Robin's journal.

How relationships affect other areas/ Transforming your relationship with Self

It was 2011 and my life was falling apart around me. The institution that I taught at was at the brink of a severe financial crisis. The job I that was my pride and joy for the past 5 years was suddenly in danger. My wife and I were battling our own personal crises since we discovered our new-born had severe congenital issues. I had always lived by the tenet that if you are good, if you do good, good things happen to you, too. In spite of all my efforts, everything I touched seemed to turn to ashes and I could not understand why I was being punished. Where did it all go wrong? What could I have done differently? My life at 30 was in shambles and I watched in disbelief as one domino toppled and everything around me started collapsing.

My pain and shattered confidence started to crystallise as resentment against my wife. I felt that she had no faith in my ability to set things right and I in turn felt acutely her lack of empathy and support. Gradually, this grew into a wall of silence between us. Faced with rejection and failure, I started to withdraw into my shell, increasingly becoming more averse to meeting people. I was easily irritated and avoided social interactions. I realized that I had not had a decent conversation with my wife for years together. I hit rock bottom when I realised that my son had no connection with me at all. I felt isolated from his life. My family life was a drudgery that I just wanted to escape.

Frustratingly, I was at a complete loss when I tried to think of ways of reversing the tide. All I could do was wait dejectedly for things to change on their own. My attitude was becoming increasingly defeatist and it affected every other sphere of my life. My job pivoted on reaching out to people but I was far from being in the right frame of mind to perform well.

The turning point for me was brought about by a set of circumstances at my new job. I had found employment as a part of a specialist team of corporate trainer. Our worked involved in-depth exploration of relationships of our trainees. As part of preparation for my work, I went through a series of extensive training sessions around 2015. The objective was to experience the training before delivering it to others. These sessions required in-depth, soul-baring conversations which required searing examinations of my own self. In many ways, it was easier to talk to relative strangers as we all discovered that no life was perfect and all of us struggled in different ways. We explored the concept of ‘locus of control’, did intensive exercises in elaborate open sessions. As we progressed on our journey, we each began to reconsider our own situations and slowly gain clarity. In these sessions lay my “Aha!” moment.

I’d heard all of it before. “Take responsibility, take control”, “It’s a choice”, “You can choose to be happy” …. I’d tread that ground with well-meaning friends and concerned family members many, many times, but those conversations usually left brought no clarity and left me angry and defensive. The penny dropped now because of the focused and structured approach of problem solving.

As we shared our experiences and anchored each other’s transformations over the next few months, I found myself having honest conversations with myself, if not others. In this group, I had found the support to confront my realities and the strength to take the onus for my own life.

Things began to fall back into place over the next year as I made changes to my relationship with myself. Instead of wishing for my wife to understand me better, for the first time in years, I found the courage to start heart-to-heart conversations with her. I listened to her with empathy instead of letting the conversation reduce to perceived attacks and defensive responses. . I was no longer trying to find excuses to spend more time away from home. My marriage went back to being the calm and fulfilling centre of my world. Instead of waiting for things to change, I started looking for therapists to help us through these times and I planned a framework for getting my son back on track. I admitted I could not do it all alone and reached out to our families to pull together. My son is in school now and all of us are doing much better at handling his challenges. I’m back to being the outgoing guy I was and I am flourishing at work. All I took was good hard look inside and my world is right-side up again.