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Effortlessly Average

Sort of half-heartedly leading the charge into mediocrity since, oh, let's say around 1987 or so.

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Location: Roaming (additional charges may apply), Argentina

Proof that with internet access and a powerful laxative, even insipid people will blog; the place where your excellence and my mediocrity collide; where my Karma whips ass on your dogma.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Baby Steps...

Originally posted on the FreeRangeFamily blog on 6/27, but moved here.

Ya know, I’ve begun several times to write this post, and just keep deleting every attempt. So I’m going to shoot from the hip, just to get my thoughts on the page and see where it takes me, even though I’m sure it’ll end up far longer than I want it to be.

BuddhaWife’s now in her own place and the house, especially our closet, seems entirely too empty now. Frankly, I don’t really even want to live here anymore, but her being gone isn’t the only reason why (a story for another time) and I’ve decided that a scenery change is in my not too distant future. I’m also trying to get used to having so much space to myself in the bed and moving about my day when everywhere I look is a ghost of her. My counseling is going very well, though, and I’ve come to realize a great deal already about not only what's goind on, but who I am, who she is, and more importantly why we are the way we are. I've started to identify things that are either my fault and I can correct or are not my fault but for which I’ve both tried to compensate or take responsibility for.

For my part, I’ve acted like an idiot over this last handful of weeks. But before I travel down the road toward self-abuse (a historical habit I’ve recently broken), I should note that BW and I have been together so long that the last time I was confronted with anything like this experience I was still a veritable child. Back then, few of us really even know what love is, let alone how to handle feelings of rejection or abandonment. When I started to feel her drift away, I played in my mind the events from back then and acted the way that child would have acted. Not good. But what is good is that I’ve been able to realize that while it may have been sophomoric and certainly not something I ever care to repeat, it’s also water under the bridge and all I can do going forward, now that I have the tools (and am learning how to use them properly), is continue to nurture this far more productive means of understanding and expressing my hurt feelings.

Isn’t it both tragic and ironic that often the most meaningful growth comes on the heals of the most painful experiences? I remember a calligraphy card my grandmother had on her fridge for years following the death of one of my cousins that read “what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.” At the time I misread “stronger” to be “stranger.” I guess either could be true depending on the person and circumstances, huh? Anyway, my reaction to this situation hasn’t been what I’d call stellar. Fear and pain have driven me to a place I don’t enjoy being. Not all the time and not every day, mind you, but too often. Sometimes I’ve been ok, other times not. I’ve never physically lashed out at her; I never have and never would do that. But sometimes reactions to situations we can’t control cause our feelings to get the best of us. And when the uncertainty and pain tried to overwhelm me, I found it hard to cling to the joy I feel inside over finally knowing where I want to be in life, over finally having let go the past without trying to shoulder the weight of every screw-up I’ve ever made.

I suppose you could say I was “watching the tree,” which to me can be summed up by imagining driving on a deserted road when suddenly your car slides out of control and you become aware that you’re headed straight for the only freaking tree you’ve seen anywhere on the stupid road. As your eyes lock onto it, your car makes a beeline right for it. And because that’s where your focus is, that’s where your unconscious actions (steering, braking, screaming “oh my God we’re gonna die!”, whatever) will take you. Instead I should have been paying more attention to where I wanted to go. I suppose it’s normal that in moments of panic or unusual stress we fixate, too often, on the worst case scenario. I’ve done too much of that this last month; I’ve been watching the tree.

Well, I have discovered that sometimes words are pretty weak vessels for saying I’m sorry and for my part, I have three things I need to continue to work on.

I haven’t given her enough of a voice. This stems from my occasional insecurity (itself rooted in a belief that I didn’t “matter” if I didn’t have financial means) and it has made me force her to avoid talking or joking about subjects I didn't want to face. If we're to have a strong marriage, she needs to be able to speak her mind, even if it’s about something I don’t enjoy hearing. That’s a partnership, that’s a mutual respect. Silencing her is not.

I have to listen to her more, not just hear her talking so I can respond. I'm a man, which means I want to fix things. When she talked, I would search for buttons to push or levers to pull that would make it all ok. If things still seemed broken, I’d return to the same conversations and questions in a search to discover why my "fixes" didn't fix anything, which just frustrates her more.

Finally, I need to trust her. I've been hurt before. And when those people left they made very personal, very cruel statements that cut deeply enough that I've never allowed the wounds to heal completely. When this all blew up on BW and me, I returned to those painful memories and tried to fit those results into this experience. If we're to make this work, I need to trust that she's trying to come together again. I need to be serious about it and not repeat the same patterns that helped lead us here. Yeah, she's got work to do as well, but that's her. All I can do is work on me and hope she recognizes that I am a man she can be happy with for another two decades. She’s told me more than once that her doing this is not a means to escape our marriage, but a means to determine how we can be married and still feel that she has a connected, healthy individuality. Whereas I’ve been watching the tree. And it’s caused us to be afraid to be around each other because we’re both afraid of not knowing what we’ll get from the other when we’re close together.

She's my Family, so no, I don’t want to go forward without her. But I understand that I can’t make her stay. More importantly, I don’t want to make her stay. I want her to be happy. Yes, I want her to be happy with me, but I want her to be happy regardless. I don’t want to enjoy my new-found perspective on life alone and I firmly believe we have far more reason to stay together than be apart, but that’s really neither here nor there is it? Because I will enjoy it regardless of what she decides, even if it may not feel like it in the beginning.

My focus now is living the life of the man I feel I’m becoming and allowing BW to be the woman I fell in love with all those years ago. I want my life to mean more than just what I can acquire. I want to do things. That much has been a part of me for the last few years. What is different is that I no longer begrudge those who "acquire." What’s different is that I no longer loathe myself for my past mistakes. And I don’t feel the need to hate those who’ve hurt me in the past. I accept that there will be times when my inner critic will try to assert itself, sure. But I know what to do to defeat him and it gets easier every week. Liberating? Absolutely. But also a little sad that it took this to force that final step. Oh well, also neither here nor there. At least it’s done.

What we need is time to heal. Our union cannot survive as long as that fear between us exists because eventually the only path that will feel sane, for either of us, is divorce. We need to stop feeling as if we have to eggshell around each other just to be in the same room so that we can begin to remember why we love each other so much.. Without healing, there can’t be any compassion. Without compassion, no understanding. And without that… how can anyone move forward together? And that right there – healing, compassion, understanding – has been the piece that’s been missing for me. And I have wonderful friends who have helped me see that. I wonder how I ever got so lucky to have friends like you. You’ve helped me see that sometimes the most profound, truest testament to loving someone is the one that scares you the most.

That being said, I’m submitting myself totally to her will. As someone else dear to me recently put it, tongue in cheek, she’s “the boss.” I haven’t trusted BW enough in this, despite her having never given me a reason not to, even now. She's made it clear numerous times that divorce is not the goal, even if it is a possibility. I need to stop making it a greater possibility by stopping myself from being so nervous around her and just giving her space. I'm convinced that's one reason she left. Even the mere anticipation of being around each other caused our emotions to amp up to the point where we're depressed just to come home and I didn’t leave her alone enough when we were together. So she got her own place to act as a sanctuary, not as a means to escape our marriage. It is what it is. Only time will make that better. She doesn’t have to return; she doesn’t have to stay. Yes, it will be a new and uncertain future without her by my side, but I want her to be at my side because she wants to be, not out of obligation.

"I have embarked on a wide ocean, boundless in it's opportunities, but in which, perhaps, no safe harbor is to be found." -George Washington, 1775

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