It’s 1982, I’ve innocently rocked up at my first ever musical concert, to see my all-time hero, Barry Manilow. I’ve never done anything like it before, never seen an arena so big, let alone that many humans in one place at the same time.
I’d already decided that he was something special, far more than a singer/songwriter, but little did I know what he had in store that night, or how profound the change in me would be.
Let me roll back now to 1978, what was to be the defining moment of my life.
Why did I marry him?
I married my first husband in 1978, even though I knew it was completely the wrong thing to do, and walked down the aisle thinking ‘just run’. In fairness it was entirely my fault, my dad had given me a way out and was quite prepared to take all the heat and stress, move house if necessary. Anything to save me from the kind of mess he found himself in as a young man. Mum said it was just pre-wedding nerves, I agreed because I loved my ex-in-laws and didn’t want to hurt them, and I knew I was wrong.
We married in the June and by the September I was desperate. He was a Jekyll and Hyde, one moment a perfectly lovely person to know, the next the complete opposite. He also had interests that I definitely didn’t, and I’d realised that I couldn’t live with them.
I was mulling on this whilst I put the television on (a 16″ black and white TV!), and went out to make a drink. Whilst I was in the kitchen I heard “Mandy”, and I ran into the lounge. I had loved that song since it came out, but had no idea who sang it. Now I knew!
This wasn’t my first crush, excelling in the radical as I do, I was an Osmond fan before I encountered and added Barry to the top of the list. However, what happened that night was something different. Not just a ‘he’s good looking and sings well’ moment. Yes I always loved the way he looked, no I’m not apologising. It was the knowledge that something profound had just happened and there was no way back from it. Nor would I ever want one.
More than a Human
At that point in my life I wasn’t a spiritual thinker, but it was no secret the moment you saw Barry that there was something magical about him. Charisma doesn’t begin to describe it. he isalso incredibly caring. At every concert I went to he gave time to inspiring his fans to believe in themselves and reach for their dreams. Constantly encouraging us, to the point of saying that he didn’t see himself as the best singer on that stage, but he did believe in himself and what he had to offer; which is a great deal. I particularly recall “God bless the other 99”, where he told us that the biggest successes aren’t necessarily the most talented people, they are the people who heard the word ‘no’ 99 times and went back again.
But this particular night he excelled himself.
This goes some way to expressing the myriad of feelings that went through me when Barry quoted the message above. One given to him when he was at a very low ebb, which galvanised him into action. He finished by saying that if one person in that audience needed to hear it, it was worth saying. I was definitely one person, but likely not the only one.
I sat there unable to do anything. He had put the full responsibility for my life into my lap, and I have never been so scared in my life. My ex was not going to have an affair, he was not going to leave me, if this nightmare was to end then I was going to have to be the one that ended it. And I was.
When you embrace the spiritual path you come to realise how often you’ve been helped in the past, you look back and see the inspirers that turned up when you needed them, often in the most unexpected ways.
It’s important to actively look for that help and inspiration, to notice when it’s offered to you and grab it with both hands. For clarity at no point did I ever grab Barry Manilow.
When your life is a mess it can be very difficult to admit that to yourself, let alone others. We’re not trained to be wrong. We’re trained to be right, wonderful, wise, etc., and it’s all rubbish. Abandon any sense of needing to be right if you’re unhappy.
Needing to be right can stop you solving problems, so think of your problems like this:
If I gave you a dangerous creature to hold, you wouldn’t even accept it would you? Let alone stand there and hold it so that you didn’t lose face, even though you might lose your face, if it’s dangerous enough. No, you’d run a mile. You should treat problems in the same way, they’re dangerous creatures – to one degree or another – and you don’t want to hold onto them for too long.
Admitting that something has gone wrong is not defeat, it is not failure, it is courage and bravery. Put it another way, if you’re in a relationship with someone you no longer love, and you cause carnage ending it, you don’t dump that person, you free them to find someone who does love them.
There is nothing selfish in leaving the wrong relationship, the wrong job, school, university, whatever! Where you’re not at your best you’re not at your best for anyone. Especially you. You are a positive force for the world when you are at your best, and like me you can share your how you escaped in the hope it might help. You can’t do that if you’re still a prisoner of a situation, your past, or both.
To return to the beginning
If you’re struggling to solve your problems, refer back to the saying above, and never give up your dreams due to the words and actions of other people, or by exhausting yourself in the wrong setting, whatever that may be.
Nothing is more important than feeling good (Andy Dooley)
You don’t get any prizes for suffering (Deb Hawken)
Enlightenment is Happiness (the Buddha)
To your happiness