“…the wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:
what have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?”
Most people never really know the date, time, or place that we let ourselves slip out of sight.
I know when I got my genetically pre-dispositioned heart attack several years ago that’s when I saw myself “slip out the back Jack,” and a few years later after a couple of knee replacements and a hip replaced (God, I’m old!) and entering semi-retirement, there wasn’t a whole lot of me left in the last couple of years of my sixteen- year marriage.
I can’t tell you how many women clients or workshop participants have said, “I lost myself in this relationship,” and quite a few men have said the same thing.
In more than a few workshops and lectures I said the following:
How many of you ended a relationship, broke up, divorced and after the sobbing and grieving and anger work pulled yourself back together with friends or professional help? And then you started writing in your journal, joined a Yoga or Pilates class, meditated and/or prayed, planted a little garden, and felt better than you had in years?
And then you met this new, wonderful, personal growth lover or partner who kept nodding their head yes to everything you said – “I like coffee, you do too? I like movies, you do too?” You can even get a recovering redneck to say he likes the ballet, and then six months later you no longer wrote in your journal, quit going to Yoga class, and your garden was now as plot of weeds?
Damn! A lot of hands go up in the air as a symbol, “Me too! I did exactly what you just said.”
So, if you’ve lost yourself or are seeing yourself beginning your own personal disappearing act, treat yourself as if you are your own best friend. Make a list of all the things you loved or still love to do. Tell your loved one if they are still with you what it was like in previous relationships and how you lost yourself and how you may be losing yourself in the present one. Ask your partner for support to hold on to yourself and still love and support them to do the same. Dust off that journal, recommit to yourself; get help if you need it from friends, coaches, and/or counselors. If you are in a relationship currently, here is the best remedy: slow down; get to know each other; court each other’s soul; be friends first because friends don’t tend to lose themselves.
I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.
JUAN RAMÓN JIMÉNEZ
Translated by Robert Bly