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Letting go of blame

The how and what of inner peace revealed itself to me 33 years ago, and I’ve used the secret ever since.

I had recently met the man who would become my second husband. Didn’t know it then, of course. We had become good friends and, more than that, a couple. I had moved into his house temporarily until my own home, then in the midst of remodeling, was completed.

Life for both of us was extraordinarily busy. I had a full-time career in risk management and was a partner in a company I had helped build. In addition, I was a counselor.

He was busy with his career as an engineer and volunteered in search and rescue. While we integrated our friends and lives in general, I enjoyed the pleasure of having a partner once again.

At an important juncture in our relationship, my major remodel was complete — a feat full of struggle that took two years longer than originally envisioned. The finished product was everything I had dreamed, designed and desired for myself. There was one problem. My home was not created for two people, especially an engineer with tons of tools, toys and gadgets. My choice at this point in my life: the man or the house?

At 50, it was difficult. I was independent, secure and happy. I did not need a second marriage. I loved my remodeled home, my community and my independence. After a day of thinking, walking, crying and writing, I made my decision. I chose the man.

We enjoyed a party in my house, and then I rented it. How difficult to know that someone else would use my modern bathroom with handpicked art tiles, kitchen outfitted with fabulous appliances, and my library. I continued my new life with the man I chose, in his house, and did not look back.

Now comes the inner peace part.

As in any new relationship, we had many things to work out. From whose stuff would go where — or nowhere in “our” house — to how we wanted to be with each other. He just was not perfect. It was my job to change him — a little here, a little there. These thoughts were not conscious. However, over the next months, I began to notice that I was nagging a lot, and I was not liking myself. The worst part was my feeling a hypocrite.

My company taught conflict management to business leaders, teachers and others. Why was I not handling my personal situation in the way I knew conflict could be resolved, even transformed?

I took a day to examine the problem, to look at my life, especially the past year: the joys, stress, change, the love I felt for my mate, and my own feelings and actions. Where was the inner peace I should be experiencing?

Then came the revelation that has remained with me ever since. I was unconsciously blaming him for the choice I made when I let go of my home. My choice. I needed to own it. It was not his fault. In a cascade of insight, I realized my life was full of choices that I had made and continue to make all the time. I looked at the consequences, both life-enhancing and nourishing, and some that were not so positive, although even those had led me to who I had become. My choices enriched my life.

I became aware of my critical comments as they occurred and often was able to stop, thereby opening the door to compassion. Even now, I sometimes forget. But when I remain conscious that I am making a choice, I can change this moment.

Yes, not everything is a choice. I’m not in that camp. If I found out that an adored one died, or that I had a terminal illness, I would grieve and not feel inner peace. But I do believe that with some thought, some work, I could choose actions to help ease the loss and fear. I could work with my deep knowledge that everything is connected, because scientifically this universe is one interconnected system. I choose to believe that there is compassion, that I am part of the universe, not just in the universe, and that there is much more to the story.

Janet Boggia lives in Ashland with her husband, John Ames. Each day she walks (sometimes dances), wonders (in awe) and writes, with great gratitude for her life. Email 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Sally McKirgan at innerpeaceforyou@outlook.com.