It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.
I steadied the rifle on the wooden rail, the telescopic sight swaying slightly, held my breath for a moment then exhaled slowly and squeezed the trigger.
“Nice!” Saul cried.
A small puff of smoke rose from the impact of the small pellet from the air rifle, but seconds later the small battery pack was billowing smoke and scorching the dirt and concrete around it. We’d spent all afternoon trying to blow up these battery packs. After all the hullabaloo regarding lithium-ion batteries exploding in phones, we thought these massive cell packs used to power small electric bike motors should give a good fireworks show, but after overcharging them up the wazoo with a 6 volt charger, then plugging them into a 12 volt car battery we could only make them puff and grow hot (while we hid safely behind a wall 30 feet away) but no explosions or smoke. Finally, we’d taken the puffing overcharged packs and put them against the concrete wall in Saul’s backyard and taken turns with the air rifle putting pellet after pellet into them before I finally caught one on fire.
This scene would have made perfect sense 10+ years ago, but Saul and I were in our thirties. The days of dry ice bombs, roman candles, bottle rockets, potato canons, home made explosives and flamethrowers were supposed to be behind us, right? But, here we were, spending a Saturday afternoon smoking hookah, drinking tea, and trying to blow things up again. Not to say it isn’t just as much fun as it always was, but I’m still having difficulty finding fulfillment in my life. I’m realizing that the most fulfilling times, the times I felt satisfied and happy were the times when I felt love. When I was a kid and I was with my family and everyone was happy to be together. When my future wife and I were laying on the grass in the park holding each others’ hands. When I was holding my son on my lap and my wife was next to me on the couch. To be honest, even when I was laying with Sierra and she was sharing her heart with me, which only happened two, maybe three times that she really opened up to me. I know I still have love in my life. I have Saul, I have my sister and brother in law. I have my son, but the times that I do see him make my heart burn for the times I can’t see him. I have Her, but the fact that she is so far also makes my heart burn in much the same way. And my heart breaks every time I think of my soon to be ex-wife. I can see so clearly what I’d given up now. Having a son and a wife to care for every day was one of the best things that I’d ever had going for me. Sure, it wasn’t the most fun sometimes, sometimes it could be exhausting, sometimes it could be a prison, sometimes it was exacerbating dealing with my wife, especially her indifference to me, but at the end of the day I felt happy. Granted, I felt happier still when I was in the arms of another woman, but that portion turned out to be unsustainable and cost me the rest. Despite my immoral behavior, the overall good I was able to do in my life outweighed it. I could be a good husband (arguably) and father. I could care for the needs of my family, I could sacrifice my time and energy and resources and love. In the end, I couldn’t have both. I couldn’t satisfy my desire for romantic and erotic love and keep my family.
On Sunday, it seemed like a no-brainer to me that I should give my wife flowers and a card for Mother’s Day. It turned into an emotional roller coaster I wasn’t prepared for. I picked out a bouquet in a vase with a red bow, and a card with a photo of the sun setting over the pier where my wife and I had gone on some early dates. I thought carefully about what I should say before putting ink to the card. An apology seemed natural, but I kept my focus on her good traits as a mother and how appreciative I was of those, and how much of a positive effect she had had on my life. I dropped off the card and flowers while I knew she’d be gone with the baby at Church. I expected a text later, it would either be a curt ‘thank you’ or indignation that I would dare to give her a gift. Turned out to be the latter. My tears had all been cried while writing the card, so there was nothing left when she told me she had thrown the card and flowers in the trash. I still just feel empty. I feel I have all this love to share, and no one to share it with. Even though I know that’s not entirely the case. The real case is that I have love to share but the people I want to share it with, I can’t, either because I’ve burned the bridge or they are too far away. I remember this very discussion would be had by folks at church whenever someone ‘fell away’ from God and returned to the world of sin as I had. Anytime the fallen fall on hard times, or became unhappy, or got mixed up in something, the answer was always the same “they no longer have God in their lives, so they had to fill up their empty life with something,” you could fill in the blank, whether it was alcohol, drugs, women/men, joining a cult, etc. I knew what people would be saying about me. It is tempting to go back, to try to get my wife to take me back, to get my church to take me back. I know repenting of my wicked behavior is one thing, but professing beliefs about God I’m not sure are warranted and wanting back into a marriage which was clearly toxic are other things entirely. I have to remember this is all a process, and much as I want to take the quick and easy path and return to the familiar, I know that I have to forge ahead into the unknown, moving forward through the shadows of uncertainty and doubt. Maybe they are all right. Maybe my life is now empty because God and family are gone. And my life will never be whole again until I realize that and come back. But, I have to find out for myself. I want people in my life I can love and that love me for who I am, however long it takes to find them. Especially that one person I can share my life with.