Friday, May 11, 2007

Unexpectedly driven... to where?

Finally, an "off day." I woke this morning with the specific intent of writing something. Of course, I had no intention of getting to it until long after I'd had my fun.

Mind you, "fun" while deployed is relative. My fun was three games of full-court basketball. Only one of the opposing team's players was an asshat. All in all, a good day.

That being, I had at various moments through the day thought about this blog, and its consequence on me and my need (if not intent) to heal. As cathartic as I've felt in documenting the implosion of my recent relationship, it occurred to me that I was running out of anything terribly profound to say.

Which is most certainly not to say that thoughts of S don't find their way, uninvited, into my head with any less frequency. Moreover, these thoughts are getting repetitive... and subjecting myself to writing them -- much less someone unfortunate enough to read them... well, it seemed counterproductive.

It was, of course, with unbelievable pride (and the feeling of having made some sort of amorphous connection) that I discovered a few readers.

INPY is foremost. He has given my writing much more respect than it deserves, but I, too, am simply amazed at how insanely similar our experiences have been. I cannot wait to meet him once I've returned to the U.S.

However.

However, one of the readers who'd found their way to my missives at INPY's behest posted a comment which left me alternately irritated and reflective. The poster suggested that, based on his or her personal experience, my healing would come with greater speed if I just answered a few questions.




Here they are:

  • What did you do that led her to cheat on you?
  • Why were you so dependent upon her?
  • In reality, is she the woman you thought she was?
  • What constituted your concept of love?
  • Why do you feel like you can't continue without her?
  • Why did your relationship fail?
I am certainly not reluctant to answer them. Not at all. But I have no illusions that doing so will send me along to shangri-la.

Did you, dear reader, notice the first one? Did it strike you as it did me?



What did I do that led her to cheat? This is as unhealthy a psychology as I can imagine. Seriously. Isn't this the equivalent of asking a battered wife what she did to make her husband beat her?

I get the whole "enabling" line of thinking. Really, I do. But it ends here. The only possible answer to that question is the sickening cliche: "I was too nice." And I patently refuse (forgive me, Roosh) to buy into the idea that in not being sufficiently "alpha" placed me in the position where the only predictable outcome was S's infidelity. Fuck that.

Having caught my breath, though, I can't help but think of those times when I was given the "sign." In my defense, they were few. No less painful, but few. I don't think I've written about them, here, so I'll get on with the two that are most vivid in my mind:




Very early into our relationship, S and I went out with some of her friends from work (our social circles didn't cross much, then). We went to some low-rent dance club in Augusta. Now, it is also important to note that I do not dance. Rather, I do not dance well. And I'm painfully aware of this. Yet, one of the thousand reasons I fell in love with S was her ability to make me feel good when I was dancing.

She made me feel sexy, rather than the oafish wad on the dance floor that I had believed myself to be. She knew she had my blessing to dance with whomever she wanted -- this was a boundary we'd already felt-out. But she almost always chose me. More importantly, I had fun. So much fun.

Other girls in the clique that had joined us were actually jealous. No kidding!

Right. Back to the dance club.

It is important to note, at this point, that S and I had made cosmic, passionate love at home before leaving for the club.

Towards the end of the evening, me with a permanent grin and she with the flirty, sexy sweatiness that only a beautiful woman dancing can produce, we started the "it's closing time" shuffle from the edge of the floor to the exit.

One of the guys with whom she'd shared a few dances came up to her, and asked for her number. Mind you, I'm right there. Next to her.

She pulled out her cell phone and gave it to him.

That's one.

For the most recent two months, I had been suffering the absolutely insane (yet senseless to outsiders) schedule and degradation of "Initiation." This special sort of hell is reserved for those selected for Chief Petty Officer (E-7) in the Navy. To summarize -- and, more importantly, get to the point -- for eight weeks, I had neither slept nor eaten well as I ran with frightened fervor from one seemingly inane task to another.

Right. So, the conclusion of this exercise in stress and humiliation -- Initiation -- lies in being "pinned." This is when those who have successfully passed the countless tests of integrity and humility are paraded before visitors and dignitaries in our fresh new uniforms and ultimately placed at a podium where we are ceremoniously given our new rank insignia. (This is serious business, by the way.) It is also important to note that, at this point, the new Chief has not slept -- at all -- in over 36 hours. Despite the exhaustion, no one who has lived it will ever forget this day.



On this professionally momentous occasion, I had chosen my best friend, Scott, and S to place the new rank insignia on my collar.

Afterwards, we went back to my house and planned the evening. I was, of course, in no condition to do anything huge, so we elected to have a quiet, fun evening at a Falls Church Irish pub. Just the three of us. Me, my best friend, and the most important person in my life, S.

Several pints into the evening, I get up to use the restroom. When I return, I am fucking floored to discover that S had just unbuttoned some AU-fraternity-type-fuck's button-down shirt. To expose his chest.

I'm not sure how or why his chest had come up in the very short conversation that must have occurred in my absence (after all, I only had to pee), but her behavior was apparently excused by "I didn't think you'd mind."

I felt my face redden, and I turned to Scott, and simply (and authoritatively, I'm sure, since I'd just become a Chief) told him, "The night is over."

That's two.

I realized at the time that both of these disasters were "signs." I didn't choose to ignore them. S and I, well... rather I worked through them.

A year and a half would pass before she left. Before she cheated.




I am the forgiving type. I know no other way to be. I sincerely believe that a relationship worth having is a relationship full of forgiveness, among other things. I couldn't have walked away from her at either of those points, because I loved her. I guess -- in the end -- it is a matter of knowing where the line is. My line. I just don't.

My position is vetted by my parents, strangely. My father passed away unexpectedly last summer, and my mom remains in an abject pain I cannot begin to fathom. They had been married over 35 years, and not apart for a single day during that period. Not one.

He died on her birthday. And dad -- well... he cheated. I remember: I was perhaps 10 or 11. I heard it all. All of it. Someone else might be tempted to say I shouldn't have learned of it. I'm glad I did.

She forgave. She certainly didn't forget, but she forgave. I know this, because when I called my Mom the day S had left, she reminded me of it. She was trying to express empathy for me as I struggled through the idea of forgiving S, even before she asked for it. (Incidentally, it is probably profound that at right this minute it occurs to me, for the first time, that S has never asked forgiveness. Hmm.)

I've gone on too long; I'm losing focus. I'll explore the other questions -- the ones that don't set me in a froth -- tomorrow. Or whenever the hell next I have the opportunity.

But before I close... going back to the beginning... suppose I heal sufficiently that I've no reason to post here about S. Glory the day. What the hell do I write about then? Admittedly, I had no expectation that anyone would find my words, or provide deep insight. My best friend is a prolific writer, and he convinced me that in getting my feelings and experiences down on paper (?) would help me help myself.

I don't know if it's working -- I haven't not written, so I have nothing to compare it against.

Trudging on. One African keystroke at a time.

7 comments:

Kristin said...

I'm a firm believer in healing through writing. I'm not so sure about poking at open wounds, but that's just me. I'm a wimp. I'd rather forgive and forget than forgive and remember.

jess said...

Hi! I found your blog through INPY. Yes, I realize I sound like a telemarketer...

Kristin is my wise friend, so first off, I agree with her ideas.

I'd also add: I think life is a constant healing process. And only by being hurt do we learn what we can and cannot take(or give, for that matter). I just don't think it's humanly possible to know something before you experience it. There's something about us that needs to go through something to incorporate it into our minds and emotions.

I've been in a similar situation as yours. I admire your courage to work through it. In my view, it takes guts to get at the root of things, which you are choosing to do.

Abhinav said...

This is going to be hard advice. Sorry.

“Did you, dear reader, notice the first one? Did it strike you as it did me?”

Yes, I did. It’s inherently asking you to acknowledge that you had a direct role in determining her actions.

“What did I do that led her to cheat? This is as unhealthy a psychology as I can imagine. Seriously. Isn't this the equivalent of asking a battered wife what she did to make her husband beat her?”

These are two entirely different scenarios. Physical abuse is not emotional abuse. The immorality of violence is not the same as the immorality of cheating. Your girlfriend didn’t beat you up, did she? So don’t claim to be a battered wife and don’t hide behind some victim mentality.

A healthy mentality is one in which you have an internal locus of control. By assuming you had no implicit responsibility in her cheating on you and eventually leaving you, where is yours?

You consider her fidelity to be a right you deserve, much like you considered her relationship with you to be a right you deserved. It’s not.

“I get the whole "enabling" line of thinking. Really, I do. But it ends here. The only possible answer to that question is the sickening cliche: "I was too nice." And I patently refuse (forgive me, Roosh) to buy into the idea that in not being sufficiently "alpha" placed me in the position where the only predictable outcome was S's infidelity. Fuck that.”

You’re right. Continuing to cry into your girlfriend’s lap would have continued to endear you to her. If not as a man, possibly as a puppy dog.

Forget being an alpha male. You did not provide her with what she wanted from a man – strength, support, stability. She lost interest and attraction in you. She left you. Or do you have a better reason?

“Having caught my breath, though, I can't help but think of those times when I was given the "sign." In my defense, they were few.”

There were many. You didn’t notice, or more likely, you didn’t want to notice.

“No less painful, but few. I don't think I've written about them, here, so I'll get on with the two that are most vivid in my mind:

Very early into our relationship, S and I went out with some of her friends from work (our social circles didn't cross much, then). We went to some low-rent dance club in Augusta. Now, it is also important to note that I do not dance. Rather, I do not dance well. And I'm painfully aware of this. Yet, one of the thousand reasons I fell in love with S was her ability to make me feel good when I was dancing.”

This is curiously funny. What’s holding you back from dancing well? And why is S your only enabler to dance well?

“She made me feel sexy, rather than the oafish wad on the dance floor that I had believed myself to be.”

You sought validation.

“She knew she had my blessing to dance with whomever she wanted -- this was a boundary we'd already felt-out.”

I don’t know what “felt-out” means, but it sounds like something women do together. You, as the male, do not feel things out with your partner. You set boundaries that you demand be respected.

As for “she had my blessing,” I will put money down that she never needed your sanction in the first place.

You did not set a concrete boundary. When you do not set a concrete boundary with a woman, she will push it to the limit. I see no other possible outcome.

She will do this to tool you. She tooled you.

As for your divinely gracious “blessing,” why did you give it in the first place? Did you think you exhibited alpha characteristics by showing you were not jealous? Or did she ask you for this right because it proved to be a simple and effective way to control you?

You weren’t dancing with other females, and you sure as hell didn’t gain anything by having her dance with other males. Being non-jealous and non-needy are excellent characteristics to have, but don’t fake them when they are so incongruent with your character.

Lastly, for a woman, moving from having the right to dance with whomever you want to having the right to sleep with whomever you want is a fairly small and simple transition. Especially when the boundary has been “felt-out.”

“But she almost always chose me. More importantly, I had fun. So much fun.”

She was the prize, you were the less valuable member in the relationship. Why weren’t you choosing her?

“Other girls in the clique that had joined us were actually jealous. No kidding!

Right. Back to the dance club.

It is important to note, at this point, that S and I had made cosmic, passionate love at home before leaving for the club.”

Congratulations.

“Towards the end of the evening, me with a permanent grin and she with the flirty, sexy sweatiness that only a beautiful woman dancing can produce, we started the "it's closing time" shuffle from the edge of the floor to the exit.

One of the guys with whom she'd shared a few dances came up to her, and asked for her number. Mind you, I'm right there. Next to her.

She pulled out her cell phone and gave it to him.”

What did you do? Don’t even think about trying to delude me, and worse, yourself, that you were the victim of this inter-change. Ayn Rand once wrote, "To discuss evil in a manner implying neutrality, is to sanction it." In other words, if you were able to prevent something you did not want from happening, than you implicitly allowed it to happen.

You made your analogy, here’s mine. You’re in the military, right? What’s the difference between watching a man commit a crime and letting that criminal go unpunished and directly abetting that criminal?

“That's one.

For the most recent two months, I had been suffering the absolutely insane (yet senseless to outsiders) schedule and degradation of "Initiation." This special sort of hell is reserved for those selected for Chief Petty Officer (E-7) in the Navy. To summarize -- and, more importantly, get to the point -- for eight weeks, I had neither slept nor eaten well as I ran with frightened fervor from one seemingly inane task to another.

Right. So, the conclusion of this exercise in stress and humiliation -- Initiation -- lies in being "pinned." This is when those who have successfully passed the countless tests of integrity and humility are paraded before visitors and dignitaries in our fresh new uniforms and ultimately placed at a podium where we are ceremoniously given our new rank insignia. (This is serious business, by the way.) It is also important to note that, at this point, the new Chief has not slept -- at all -- in over 36 hours. Despite the exhaustion, no one who has lived it will ever forget this day.”

Congratulations. If you treated your men as you treated your girlfriend – laxly, without direction, strength, or responsibility, would you be where you are?

“On this professionally momentous occasion, I had chosen my best friend, Scott, and S to place the new rank insignia on my collar.

Afterwards, we went back to my house and planned the evening. I was, of course, in no condition to do anything huge, so we elected to have a quiet, fun evening at a Falls Church Irish pub. Just the three of us. Me, my best friend, and the most important person in my life, S.”

More important than yourself?

“Several pints into the evening, I get up to use the restroom. When I return, I am fucking floored to discover that S had just unbuttoned some AU-fraternity-type-fuck's button-down shirt. To expose his chest.”

But you don’t mind her dancing with someone else.

“I'm not sure how or why his chest had come up in the very short conversation that must have occurred in my absence (after all, I only had to pee), but her behavior was apparently excused by "I didn't think you'd mind."”

You never set boundaries.

“I felt my face redden, and I turned to Scott, and simply (and authoritatively, I'm sure, since I'd just become a Chief) told him, "The night is over."”

That’s a start. But did you directly confront her and punish her for disrespecting you or were you passive aggressive about it?

“That's two.

I realized at the time that both of these disasters were "signs." I didn't choose to ignore them. S and I, well... rather I worked through them.”

Passive aggressive.

“A year and a half would pass before she left. Before she cheated.”

She probably cheated before that.

“I am the forgiving type. I know no other way to be. I sincerely believe that a relationship worth having is a relationship full of forgiveness, among other things. I couldn't have walked away from her at either of those points, because I loved her. I guess -- in the end -- it is a matter of knowing where the line is. My line. I just don't.”

You don’t have a line. You need to define your boundaries.

Letting a girl walk over you does not mean forgiving her.
Letting a girl walk over you leads her to having no respect for you.
Having no respect for you causes her to lose attraction.

“My position is vetted by my parents, strangely. My father passed away unexpectedly last summer, and my mom remains in an abject pain I cannot begin to fathom. They had been married over 35 years, and not apart for a single day during that period. Not one.”

So you replaced the void left by the death of your father by a girlfriend.

“He died on her birthday. And dad -- well... he cheated. I remember: I was perhaps 10 or 11. I heard it all. All of it. Someone else might be tempted to say I shouldn't have learned of it. I'm glad I did.

She forgave. She certainly didn't forget, but she forgave. I know this, because when I called my Mom the day S had left, she reminded me of it. She was trying to express empathy for me as I struggled through the idea of forgiving S, even before she asked for it. (Incidentally, it is probably profound that at right this minute it occurs to me, for the first time, that S has never asked forgiveness. Hmm.)”

She didn’t need forgiveness. You let her walk over you.

“I've gone on too long; I'm losing focus. I'll explore the other questions -- the ones that don't set me in a froth -- tomorrow. Or whenever the hell next I have the opportunity.

But before I close... going back to the beginning... suppose I heal sufficiently that I've no reason to post here about S. Glory the day. What the hell do I write about then? Admittedly, I had no expectation that anyone would find my words, or provide deep insight. My best friend is a prolific writer, and he convinced me that in getting my feelings and experiences down on paper (?) would help me help myself.

I don't know if it's working -- I haven't not written, so I have nothing to compare it against.

Trudging on. One African keystroke at a time.

Requiem 5/11/07 3:49 PM ~Justin”

inowpronounceyou said...

Abhinav; With all due respect your tough love pop psychology sounds way way off base. In fact, it sounds more to me like you're bitter about something similar. This line of advice does no one any good and is rarely routed in trying to help. The time to acknowledge that all realtionships are action and reaction is after the grieving. Not during. If you knew as much as the cut and paste job that you just did seeme dto suggest, you'd know that first and foremost.

Don't make that call from the cheap seats and say it's "tough advice" . It's not. It's cruel and (more often than not) self serving.

Just my $.02.

Gloria said...

Amen INPY! I felt abhinav was out of line on his first comment, and downright rude in this one. "What did you do that led her to cheat on you?" Are you KIDDING ME?

Take your cracker-jack box phychology degree and find someone that is going to buy into your bullshit.

(apologies to Justin for being rude to others in his blog)

simply scott said...

Wow! There's a lot of feedback on this one. Personally I think you are doing just fine with all of your exploration and sorting out. And you have pointed out that sooner or later you will start to repeat yourself. It's then that you will move on to talk about and write about other things. We can't stir our pain up forever. Sooner or later it just peters out and we look around and say 'ok, done with that' and move on. No worries; no hurry. Just don't forget that others who comment are stirring the pain, too. I like Kristin's advice even if I don't think it's exactly right. Still, to follow my own line of thought now, I'll interject this -- man, I look hot in the uniform!!! hahahaha

the bee in dc said...

a cheating person will cheat regardless of any "set boundary"

i should think that if any man i was seeing came up to me and said, "im going to have to set some parameters here so that you don't cheat on me" i would just say "fuck that. and you. good bye."

it seems to me that S is a free spirit of sorts and if you were to try and fence her into anything, she would have 1.) laughed at you or b.) bolted.

don't listen to that horsehonkey posting up there. there's no "couldawouldashoulda" here. the only things that are certain in life are chocolate milkshakes.