There's a woman I've been curious about at several AA meetings and we've been friendly during conversations before and after. I vaguely sensed at various times that she's been going through a rough patch. She's got essentially two personalities: a very cheerful, extroverted and energetic presentation and a very introverted, withdrawn and shy, quiet and depressive presentation. These are truly extremes. Of course, it turns out there are mental health struggles, medication, suicide attempts, cutting, in-patient treatment, therapy, etc. I have repeatedly been attracted to or even just curious about women struggling with mental illness for the past 7 years or so. In fact, there has been a progression involved where I've actually been attracted to more and more seriously mentally ill women as time has gone on.
I'm doing some examination of this. I think patterns contain valuable messages. I especially think patterns that are progressive in a strong direction contain valuable messages. I still don't have a clue why this pattern would be the case. The easiest explanation is I have some serious rescuing and co-dependency issues to look at, and that in fact my issues around this are getting worse and worse. It would be nice to have a strong, healthy, confident, rich woman come along and rescue me, come to think of it. :-) On the other hand, I wonder. I'm not attracted to the mental illness. I know that much certainly.
With my last SO, I met her at a time when she was just wrecked. At first it was fine as I helped her out. Sometimes, in order to get her up off her living room floor, I would have to literally pick her up. Her depression was so severe at times that she was incapable of speaking, moving, etc. She tried to kill herself twice during the 4 years we were together. She did show significant progress, functioning in the world. She got an advanced degree, worked, engaged in a relationship with me, etc. Over time, however, I began to utterly despise her illness, which returned periodically and ferociously. It has in fact been difficult for me to merely despise her illness and not actually despise her. I have needed all of the 12 step tools I have in order to gain some equilibrium there. When the relationship became a part of her problem rather than a helpful part of the solution that was pretty much when I bailed. So it does look like, as soon as I could no longer fulfill a knight in shining armor, rescuer role, I lost interest in the relationship.
I hate looking at this stuff.
Sometimes things instantly get put into perspective.
A text I received last night from another alcoholic:
"Terrible news about Steve. Hope you are well, call me if you need to talk."
I was thrown for a second. Steve? News? Huh? Then I remembered an acquaintance of mine who had been around AA for a few months back in the winter. He was a great guy, seemed fairly solid, great sense of humor. Then he disappeared. When he returned, a couple months later, he looked like death. Pale skin, sunken eyes, barely able to speak, wrapped in misery and sadness.
This second go at recovery didn't take. The disease of alcoholism killed him a few days ago. His Facebook wall is dense with farewells, tributes, grief, anger and love. The last thing he linked to on his wall was "Long Road to Ruin" by the Foo Fighters. He put that up July 8th.
Like I said, he did have a wicked sense of humor.
I'm currently on a 10-day visit to a town where I lived, on and off, for 25 years. I have had several sexual relationships in this town, many jobs, many friendships and two marriages and divorces. In many ways this place really feels like my home town, even though it is 2000 miles from where I "grew up." I was only 22 when I first came here, though, and I was definitely not grown up. It not only feels like my home town, it is also in many ways "the scene of the crime." Lots of mistakes, missteps, failed monogamous relationships, employment trauma, spiritual awakening, insights, etc. Lots of drug and alcohol use and abuse. Lots of ghosts and lots of history. It's compounded by the fact that the town is fairly small and many people I have known over the years are still here (although a great many have left).
The main spiritual purpose of this trip has been to make several amends, an attempt to clear away some of the wreckage of the past. Some of these have been with former employers, but the majority have been with 4 exes who still live here. Both ex wives and two ex girlfriends. I am lucky to have been on relatively good terms with these exes. The conversations were easy to arrange, as a result of being in fairly regular contact with all of them via email or Facebook or in person. In each case, my sincere desire to allow for closure and repair of some of the damage of the past was met with a generous and forgiving spirit. Also, in each case, there have been several surprises, several unexpected aspects. (One funny pattern is that all four women have offered me a sofa or futon to sleep on).
I am still digesting and integrating all of this interaction. I'm sure it will be a good long while before the full effect of these amends is felt in my everyday life, in how I am in relationships from now on and in how free I am finally able to be of the ghosts of the past. It's an amazing process.
Hello to all of my new friends and acquaintances here. I have missed the conversation. But all of my activities have migrated over into meatspace, lately, with some NRE and a lot of change and growth.
There are interesting experiences where we know someone for a great many years in one way and then all of a sudden, so to speak, we're going down on her. Haha. It has a surreal quality to it, really. To be dear friends with a woman for 16 years and then there's a rainy thunderstorm night, cool breeze through the window, candles, a simple dinner, good conversation, a shoulder for her to cry on about her divorce after 10 years of marriage, some nurturing touch that sets off a spark and flashes into highly charged erotic exploration for several hours. Wait...what? Perspectives shift. Who is this woman? Who am I?
Odd also how the two of us almost did start a relationship 15 years ago, but I ended up with my second wife instead. Literally, like the next night.
Anyway, this is the first time in my life I have been completely honest about my own situation and where I am and what I want and it's refreshing. I have absolutely nothing to hide. It's a very sexy place to be. There isn't that murky, gunky dark dread in my gut that used to be there when I would lie my way into someone's pants. Nice.
I completed also a huge cycle of forgiveness, clearing, releasing and liberation on the trip. Now I am back in the hot furnace of central AZ and readying myself as much as possible for the start of my job.
Life is good.
It seems inevitable that what
arises between two people in dynamic relating is this exchange of
wanting and being wanted, the trading of top and bottom, the either
slight or greatly exaggerated power imbalance. More romantically, the
trading of lover and beloved. These whirling exchanges seem to happen
very quickly sometimes in dynamic relationships, monogamous or not, but I've also experienced entire long years
within exclusive monogamous relationships where each person
basically...assumed a position? For much of the most recent
relationship, I was the pursued, she was the pursuer. I
never intended to set up this dynamic. It emerged out of my growing
dissatisfaction with monogamy. Not with her, just with the monogamous
I have also been the pursuer for long months. It can become
excruciating when the pursued recedes more and more and becomes a tiny
little black dot on the horizon. Running as fast as we can, we wonder
why this person who once was eager to play with us is now so desperate
to get as far away as possible. It never really occurred to me to just
give up pursuing altogether. If I'm not chasing, there's no one
running away. If I'm not looking for a person to be available for me,
there's no one cold and distant or snubbing me. It also never occurred
to me to just stop running. To let a pursuer catch me and then say,
okay, you got me, now what? Because then I wonder would the energy
just fall right out of it all? Would the pursuer suddenly come to her
senses in that moment and just start laughing? Or would it be
impossible to really catch me? Because the sense that i got with
the last relationship was that there would never, ever be enough of me. That she
would continue pursuing something like a simulacrum of me even if I
was standing right there, not running. And that sense of never being
enough for her really terrified me. It felt devouring and annihilating
and hopeless and desperate. And I do begin in longer exclusive
monogamous relationships to either feel like the other person will
just never be enough or I will never be enough. Nothing is ever
sufficient. The only sufficiency I have felt with great steadiness and
faith and constancy is when I have been single. I heal my way into
being sufficient. I am neither going toward nor turning away. This is
when I am truly single and not looking. I dislike looking ever so
much. Looking has so much fraudulence in it. Because, really,
honestly, how would I answer the question: "what are you looking for?"
I have often felt guilty and deeply undeserving when I am more wanted
than wanting. And I have often felt ashamed and unmanly when I am
more wanting than wanted.
Suffice it to say that the topic of who wants and who is wanted
touches on many of the wounds that are raw for me.
From the spiritual perspective, these imbalances of desire are
actually illusions IMO. Anything that reinforces the myth of
separation is an illusion. To get beyond is to just let it be enough.
It is enough. "Yes, but," I tend to say, sometimes very petulantly.
No. It is enough. Let it go. Game over. Stop looking. You are. Get
over it. It is enough. "Yes, but!" Etc. It's a cycle.
And here is the more hopeful part of it for me: I can plunge into the
ocean of forms with joy, relishing being wanted, relishing being the
one who burns with wanting. The roles then become just forms of play
and can be enjoyed. Liberating and freeing. I don't have to live like
But this is new for me. And it still breaks my heart when I think of
the rackets I have tried to run. Some of us understand what it is like to be clever in
relationship. To be convinced that we can figure it out, get it right,
do it right. We're smart enough. We should be up to that simple task.
Surely, loving another person is not that hard. It's not a thing
such a clever boy as I should fail at. Yet, there's the record. My 4th
step sex and relationship inventory is in black and white, staring me
right down. And isn't it something? The little "yes, but" flame still
leaps from the embers and says "This time, it will be different!" No,
this time it will not be different. Because there won't be a this
time. Because the toys have been put away, into the toy box. Because
Elvis has left the building. Because stick a fork in me.
There is a famous sentence in the Big Book: "The illusion that he will
someday control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every
abnormal drinker." Substitute "relating" for "drinking" and you get a
picture of the great obsession that has remained for me, even after
the obsession to drink has been removed. The key to opening the sentence
is to emphasize the AND. "Control AND enjoy his relating." This is the
great obsession of this codependent relater. And the
heartbreak of the repeated disappointment offers no real dissuasion.
The dissuasion now has come powerfully from my HP. "You are already
unconditionally loved. You have been looking for it in the wrong
places and in the wrong ways. Just give it a break and let it go.
You'll be fine."
This has turned into a lot. Thank you for reading.
I do invite comment here, by the way. Is that acceptable within this section of the forum? Or is it customary to not comment on blogs? Because I like the conversation and I don't mind people commenting. Every time someone does, I learn.