Deal With the Real (Video)

12/30/2010 04:59 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It's hard to respond to something that hasn't happened. And yet, if I make decisions based on expectations, that's what I'm doing.

When separation and then divorce changed my life, I sometimes found myself making decisions and taking action based on what I thought should happen or what had happened in the past. Big mistake. Here's what I learned:

Expectation often leads to disappointment.

I prefer dealing with what is. The truth -- or reality -- feels cleaner, less stressful. And though it can be hard to find and painful to face, the truth still feels like a friend. Something reliable. No bullshit.

Expectation, on the other hand, is a product of logic, fear, imagination, past experience and several dozen other things. I think of it as a weather forecast for my life -- something that can make me aware of possibilities, but not something dependable.

Expectation is only my best guess at the future. And the future is life's lottery -- nobody knows for sure how it will unfold. When I live by my expectations, I usually react more according to my worries than reality. But in the present, life is tangible. I can hear it, see it, touch it, feel it. It's where I live right now, and if I open up to what is actually happening, I see more options.

On August 11, 1996, I wrote this in my journal:

Lesson for me there, Grandpa: Stay open to the developing situation. Don't let what has happened block off potential avenues of travel. Reassess. Ask questions. Don't assume because a person has said a particular thing at a particular time that it is etched in stone and will not change. Don't assume it will change (either). In fact, don't assume.

A television documentary about Elvis Presley reported that the King of Rock 'n' Roll was so fat in his last years that when he entered an Elvis look-a-like contest, he only finished third. His fans' expectation was that Elvis would be the way they remembered him. They left no room for change. And without room for change, life is limited and sometimes even suffocating.

This is part of a Huffpost series -- in words and video. I call it For Men Who Have Everything, Including Separation -- Thoughts on Surviving Separation. There are 12 segments in all, and the next eight will be arriving over the coming weeks. If you want to read the first three installments, there are links at the bottom of this post.

My goals are straight-forward:

  • Offer hope and humor to men who are disconsolate after a relationship has hit the rocks
  • Offer a resource to women -- sisters, mothers, friends -- who care about such men
I wrote For Men Who Have Everything, Including a Broken Heart because I would have liked a book like this when my first marriage nose-dived.

I offer it in a spirit of brotherhood and with a strong faith that once our broken hearts mend, we have the capacity to be more compassionate, wiser, more resilient and stronger than we were before.

For Men Who Have Everything, Including a Broken Heart, #1

There's more blogging and vlogging and to come. I promise it will be personal and positive. Sign up for email alerts and each time a new segment is posted, you'll be informed. Thanks.