Day 95 - Learning Things from Shitshows.
I feel like I really need to get off this marriage and divorce groove that I have been on. I feel like I am boring myself so what am I doing to anyone who reads this? My apologies. I really started writing to work my own shit out so I guess those who read NRT are going to get dragged along down paths that I take maybe a little longer than you'd like...I do have a tendency to go on and on.
Last night I had a dream about the man that I loved for 20 years. It was a horrible relationship and while there were some good things about it, in general it was a shitshow. I was still drinking when I had this relationship and while what we felt for each other was fiery and intense, that usually culminated into some bar room brawl somewhere. There was a lot of collateral damage in the fallout of two drunks trying to have a relationship with each other who were totally self absorbed. Again, SHITSHOW.
Despite it being a completely a fucked up relationship, it was a very important one. He was one of my main assistants helping me to hit bottom. My drinking buddy extraordinaire. There was never a time that we were not steeped in alcohol and its attendant madness. I met him at the beginning of my two year decline and we chased each other to lower and lower levels. Despite all the anger and hostility there was love there. Fucked up and misguided as it was, I can still call it love.
He was the one that took care of me in a manner that I would have never allowed anyone else too. He knew my darkness and was not afraid. He held my hair up and rubbed my back on many occasions as I purged the contents of my stomach in order to minimize the hangover for the day that was coming. He drove me home drunk so that I would not get arrested. I know that is a totally fucked up attempt at chivalry but back in those days, it was pretty fucking nice. He was the one appeared in early sobriety on the one and only time that I was going to throw in the towel and drink. He stayed with me and didn’t let me. In the end, I think he left me because on some level he knew that he was not good for me. I spent a long time grieving the loss of him even though to outside observers his absence in my life a Godsend.
I can see now that while our relationship was never meant to last, I did love him and he was my first real (albeit fucked up) attempt at intimacy. He was privy to my inner thoughts and feelings while being intensely connected physically which was something that I was never able to allow anyone else. The end of the story was I got sober and moved away leaving him and his self destruction behind. I checked in with him at 20 years sober to say thank you for coming to my rescue that one fateful night. He having pulled himself out of the alcohol mired past to achieve a marriage, two kids and a scrappy career as a criminal defense attorney. I always said that he would either be leading a gang or prosecuting one...So things had changed in his life. But before our brief conversation ended, he told me that the cops had just had to take him out of his backyard in flexicuffs last weekend due to his insane drinking behavior. So much for progress...
Filled with gratitude for his place in my past and incredibly happy there was no place for him in my present, I hung up the phone and haven’t spoken to him since. Up until this phone call though, through my marriage and a myriad of other relationships, I dreamt about him for 20 years. I thought about him and wondered about him and on some level I loved him during that time. The dreams were always the same. We would run into each other and there was this pull towards him that I knew would be my demise but I would go anyway, throwing away everything I had for one last run with him. I came to see these dreams as my alcoholism personified. He really was booze in human form. But after that phone call the dreams stopped. No more dreaming of him, whatever part of my psyche now resolved and able to moved forward. Until last night...
I dreamt about him again. This dream was different. I wasn’t pulled toward him. In this dream it was him pulled toward me. It was a long dream so I won’t recant in detail, but it involved him going to prison and breaking out to see me. Me standing around with his family, amazed that he achieved early release and then not so surprised when the law showed up, guns drawn to cart him off again. No one being shocked at all by what was going down. My final image of the dream, him looking tired and old and weary. Life grinding him in ways and manners that my life has not ground me. I felt so much love and empathy for him while at the same time knowing that he was not reachable. He was gone.
I woke up and had all sorts of thoughts, all crowding each other out to be examined and heard. But the thought that won out was this one:
HE DID NOT WANT TO CHANGE OR GROW. HE DID NOT WANT TO SO HE DIDN’T.
On some levels, this is a NO DUH comment. But it hit me differently this morning. I realized that for him to have been with me, he would have had to change and grow and work hard. That is what I would have demanded from him. Not because I am awful relationship tyrant but because I have been and am on a path that requires evolution. If he was not wiling to change, eventually I would have left him. Me, being on this path, is not necessarily because I want to be on this path, it is more a force in my life that I made a turn towards and now can’t stop moving in that direction. Well, I mean I could stop but I don’t want to and feel like I have this weird duty to continue to work on my shit no matter what the cost.
Then it hit me, maybe that is why Lane left too. Maybe that is why we all leave the ones that we love. Those relationships ask too much from us. Ask for things that we cannot or will not give. I am not sure I can explain how much this thought reframed everything for me but it did. Relationships end because one party is not willing to do the work required to stay. Drop the mic, done, peace out.
It never occurred to me before...that maybe that is what we all are doing out there. Finding and leaving relationships that cannot contain us or require us to change and grow in ways that we do not want to change and grow...even if sometimes we might sense that the change and growth, while hard, would be totally worth our while. We still get to decide what we sign up for. We get to participate or not.
So this morning at 4 am, I got a new lens to look through at my past, present and future. For myself and for others. I get to see that maybe all the endings that I have had perpetuated upon me and I have perpetuated have been because of an unwillingness to change or grow. No judgment. Just a fact. Somehow this thought brought me comfort and made me feel a little less sad about the state of my emotional maturity and station in life. It isn’t really about lack of love, it is about an unwillingness to follow where the other person is going. It is about choosing a different path for ourselves...even when we know that path may not enrich our lives as much as the path we are not choosing. Fear often the ultimate decider of fates...