How Being Married to a Felon Made Me Mindful

oitnb_temporary4

November 13th marks one year since my divorce was finalized and I packed my entire life into my white Toyota Corolla and drove from Texas to California. I didn’t celebrate it because it reminds me of the ugly stuff that happened to me, but I’m going to share what I learned from my marriage to Renny that turned out to be a few of the most valuable lessons in my life.

When I worked on my inner self, I came to the term that it’s no question that my marriage has changed me for the better. Before meeting him, I was all about me and me was the only thing that mattered. I was self-centered and acted indifferent. Alas, when he went away, I didn’t do a 180 degrees turn and became Mother Teresa. I slipped and said not-so-nice things sometimes. I judged the people I don’t know that well without thinking twice. I slept in on Sundays when I could have spend them volunteering to make this world a better place for our children.

I woke up.

Instead of wasting my emotional energy away by staying angry at him, I managed to discover the courage to forgive him and move on. Now, I just feel sorry for the guy. I don’t think I could do that before I met him. I wasn’t brave (or wise) enough back then.

I’m far from being a spiritual guru but ever since I backpacked in Brazil a year before meeting him, I have unexpectedly started a spiritual journey and discovered affirmation and mindfulness. I felt like I was awakened. I’ve found a better way to live, opening my way to the brand new world. I finally understood and it was just a beginning. Then, I met him the following summer.

My friends, it’s been nearly four years since he went away. I’ve come a long way. I made tons of mistakes on the way, but I made progress too. When I finally moved past the final stage of grief- acceptance- I started relearning how to love myself and be mindful again. I had to do things that nurtured me and made me stronger spiritually. I finally learned how to allow myself to heal from within. I want you to know that, in a relationship or in any other situation, no matter how long the night seems to feel to you, the sun will always come up next day.

Don’t ask me why I fell for him because it’s in the past. I know that few of you are going through crappy times now because you decided you want to remain with somebody with a past that resembles an episode from Prison Break or Breaking Bad or something with “Break” in it. Well, the good news is, you’re not alone.

Since I like to discuss about this kind of stuff with like-minded people, I thought I’d take a step further and blog my thoughts about it. If you beg to differ, that’s fine with me, because what I’m going to say next is based on my observations.

Don’t get me wrong- the career criminals are, hands down, pathetic cowards, period. They have blatant disrespect for their communities and society. They are too wimpy to face their fear. They hurt other people or animals, directly or indirectly, to get what they want. Be it out of necessity: I was so fucking hungry and depressed I stole a muffin, or just because: that person annoyed the fuck out of me, it doesn’t matter what the reason is, they act like the laws don’t apply to them. They believe that they can do whatever they want. They just go out and break the laws without thinking about the consequences. And don’t get me started on their ignorance, it’s still not an excuse.

What I noticed while living and making the documentary with Renny is that most criminals are naturally impulsive, even if they are living a clean life. Unless they show an ability to control that, they will always be impulsive in other parts of their life.

They don’t think about the future because they are in the present like wild hungry animals looking for ways to survive. When they are committing a crime, all they think about is what they are doing at that very second, not what they will tell their spouses and children when they get the phone call from jail.

That feeling of nowness gives them the rush they so love and come back for more. That’s why Renny was a career criminal and when he got out, he failed again. He would tell me the stories of his bad boy heydays, like the one when he stole and maxed out his ex-best buddy’s credit card on crack cocaine and a sportfishing boat. His eyes glistened as he recalled evading the LA cops in a stolen Dodge Viper and sleeping in it for a week before selling it to a chop shop for few bucks.

Of course they deserve to go to prison because they did stupid and hurtful things and not only that, they dragged a whole lot of people into their mess.

But the very second they are committing a crime, they become one in the moment. That philosophy of living in the present moment (of course in a nonviolent way, the Gandhi way!) is effective and we need to do it more often.

You may wonder how could I come up with such comparison, but that’s what it was like living with him. I saw many things I never saw before. It’s a lame example, but don’t tell me you never stole a candy or made copies of your butt on your company’s copier. Think about that moment. When you swiped that Hershey bar or pressed the Copy button in the spur of moment, you definitely weren’t thinking about what to wear for your date tonight. You were so focused. Remember that intoxicating feeling? Well, we need to reprogram our mind and start taking regular dosages of that feeling. Any time we are in midst of stressful times, we need to be more mindful, take a breath and let go of the toxic tension. Appreciate what good things we have right in front of us. The more we do it, the more of a rush we will get out of it. We need to make this habit into a necessity. Your problems will go away and solutions will come to you. You can’t think about problems with the same kind of thinking that caused them in the first place.

No_problem_can_be_solved_from_the_same_level_of_9buz

We all have compassion inside ourselves. It’s just matter of how much you are aware of it. If you’re not sure, nothing works best to discover it than looking in eyes of the people who have nothing but way bigger baggage than you. While I still do believe in giving second chances, I know many valid reasons to be skeptical of dating a felon. It’s a matter of how trustworthy that person is, that he or she will not hurt you. If you are involved with such a person, think about why you are with that person and if it is worth your well-being to continue dating that person.

And be more mindful. It’s so easy to forget the small good stuff that make our life worth living, not the stuff that gave you the instant gratification, but the stuff that you cultivate with love and joy.

Advertisements

It’s on

This is it. My biggest fear and challenge is standing right in front of me, staring me straight in the eyes like a bull staring at the matador’s red waving cape. As the bull charges, I’m officially entering the blogosphere as a blogger about something very personal to me. I believe what I am going to do will be the hardest thing for me to do in my entire life, but I believe it will accelerate my personal and spiritual growth. With that said, I can’t wait to see how the whole thing unfolds and what kind of impact it will have on me, people who are close to me, those who know me, and everyone else who decide to follow me.

I’m a generally reserved and private person, so for me to reveal to you my heavy and personal stuff is a HUGE deal to me. I mean, I’m face to face with my biggest fear and challenge in the combat right now, but my need to tell this story is way greater than all fears I have put together. So that fact, along with Catherine and Beatrice- my producer and my sister respectively, who also are wonderful supporters and champion confidantes- encourage me to build the courage to share my story with you the rest of world.

The story is long and most of it will be told in the documentary. To sum up, as I’m typing these words, Renny, my husband, is currently at the Travis County Correctional Complex for various drug-related charges. When I first met him at our friends’ wedding in Temecula, California in July 2009, he was in his fifth year of sobriety and a man with great intentions and even greater dreams. His biggest dream was to create a documentary that exposes the truth about the severity of drug addictions among the Deaf people and the lack of available resources and services that serve the Deaf and American Sign Language user population.

We worked together day and night on the documentary. We even had a production team. Then, one night Renny relapsed and everything changed. My life as I knew it ended. During the entire course of his relapses which lasted one year, I tightly grasped my faith that everything will work out in the end. Well, we can’t predict the future, can we?

Last Thanksgiving, I had an epiphany. We worked so many hours and had so much good footage and it was left to waste because it was supposed to be Renny’s story and now, he’s in jail. I realized I experienced everything just as much as he did. Pretty much the only thing that I didn’t do was smoke the crack. This story could still be told, but through my own eyes. I iChatted with Cat, my producer, about my idea and she completely supported it.

I just returned to Austin, Texas, from a month-long stay at my parents’ in Ohio. When I was there, I went to Cat’s house in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (wow that’s a fingerful as I’m typing this blog on my iPhone). It was a very productive week. We looked over the footage and worked on the storyline and strategized different ways to raise fund in order to shoot more interviews and scenes and, especially, for the postproduction aspect.

My wish for 2012 is to embrace this journey in which I believe will heal me.