I have a confession to make. I have stumbled upon the ultimate lie and the most brilliant truth that we can ever tell ourselves. Every moment, every new life, every new beginning is wrought with excitement, with possibilities, and the hope, that all will be wonderful, beautiful….right. The promise of everything good, everything that can, and will, be.
The reality is, however, that when the highs begin to fade, and the stark reality of life rears its ugly head. Often, what is before us seems barely recognizable as anything, but a promise.
I see this with my life, with my marriage, with my children as they are growing up and asserting their independence and forging a life for themselves. I remember the day I walked down the aisle and took my vows, the excitement I felt at how handsome my husband looked, how happy all of our family and friends were for us. As I pondered and imagined our life, as I was pregnant with our second child, I remember the fear I felt, maybe we weren’t going to be alright my fireman and I. That despite the perfect moment that I became his Mrs., I instinctively knew I was losing my identity, my sense of self. That is why I say, the sheer perfection of a moment, soon comes into focus, and you best be ready to be bitch slapped by the reality of it all.
Now don’t misunderstand, I have no regrets about my promise, nor am I saying that everyone will feel the stark reality of what really happens, the complexities, the quiet evenings with no words spoken, angry dawns. It happens, it feels like shit, it cuts you down, it makes you wonder why the fuck you work as hard as you do, when you can’t even see any semblance of what was once good. But then it happens, you see the perfect moment in his eyes, and the way he holds your hand and smiles at you, and it all comes into focus, it all becomes crystal clear. That moment, when you understand that the promise of what is and what could be, is what keeps you believing, keeps you hopeful, and maybe that is more than, OK.
The promise doesn’t just pertain to marriage, but with all things that we hold dear to us, as a promise. It could be any relationship or friendship, or the promise of the killer career you imagined for yourself, the promise of the degree that you worked your ass off to achieve, only to be unable to secure that job you imagined, or the promise of recognizing a dream that you have envisioned a million times, in those quiet moments of contemplation, but put on hold for so long, it seems almost unattainable at this point. To be clear, anything sacred to your being, in truth, is a promise.
There is a saying, “That the more things change, the more they stay the same” and it always pissed me off to hear someone say that, it made absolutely no sense to me, then I began to understand it on a deeper level and it made perfect sense. If you think of it this way, it actually is the absolute truth. For in reality, everything around us is ever changing, our situations, our lives, whom we love, whom we mourn, but yet we remain the same. Yes, we are different when touched by the experiences that we live through and endure, but on a very primal level, we are who we are in any moment, deep within our soul, what we know to be our personal truth remains, it is the one thing that no one can take away from you, and that is why the more things change the more they stay the same.
We are the promise, the promise we make to another, the promise of a hopeful world, a gloomy one too, if we are so inclined. We are the promise that calls to us from deep within, the promise, that, as surely as the sun sets, it will rise again. And we too, like the Phoenix rising up from the ashes, will rise, once more with the promise.
I remember one of the most powerful psycho-therapy sessions I ever had a long time ago, it was the day I learned that only me and me alone, were responsible for my own happiness.. Somehow in my dysfunctional haze, I got the message that outside forces and other people were suppose to bring me to nirvana. The day I actually understood that happiness was a choice, I felt so light, so free, it was such a powerful paradigm shift in my thoughts and my being.
“Holy hell, how did I not see this sooner?”
I can remember in my early days of dating, how I kept waiting for someone else to make me whole and bring me my happy! That is a heady price for someone to pay to be in a relationship, and feel as though they are required to make you happy. Thankfully, I got the message and took it into my being, and I have never since allowed myself to seek out happiness or expect anyone to make me happy. That doesn’t mean someone or something doesn’t bring happiness, it is that you are not living in expectancy for (it) happiness, before you can experience life! Let that sink in and resonate, it is life changing!
I know people that don’t seem to understand this and will keep waiting for happiness to find them, they yell at their partner for not being what they need them to be, to make them whole, these same people, will always be ready to find something to complain about, and will never be able to be happy, because they need to be a martyr, and have no problem burdening you with their latest tale of “poor ole’ me” or the…” you’ll never believe what happned to me,” to make me bitter today! We all know someone like this, and this is a result of the promise gone vastly askew, of waiting for circumstances to change before they can be happy, fulfilled, and sadly until they understand and take this in as gospel, that the choice is theirs at any moment, regardless of external forces, and the powers that be, they will be waiting a very long fucking time for their happy! I can PROMISE you that!
Sometimes one of the hardest things to face is that we are the architect’s of our life, we script it, cultivate it, and we make the choices that set us on the path. Sometimes we cultivate the life we systematically set out to cultivate, and sometimes, despite our best efforts, life leads us down a path we hadn’t wanted, imagined, or intended, and it is in those moments, good, bad, or indifferent, that we will find the essence of this promise, and see, that we can, at any moment, forge another path, blaze an even better trail, for we are the pioneers and benefactors of this promise, all at once.
So as I reflect on my promise, as 20 years of marriage are almost upon me, 26 years total, and everything I have learned of life in my 51 years on this earth, I see that the promise you make to one another, isn’t as much about keeping or breaking those promises, as it is about knowing what the promise means to you. Maybe it is about the promise that life will knock you down, bruise you, and leave you a little worse for the wear, but through it all, the promise of everything good, everything beautiful, and everything right, is the ultimate promise of a life well lived.