Dreams Are Far Behind or What Suit Do I Wear Today? Part I

pk_blameOn the occasion of my first divorce (I hate saying that, it means I’ve had more than one) I went into counseling.  I determined my sanity was at stake and didn’t want to be an island after the dust settled.  Over the course of my marriage we’d been to counseling on several occasions.  We never actually ‘finished’ counseling and each season of it ended the same way, with the counselor merely trying to keep us together, creating ‘distance’ from the crisis. It’s a clever method too, to bring folks down to earth after grievous confrontations. Sadly, it left me without solutions to long standing marital issues.  In the end, the marriage died an ugly death. (Related post, Everyone Needs A Starter Marriage)

threebatsYou’d be wrong to conclude this blog is about divorce. It’s not. Read on to discover how Dreams and Suits live in glorious harmony.

In response to the accusation, “You’re going through a mid-life crisis” my counselor enlightened me to such things.

When enough of life has been lived for a male to decide what kind of person he really wants to be, say, for the next 35 to 40 years, he’s ready to be man.  Apparently men do not really become men until they’re between 35 and 40.  Imagine my surprise, I was nearly 37.

This codification of manliness doesn’t occur while lingering in the idealistic, black and white world of the teens and 20’s,

it occurs after we’ve ‘fallen from grace’ a few times and realize why parole for prisoners is plausible, why kissing your neighbor under the seasonal mistletoe isn’t an affair (or even a prelude to one…no tongue though!), and why Wal-Mart can destroy otherwise successful mom and pop businesses by their mere presence, all without giving up our hardcore capitalist ideals.

The whole process is similar to going through your closet and deciding which suits to wear for the time being. (Related post, Soiled Animal Skins and Spent Bones)

fatherdaughterThe father suit fit best from the moment I was graced with my first child. In fact, it was the father suit that I wore during this period.  I knew my daughter was growing up with an example of marriage that was unhealthy.  The only way to change it all was to change out of the husband suit.

I used to dream about this stage of my life, arriving here with the wife of my youth beside me.  I had no thought of the ugliness to come.  My dream suit became rags.

Other dreams were now far behind too.  Being in the ministry, having a singing career, seeing my children everyday while they grew, sending my daughter off to her first prom, all lost to me.

This all seems bad, doesn’t it?  Remember, I said you’d be wrong to conclude this blog is about divorce. It’s not.  It is really about having the courage to change and rewards for doing so.

In “Dreams Are Far Behind or What Suit Do I Wear Today?  Part II”, you’ll hear of a “suit change” few people ever consider, much less even make.  It touched my life personally, I’ve known this gentle soul since my college days.

Thanks for reading this far.


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8 Responses

  1. Susan K. Allard-Nelson says:

    Tim, I find the metaphor of the different suits to be interesting. I have been through two divorces, but generally managed to keep wearing the same suits (so to speak) that I had worn during the marriages. Things changed, of course, and there were tremendous losses, but there were also tremendous gains for me–both times. I wouldn’t trade a thing if it meant that things would be different for me today–since I am in the best place I have ever been. But, my suits–well, many of them remain the same as those I wore all those years ago. Others have changed, but mostly from time, age, and education.

  2. Tim Hief says:

    My first marriage was a 15 year disaster. It’s not that my ex-wife didn’t have redeemable qualities, of course she did, it’s not that I didn’t make every attempt at reinventing myself so that it could survive, the point for me is that I actually had enough information years earlier that it would never work as either of us wanted. I knew it before she knew it. I initiated the divorce at a difficult time, I was in a personal survival mode at that point. I was fortunate to have a counselor that was more interested in my mental health than saving my marriage.

    My second marriage was tough for other reasons altogether. I thought we’d survived infidelity on her part only to discover a year later that I’d only discovered ‘one’ affair, not the few others she’d participate in and the one she was still involved in.

    During both divorces I lost lots of weight, lost most of my friends, lost the esteem of my family for a time (first marriage), lost my staff position at my church and lost all desire to do music (which I love doing). Eventually, family returned, ministry opportunities returns, my desire to do music returned, but sadly most of the friends were never to be seen or heard from again.

    You never know what you are prepared to forgive until you count the cost of what you’ll lose by not forgiving.

    When a path presents itself to work things out, I always recommend that. If two people loved each other once, they can certainly see through the mistakes and find a “better fitting suit” to both wear.

    I like being married, it’s a suit I plan on wearing, I have a wonderful wife and new family, all of whom embrace me willingly. My life story will end some day on a very positive note, I just found my ‘note’ later in life than most.

  3. Mitch Hull says:

    Tim, that’s an insightful reply. I think you’re right and I feel that life presents many opportunites for growth – if and when we’re willing to accept them. I know that my wife and I have recently been going through a serious life review and reconcilliation and considering what we want to do during the next phase of our lives. For the last 30 years I’ve put my head down and have been banging it out in the Bering Sea, Aleautian Islands and Antarctica. Most years I’ve been away for 6-8 months a year. This fishing life is tough on families and many don’t make it in one piece. We’ve survived but now are digging in, reviewing where we’ve been and where we’d like to go, and making several positive changes toward our future. Honestly I’m not sure I could have survived one or more divorces. Eric’s descriptions are especially vivid and frightening…These blogs have motivated me to firm up my own marriage! Thanks for the forum.

  4. Tim Hief says:

    I won’t speak for Eric, but some of these ‘lessons’ were gut wrenching. Lots of dissolution come with divorce. Many never truly recover from it. It I’d seen what was ahead of me, I’d have walked away at the alter of my first marriage. Marrying ‘right’ the first time around always leads to a happier ending to a story.

    After rereading this blog, I can see how it appears to be another ‘divorce piece’. One doesn’t have to get a divorce to start wearing a new suit in life. You just have to conclude the suit you have on, no longer fits well.

  5. Mitch Hull says:

    Tim, good piece… But I’m left feeling somewhat disenfranchised or lacking the wealth of experience gained by both you and Eric through the transformative power of divorce. Hopefully I’m able gain ground, perspective, and self awareness in other ways.

  6. Eric Nelson says:

    Well, you were at least a bit ahead of me. I was 40 before I came to terms with who I was.

  1. February 25, 2010

    […] In Part I of this series, I introduced the concept of discarding old ‘suits’ in favor of newer ones that fit better. It is a concept I came to embrace after understanding how, as a youngster, I would ‘try on for size’ many dreams.  In my youth I’ve been a baseball player, a star wide receiver for the Washington Redskins, a reluctant super hero (I even painted a Frisbee to look like the shield Captain America had at hand), a spy, and even an amazing lead guitar player and lead singer of a band that was better than the Beatles.  […]

  2. April 8, 2010

    […] the years I practiced story telling. Since one of my earliest teenage dreams (see “Dreams Are Far Behind or What Suit Do I Wear Today? Part I“) was to be a comedian of the Bill Cosby, Flip Wilson type, telling a story was critical.  […]