“Principle is not bound by precedent,” Ernest Holmes.
Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemies. Sometimes the fear that things will once again turn out badly is the thing that makes them turn out badly. We unconsciously recreate what we don’t want because we are afraid we can’t have the thing that we do.
I’m thinking about this, in part, because the other day, a friend of mine called to talk to me about his relationship. Part of him felt lost because he was having a hard time seeing clearly how things could work. He was feeling afraid. He and this woman are madly in love, but it’s complicated and he wanted to rush things along, like he was worried that if she figured out who he really was, she’d change her mind. He wanted commitment, she wanted space. All the potential for success or failure all hinge on this one issue: trust.
“But what’s the truth?” I asked him. Then I told him a story. I told him my trick.
When I was 19, I was married to a liar. What that meant was that I quickly learned not to trust him. To be fair, I was a liar, too. Because I also learned early on that it wasn’t safe to tell him certain things. To reveal too much was to create conflict and I’ve never really enjoyed conflict, so I avoided it by being less than transparent about some things. It’s probably not surprising to learn that our marriage was short-lived. The surprising part was when he tried to get me back after we’ve been divorced for several years. For a half a heartbeat, I consider his proposition. On paper, he looked so much better than he had while we were married. He’d graduated college. He had a good job. This was the father of my child, after all.
But we had no trust and I knew that without trust, there couldn’t be an honest relationship. For me, anyway, I need to be able to be honest. It has to be safe to tell the truth.
We also had terrible communication – a situation worsened by the fact that our marriage was conducted in French, which was not the first language for either of us. But the real issue during our brief marriage was that neither of us trusted the other.
How does one overcome such an obstacle?
For me, all I can say is that at some point, I overcame my lack of trust. Not as far as the two of us together were concerned, but as far as my son was concerned. It’s the trick I mention. This was before I had studied Science of Mind and Earnest Holmes. It was before I knew about A Course in Miracles. It was prior to understanding how we create our own realities.
Somehow or another, I figured out that if you tether yourself to one thing that you know for certain, you can build on it.
In 1985, my son was six and my ex was remarrying and trying to sue me for custody of our son. I didn’t want to go through an ugly custody battle and because I knew that my Tunisian ex-husband was of the opinion that after six, a boy needs his father, I decided not to fight him on it. I sent his lawyer a letter explaining that I would happily allow him custody on a one-year trial basis. At which point, my ex fired the lawyer.
The one thing I knew for certain was that my ex did not want our son to be hurt by our disagreements. I remember when my son was an infant, my ex told me the story of King Solomon, who said he was going to chop a baby in half so that he could determine who the child’s real mother was. Like the mother in the story, I would rather give up my son that have him split in two. I also knew that my ex did not want our son split in half either. I knew I could trust him to do right by the child.
Which is why I allowed him to take the kid with him on his honeymoon to Tunisia – one of the hardest things I ever did in my life. I cried when my son left. Sobbed, was more like it, actually. But at the time, I felt like living with his father might be better for the boy than living with me and my boyfriend, who always treated the kid as if he couldn’t do anything right (yeah, dude – on purpose, ‘cause he was smart enough to figure out that was a great way to get out of doing chores!). Anyway, I let my ex take him.
Much to my relief, my ex and his bride brought my son back with them when they returned from the honeymoon. Years later, my ex told me that he had originally considered leaving the boy behind, but he didn’t want to break the kid’s heart by depriving him of his mother.
My advice to my friend regarding the trust issues was: build on what you know. Find one truth that you know irrefutably and use that as the foundation. I knew my ex loved his son enough to want what was best for him. The trust thing for my friend and his woman has nothing to do with each other. In fact, there is a deep and abiding trust between them. It is their past histories with other people that get them fearful.
“Principle is not bound by precedent.”
We can recreate the past with our fears, or free ourselves from it with our faith. Build on the thing you know, even if the only thing you know for certain is who you are.
Namaste, my friends, Namaste.
- ‘Totally Confused’ Finds A Resolution (wbur.org)
- Chief Rabbi’s words of inspiration on friendship for 11-year old (thejc.com)
- New exhibit from site of David and Goliath’s battle (israelnationalnews.com)
- Samia Shahid ‘honour killing’: ex-husband and father remain in custody (theguardian.com)