My wedding band.

I can still feel it, where it was.  I want to fiddle with it absentmindedly, turning it around my finger with my thumb. I hold a mug or a glass and want to tap against it, a subliminal reminder that it is there.

I wore it with such pride, such love, for everything it represented. 

I woke at 02:47 that morning to the sound of armed men breaking into my home. 

The low, antagonistic, guttural tone, “the ring…give it to me.” The hostile eyes looking at me through a dark grey balaclava, the gun trained on my head. The place on my head where the barrel of the same gun had pushed my head into the mattress for an interminable time still throbbed. The terror that accompanied that act of aggression forcing me into submission.

I slipped the worn and battered, white gold symbol off the pinkie finger on my right hand, for the first time in many years. As I held it out I felt a great sense of loss and defeat. I was told to toss it on the bed.

Of course, it wasn’t the first time it was removed. I took it off after three long, hard years of fighting to save a marriage that had died five years before that day. A sad mismatch. Two people who shared many precious memories – but as many moments of hurt, disappointment and miscommunication.

The day I removed that ring remains one of the saddest days of my life. Everything I never wanted.

Two moments in time, seven years apart, both emotional troughs in the sea of life.

After my divorce, I had my wedding band resized to fit the furthest finger from my wedding finger. I had read a quote whilst grappling with the idea of divorce. “despite all thoughts to the contrary, our marriage is not a failure, we have three beautiful children to show for it.”

I wanted to remember all the good about our marriage. The love, the conscious decisions to have each of our girls.  I have always wanted our girls to know that they were borne out of love, that they were wanted, how precious they are…how hard it was to conceive. The two fetuses lost in-between our beautiful little souls. How badly we wanted them, and how important they are to us.

I wanted them to see a symbol, never removed, that represented them. No matter what followed; their parents who could not make a marriage work, but who both love them more than anything!

I have had to fight for every bit of access I have to them. Even though the divorce order stipulates that we are equal parents. They have been their mother’s collateral and her leverage. 

That ring was my struggle for my girls. A determined tenacity in me that divorce would not dictate the story of their lives, but merely a chapter. A fight for their right to a father who loves them beyond all else.

Bailey played with it often, turning it around my finger. Knowing that it was a direct link to my heart, and my love for her. Mackinnon noticed immediately on the one occasion I took if off because I was carrying heavy concrete wall panels that were scratching it.

They both knew exactly what it meant to me and to them. How significant it was to me.

It remains the one thing that I cannot possibly replace.

I have endured so much loss over the past decade. My wedding ring… the one thing I valued above all else… gone. Added to a very long list.

But then I consider that a symbol means a lot less than making sure that my girls always know how loved they are by their dad. Unconditionally and unreservedly, exactly as they are. That they know that they are perfect, and that most importantly…they don’t need to do nor be anything to be loved…

They are my everything.

difference

I went to watch Blue Man Group this week and thought that it was absolutely bloody brilliant. An explosion of the senses. It was a smart, funny, and wildly entertaining show combining various genres of music and art.

A friend of mine went last night and walked out after only 20 minutes…

Paraphrased, ‘It was noise and banging and not funny at all.’

There was a conversation I had this week with another friend. ‘Does prayer work if the person you are praying for doesn’t believe what you do?’

My friends and I share many common interests and compatible perceptions. We can engage on different levels. Yet, we vastly disagree on certain things.

Has this created a wedge in our friendship? Has difference created an elephant? Something that we cannot ever talk about?

On the contrary. I’d rather engage with somebody who has differing views than those who all think the same way and like the same things. Yes, of course the commonality is fabulous and fun, and sharing is caring after all.

But my thinking will never be challenged if I remain within the confines of my tribe. I cannot broaden my view on various interests and topics. I will struggle to grow and evolve into the person I wish to become. The Richard in five years from now.

I am the first to admit that I can be sensitive at times when some of my ideologies are tested and challenged, defensive even. It isn’t something that I’m proud of.  I grew up needing to be right, the undesirable product of deep seated insecurities.

It made me critical, judgmental, and focused on the offensive. It made me dogmatic and stubborn.

For a number of years, I have been consciously working at changing that, expanding my interactions to include those who differ vastly from me on pretty much everything, and have been trying hard to listen more. It is a process.

Additionally, I have made many big mistakes over the past ten years that have exposed weaknesses within. Facing the ramifications of these mistakes has forced me to deal with the concept of being human, fallible, and downright flawed. A wonderful foundation upon which to explore and build a new sense of self…

One that accepts, celebrates, and marvels at differences.

Seek out those who are different to you, for they will become your teacher if only you will let them.

Proviso; if you ask to be challenged or convinced around an idea or concept, but remain dogmatic, it doesn’t count.

This is my worst quality, but one of my best too… 

​My worst quality and greatest fault…I am…intense. Positioned on my tattooed right forearm, next to ‘grateful’ and ‘fallible’…and the word my eight year old daughter chose and wrote for me – But more about that in another post. 

‘Intense’ is awful, it means that it’s easy to live in your head. 

It means that you over analyse, you’re hyper sensitive, and that you see things many others don’t.  It means you are often too self aware, too self critical, and too intuitively conscious of other people. It means that you feel deeply, experience fully, and are prone to anxiety. 

You’re incredibly hard on yourself. 

You think too deeply when others see things and situations at face value. It means that you often have unrealistic expectations of others. 

Intense means that you don’t laugh at yourself enough, because you’re too busy berating your own faults. 

It means that criticism from others is a very tough thing to internalize. 

BUT….intense is also one of my greatest attributes…paradoxically for many of the reasons stated above, and for other reasons too… it means that I can understand others, feel and relate to their emotions. 

It means that I am a deep thinker and question life, I’m creative, that I can write, and paint, and express. 

It means that I can understand and speak of deep and vulnerable things that others can relate to but that not everyone can speak about to their closest circle, let alone to strangers.

It means that I am both my own worst enemy and my own best friend all rolled up into one. 

It is something my friends admire and love about me, but at the same time frequently despair about me. 

Some days I hate the gift…some days I am extremely grateful for the gift.

It is part of my human condition. It is a quality I need to temper and control so that it doesn’t control me. I know that as I continue to develop my sense of self worth I will feel the negative impacts less, as much of the behaviour lies in deep personal insecurities. 

It’s a constant and very real struggle, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

It is who I am.