I went for a run today. As my feet hit the pavement, I started to meditate on my new mantra #dothework. And then in one of those perfectly-timed moments the song that Rick wrote for me suddenly began to play in my earbuds. Instantly my mind shifted from my feet to Rick. I heard my heart-voice say, he is exactly where is he today due to the work he did (while writing this song, for example) and is doing. Tears formed as I felt an immense sense of pride and contentment wash over me.
“He managed to keep the game going and keep his chips flowing at the craps table for a little over an hour. But it only took that one last roll for Luke to bet it all on the point of six; and lose. And then it only took a couple seconds to talk himself into winning his money back as he glanced down towards the poker tables, Well that’s crap. Damnit! I was up almost $500 too. Well, still got a little more than fifty in cash stuffed in my pocket. I’ll make it all back playing some poker. I can’t lose; I will not survive another loss.” —excerpt from It Doesn’t Have to be That Way.
For many years I watched Rick, the love of my life and best friend, fall into a very deep, dark habit of destructive behaviors and a compulsive gambling addiction. During the early years I struggled along with him. I couldn’t understand at all, and nor could he. I was angry and lost and caught up in all that he was doing to ME. But it was honestly about was he was doing to himself. I just didn’t know it back then.
My husband was full of rage, frustration and confusion but he fought that ugliness with everything in him. He believed that rage and anger were an enormous sign of weakness.
Rick was (and still is) charming, fun-loving, the life-of-the-party guy that made friends with everyone. Any chance of exposing that rage (weakness) would expose the ‘real’ Rick and that simply was never going to happen, not if he had anything to do with it. Hence a life of addiction and compulsive destruction–the best way he knew how to push it all down, way down.
This lifestyle ultimately led to our divorce. I guess I should say that it was the one so ‘blatant-in-our-face’ thing, that made it the main reason for our divorce. The divorce sealed the deal; sealed the loss–the greatest loss of all.
Rick was, and is, an incredibly talented man. He’s a musician, performer, athlete, salesman, writer, competitor, teacher, encourager and so much more. He is able to pick up and learn things so much quicker than anyone I have ever known–which can actually piss me off at times since I have to work really hard at learning new things. However, when you are living a life of destruction, believing you don’t deserve good or that things will ever work out, you simply can not fulfill your talents. You can’t live up to your true means. You are ‘your own worst enemy’ in every sense of the word. You become the master enabler of self-sabotage.
Because of those beliefs–those lies–that he told himself for so long (that he didn’t deserve me nor deserve a committed relationship or stability or you name it), he acted out destructively as a means to cut off relationships before the other party would ever do so.
But during the divorce–the darkest days–Rick acknowledged the destruction; more importantly, what it had led to and created–forced losses. His compulsion was causing more grief and abandonment than any one person could ever do to him. And he made the choice to #dothework.
He found mentors and for years attended counseling ultimately facing the ugly destructive stuff; the stuff none of us ever wants to look dead on or eye-to-eye or believe it is even really there. And he did not give up. Even during those times when he really just wanted that quick fix.
The work has been significantly hard and sometimes painful, in fact down right gut wrenching and heartbreaking at times. I know because I was there with him. Those counseling sessions just plain sucked on more occasions than either of us care to admit. But because Rick was able to work through all of it, confronting his ugly destructive means of living and acknowledge the root behind it all, he was and is able to #dothework to move towards the very things (his passions) he had hoped for and dreamed of throughout his life.
First and foremost, his marriage and family. We continued the hard work of overcoming addiction and divorce and rebuilt a life on reconciliation, vulnerability and growth. Our marriage and friendship today is a fortress that I am (we are) very confident that nothing could ever take down.
With our reconciled and committed relationship as a foundation, Rick found confidence to pursue his music again, something he had lost all hope in. He was back behind the drum kit, he was singing again and he even dabbled in writing music (his greatest gift, if you ask me).
Rick put an acoustic trio together along with his cousin and old friend. He sang and they both played guitar. He booked the gigs, he promoted them, he led the others to grow and improve. Naturally the next thing for Rick to do was teach himself guitar.
While Rick picks up new tasks very quickly, there is no doubt that he accomplished the feat of learning guitar because he had and is still willing to #dothework–which again is partly made up of growing more and more confident in himself and our marriage, knowing that I was not going anywhere and that I will always be his greatest fan.
He did the work!
He branched off and became a solo act. He promoted himself and booked gigs on his own, and he had my support and encouragement. I was by his side the entire time.
Then he went on to #dothework to write his music and record his CD and do his thing. Not something that he had to do, or that he should accept, believe in or love. This was Rick’s. Every bit of if was his and only his. He created something as beautiful as “Breathe You In”, a song that will always speak volumes to me. “He can be miles away, but I’m with him.” And, no matter where that is, I am so very proud to have witnessed and been a part of the work he has done in his life; and more so to be on the reciprocating end of the rewards that are a direct result of that work–of Rick believing he deserves good.
Rick (and I) knows more now today than ever who he is as an man, who he is as a husband, who he is as a father, a friend, a musician, you name it; and how to never ever allow self-sabotage or lies get in the way of who he is (who you are) and what he was (what you are) meant to do in life.
Your heart knows your truth so listen to it, and #dothework because it comes with greatest rewards.