Ask Joey

Joey Garcia

Going hermit

My last boyfriend lied and cheated. I fell for him, I now realize, because I was lonely. I was also fired from a job that I liked, because I spoke my mind to my boss. I find it difficult to forgive or trust anyone. I feel like a throwaway. If someone doesn’t like me or what I say, they get rid of me and move on. People want to feel powerful and in complete control. They only listen to what they want to hear.

Two years ago, I was in church, waiting for Mass to begin, and saw two little girls praying. I thought of how I prayed at their age: “I want … Give me …” I realized that I was tired of controlling everything, so I asked God to take the reins. I felt a great relief. Now I pray to do God’s will. However, I feel that I shut people out because I’ve been hurt so much. Is it better to live as a recluse? A lot of saints were hermits.

“To be a saint is to be myself,” said Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk. If it is in your original nature to be a hermit, empty yourself of distractions and live a cloistered life. However, if you imagine that you have been dealt the hermit card and have no choice except to sturdy your spine, choke back tears and accept the narrow bed, fuhgeddaboutit! The choice to believe that you have no choice is a terrible lie. Choose truth: You are loveable. The love you offer is desired. Count on it. Remember, though, that love might never appear the way you expect.

Lies are obstacles that obscure your ability to see and live the truth. Without truth there is no trust, and without trust we cannot forgive. So, let’s roll away your lies and resurrect your sanity. You feel like a throwaway. Is it possible that your “honesty” made your boss feel similarly? Were you actually sharing your opinion but behaving as if it was the truth? That’s dishonest. It’s also a way to feel powerful. Getting fired is a reminder that you are not in control.

You cheated yourself by using loneliness to propel you into a relationship and keep you in it. Consider a fragment from the poem “Absolutely Clear” by the Middle Eastern poet Hafiz: “Don’t surrender your loneliness / so quickly. / Let it cut more deep. / Let it ferment and season you / as few human / or divine ingredients can. / Something missing in my heart tonight / has made … my need for God absolutely clear.” It’s time to open to the truth of how your experiences have served you, so you can mend the tiny fractures in your heart and move on.

My ex-wife is dating a neighbor, and within a few weeks it became serious. He is at her house every night and weekend. They have even come to my house to pick up our son when my visit was over. I have asked her to be careful about exposing our son so quickly, but she says it doesn’t matter. I am worried that if the relationship doesn’t work, she will be exposing our son to another confusing situation. Am I being overly sensitive? Is jealousy clouding my judgment?

If you want what she has, the diagnosis is jealousy. But you have a right to be concerned about your son. A good post-divorce strategy is to date someone for six months before introducing him or her to your children. That’s because when a marriage ends, there is often desperation to secure whatever was missing from the marriage: sex, communication, security, etc. That drive impels us toward incomplete relationships. Your task now is integrity. When you date, adhere to the policy that you advocated.

Meditation of the week
“The essence of being human,” wrote George Orwell, “is that one does
not seek perfection.” Perfection is a narrow channel that limits perception and possibilities. What if the essence of being human is to hold infinite
possibilities? Who can you be now?

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