For a long time I have done nothing but take. For the most part I was very self-centred, only thinking about what I wanted, how I felt, where my next bag of marijuana was coming from. It was all very me, myself, I. I did very little for others. It was always a hassle, an inconvenience, a chore. Frankly these days how I was then causes me to feel embarrassed. I was a poor excuse of a person and have no one to blame but myself.
In fact the only real thing I have ever given wholeheartedly to was my son and as a result he lives with me full-time. Custody was never contested when my wife and I separated. Even though she had got to the stage of intense resentment towards myself to the point where she felt her only option was to leave. She still recognised that the only thing I served beyond my selfishness was our son.
When I became a father I decided unconsciously that I was going to devote every fibre of my being to this little empty vessel. To be nothing but caring and understanding, to be always prepared to give my time to him no matter how convenient. As he grew (He is now 10) I made a concerted effort to fill his life with as much joy and happiness as was possible, always a keen believer in creating good memories for him which I hope would last forever.
But whilst I gave to him, I only took from my wife. Or at the very least wasn’t attentive enough to her needs, her security, her peace of mind. Enough that I drove her away from me, and our son. Creating one of the most horrifying and saddest memories he has to date and will continue to have for some time. That is a terrible burden I will bear. It was the last thing I would have ever have wished for him. I will never let myself forget it and it is one of the reasons why I will continually strive to being better, not just as a father but as a person as well. My only wish is that I could have learned the lesson that giving certainly reaps more benefits than taking a lot earlier on.
I know that some people may think how could a mother leave her child especially given that maternal bond. That supposed great unshakable thing. She is the one who gave birth to him after all. But the flip side also has to be considered. How bad did she feel her life was to have to leave him behind in the first place? I accept my part in her decision as I had become emotionally unavailable to her. Too concerned with myself and my marijuana smoking. I was never abusive. But I was never really there for her either.
I also know that it is something she is struggling with, the distance that now lies between them. And that is something that isn’t good for both of them. For that reason I have made her welcome to visit and sit with him any time she chooses, no matter how emotionally difficult I might find it. If I need to give more, by getting over the unrequited feelings I harbour, so they can try to rebuild their relationship then that is what I will do. Even when she isn’t there I make sure to drop her name in conversations we have, and never in a negative way. And in the real heartfelt moments remind him that his mother loves him deeply. It’s the least I can do.
As important as the above situation is, it is only one example. It is its essence that is the most valuable thing. Are you giving more, or taking? Do you produce or consume the most? If my development over the past months has taught me anything it’s that giving or producing is so much more rewarding and self-satisfying. More warm and wholesome. Good food for the soul.
When I smoked a lot all I really did was consume. I consumed a lot of marijuana, and therefore money. Then in the time away from my son I would sit and consume television programmes or movies or works of fiction. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with those things, they have their place after all, but they were never conducive to my development as a person, as a father, as a husband. Just time wasters that gave me nothing in return. In all those years as a married man I produced very little and felt empty and sad because of that.
Now I am all about the giving, the producing. I give my time as much as possible to those that want it. I give my warmth and happiness to the people I meet and know, in the hope it will rub off on them. Maybe lift them on a low day. I have written more in this past month than I have in years. In fact, even though I am still on the now never-ending path of self-improvement, my life has never felt so much fuller and rewarding now that I am trying to give as much, produce as much, as I can. I have went from bouts of sadness, to bouts of happiness, persistent frowns to smiles of joy. Oh some of my circumstances are certainly difficult to contend with and without a doubt there will be some great challenges yet to come. But in deciding to give more, even if it’s just more thought to the words I use when talking to people. In deciding to produce more, even if that is just a random text to some old friend, I have found that it also helps me in being better. Helps me grow and hopefully helps those I come into contact with.
It doesn’t really take much effort to be this way, just a little thought, a shift in mindset. If I dwelled on all those years where I could have been a better person to my family, my friends, even society, well that doesn’t bear thinking about. That’s a dark path, and one that would swallow me whole. So please, if there is anyone out there too wrapped up in themselves, too concerned with taking, obsessed with consuming, all me, my and I. Please learn from this middle-aged man. Your own salvation can be found, the hole climbed out off, if you just learn to give a little, learn to give back, even if you feel the world has done nothing but take from you. Rise above it, be the better person for yourself. If my experience has taught me anything it’s that you will feel much better for yourself, towards yourself, and that can only be a good thing.