The other day I landed on the East Coast and was heading to the hotel when I checked my messages. I had a text from Angelia, The Pilot Wife Life bloggess who’s been pursuing her passion to create a community of pilot spouses to give them a positive support network where they don’t feel like they’re alone. In fact, she just launched her new TPWF app that she designed herself! Such a great idea to keep the community connected without relying on the algorithms of social media.

 

Her text was short and simple. “Checking in on you my friend.”

 

Of course, my response was long winded. A trait I’m still working on.

 

Her reply took the breath out of me. A fellow pilot in our aviation community took his own life. Read more

I woke up this morning with a realization. It’s been sitting under the surface of my consciousness for years. I just haven’t been able to truly see it. Or, maybe, I’ve kept the blinders closed up so tightly to keep me from seeing it. To protect myself.

 

Judgement.

 

You see, this is the root of all my anxieties. And those fears only became amplified in my marriage.

 

It all starts with childhood.

 

I had a grandmother who used shame to control her kids and grandkids. Common phrases said to my mom and uncles were “I do all this for you and this is how you repay me?” and “Kids are seen but not heard.” She was very dismissive about the emotional state of her family, while at the same time doing everything in her power to make our family look pristine and perfect on the outside.

 

I had a mother who was so worried about how the world (especially her parents) perceived her, that the message her little boy learned was he had to be perfect in everything he did. He learned that perfection wasn’t for him, it was to protect his mother from the shame and judgment she felt if he didn’t meet the family’s high expectations.

 

Add a biological father who couldn’t manage his own shame and fear of judgement, that he disappeared from this little boy’s life. Instead of being the father this boy needed, he ran and shirked his responsibilities.

 

Mix this up with a step-father who was physically and emotionally abused by an alcoholic father and who was forced to grow up fast to support his family in his pre-teen years. This man built an emotional wall of rage to protect himself from his own demons.

 

All this little boy wanted and needed was to be nurtured and loved. He had grand fantasies of becoming a super hero to save the world. He had a kinship with Bilbo and Frodo, because they too, were small, and yet they were large beyond their means. He had a vision to fly a 747. Not just any airplane, but the BIGGEST one there was. It wasn’t because he was vertically challenged that made him feel small. He felt small because the people around him never saw him.

 

He only wanted to be seen.

 

Judgement.

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Over two years ago I started on a journey to rid the emotional and physical pain that continued to cripple me. Resentment flooded my body as I was now, for the first time, learning how to live life on my own. Loneliness and despair slashed through my heart as I watched my wife move on, making up she was happier than she had ever been in our marriage.

 

I pleaded and begged for the pain to disappear. I willed the pain to dissipate. And yet, no matter how hard I tried, I could not release it.

 

A pool of boiling anger bubbled under the surface with the belief that I had once again “failed” and could not do anything right. That anger shot out passive aggressively in my words and my actions, further distancing myself from the one I desired to connect with.

 

My writing allowed me to release my pain. I was able to release the loneliness, the despair, the anguish. I let go of resentment. I let go of anger.

 

I found inner peace.

 

I had risen from the ashes and became reborn.

 

For me, the final journey towards accepting and grieving my divorce has been the desire to get a tattoo. I started that rite of passage this past weekend.

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