unless I say otherwise, which I have, on occasion.
Some books are such hard reading (like my recent Jung’s Struggle with Freud) that it just can’t be done!
Many of the books I’ve written about have not been read for years (and YEARS!) but I share what I remember and always, skim back through to get new insights. My nearly-sixty eyes have caught some stuff that I never noticed in my 20s, 30s, or 40s. It’s funny, that. Let me think of an example… hmmm… consider this one: Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. I was in my thirties when I read it the first time and loved, loved, loved it! Such truth, I thought. All my friends and I were all over it. Now, the fact that I was deep in my “born again” Christian lifestyle (not to be confused with my current spirituality which allows for less fundamental churchianity and more compassionate inclusion of all who wish to enter into the house of God, which is [run-on sentence alert] different things to different people and finally, what I believe to be the only actual truth).
Ahem. Sorry. Anyway.
I skimmed back through the book – and yes, with the benefit of hindsight about the author and his, er, uh, credentials – I realized it was mostly a load of hooey. I wrote about that, too.
Others have asked how I can be so honest about my shortcomings. For example this post where I shared about (not only) my first (late) husband’s many infidelities, but my own affair, late in the marriage. Let me tell you why I shared it. I could not share about my (then) husband’s cheating as if he were the only one who blasted apart our marriage. There were two people – he and I – and I had the same responsibility to be faithful as he did. Until year eighteen of the marriage, I was. I held myself above him in every way. He knew that and I never let him forget it. Ever. That year, as I turned 40, I had what I have come to believe was “an exit affair” with a guy I hardly knew at work. The actual physical encounter occurred once and I confessed to my (then) husband that evening. Our marriage was over from that moment, although we made the motions of trying to repair what was broken. Both of us regretted how our marriage ended but there was no chance at reconciliation once I rebounded into someone new. As it happens, my second husband is… quite wonderful. We’ve been married for 17 years and counting.
That said – and the second reason I share about it – I would NEVER, EVER make that gawd-awful, horrible, hurtful, terrible choice to have an affair again. I don’t see it as a mistake (a mistake is putting too much salt in the stew, not screwing someone other than your spouse!). My late ex-husband and I made amends and cried a lot of bitter (and loving) tears together after the divorce. Only weeks before he died, we hugged, after our grandchild was born.
I also learned a lot about jumping into another relationship – hint: don’t do it – and simply got lucky on that one.
Finally, as far as this subject goes: I forgive myself. It can be done. Looking back, my first husband was a serial cheater who had low self-esteem. I lauded my fidelity over him like a 2×4 until he was beaten to an emotional pulp. We should have gotten true help through the years, but didn’t. I wasn’t aware that my putting myself above him set me up for a fall. And that fall was epic and bone-crushing. My life, as I knew it, ended. I have suffered but I got back up and healed. It can be done.
People also wonder how I can talk about my son’s suicide attempts so easily. I think that NOT talking about them forces them into the shadows where the scary things thrive. I want to talk about them to make them real. I want to tell those who attempt suicide that I hear their pain, as I was not able to convey to my son. Don’t get me wrong, my son knew I loved him. But he didn’t know I understood the desperation that leads to a suicide attempt. The last time, when he was in his late twenties, he drove off a cliff. I was the last person to talk to him before he did it. I was crying. He hates that. He is autistic and feelings make him freak out. I feel responsible, even though he’s told me a hundred times I’m not. When he was eight, he tried to hang himself at school. I knew he was being bullied. I tried to stop it. A million kids get bullied and don’t try to kill themselves. What made my son different? There is no answer. He is who he is.
In the end, my son survived. I am grateful. Is he? Yes and no. I dread the day that I’m sure is coming… maybe ten years from now, since it seems that every twenty years or so, he folds… and all I can do is keep telling him how important he is to me and how much I love him.
And finally, my mental health struggles are here for all to witness, sometimes in very ugly, embarrassing ways (i.e. my fingernails) and sometimes, in ways that make me profoundly sad to go back and read about them.
My therapist(s) have suggested that my undiagnosed (at the time) mental health may have contributed to choices I made in the past. Perhaps. Seems mighty convenient to me.
Yes, it’s embarrassing sometimes and painful, too. I get worried that something I share could interfere with my life in a tangible way – a lost job or friendship – something bad. But you know, this is me. Take me or leave me, love or hate me, ME. This is all I have.
And I share with you. Because our lives are all connected.
So, see, my work here (this blog, this life) is not finished. And I will always be authentic and honest with you because you deserve that.
So do I.