“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at anytime.”
Gene Simmons’s show, Family Jewels, is a reality show; and a very interesting one at that. In last night’s episode, he and his future wife, at the time it was taped, Shannon, attended a program called “The Marriage Boot Camp.” This program was designed to break through the barriers that prevents couples from finding true happiness and fosters emotional intimacy.
The major issue for Gene and Shannon was his infidelity, which had been heavily hidden throughout their 28 year relationship. Only recently was his cheating behavior discovered, as photos of him, being with other women, were leaked to the internet.
While a loyal and loving partner, Shannon had reached her tipping point. Gene knew this, entered therapy and uncovered many reasons why he chose not to commit fully to her. His father deserted him and his mother when he was young and he convinced himself that he didn’t want to burden his mother with his pain, so he became emotionally guarded, very self-centered and self-indulgent. For him, sleeping with other women boosted his ego. And, for those brief moments, allowed him to feel wanted, valued and significant. In addition to his rock and roll career, sleeping with other women reinforced his unrealistic belief that he was invincible.
In the Marriage Boot Camp episode, Gene and Shannon were both given feedback about themselves, after having told their respective “stories.” Finally, each of the eight participants were asked, as they sat next to their partners and spouses, “How would you feel if he/she was gone from your life right now?” “What would life be like for you if your other half was permanently gone from your life?” The film crew filmed what Gene experienced as Shannon physically removed herself from the room. Gene was left sitting next to an empty chair with the assignment to write Shannon’s eulogy.
Clearly, it was tough for him but he did it. Returning from the commercial, the show films everyone walking into another room, and there,in a coffin, lay Shannon; eyes closed and acting dead. Gene was then asked to stand up, feel the impact of Shannon’s death, and recite the eulogy he wrote for her. Having great difficulty with the reality of viewing his wife in a coffin, he sang her a lyric to a song he wrote, stroked her hair as he tearfully and sweetly sang it and allowed himself to “go there”;to the place where he actually experienced the loss of his partner. It was incredibly powerful.
I was struck deeply by this. His love for her was palpable and his need for her was great. Even though he fought against needing someone because it would ultimately lead to his emotional vulnerability, he realized that he did, in fact, need Shannon for all of the right reasons. He said she always supports him, watches out for him, loves him without reservation, and is loyal to a fault; she is his everything and the only woman he will ever love.
This 62-year-old man, finally realized that he had a “woman of valor” in his life and that his low self esteem, leading him to act out in various ways, hurt his wife and his children. He was able to connect the dots and, through the process that unfolded with the counselors, he was able to realize that the disrespect that he showed his wife stemmed from his anger towards his father for abandoning him and his mother. He also acknowledged that his mother was actually imperfect and that it was ok to realize that. He was able to hold her accountable for her part in the demise of the relationship between his parents and in doing so, tap into his real pain.
The gift he gave himself was forgiveness. He forgave his parents for the pain they caused him. He forgave his father deserting him, offering his little boy no role model, thereby leaving it to Gene’s imagination to ‘make-up’ what he thought he should be as a man; a man who found significance by being hailed by others as a rock star, a legend, and a virile man. Everything else, including having emotions, was thrown away.
By freeing himself from the pain of his past and forgiving himself for carrying his lifetime of pain, he is now able to fully give himself to his future wife. How wonderful!
I ask you to think about what you hold onto, from your past, the prevents you from being fully present in the relationship with yourself and with those whom you love? Is it necessary to carry the pain any longer? Does carrying this pain make you a happier person? Do you realize that when you let go of the pain, you become a stronger person, a happier person and a more capalble of truly loving yourself and others?
For those people in your life who really matter, don’t reserve your love or your true self for ‘another time’. Imagine if they were gone right now and you never saw them again, what would you do, now, that you haven’t done yet? What would you say to them, now, that you haven’t said yet? What kind of different person would you be, now, that you aren’t, yet?
Don’t wait until time has run out. Act now and act swiftly. Forgiving yourself and allowing yourself to evict your pain from your past will open your heart to love, loving and receiving love. It is truly liberating.
For what will you forgive yourself and what pain will you fully let go, so that you can find the love and meaning that you need in your life?
It is time to let go. How will you do it?
In love and light,