What Life Have You Made

What Life Have You Made

As he sat by the window, looking out over the lush green yard, compliments of a week and a half of rain, he was reminded of having read somewhere that over 300 shades of green exist in nature. With this view, he believed it!

Sitting there, I t seemed like such a short time ago he bought this house, with the dense woods behind it and the closest neighbor being over a mile away, the seclusion had seemed so inviting.

The trees were much smaller when he first looked at the property, but they’d grown to create the tranquil view he was now looking at, and the seclusion that surrounded him.

Time waits for no man and within the blink of an eye, he went from making the decision to purchase this property to having that day become one of his fondest memories.  He could still see the happy look on his wife’s face at the though of moving into their new home; her look was enough to reassure him that he’d made the right decision. The day he moved in, he wore a younger man’s clothes and saw life through the eyes of a younger man’s dreams.

But today, as he sits there, he asks himself the same question that’s been plaguing his thoughts every day, “did he make all the right decisions, had he lived a meaningful life?”  He was pretty sure the answer to that question was “no” because he could think of many choices he’d have made differently.

He’d traveled, fought in a war, was an avid sportsman, had plenty of friends to share his time with and had even enjoyed his career.  He was well known in his small community and could seal any deal on a handshake alone!”  So why did all of that seem like a lifetime ago?  The question now on his mind was, “had he lived a life of honor and truthfulness?”

Why did that question seem to plague his mind and invade his thoughts, even while enjoying this magnificent view?  He knew the answer, but he resisted admitting it to himself.  That’s why the question persisted, because he really didn’t want to face it.  The truth is, he’d had quite a magnificent life, because he took what he wanted and never really gave much thought about how it might affect others.

He’d told himself so many times that he deserved to be happy but he never really stopped to think about the cost of his happiness.  He and his wife had been happy in the beginning.  When their son was born, it was a time to rejoice and plan for the father & son adventures they’d have.  Soon another baby was on the way and the day she was born felt like a completion of their little family.  But something went wrong and their little girl left this world less than 24 hours later.
He believed that men handle things differently than women, he became busier with his life as she chose to console her grief with alcohol.  As the days slipped by, he spent less and less time at home and when he was there, it was merely to shower and sleep.  At first he started sleeping in the guest room so he wouldn’t rouse her from her drunken slumber but looking back, his choice for separate rooms was his way of resisting the responsibility of what their marriage had become.

One day he met a woman at work, and he convinced himself that he simply enjoyed their conversations because other than the occasional cocktail, she didn’t drink and he enjoyed her company.  He soon learned that she was on her second marriage, was very unhappy, had 5 children and she too was looking for a way to resist what had become of her life. 

Choosing to live his life away from his wife had become easy for him, after all, who could blame him for staying away from a woman who drank like she did.  He never knew what he was going to find when he walked in the front door and he never stayed around long enough to try to help her.

So when the woman at work started to pay attention to him, he told himself he was actually helping her, by taking her out, showing her a good time and bringing some happiness into her life!

But all these years later, as he sat there looking out over his lush green yard, he knew he could no longer outrun the thoughts that he’d ignored all those years ago and every day since.  He knew he didn’t want to think about how “getting what he wanted” had affected the lives of so many other people.

Her husband, who she lied to every day.  Her children, who knew about her lies and were forced to keep their secret.  Her children who were basically growing up without their mother because she was never home.  These are the thoughts that he could no longer ignore.  These are the thoughts that keep him awake at night and permeated his every waking moment.

His younger self gave no thought to the future; his or anyone else’s.  Every day she begged him to leave his wife, to marry her and help her be a better mother to her children.  His younger self was so smug because he had gotten very adept at using his alcoholic wife to create an excuse for everything in his life he refused to face.

For 40 years he made promises that he never kept and refused to see the damage he was doing to himself, his wife, his son, the life of the woman he’d made promises to, her husband and her children.

When his wife died, he told himself that he’d d make it right, and he married the woman who’d waited for him all those years.  Still he refused to face the truth of the crumbling foundations they’d built their relationship around.  His son and family had no idea how long this woman had actually waited for him nor did they know what her life and the life of her family had been like while she lived in the background, behind the scenes, never really being able to tell the world what she wanted or what she’d been willing to do to get it.

Lies, half-truths, hurts, betrayal and promises not kept are his constant companions now.  It’s all he has left because he waited too long to face his choices.  He waited too long to admit that he’d given no thought to the devastation he was creating in the lives of others to have his life the way he wanted it.

Did that make him a selfish person?  He guessed it did!  And that realization did not bring him comfort, quite the opposite in fact.  But these are the memories he now lives with.  These are the memories that are overshadowing the lush green view outside of his window.

Two wives, now gone and he hadn’t done right by either one of them.
Somehow, all those years ago, when he’d bought this place and planned to spend his golden years enjoying the view, he’d never given any thought to the memories that would accompany the view.

Here he sits, unable to move without the assistance of a nurse, looking out over all that’s his and no one to share it with.  It’s all his, everything he worked for, regardless of the cost to others.

Nancy Mueller ~ Empowerment Sensei at Mastering Your Beliefs