Yesterday, I told you about the time my car got stolen and how I came to discover a really powerful technique when I decided, as a consequence, to burn my old school reports. So today, I thought that I would tell you about how I have continued to use a variation of this technique whenever I find that something is really troubling me. There have been a number of occasions when I have done something similar. Let me tell you about a biggie.
When my first marriage fell apart, my major concern was for my two young children who were, at the time, just 6 and 4 years old. At first, I wanted them to come to live with me because I did not want to be an absent father. It was only after talking to an old friend, who had been through the same experience, that I began to realise I needed to put my own feelings to one side and consider what was best for the kids. That was when I reluctantly conceded that they would need to live with their mother.
The split was not my fault but, despite that fact, I tried to do everything as gently as possible. Divorcing my ex-wife without attempting to apportion blame, we separated and waited the legally required four years. In addition, I moved out, allowing my ex-wife and her boyfriend to live in the house we had bought. Later, I also accepted an unfair settlement that gave her most of the equity and I did those things because of the kids.
The main concern for me was not anything material, nor did it concern the breakdown of the relationship. What concerned me most was the effect of the new situation on the children. The arrangement meant that I would see them at weekends and holidays and I knew that my relationship with them would be permanently changed as a result. People tried to console me about this at the time, but I can tell you that it is a fact that such events do change relationships – no matter how hard you might try.
Week after week, the kids would come to my house at the weekends, and it would be really difficult for everybody. I started dating my present wife (who is the light of my life) during this time. But it was difficult for me, difficult for the kids and difficult for my new wife (who had become their stepmum) – we married right away, following the divorce. By the way, a wise person once said that ‘a second marriage is a triumph of hope over experience’ and I have always felt that is true.
One day, I realised that I was just not in control and that it was something I was just going to have to accept … or slowly go nuts. I had come to the point where I knew I had to let things go their own way. I had to stop trying so hard to ensure that everybody got on with everyone else. I had to trust that things would turn out as well as they might and that the way they turned out might not be what I would, ideally, want. I had to stop worrying about the kids.
So, I decided that I wanted to perform some kind of ritual act that would be symbolic of that decision to let things go, mentally. The idea for what I actually did came to me when we were on holiday. It was a holiday we took down here in Somerset, where I now live. I decided to go to the beach and there in the sand, in big bold letters, about three feet high, I wrote the words ‘The Kids’.
That place was where I decided I was going to leave my troubled thoughts. As the waves came in and washed away those words, I told myself that they were also washing away all of the concern I had been carrying around for all of that time. That was how I came to terms with the new situation I found myself in. Since then, I have accepted that life moves on and things do happen that are beyond your control and that, sometimes undesirable consequences must simply be accepted.
The ritual had the desired effect. Again, I found it to be a very liberating experience. Of course, like any parent, I worried about various things over the years as my children grew up, but I never again got stressed about those aspects of the situation that were firmly outside of my sphere of influence.