The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, September 29, 2005

What will happen as you grow--WARNING!

the following is a letter from a student ("Mick") who has been dealing with deep, deep self-worth issues for years, and finally starting to actually process this stuff by pushing at all three levels.  Watch what happens:

I hate to keep bothering you with this stuff.  I know that you are busy
and have a million things going on, but I don't know who else to talk
You've explained that my subconscious is going to throw up the most vile
shit that it can while I am doing this.  I understand that, but I am not
prepared for what is happening now.  I am so damned confused that it
doesn't make any sense.

I've always tried to listen to my instincts and do what they tell me.  I
understand and have observed that they are almost never wrong about what
steps I should take.  Whats going on now is throwing me off.

My problem is with my wife.  When I look in her eyes I don't feel anything
any more.  I have been distancing myself from her without being aware of
what I was doing.  When we talk now we stay on safe subjects.  I don't
stray into the minefield like I used to.  I don't feel any pressing need
to work on the relationship.  I still do for her like I used to. 
I feel about as perfectly empty as a
person can.

I have contemplated divorce.  I find myself working out how I would get
back and forth to work, how I would need to have extra money coming in
to cover child support.  When I think about her sleeping with some other
man the usual panic feeling that I get isn't there.  As a matter of fact
there is no feeling at all.  We are up to a solid month between times
when we have sex.  I used to get upset because I wanted it more than she
does.  Now she gets upset because I don't approach her at all.  I don't
really miss it, either that or I've suppressed my desires to the point
where I no longer feel them.

She has pushed me so hard for her independence.  She wants to be able to
come and go when she pleases.  She doesn't want me to drive her anywhere
because she feels that this is just a way for me to control what she
does.  (Its based on fear for her, but she doesn't seem to see that). 

I understand that most of this is just idle thought, but its strong. 
And when I query my instincts I get no response.  Every time I sit down
and think about it, it occurs to me that in all of my daydreams,
fantasies, plans that I made when I was little, I was never in a
relationship with anyone.  In all of my internal fantasy I am alone and
doing things that matter to me.  No wife, no kids.  Just me on a
sailboat, or writing, or walking along the beach.

I feel so lost.  I am afraid to talk to her about this.  Her normal
response to any internal problem that I might have is usually anger
based.  She makes no attempt to understand, she just reacts.  As far as
she is concerned I should be okay as I am and happy with that.  She's
not happy the way she is, but she ignores it.  Thats why I won't work
out with her.  It's why I don't try to meditate with her.  She questions
every single move I make.  And then she gets upset when I won't make a
decision.  When I've asked her about it in the past she says that she
questions everything because she wants to be sure that I am sure about
my decision.  What she fails to understand is that I don't make a
decision until I have thought things through.  I am wired that way.  I
don't do ANYTHING without some contemplation.  That way I am comfortable
with my decision.  The result of her questioning me is confusion.  I end
up waffling and then she gets upset.

Like I said, some of this is idle speculation, but some of it is deadly
serious.  I always thought that she and I would be it for the rest of my
life and now I am considering my life just based on me and my kids.

I don't know what to do.  I sense that talking to her about this would
be a big mistake.  One of her favorite phrases is "I can do bad on my
own", basically implying that she wouldn't care if I did leave, she'd be
just fine.  Of course, all this does for me is reinforce one of my basic
molecular level beliefs that no woman has ever loved, needed, or wanted
a man in her life.  I'm not sure where this belief comes from, but its
one of the basic structures that my psyche is built on.  Way down deep,
in a place that I hate to admit exists, I believe that women only use
men to get security.  Other than that all men could die and women would
not miss them, so long as they can shop.

The problem with this thought is that it tends to skew my notion of
love.  I guess that I don't really believe that love exists.  I haven't
seen it.  I haven't truly felt it.  What I always thought of as love was
simply sexual attraction.  When the attraction faded, so did the
feeling.  This has been my experience as far back as I can remember.  I
watched my parents go through this.  I watched every married or single
friend that I have go through this.   Every failed relationship hammered a new nail into the belief.

I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to unload like that.  I wish there was someone
I could talk to.

all love for others begins with self lvoe, the awareness that we are precious, and worth whatever pain it takes to bring our true capacities to the fore.  The fact that there are biological necessities driving human relationships doesn't change the reality of love, any more than the fact we need food changes the fact that we love it.  Man and women SHOULD be independant, sutonomous beings who see, in each other, the possibility of greater completeness.  For years, your self-doubt has poisoned you, and your relationship.  Now you are actually beginning to process this stuff (Mick is meditating, working out, setting goals.)  As you break down the walls, you are going to crap pieces of brick, man.  It's as simple as that.  Keep your eyes on the goal.  Get clearer about what you want, in all three arenas. And in the spiritual arena, your most important goal is to LOVE YOURSELF.  Only then will you be able to really feel love for that magnificent woman of yours.  I've met her.  She is a gem.  She is waiting for you to step up to the plate and claim your humanity.  You're on the way, Mick--what you are doing takes both time and courage.  You have both.


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