My girlfriend left me because I was never home. I worked a lot to provide for us (we have two children together, and she has a son from a previous relationship). I feel like I did the right thing but got burned. Why couldn’t she see that everything I did was for us? Don’t tell me to talk to her; she is already dating some guy. I want to know how to deal with my feelings so I can take care of our kids (she left all three with me).
Sweetheart, your girlfriend left because she was tired of being an adult, not because you clock too much overtime. One clue is her abandonment of the children. So, before I give you tools for transformation, let’s investigate why you ignored her feelings. She probably complained about your work schedule, either directly (“Why can’t you be home more? I feel like a single parent!”) or indirectly (“I miss you! I’m lonely.”)
Right? But your belief system blocked the seriousness of her concerns. You are convinced that love means providing materially for your family. She believes that love is spending time together. Neither idea is wrong, but you behaved as if your belief was superior. Remember, good communication underlies every healthy relationship. If you choose not to listen, you can’t communicate. One of the biggest challenges of an intense work schedule is the inability to slow down and really listen internally to your own thoughts and feelings, and to others.
To successfully manage your feelings, you need time. Taking on more tasks is tempting after a trauma. Most people dive into busyness, hoping their troubles will dissipate. Ignoring difficult feelings can force that pain under the radar, but only temporarily.
Painful feelings leak out and often erupt, usually at an innocent person (like one of your children). So attending to your suffering is essential. Begin by using your internal eyes to fully experience your feelings. Write your disappointment, sadness or anger out on the pages of a journal. When blame arises in your mind, listen. Then reduce the rant by forgiving your former girlfriend. Trust that she did the best she could, just as you did. Be grateful for everything you learn in this process. Gratitude will turn your anger to peace.
My mother left me with my grandmother when I was 4 years old. I rarely heard from her. Recently, I received a letter from my mother asking to meet me. I am so angry. I hate how she pops in and out of my life. She is a stranger to me, and I don’t care if I see her again. But do you think that, sometime in the future, I will regret not meeting with her?
Your biggest regret in life will be your black-and-white thinking. That’s the perspective that traps everything into two columns: right and wrong. Right is what you believe in, and wrong is what others do. There is a lot of perceived security in the fundamentalist perspective but not much reality. So consider this: The absence of your mother doesn’t make her a stranger. People all over the world grow up in households with mothers who are ciphers. Living together is no guarantee of knowing one another. If you are committed to learning how to give and receive love, if you long to create more peace in the world, if you understand that no human being is perfect, then meet your mother. Be gentle with yourself and with her. Approach the opportunity with no expectations, no questions that must be answered and no accusations to level at her. Just be who you are now (an adult) and accept her as she is.