This has been a crazy week. I had a dream earlier in the week that I was in the police academy, but when it got to the part about training with weapons, I opted out. Then right after, Elaine called me on the phone and said she had been kickbox training in the L.A. area for the past few weeks. For a moment, I felt relief as if she hadn't passed. Then right after I woke up and reality hit.
Part of what I have been doing to keep busy and not stuck inside all the time is working out. I have some great friends in my bible study group that have been helping me get used to a workout routine and I just got my own membership this week. For the first time in my life, I actually crave working out. I feel like I want to do everything possible to ensure my mind is in tip top shape as I know that the physical and mental are closely related. I also feel very good afterwards (even if my legs are jelly), knowing that I am doing what I can to stay physically healthy. I hope to get on my road bike very soon as well-especially since we are having such nice weather lately.
One of the topics in the out patient group therapy was about self-esteem and I learned that our self-esteem baseline is pretty well established by age 7. I had been beating myself up thinking thoughts such as, "maybe the stress of marriage did her in" or "maybe we should have never married, then she would have been happier." "Maybe these last four years would have been better for her without me in the picture." After having some good discussions with my friends and others, I have come to realize that Elaine's depression was so much bigger than just the last four years of marriage. She had been dealing with the depression for decades, not just the past few years. As much as I want to take responsibility for what had happened, what she was dealing with was a lifelong battle.
One of my best friends and I were talking in the car for a good thirty minutes when he dropped me off the other night. He was reminding me of the Elaine that had found so much joy and happiness in the relationships that she had formed in the past several years. Simple things such as just a few months back where Elaine, he and his wife and me were playing a game (Utter Nonsense) based on using accents and how most of us almost peed our pants because of how much fun we were having. We had shared some great times with all the inside jokes that we came up with together. This is where we experienced the ture Elaine and she experienced true happiness. He also reminded me of how I was there for her to provide a special love that you only experience in marriage and had we not been together, she most likely wouldn't have been able to experience that in her lifetime.
What we also learned in outpatient therapy are the keys to ensuring your children grow up with high self esteem. And it is these three elements that I encourage those of you parents to please please please make sure you practice, regardless of your children's' age. And many of you probably are. All the parenting books in the world will not help unless you follow these three imperatives:
- Love yourself
- Love each other (even if you are divorced)
- Love a higher being
I am no parenting expert, but helping combat depression can start from the family and how we set examples for our children. It is not always an easy thing and I don't purport to know all the right methods and techniques to help with this, especially since I've never been a parent, but if you follow these, you are setting up your children to have the best shot at a healthy level of self-esteem.
Saturday was Elaine's funeral and burial with family. I had a very difficult morning and on the way to the cemetery had the most bitter and hateful thoughts towards Elaine that I have ever had in my entire life while she was here. I was full of rage, anger, and felt betrayed.
"How could you do this to me?"
"How could you do this to your family?"
"Did you realize the fallout you were going to create when you did this?"
"Did you only care about yourself? How could you be so selfish?"
"We created a life together, and we had a future together, and you destroyed all that!"
The pastor that married Elaine and I was also the pastor that said the message at the funeral. What he said was exactly what I had needed to hear. He opened where he gave us some of the things Elaine would probably be saying to us from heaven right now if she was looking down. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
Some of the things she would have said...
...I am sorry God for abandoning the gifts, talents, and person you had made me to be.
...I am sorry Paul for not honoring our marriage vows and seeing it to the end of both of our lives.
...I am sorry to everyone for what you must be going through right now and the pain and suffering you must be feeling right now.
Knowing Elaine and her heart, I know that she would indeed be saying these things as she was looking down from heaven. I needed to hear her say that she was sorry for what she had done and for all the pain she was causing. I gained more peace to hear that she was sorry to God and that He forgave her and was welcoming her into an eternal place of rest without any pain.
I wanted to include some photos from the funeral. The ones of me I was silently asking for forgiveness for the thoughts and things I had said to her earlier the day of the funeral. I was saying my final earthly goodbyes.
If you would like to visit Elaine (there is no permanent marker/headstone yet), she is laid to rest at Loma Vista Memorial Park in Fullerton in front of a non-fruiting ornamental plum tree. The office staff is very helpful and can guide you to where she is resting.
Please stop by whenever you can to pay your respects. Please remind Elaine of the stories you have shared with me of how she affected your life. And share with her how your life has changed as a result.