I have been unfaithful for a very long time, at least for 5 years if I’m being honest. Some of this time I was in an intimate relationship and some of this time I wasn’t, but I was unfaithful just the same, because I was unfaithful to myself. My therapist (yes, I have a therapist. More on her later) often says: "Ulysses, you have to be aware of your hierarchy of needs". And I can tell you now, that my unfaithfulness to myself first began when I became unclear of my needs and comfortable being dishonest about my inner-truths.
2016 has been a year of so many realizations personally; and I finally faced myself. I decided to forget my credentials and the career achievements that have defined my character and lifestyle for many years and finally face myself, honestly. Waking up every day to emails, messages and calls requesting the Ulysses that produces and plays music, I became distracted and hid from myself. But a few months ago, I had a “eureka” moment when I realized that I had been unfaithful to myself and I finally had to look in the mirror and ask myself: Where did it (the unfaithfulness) start? When did I begin ignoring my consciousness and begin committing to actions that I knew would throw me out of alignment with myself? When did I so willingly surrender to the drunkenness of my impulses allowing them to take me on joyrides of bad decisions, fleeing sobriety? In addition to these questions, I went a little deeper and asked myself:
Are you faithful to every desire you want to fulfill in your life?
Answer: No. Since I was really young, I thought my love for music and my pursuit to be successful would solve every equation life threw at me. And for many years, it did. What I loved about being a kid, was that I could surrender to the cravings of my musical love. In school I was called the daydreamer because I literally surrendered to this dream that was inside of me, it led me everyday and informed every decision I made in my life.
So, I made it- I am able to make a good living doing what I love. I have sacrificed relationships for it, missed important life events for family and friends, all to be who I dreamed to be. So what’s next? Well, that was where I got stuck. I realized that living my professional dreams was only one facet of what would make me happy, and I wasn’t faithful or even clear about other desires I had; which is where the unfaithful seed was planted.
Are you faithful to your core spiritual practices ie: Prayer, Meditation, Passage Reading, Fasting?
Answer: I hadn’t been in a very long time. There was a time when I was very faithful to praying and fasting, but I had no idea how much the combination of these practices helped me. In the middle of this unfaithful time; I was not following any of these practices, and it was another confirmation of how I got into this place.
When I honestly answered these questions, I realized that I set myself up for failure in relationships because my first act of infidelity was against myself and my principles. I thought I was lacking something or that something was missing so I began staring out of the window, instead of looking into the mirror, in other words searching outside myself. But the more I searched and thought I found, the more disappointed I became because I would always end up back with the same feelings of lack. I eventually identified that I was running in circles because the source of the problem was me and I can’t run away from myself. My whole philosophy about life is that most issues, especially when the matters of the heart are involved, can be resolved without another person in the room. The dynamic of any connection or relationship begins with you. Ironically, I didn’t understand this until I was knocked upside the head by the collateral damage my lack of awareness created.
Returning to the Source:
I had to acknowledge something that was really key in my transformational journey: I was very angry with God. I was angry because I felt a bit self-righteous. I felt that I was a good samaritan and that I tried to be kind and help people; and quite frankly my fleshly expectations were not met. In other words when I looked around me, I felt as though my life was not a reflection of the faithfulness I demonstrated spiritually. I had been in so much pain from making the right decisions and feeling like they didn’t work out, or that my expectations weren’t met from what I thought doing right would accomplish, that I just stopped; I fled from what I knew.
In addition to my anger towards God, I often tell people that being a successful traveling musician, requires that you remove or ignore many of your emotions. Your feelings of fatigue, missing those you love, and even your feelings about the particular job, and instead you must show up, be present and put on a great show, anyway. I became so good at this skill that as a result it numbed me in other areas of my life.
This year, I had to accept the reality of my own imperfection and the expressed vulnerability of that. I had to accept being okay with not being okay, and work through that openly and with no shame. This helped me come back to my spiritual core; because I was running around without an anchor and I knew that I wouldn’t sustain. So like the "prodigal son"; I returned home to myself. I have had to learn how to daily make time to hear my inner voice. Many times a quiet space is the last place I want to go because it is the place where I feel my fears will overtake me. But there is a the difference between being overtaken by something versus experiencing feelings versus being greeted with the entire reality of any situation. Similarly, there is a difference between being alone and being lonely, a lesson I also had to learn. I was so afraid of being alone, because I thought loneliness came from being alone. But I learned to celebrate being alone; because I found the power in it, because being alone is not being lonely. I find in the times when I shut the world out for a moment and I begin to talk aloud any situation that I am dealing with, I can very quickly figure out how I want to resolve it.
What I love about life is that if we are blessed, we get to keep living it. Over time we gain clarity and new perspectives. I am so thankful that I was able to recognize how unfaithful I was because now I am on an ongoing pursuit to surround myself with thoughts and practices to stay faithful to myself first, and ultimately I hope to transfer this pursuit towards my other relationships.