Monday, October 23, 2023

The Blessings of Relationships

I have come to realise that many relationships we experience during our lifetimes are transient. People come and go over the years all bringing with them either a message, a gift or a learning curve.

Of course many relationships are enduring and can last a lifetime (even many lifetimes). For example, our relationships with our parents and siblings form a huge part of our life. The ties of blood can be very strong. They may not always be easy or happy ties but none the less they remain a great influence on our future development and personalities, for good or bad.

Our love for our children is in the main unconditional.  We forgive them any perceived mistakes we think they may have made. We see past their shadows to the light and purity of their souls.

In an ideal world, if we live a "good life" and love our neighbours as ourselves we would experience no wars, no fear, no starvation, heartbreak or despair. Sadly we do not live in an ideal world and often stumble along full of pain and hurt and it is only as we grow a little in wisdom that we begin to see the bigger picture and the blessings which even the most destructive relationships can bring.

I first met Ken in 1982 and we quickly fell in love. He was strong, handsome, intelligent, incredibly witty and amusing.

He came from a very dysfunctional family which was full of violence and anger. He did not feel safe or loved as a child and carried that heavy burden with him. There was a huge deep seated anger inside him which was always bubbling close to the surface which he struggled so hard to control.

But try as he might - and he really did - life seemed to conspire against him and the smallest thing would ignite in him such a rage which overwhelmed him and seemed beyond his control resulting in violent outbursts when he could literally destroy a room and all in it in the blink of an eye.

Responsibility was a ball and chain around his neck.Living with this Jekyll and Hyde personality was indeed difficult. One walked on eggshells most of the time. His behaviour was scarily similar to my own father. In hindsight and through much spiritual work I have come to understand that we often attract those people who bring the same lessons into our lives which we have to learn and have not yet mastered. Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing!

But I was not so wise then and reacted in the only way I knew how - as a victim living in fear. It was only when I began my own spiritual journey that I was able to gain insight into myself and to realise and address the patterns working through my life.

I did not want my own children to suffer as I had and I began to pray in earnest for God to give me guidance.

And He did!

One day I was reading through the local paper and out jumped an advert inviting mature students to go on an" Access to University" course. I knew immediately this was my sign, my answer to my prayer.  Ken leapt at this opportunity and soon after began studying for his GCSE's which he passed with flying colours.

When the time came for the next step of his journey we sat together and talked about the possibilities of him going on to do a degree course in English Literature at the nearby university. I was able to gently speak my truth and to acknowledge that our time together as husband and wife had come to an end. I was pursuing my spiritual pathway and needed the time, space and peace to do this. And he needed me to set him free!

Ken graduated well into his fifties with a 2.1 degree and it was a very proud moment for my sons and myself.We always managed to remain friends and kept up with each other through our sons.

I am so very grateful that there was no animosity, no anger in our parting and consequently the boys never felt torn and I hope they did not suffer too much from the changes. I thank God for showing me the way to behave and preserve a close relationship with Ken.

I do not know what lessons Ken had come to this earth to learn. Perhaps he needed to learn to be free - I do not pretend to have the answers to these deep questions. We can only deal with our own issues, choices and lessons and that alone can be such an onerous task. How can we possibly "know" where another man's shoes are leading him and the pathway he has to walk? Who are we to judge?

Relationships, as I said at the beginning, can be transient and some are not meant to last forever so let's try to move on gently with as little hurt to all those involved as possible.

Yesterday I attended Ken's funeral. I said a short eulogy for him and remembered the good times, all the laughter and the love and I blessed him for the lessons he taught me. Blessed him for being so much a part of my healing journey. Mostly I thanked him for giving me my two sons who have made my life complete. How could I feel bitter with so many gifts bestowed upon me?

So if you find yourself in a similar situation, and I am sure there are many who do, I hope my story can help in some way to encourage you to ask for guidance, to pray for help for I know it will come and allow you to make the transition from one chapter of your lives to the next a little smoother and full of love, understanding and gratitude for the blessings that have been given to you.

K.S. as published in the More to Life Magazine