I get it. I have been here before. I recognize the depression–breaking up does that.
But this time was different, it had a different bodily feel to it. I was in withdrawal. But withdrawal from what? I was not addicted to any substances. But I knew this feeling from changing behavioral patterns before in my life. In fact, going through those changes was one of the things that I marked as important—it had changed my outlook about creating and un-creating patterns.
It was a very silly thing to see, something that had not clearly occurred to me before. I feel like I am in preschool.
I am hooked on intimate relationships, I love the promise of love and the promise of creating it.
However, I am just as afraid as most everyone else about abandonment and I was good at making my sense of abandonment more severe than others around me. I find myself feeling like an alcoholic trying to quit and suffering the worst in a bout of delirium tremens.
Before I go on, and recognizing that it is a bit late to be mentioning it, this kind of open emotional examination is not the normal realm for males. I’ve already had flack about it, being accused of all kinds of things I suspect would not have occurred had I been a female. I’m guessing that if I used a female pen name and changed most of the pronouns from female to male, I would be getting an entirely different kind of feedback.
Recently, a woman I am acquainted with told me that I appear to be able to handle anything. I had asked because she had blatantly ignored something that had an impact on me.
When questioned about how she would have felt had the roles been reversed, she admitted that it would not have been pleasant.
I told her that seemed discriminatory and smacked of insensitivity. Why, I wondered, am I mostly asked what I think and not much about how I feel?
She replied that because I appeared strong, her concern was about my thoughts, not my feelings.
I told her that was business as usual, but amounted to the same thing as males asking women about their feelings and ignoring what they might think.
She seemed to understand and she acknowledged, as I’ve often illustrated to my students, that if she went into a place and lost her way or became flummoxed and started crying, someone would be there to help her, but if a grown man did the same thing, the probability would be that security would be called or that he would be perceived as having inadequate mental faculties.
Obviously, I’m sick of the double standard, and I’m sick of the assumption that feelings are the purview of females.
Is it always this way?
Of course not. It seems to me that it is the general pattern, however.
So, once again, at the risk of being ignored or being accused of being hard-hearted, stagnated, or possessed of unsound mental acuity, I launch into my feelings.
The three women I’ve been deeply involved with, though different, share a common trait—they sell love. Not sex, but love. Sex was merely one of many tools in their arsenal. They did not do that intentionally or because they are evil, they did it honestly to assuage their own sense of abandonment.
That was the deal, pseudo-devotion. And I was a consumer. I was a skeptical consumer, but I could be drawn in little by little. It was insidious. Abandonment meets abandonment.
Each, literally, assured me that I was the one and only, the ultimate in a sea of ordinary. The phrases and the cards and the love were unbelievable. I didn’t quite believe it, but I bought it anyway, even without being entirely aware of it.
The first said all of this while trying to avoid committing to responsibility. She was happy to have me making decisions. It certainly let her off the hook. But she insisted that she wanted to learn and grow. I tend to believe that we manifest who we really are, so I gave it a chance. When I realized that our individual values were not congruent, we went our separate ways.
The second was even more insistent about my place in her heart. Privately, she berated the first, while thanking her for being so dumb as to let me leave. According to her, the breakup with the first woman was lucky for me, and the second insisted she would certainly be there for me. Again, when I was suspicious about all of words and all of the ideals, she claimed she was not like the first.
But that morphed as well. To me, my second love lived for effect. It was as though she constantly did things that she measured for the desired outcome. This kind of life is fraught with difficulties. Soon I was being labeled as a jerk, I wasn’t attending to her needs. The pattern re-emerged, treatment was demanded that I considered was not reciprocal. Again I found myself in the midst of divergent values. Again a breakup ensued.
The third relationship was more of the same in essence if not in fact. Again when I didn’t trust all of the language, I was told that she was different. Previously, I had been casting pearls before swine, I was assured. I shouldn’t carry the past, we were definitely soul mates, the other claims were obviously not valid.
But she was a master of stories and I a master at finding contradictions. When we were on the same page, we moved together like magic. But it seemed each incredible peak had to be followed by some deep trough, as though happiness itself was too much to take. So, again, like the two before her, the same result ensued.
Don’t get me wrong, I have similar behavioral, emotional, and cognitive patterns myself. I do not care to always be responsible, and I can enjoy being lazy. I am also aware of effect and I have emotional swings (I’ll bet that’s obvious by now). I will say, however, that those characteristics do not run my reality, even if they intrude now and again. I’ve been through enough to realize the transitory nature of much of ourselves. I think our true selves emerge when we honor the essence and not the temporary facets of being. Part of the art of living was to not grab onto every piece that comes our way–it gets to be too much weight to carry.
In any case, like different kinds of alcohol, each espoused their own brand, each had their own feeling and their own spirit, and each cultivated their own dependency.
It was as though when I went from beer to wine (this is an analogy only and not to be confused with their true standing), I thought I had changed something. Then from wine to cognac, and again I figured I had finally found the path.
When I got out from under each of the first two in turn, I thought I had accomplished something, beaten back an insidious longing that was silently sucking the life force out of me. But, to an alcoholic, each drink was only alcohol after all. In fact, the more expensive drink only extracted a higher cost. I had an addictive personality and the pattern of these three was my drug of choice. I was like an alcoholic trying to quit, but still hanging around bars.
The courage to stop a pattern, is not the same as the smarts to recognize how the pattern started, much less to create new, appropriate patterns.
It is clear to me that I am a consumer and I promised to drink of them—which we all needed. A drink is not activated until consumed, one is related to the other.
This isn’t about their foolishness, if that is what it was. I’m not their St. Peter. It is about my perspective, my foolishness, my sense and fear of abandonment.
I watched my parent’s relationship with themselves, each other, and the world, and noticed that, for the most part, they could not seem to do the necessary alchemy to give up their past and believe that a new unfolding and a new pattern of life could occur. The potential sense of abandonment, of not being heard, and the need to control those feelings seemed to drive them. They, like myself and those I know, all seem to rate ourselves on how we deal with these variables. It seems to me that my parents, my siblings, these three women, myself, all of us were/are manifestations of these drives.
And I, like nearly everyone else at some time or another, believed I was somehow different, I could change patterns. I could reset not just the wheel and the road, but the very geography where the journey would unfold.
And now it comes to this. I’ve been engaged in the same illusion as my parents, as the three women I had been with. I was not a rudder, I am the same flotsam and jetsam in the same stream. I am just as foolish as the next person. The relationships were not about support, on anyone’s part. It was about perpetuation.
I am a perpetuator and a victim of my own system. I have found my cast of characters, willing accomplices in a story designed to fulfill itself. And I have become an accomplice in their stories and their production. It is a multilayered, multidimensional, interactive, reciprocal feedback illusion.
One thing about being in a Star Wars’ bar is that when one is looking at all of the weird species congregated there, it is easy to forget that the perceiver is one of the weird species congregated there.
In the agony of my withdrawal, I went for a hike and asked the land and the trees and the rocks about it all. The answer was very clear—I was so thick that I needed it. It was a gift. It took these three love-illusions to bring me back from my story. The three were right for me. And I was probably right for them. And if I faltered, there would be more.
And so it would be until I/we didn’t have a choice. Then we would be free. What amazing irony.