I went to the bar the other night. Alone. There’s that word again.
Things were overwhelming so I took a walk to the nearest watering hole.
The new Queen movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, has this great line:
‘The human condition requires a bit of anesthesia’
As I sat I thought about a time before Christine.
I wasn’t a great guy. Not to say I was terrible, but I wasn’t great.
I was much more self centered. I didn’t have a lot of concern for others. I was impulsive. I lied all the time.
Being with Christine made me a different person. A better person. She was my catalyst.
And she didn’t do it through nagging or arguing or any forceful method.
She did it by believing in me. She trusted me. She saw something in me no one else ever had.
I loved her for that. Love her for that.
It made me want to be the man she thought I was, or at least could be.
It didn’t happen overnight. I was still working on it when she left me. It’s a process. But improvements were noticeable pretty quickly.
My mom: Ben has changed so much. How did you do it?
Christine: I didn’t.
She was wrong of course. Her love was what did it.
I’m telling you all this because I was struck by a thought sitting in that nasty little dive bar. I can be anyone I want to be now.
Of course I always had that ability. I could have remained as I was before Christine and for all I know she would have miserably powered through. Or just left. Who knows.
But in honor of my love for her I became a better man.
Isn’t that a funny term? ‘Better man’. I think we (as men) miss the point so often. A Better Man isn’t someone who just brings in more money or is a provider or whatever the fuck. At least not in my mind.
A better man understands his job is to give. To give unconditionally. To give when it’s easy, to give when it’s hard. To show kindness. To be vulnerable. To take everything on his shoulders. To give and give and give.
And never ask for a single thing in return.
To do the dishes. To cook. To clean. To be MAN enough to take on everything and anything.
To me, that’s a man.
To stretch, to take a breath, and to carry more.
I don’t have that anchor anymore. Yes, I have my kids. It’s not the same. It really isn’t. I can be a great dad and still be totally self centered in the rest of my life. Love of a child is transformative, but not in the divine way. Not like a man and woman entering into a union by choice. At least not for me.
See, she chose me and I chose her.
So now what? Without her, without that reason, what do I do?
I can go back to the Other Guy. He had a lot of fun. Too much, probably.
But isn’t that dishonoring my love for her? If I return to my bachelorhood, or some semblance of it (I really am too old for that shit), what was the point?
So I look into the proverbial mirror.
I used to look at myself in a real mirror and say ‘Who are you?’
Now I ask ‘who do you want to be?’
If I regress, if I become someone who wasn’t chasing her love, trying to be worthy of her, then aren’t I saying she didn’t matter that much?
The worst thing is I’ve realized through events external to Christine I wasn’t even the man I thought I was.
Yes, thoughtful in my actions, but not thoughtful in my words.
Selfless in my actions but selfish in my thoughts.
So there it is again. The choice. Do I strive to be the man I wanted to be for her, the man I thought I was? Or do I take the easier path?
Me: Hey mirror, I choose her.