The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Wedding and An Existential Crisis

Went on vacation last week with Husband and Son. Mostly a nice time together. Husband is really doing his best to give me what I need and deal with his own issues at the same time.

He had conversations with his parents, neither of whom were very forthcoming with illuminating information about his childhood experiences. He did find out that his mother had an affair when he was young.

Attending the wedding reminded me of my own wedding, and how wonderful that weekend was, what it represented to me, and how I've held it in my life experience. Now that I know my husband had already begun keeping secrets from me before that wedding, I'll never be able to look back on those memories in the same way. For me, it was a Magnificent Beginning to the magnificent experience of being in a relationship with Husband. And I know it was something similar to him. He was present, he was not unhappy and harboring significant resentments and unexpressed feelings back then. But now it's something else - a happy day perhaps, on which two hopeful people made promises to each other that neither of them kept altogether.

I'm realizing more and more how much of my sense of self was based in my relationship with Husband. Yesterday I began to think about my life - what I've accomplished and what I haven't. I have never accomplished anything significant that was a true expression of myself. I haven't had amazing success at anything. The one area where I truly felt satisfied - like I had no regrets about any successes or failures because of what I'd created in this area - was my relationship. I was grateful for every experience, positive or negative, successful or not, because it had gotten me to where I was in my relationship with Husband. I thought we had created something strong and true, beautiful and completely authentic, a profound expression and experience of who we were in the world together and as individuals.

That no longer being the case, I'm having an existential crisis. Since I know my relationship is not the success I thought it was, the question that arises for me is what else have I accomplished with my life in areas that are important to me, that are an expression of who I am and what I bring to this world. I don't know...

My son is a joy I marvel at every day, but he's not an accomplishment. He's his own work of art, not mine. I have a good job, we have a house, I've done good work as an actor and have moved people with my performances on stage. But there is nothing exceptional that I've accomplished with all my time and energy. No summiting the Seven Sisters, no entrepreneurial successes, no lasting art.

I still have time. So what will it be? I don't know yet. I don't know.

I've been reading two great books on Buddhism which have been helping me a lot. One told me that to live you have to be willing to die again and again, and that one needs to do what one is doing as if it's the most important thing in that moment, even if it isn't really an important thing. Chop wood, carry water, right? So this is where I'll start I guess. It's a challenging task in the midst of a depressing existential crisis. But it's my path, so why resist?

1 comment:

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I'm loving your blog. Apparently I need an escape from the dying father-in-law crisis in my own life...

I had such a hard time going to a wedding this summer -- and part of it was related to my new perspective on my own wedding day...

Funny, I also view my kids not as accomplishments, but as their own works of art...