What happened to you can be your strength.
What’s the fine line between being so comfortable with someone and taking that same person for granted? I’ve been thinking about that lately because I’ve done that in the past and want to make sure it never happens again. I want to talk to you about relationships and love. What does it look like, feel like, how does it make your heart act, do you smile when you see your partner, do you feel safe, etc.
I’ve shared with you in the past my love story. Patti and I met in a club in late August, were engaged in December and married 16 months later when I was twenty-two years old. If I didn’t, that’s how this all began, and here we are.
That’s how long we’ve been married. How is it possible that you can meet someone so beautiful inside and out, someone so patient, supportive, creative, caring, loving, generous, compassionate, and in a single moment, know that they are your perfect match? I’m not sure I know the answer, but I most certainly believe there was a plan as a person of faith.
We’re blessed with three exceptional adult children who have made all my dreams come true. They are strong, values-driven, kind and charting their courses. The most challenging lesson for me, and I’m coming to grips with, is not to apply my trauma lessons to their lives. To be there for them, but not smother them. To mentor, support, believe in them, but not be in their way. I am so proud of our kids, love them more than they can know and want nothing out happiness, fulfillment, health and joy in their lives.
Patti and I have been through our trials and tribulations. There have been some dark times as I worked through my trauma and still am today. Thank you, Patti, for sticking with me; I am blessed and love you more than words can describe.
Today I finished “What happened to you,” a Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey book. It was a thought-provoking and challenging book (at times) for me to read. When I talk about processing childhood trauma, that is not a condemnation of my parents. They loved me very much and did their absolute best. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t some work for me. What I know is that keeping it buried is a recipe for disaster. In this 298 page book, the last few pages were most profound, as Oprah described her final moments with her mother. I was taken back to my father's bedside in August of 2014, to a moment where I mustered up the courage to have the most heartfelt conversion we would ever have, not knowing at the time that he would be in less than 24 hours be gone.
Here are a couple of passages from the book's closing pages that I wanted to share and have you reflect on.
“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different. But we cannot move forward if we’re still holding on to the pain of the past. All of us who have been broken and scarred by trauma have the chance to turn those experiences into what Dr. Perry and I have been talking about: post-traumatic wisdom.”
“Forgive yourself, forgive them. Step out of your history and into the path of your future.”
“Because what I know for sure is that everything happening that has happened to you was also happening for you. And all that time, in all of those moments, you were building strength.”
“What happened to you can be your strength.”
Why am I turning this public journal entry about love into a discussion on trauma? Because Patti is my rock, she has seen me at my best and has held me as I sobbed in the most challenging and dark times of my life.
As some of you know, Patti and I are on a North American tour in an RV. I’ve dubbed it our “Chasing Purpose” tour. We’ve been together 24/7 for three months and living in a 360 sq/ft rolling tiny home. It’s been a fantastic experience and absolute validation of our relationship. While I don’t take it for granted, we are Love, connection, respect, admiration, and finish each other’s thoughts; we respect our differences, learn from each other, and inspire each other. If you want to test a relationship, go on a trip like this.
Besides Patti and Gus, what I’m most grateful for about this trip is the time to reflect, heal and rest. I’m working through some old tape, dreaming about an updated definition of fulfillment, contentment, passion and happiness. I’ve learned to slow, appreciate the sights, smells, sounds and simplest things. We’ve witnessed the rugged beauty of great lakes, mountains, oceans, giant forests and met some charming people.
Most importantly, I’m grateful. That despite the gaps and the should of, could of, and all those other human thoughts, we’ve lived exciting, love-filled adventurous lives so far. My best friend is my wife, our values match, and we both want to make a difference in this world. That courageously, we choose to live life now instead of waiting for some other day.
I’m excited about the future. One step at a time, walking hand in hand, appreciating that small things matter, kindness is contagious, happiness is not a foolish goal, authenticity and vulnerability are strengths, and our love is so deep that a simple glimpse at each other reconfirms more than words can capture.
I love you, Patti.