Three years ago I was in between jobs, most of my good friends were married or had moved away, my savings were depleted, I was involved in a very unhealthy relationship with a woman and my emotional health was at best confused, and at worst I was depressed, lonely, frustrated and numb. That was the state I found myself in when I found the work.
I remember feeling desperate when I started Advanced Ed Basic, while also trying my best to be open. I recall at some point introducing myself as a man with anxiety, a man who hasn’t trusted his heart or connected with his emotions and feelings in a long time.
I share this because these last number of weeks have been really tough, and I don’t know where I would be without the work.
My gf and I were having issues. While the relationship wasn’t perfect there was also a lot of good. But we were at such different places in our lives, she with an almost 5 year old wanting more kids in the near future, and me, well, not there. And the weight of this misalignment started to take its toll. My birthday approached and I decided to take the week off for a staycation. I was at a breaking point at work and just needed some time to rejuvenate. My gf, to her credit, decided that she wanted to celebrate with me and said that we should enjoy the week together and pretend that we don’t have our issues, and afterward we could get back to real life and talk things through.
We had a great week together, but I felt the tension that I would be losing her. I was concerned that when it was time to talk, I wouldn’t be able to conjure the tenderness, love, and kindness in sharing what I felt in my heart. But surprisingly, my heart was open, and the walls that I had been so familiar to me were down. I was able to honestly share how I was feeling and we cried together, a lot, and a beautiful 1.5 year relationship was over.
My gf was always supportive of my participation and involvement with PSPLife because she got how important the community and the work is to me. But when I shared with her, that my goals this cycle were to take back my mornings and to make soup she was very frustrated. She felt that there was a lot of work that we needed to do and she was hurt that my goals weren’t focused on that. I explained to her, that I wasn’t neglecting us and was deliberately choosing other goals because not only were they important to me, but they also would help me generate momentum in other areas of my life. Ironically – but not that unusual as I have come to learn 8 cycles in – much of my cycle was focused on ending my relationship courageously, honestly and kindly.
This was the healthiest relationship that I have ever had. My gf taught me so much about love, trust and acceptance and I truly believe that thanks to her, my life is on a different trajectory. But I also knew in my heart that I did not choose her or her life and I needed to end this despite loving her deeply.
After we broke up, things felt terrible. The emotional pain was brutal, but the physical pain was also overwhelming. It’s pretty absurd what a break-up entails – your best friend, partner and lover just ceases to be there. That week after we broke up, we continued to text each other as we dealt with the pain and the shock. On top of everything, I learned that my friend from college had passed away leaving a wife and three kids. I attended a heart-wrenching funeral and my gf supported me through it. She wanted to have another conversation, so we spoke on Sunday, and again I had to muster the courage to be honest and to stay committed to the painful truth that the kindest thing to do for myself and for her is to walk away. Another brutal conversation.
The pain and sadness continued and continues, but I have started to feel some of the lightness of what it means to live courageously and from the heart, things that were so foreign to me three years ago. I didn’t realize how much it hurts to grow and transform, but I have so much gratitude for this work and for this community.
Cycle 8 was not what I anticipated, but I feel that I have grown more this cycle than any other thanks to my buddy, my small group, my goals and all of you. You have given me the strength and have held me high.
After completing the three stages of Advanced Ed, I remember thinking that I was just beginning to understand the meaning of words like vulnerability, trust, connection, joy. Well, it’s been three years and I am still just scratching the surface, but I am getting closer. I am really starting to feel the peace that comes with living courageously and from the heart. I am starting to like who I see in the mirror. I am starting to not only say my contract, but to really feel it. I am an open, free, trusting, vulnerable, inspiring man.