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, October 31, 2007

Another Date with Husband

Husband surprised me with a date to see Bruce Springsteen tonight - part of our extended anniversary celebration.

I'd told him that I wanted to be sure to be doing things together around our anniversary, particularly on the 31st and the 1st, because I know that last year on Halloween he was trying to arrange a date with a prostitute while I was at my son's school Halloween party. I don't remember now if he was successful. It doesn't really matter. But it was the day before our anniversary. He says he didn't connect the two.

Tonight was wonderful. Seeing Springsteen is a spiritual experience for me. It's amazing to watch someone do something that they seem to love so much, and with so much passion and intensity. It's such a full's really moving to me. And both times I've seen him he's brought his progressive politics into the show, which I'm such a sucker for.

Being there with Husband felt good. The closeness and connection I thought we had before June 1st was present. It feels as if we're getting back some of what I thought we had before, but a more mature version of it in which I know and accept him as more of a real human being rather than the man who could do no wrong. It feels okay. I no longer feel so sad about losing that illusion.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What if he relapses?

I've been thinking about relapses. What I've decided is that it would be very difficult for me, and that my response would depend on the circumstances.

However, I also know that Husband's addiction has almost nothing to do with me in many ways, and I think there is something healthy about not trying to connect something to myself that has little or nothing to do with me. We talked about this in couples therapy last week and my therapist told me this is called "differentiation" in shrink terms.

We also discussed how there's a fine and fuzzy line between healthy differentiation and unhealthy codependency, so I think I'd get a lot of help and support if I ever have to navigate a relapse into sex addiction behaviors - particularly if it went beyond early inner circle behaviors like buying pornography or going to a strip club.

I hope I never have to face that particular pain.

It's funny how often I wonder about Husband relapsing, considering that he's so committed and closing in on 5 months of abstinence. When I couldn't reach him last Saturday morning before our couples therapy, it crossed my mind that maybe he was not doing what he said he was going to be doing that morning. There was nothing at all to indicate that might be so (and as it turned out he went to individual therapy and then to an OA meeting and to his weightloss clinic appointment), but that's where my reactive mind still goes, despite all the progress. My logical mind quickly takes over and examines more likely possibilities, but that immediate reaction is the first think to surface.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Steadily getting better

The trip to Hawaii was amazing. Exceeded our expectations in every way.

One thing Husband and I realized was that in our 19 years together, this was the first vacation we'd taken alone together that didn't involve visiting someone. Because we've lived as room mates with my mother since the very beginning of our relationship, we've had little time comletely alone as a couple. We've always had a lot going on in our lives. And since the arrival of Son in the Fall of 2001, life has just gotten fuller.

When we returned, Husband said he realized the difference between kissing in Maui and kissing at home was that in Maui there was nothing else we should or could be doing at that moment. No son to care for, no work following us home from our jobs, nobody wanting or needing anything from us. It was just us. Alone, together, with nothing to think about and no decisions to make except whether to wake up and go to yoga on the beach, go snorkeling, meditate on the beach, or have a Mai Tai.

On the flight over to Hawaii I was having anxiety about what we were doing. I wasn't clear what we were celebrating, and I didn't want to go through the motions and feel conflicted in my heart. So I brought it up and we talked about it. Husband said he was celebrating our life together, our love for each other, and the happy times that we had, despite his secret life.

I said I could also celebrate our love for each other. But the memories of happy times are tinged with pain for me because I know that the life I thought I had in those happy memories is not the life I was really having. He said he understood, and we left it at that. I felt satisfied that we weren't ignoring any elephants in the living room, and that I had identified something I could authentically celebrate about our 10 years together. There is a lot of good...lots of love, and there were so many good times.

At the airport on our way back to Calfiornia I realized I was feeling sad because there was a part of me that wanted to know that things were going to continue to be as blissful and wonderful as they had been for the past 4 days on Maui. A much bigger part of me knows that there is no knowing anymore, but the desire to feel some assurance in spite of that is still present. I talked with Husband about it, and although there was no solution to that dilemma talking about it helped.

Since our return I've been able to focus and concentrate very well, and I've been spending a great deal of time catching up on work that I haven't been able to focus on for the past 4 months. No blogging from the office since I got back a week ago. And focusing on remaining connected with Husband has kept my attention after work and family stuff have been attended to each day.

In our couples therapy today we realized how differently we've experienced our sex life prior to June 1st. I realized more pointedly how little priority I'd placed on that, even though I knew it was important to Husband. We could go for weeks without having sex and I wouldn't realize it. I really took it for granted that he knew how much I loved him, that I found him desireable, and that I thought he was a great lover. Meanwhile, he was feeling unheard and unimportant to me, and his feelings of hurt and neglect built up over the years.

NOT that a lack of sex is either an explanation or justification for lies and infidelity. It's NOT. But I could see how I hadn't really been present to him in the way that I'd expect him to be present to me. And how his feelings about that, combined with his feelings about other things going on in his life, his inability to express himself, and his lack of conscious awareness of his feelings led to him react by distracting himself with food, sex, shopping, alcohol and other things he felt entitled to because of his pain and anger (which he didn't have the ability to recognize for what they were.)

One of the promises of Twelve Step programs is that you will come to not regret the past. While I wish there was another much less painful way for me to have learned what I'm learning from this, we are experiencing individually and as a couple so much growth from this that I could honestly say that I am beginning to not regret what has transpired. Not that I wouldn't change it if I could, but I can't. And that doesn't seem so awful anymore.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

10th Anniversary honeymoon trip to Hawaii

I'm just about finished packing. We leave in 8 hours for 4 days and 3 nights in Hawaii to celebrate our 10th anniversary and take the honeymoon we never had.

Earlier today I was looking forward to it. But this evening I started to get sad. Am I pretending? Is this a joke? Like putting icing on a shit cake? Celebrating 10 years of...what? Infidelity, lies and broken vows? But not just that. Lots of good things too. Happy times. But now they're all shadowed by the reality of what was secretly going on over the years.

I want to be happy, I want to have a good time, but part of me is confused about what I'm doing. Part of me is sad. This is not how I pictured my relationship being on 10th anniversary.

Disclosure docs say lap dances to ejaculation started in June of '95, hand jobs with prostitutes in April of 2000, escalating to "massages" with hand jobs and blow jobs through 2003, and finally intercourse with prostitutes started at the end of 2003 and esclated to once or twice a month by 2007.

In December 2007 we'll mark 20 years as a couple.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Another high anxiety day

Don't know why. Actually reverted to checking cell phone records.

My therapist said that it's very normal for codependency to slip into high gear when someone who needs to be in control (me) experiences a lack of control (my life.)

Since I'm having this existential shift in which I'm coming to terms with the fact that almost nothing in life is within my control except me, and that almost everything except the present moment is unknown or unimportant, it's not really surprising that I have little freak outs like I did today.

I still feel edgy and I feel a pit in my stomach.

I'm going to exercize. Hopefully that will get the happy chemicals flowing and I'll feel better.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Downs and ups

Feeling sad again today. I don't know what triggered it. We were driving back from San Diego and I was feeling melancholy. Maybe because we were leaving my grandmother's house for probably the last time. She's sold it and is moving in with us at least for a while, which is good, but I've been going to her house for summer vacations and holidays for the last 30 years, so was good-bye for me. Going to Gramma's always represented returning to an environment of unconditional love in which I'd be completely taken care of. Love, security, warmth.

We stopped for gas, and as I was standing outside the minivan we'd rented (to bring stuff back to our house) I heard the distinctive sound of palm leaves rustling in the wind. I looked over and saw a palm tree that reminded me of those we'd seen in Florida when visiting Husband's father. This brought to mind our last trip, after which he sought out sex with prostitutes immediately upon his return. We'd had such fun taking our son to Disney World, swimming in the hotel pools, trying alligator meat, going to the beaches. It was a stressful vacation for Husband because he was working part of the time, but it was a nice vacation in terms of a family adventure. I guess the stress was too much, and returning to his job, where he doesn't feel truly known for who he is and what he has to offer, was too demoralizing and he just had to get out the anger and disappointment somehow. So, the prostitute.

But then my mind wandered to the thought of his hands and mouth on other women's bodies. And 28 feels like a lot of other people to me, although I know there are many sex addicts whose partners number in the hundreds or more. But I've only been for him all these years, and he's been with all those other women. It really hurts my feelings, even though I know logically that it had almost nothing to do with me, and that it was his addict in action and that he was in deep denial. Blah, blah, blah. It still hurts. I feel stupid and self indulgent for feeling sad, because I have every reason not to, but the feeling is still there.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What does I love you mean?

It doesn't mean I won't lie to you. Doesn't mean I won't hurt you. Or that I'll love you or be here tomorrow. It doesn't mean I'll provide for you, or I'll always consider the impact of my actions on you. So what does it mean? Only that right now, in this instant when I look into your eyes, my heart swells and beats faster and my soul is drawn to yours? Or something like that?

When I tell my son I love him, there is so much I know about that love. I know what I mean. But when I hear the word love, there is no way to know what it means. What does red mean? It means something different to everybody. When I picture red in my head it's a different shade of red than someone else pictures. And so it's very dangerous for me to assume that I know what someone means when they say red. It's the same with love.

So why do I want to know Husband loves me? Why is that important? I can never know what it means. I can only begin to imagine, and that is a slippery slope back to delusion, especially because of my desire for it.

So what is the point? Maybe this delusion is all just the fierce force of biology tricking us into procreating and perpetuating the species.

No wonder why I always liked physics better.

Feeling sad today, not sure why

I've been feeling sad today, and I'm not sure why. I think maybe it's because more and more each day I'm coming to terms with the fact that the only thing I have is the moment I'm in. Any expectation of the future based on this moment or on any past moment is nothing more than a hopeful delusion. If after 20 years with Husband I can't "know" that he would never lie, betray, have sexual activity outside our marriage...well, there's no more "knowing" for me ever again.

It's the extended play version of my existential crisis, and since it's the live version, and not a recording, it's difficult to say when this will end.

I'm learning to live with a lot of uncomfortable realities about the human condition, and sometimes that leaves me lonely and sad. Do I want to be deluded again? No. Do I want to be happy living with uncertainty, not knowing, not knowing another, practicing non-attachment, only being in this moment, without all those lovely things like hope, expectations, optimism, security. If I can. Do I wish I could have all those things without deluding myself to some extent? Oh yes.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The progress of healing

There was a newcomer at my S-Anon meeting last night with a very similar experience to my own. It was interesting for me to see that while I identifiedy with much of what was shared, I did not go into an emotional tail spin. I realized how far I've come since June 1st.

I did, however, go the wrong way down a one way street on the way home. And that street happened to be the street on which Husband's most frequently visited strip club is located. And I did this while trying to avoid driving down another street on which some of the hotels where he had sex with prostitutes are located.

So maybe I was unnerved a bit.

But I'm really happy to see how much I've healed from something that has felt so painful at times that for the first time I completely understand why people kill themselves. (I was never suicidal, but I the sadness was so deep and painful in the first couple months it felt like the only possible release would be death.)

Husband and I continue to meditate togther several mornings a week. This morning I was concentrating on exhaling such that I would dissipate into nothingness, letting go of the struggle to be alive, giving over to being one with everything, beginning to understand that either I'm alive or not, and struggle is not necessary. I felt sad thinking about all that meant - saddest about giving up the struggle to stay with my son. I could see where my strongest attachments are. And I began to get a sense of the freedom that letting go, submitting to the moment, can bring. It was an introduction to the possibility of maybe letting go of my need for control on some deeper levels.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Got asked out on a date again

This time by Husband.

Part of all of this re-creation and re-choosing felt to me like we needed some re-getting-to-know-you time. So I told him I wanted to date again. Him.

Time where he plans everything (takes the risk of making a plan for us without consulting me, which I know scares him - I suspected as much and he said today that he is terrified I'll be disappointed) and I just go and we discover each other again. I'm going to ask him out, too. I need this kind of time with him. Time to look into his eyes with the full knowledge I have of him, the full acceptance of him as a flawed human being who could hurt me again, and to choose him again. To look into his eyes and say yes to the risk, yes to the unknown.

And then to learn to live my life in this way. Saying yes to the risks I take with him, and the risks could I take everywhere else.

Monday, October 8, 2007

All good things must come to an end - like..therapy

Talked with my therapist today about my concern that Husband and I aren't having more conflict. Since he and I tend to avoid conflict like it's life threatening, I'm afraid I'll go back to being in the same kind of ignorant state of bliss that I was in over the past 10 or more years in which he was secretly getting lap dances and having sex with prostitutes and I was happily married (to him)...pure bliss.

I asked Husband about this lack of conflict. He thinks that while he's expressing his anger and resentment much more now (instead of managing them so I wouldn't get angry or otherwise upset the way he used to) rather than resulting in more conflict or being funneled into distracting addictions, those feelings get resolved.

Also talked with my therapist about feeling like my problems were, in the context of possible problems one could have, not really all that huge and bad. I said that I sometimes wonder if I really need to keep coming to therapy.

She picked up on this immediately, and we started discussing a plan for me to transition out of meeting with her. Cut down to twice a month, then once a month, then stop and come back as needed. I actually feel ready for this, even though it makes me nervous. My little support system saved my sanity and so I'm a little hesitant to make any changes. But it probably is time.

One thing though. I asked her about what the psychic I visited told me: That I had to deal with my issues with my father - that this is the area where I really needed to work (father went on a camping trip with my uncle, who returned alone relaying the message that my dad said he was going out of the country for cancer treatment, and that we shouldn't try to locate him. Months later he was found recovering from a nervous breakdown in a hippie commune in northern CA.) So I do have a history of being lied to by important men in my life with whom I have placed my deepest trust.

I was sure she'd say that I could probably work out all the issues on my own, without having to rehash stuff over with my father. (I don't want to do this because we have a good relationship now and I think it might be painful for him.) Well...of course there's no getting out of the things we need to do that we don't want to do. And to my surprise she said that in fact she agreed with the psychic (although I detected amusement or something similar in her face as she said it) and that I'd need to have some conversations with my father some day when the time was right. Maybe not immediately after my reality had just been blown up by lying cheating Husband (my words, not hers) but some day, if I really wanted to address some of these issues at the root.

So there may be more therapy in my future after all.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

My life has always been great

Tonight on the treadmill I was re-reading Pema Chodron's book When Things Fall Apart.

The first chapter is Intimacy With Fear.

I realized that what has happened in my relationship with Husband gives me an opportunity to come eye to eye with fear, to stay present and not to "smooth it over, take a pill, distract [my]self...make it go away," and still be loved at the same time. So many people must face the deepest kind of fear and not knowing, and do so without feeling loved.

Husband is my opportunity to be in the moment with fear, and learn what there is to learn there. To face the unknown, knowing only that there is no knowing the next moment, and that in this moment, I am loved.

I came across a koan a couple months ago, and this part of it has stuck with me since:

"One who sits on top of the 100 foot pole has not quite attained true enlightenment. Make another step forward from the top of the pole and throw one's own body into the 100,000 universes."

Friday, October 5, 2007

Husband is coming home today

I'm picking him up at the airport at 10. As promised, he called a lot. I feel very confident that he didn't do any of the things he said he wouldn't do.

Therapy tomorrow, his and ours. Then I go to San Diego overnight. Son is staying with him. That's comforting because he used to go to prostitutes sometimes when Son and I went to San Diego without him. (My grandmother lives there.)

Looked at the disclosure document again tonight for some reason. I guess there is a lot in there that I haven't really digested. My heart was beating fast, but it was a lot less painful then it's been in the past to contemplate that information.

I could actually read it carefully, start to really see how his infidelity played out. Strip clubs before we were married, massage/hand jobs about 2 1/2 years after we were married, picking up frequency when I was pregnant. Actual intercourse toward the end of 2003. It's still very weird to think about him having a secret life all this time. But it's so much less painful to look at the facts now. That's a good sign.

I really don't know what I'll do if he does it again. It's been over 5 months. I don't think he will. Famous last words of the addict's wife, probably.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Universe has a sense of humor

So I decided to download Stumbleupon because, well, you know...I need another way to waste valuable time on the internet.

So I follow the instructions and at the end it tells me to click on the Stumbleupon icon to see what "other like minded people" are looking at. So I do this, and what comes up?

A article titled How to Detect Lies.

It went on to say, "The following techniques to telling if someone is lying are often used by police, and security experts. This knowledge is also useful for managers, employers, and for anyone to use in everyday situations where telling the truth from a lie can help prevent you from being a victim of fraud/scams and other deceptions."

Better late than never, I guess.

Loss from death vs. loss from betrayal

On the treadmill last night it dawned on me that if Husband didn't come back from his trip for some reason, I'd be fine. I think I've already had such grief and loss from this betrayal that nothing could feel worse with respect to Husband.

Back before we were married when we still lived in Seattle (so before 1993) I told Husband that I wanted to be sure he knew I could live without him. That stuck in the forefront of his mind and, to some extent, defined his experience with me even as it grew to be less and less true for me. Though he didn't know it, Husband became for me someone I'd never want to live without. But last night it felt as though I'm back where I was before all those years ago - detached and in control.

When I woke up this morning, I tried to call Husband before meditating. I didn't reach him, but knew he'd call me back when he could. After I started meditating I realized that his phone interview for a job was only about 10 minutes away, and I worried that he might be sleeping through it because he'd just gotten off the red-eye. So I called again, several times. No answer - up until 5 minutes before the interview. No answer.

As I thought about what could have happened to keep him from answering (car accident, jumped out of the plane, killed himself (after all, he looked like something heavy was on his mind when he left), etc...) I began to feel sad at the thought of really living without him, and I realized that as guarded as I feel I still want a chance to work it out, and I'd miss him deeply if he really were gone from my life. I was happy to discover that. Happy to realize that I really do want to keep trying to create a solid, loving, trusting relationship with him. Happy to realize that it's just fear, and not indifference that's settled over my heart.

He called about a minute later. He wasn't dead. He was in the shower.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Husband's responses to my (crazy?) questions

This is what Husband said over the course of our email exchange in response to my questions:

I plan to stick to my food plan. I will not act out. I will work out at the gym and swim in the pool. I will call you all the time.

I will have two beers or fewer when I am gone. Total.

Hmmm. I don’t know. Doesn’t feel like your trying to control me. Feels like you’re concerned about me. I like it. Maybe not completely healthy but I wouldn’t worry about it.

My Inner Circle
(this is an SAA thing, and is behavior from which the addict declares he is completely abstinent):
Having Sexual Contact with anyone other than my wife – this includes lap dances. Sexual Contact includes any and all sexual contact including massage, sexual touching, orgasm, anything.
Visiting Strip Clubs
Going to (he specified a site, but I refuse to publicize it here)
Masturbating to pornography
Spending money on pornography (magazines, internet etc)

I have not put all online porn in my inner circle because I don’t want to lose my time (meaning break my abstinence) if I stumble across an ad or something or something pops up (which has happened).

Since masturbating to porn is proscribed and porn is in my middle circle, however, I don’t spend time with it.

Please remember that for my recovery I am specifically accountable to my sponsor and I worked this out with him. It is a fluid document, however, and we can certainly talk about it.

This last comment is his response to my resistance to making requests, and my aversion to doing anything that feels like setting "rules" for him.

My approach has always been to see what he decides/chooses and then decide if it works for me (based on my own wants and needs)and what my response will be. So this put the whole responsibility for decision making in our relationship on him. He would have to be the one to decide, then I would accept or reject and act accordingly.

What we found out recently in couples therapy is that while I felt I was protecting myself from assuming the role of parent in our relationship, he felt (unbeknownst to me) like I was testing him.

One part of my growth is that I'm learning to make direct requests and take responsibility for what I want in a healthier way. I'm giving him a chance to hear my needs and wants BEFORE he makes his decisions/choices, which he never had the opportunity to do before.

I've had to develop a script for making direct requests. It goes something like, "Knowing that you are an adult, and free to make your own choices, what I would like is..." I have to remind myself that I'm simply stating what would work for me, and not issuing an order or setting a limit on his behavior before I can make a request.

I feel good about learning to set boundaries for myself and to express what will and will not work for me. But I never want to be in an intimate relationship where I'm setting boundaries or creating rules for someone else. That feels like a parent/child relationship to me, not an adult partner relationship.

Husband is traveling for business

Just found out that Husband will be traveling for business for a couple of days. Leaving on the red-eye tonight.

Following are the questions I had to ask:
    What about your meetings - can you do by phone?
    Are you going to rent movies? What is your plan with respect to food, alcohol, sex?
    Just so I'm clear, what is "acting out?" Movies, magazines, clubs? Where do those fall? More specifically, what is okay (by your definition) for you to do?
    About alcohol - is nine drinks okay? I know it is in terms of abstinence, but what is your plan - what do you commit to now so that when you're sitting at the bar you'll have a point of reference?
    And does this feel like I'm trying to control you? I'm just wondering...

So...yet another indication of where I am at this point in the journey.

What do these questions indicate? Hell if I know. But I know I'll look back in a year and knowingly say, "Ahhhh, yes..." and see clearly through what is now sometimes a dense forest to me.

More sex, fewer orgasms

Another thing I've noticed is that while we have more sex, and we're both so much more present (except for me when I have those invasive thoughts), but I have fewer orgasms.

I used to regularly have orgasms from intercourse, which I preferred to oral sex. Husband loves to give oral sex - always has. And now we do that a lot more. And I can have orgasms from that. But I still prefer the intimacy of an orgasm with my body connected to the length of his body, our lips pressing together, our arms wrapped around each other. But that doesn't happen anymore, at least not without Husband or me providing extra stimulation.

I did have orgasms from intercourse immediately after I found out, when I was in a heightened sexual state (probably from the wacky, fear and anxiety induced chemicals coursing through my body at the time.)

My ability to have orgasms during intercourse is something I miss and want back. It feels like a part of my sexuality has deserted me. I can't pinpoint the cause (generally, of course, I get it), but I hope it works itself out.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Four months out - time to take inventory

Here is a snapshot of what life is like four months after finding out about Husband's secret life:

Generally, ups and downs are a part of life but things continue slow, steady improvement. (People told me this would happen, and I found it really hard to believe in the early months.)

Things that I note that have changed about me and my behavior:
    Husband and I usually have sex at least once a day, which was not the case before
    I've lost weight and I exercise regularly
    I wear sexy underwear
    I shave my legs almost nightly
    I wear makeup more often
    I'm beginning to accept Husband's humanity - that he's flawed by definition
    Working on accepting my own humanity
    Still get jolted when I think of him with prostitutes - some part of me still asks why
    Can accept that prostitutes, fast food binges and shopping were interchangeable on the menu of things he used to numb and distract himself
    Feel trust beginning to grow, although I'm more attuned to my instincts around it and I still have a lot of doubt
    Learning not to fix, but to listen instead

I believe that many of the things I do regarding my appearance are for myself and not to control Husband. In the event that Husband decides he can't abstain, I want to be able to feel as good about myself as possible, attractive and desirable. I can't tell if that's crazy or healthy.

I am lucky and grateful that Husband has been able to remain abstinent. He is very present to the cost. I'm concerned about the long term, not as much with sex but with food and alcohol.

Haven't really discussed alcohol addiction beyond my brief mention of it at the receipt incident.

Feel angry - it flares up like those fires shooting off the sun, but most of the time I'm not present to feeling angry

Not feeling crushing sadness anymore

Can still unexpectedly spiral into anxiety

Not trusting myself. I commented on the issue of trust recently, and I realized yesterday that I fall into that category of people who can't count on themselves. I trust myself not to abuse, betray or hurt myself. But I don't yet trust my ability to distinguish what is real and what is not, or to be able to spot another liar if I start another intimate relationship.

Oddly enough, I'm feeling more co-dependent feelings than I ever have. Before I had issues of needing to control via fixing that I was not aware of. I still have those, though awareness is making all the difference. However I need so much more reassurance, and have so much more anxiety about whether or not I'm good enough in my relationship than I ever did before. I used to feel solid and secure in my relationship, and that feeling has not yet returned.

Yesterday I was thinking that I don't want my husband to get satisfaction out of any personal growth I'm having as a result of this - then realized that is a form of wanting to control something I can't control.

I think I'm struggling a lot because I'm coming to terms with a fear of the unknowability that is part of the human condition. This feels so deep and scary to me.

I'm struggling with the higher power concept - someone in my group said when there's nothing else you can trust, you can trust that...but I don't want to trust that things that happen to me are part of some other entity's "plan" for me. That feels to me like another way of not facing reality, not facing the fact that sometimes bad shit happens and it's bad and there's nothing that will change that.

I've thought further about why I find the definition of codependence useful, and I've realized that understanding patterns of codependence provides some structure when I am unsure of reality. If I can't be sure of what's real, at least I can spot a pattern and then decide whether or not I want to stick with that pattern and the associated outcomes.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Existential Panic Attack

So I went on to have a full existential panic attack this morning. Really can't fault myself, as I'm learning to exist in a world where nothing is certain. What there is left to do is to accept that and figure out how to have a great life in the stark reality of that context.

So what it seems to be coming to is that I cannot control anything but myself; therefore I cannot know what the future holds; can make assumptions based on evidence, but those can prove to be false anyway; so what's left to do is just choose something and move forward. Could that be?

Given that I'm biologically wired for survival, and that I don't want to be full of anxiety all the time, how do I live comfortably with the knowledge that the only thing I can remotely trust is my own experience of a moment, and that even that can turn out to be something different from what I thought it was (for example, if someone you have decided to trust lies to you)? How do I live fully, happily, joyfully, openly, freely...Not Knowing and not allowing myself any illusion that I know?

One step forward, two steps back

What's on my mind this morning is how can I learn to develop deep trust and intimacy with another person when I know they are capable of hurting or leaving me at any time? How do you develop these things without deluding yourself to some extent? Without deciding that you can predict what someone will do in the future? Maybe it's not self-delusion, but rather acceptance of risk? But that's a terrifying prospect. To accept the risk that you might make yourself vulnerable and then get deeply hurt, that you must truly give without expectation. To expect is to think you have some influence over what someone else will do in the future. We're taught to expect in return. We're not taught to give without attachment to the result. I don't know if I know how. Intellectually I understand, but my body is resisting with feelings of fear and anxiety.