I've recently gotten back into woodworking. I enjoy the detail work. It's about patience. The trick to getting through the details of any project (metaphor alert!) is keeping the end result in mind. Seeing the finished product in advance. Knowing how it will be shaped, step by step, from one form to another. Every progressive step, a necessity to the one that follows. Sanding things smooth. Repeatedly measuring. Cutting mindfully. Patience. Let the binder set. Let the finish cure. Remembering that the object began as imagination. And can only become real through thoughtful action, orchestrated intent.
Experienced hands do not exist without a road-map of scars from well meant mishaps.
In high school, I jammed my thumb into a table saw blade and had to go to the emergency room where my Mom was a nurse at the time. She lovingly scolded me as she tended to my mangled digit. I remember the concerned look on her face and the adamant tone of her voice. But that's not why I'm careful with power tools now. I'm careful because that shit hurt.
My shop teacher knew. He had scars too. He didn't say a single disparaging word. He simply took me to the hospital and turned me over to my mother. The next day, I was back in the shop working with a little fear to guide me. He smiled at me and knew I had learned a valuable lesson.
They never tell you that fear can be good. It can save your life. It only becomes troublesome when it begins to detract from happiness. One can become trapped, even paralyzed by it. Or one can see that there is potential danger and respond accordingly.
So, now for a few specifics...
I have sealed myself in a cage of fear for months. When this experiment in openness began, I was not afraid of losing RC. We were very connected, very happy to be giving each other this gift. Mistakes were made in our initial attempts with K and we both retreated into each other, licking our wounds and celebrating that we had survived in tact. Truth is, I resented her mistakes and denied my own. It took me a while to see how I botched that experience and left both RC and K out on a limb without making my own voice heard in a meaningful way.
Time passed... and then came Charlie. A beautiful dude with miles and miles of charm, talent, kindness and compassion. And I still was not afraid. I knew how RC treasured their friendship and I also knew that she would love him like no one before her. But I felt secure in our commitment.
The fear came when I realized that I was no longer the main focus of RC's life. She was.
After their love had been solidified and began to grow in earnest, I saw that she no longer needed me to feel fulfilled and happy. In fact, I had operated under that false assumption for years. Now I began to feel left out and could feel the fear of losing my love growing like a cancer. So much so that I found myself more suited to self pity than joy in the fact that my wife was the happiest I've ever seen her. And her happiness was not solely attributable to her new relationship, but because she was finally living freely. Loving without apology. She felt great. And I felt pitiful.
And as pitiful people tend to make horrible partners, we began to fall apart. My jealousy and general negativity became pervasive. All my relationships began to suffer. Especially the ones I held most dear. My best friend moved away and I found myself with little in the way of solid comfort. He was my sounding board and the one person who I could count on to listen with complete objectivity.
Months of this. Months.
Every time RC went to spend the weekend with Charlie, I fell into despair a couple days before she left and didn't return to near normalcy for a few days after she had returned. Then she would make plans to see him again and the whole miserable cycle would repeat.
Therapy helped. It gave me tools to keep me from going over the edge, but nothing could really pull me back from it. I even met a couple lovely people on OKC who I connected with and found amazingly supportive and understanding, but I was... How do you say... Inconsolable.
That brings us to this
post. Wherein I finally drew a line in the sand. And glad I am that I found the resolve to say no more. But it's not that I would have no more of RC and Charlie. I was finally confronting the fear. I would no longer live that nightmare of despair and longing. I was now committed to taking my life back.
You see, she and I are what the kids these days call "co-dependent". And she has found a love based on giving freely and cherishing one another rather than seeking... well... anything. Which has illuminated the destructive nature of our ill-conceived dependency on one another and made us reassess our relationship.
Now, had I not been riddled with fear and jealousy, this may have been an easy transition to make. But this is not the case. We love and respect each other immensely. And we are creative problem solvers. So we have decided to take some time apart, as we have in the past, to reestablish ourselves as individuals. This, as necessary and brilliant as it is, has been difficult for me. I'm still feeling like an exposed nerve at times and while this is a move to heal ourselves and our relationship, it smacks of fears confirmed. But that's what fear does. It searches for proof to justify its existence. And it usually finds it.
Luckily, my connection with RC and my love of myself are much more powerful than the fear.
Tonight, the whole gang will be in the same place at the same time, celebrating as we do, the vast array of relationships we find ourselves in daily. And dancing. We will be dancing. Bet.