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  • Writer's pictureeschaden

For the Love of Chaos...

I am pretty steady person.  I do pretty much the same things, in the same order, every day.  Not a great deal of variation.  I am very predictable and I show up.  I go to work, I walk the dog, I go to the gym, I parent, I eat, I write, I clean, I talk to the cats way too much.  This is how my life unfolds in the daily increments I am given.

But my relationships with men, total fucking chaos.  Always has been and perhaps always will be.

It is odd, I was sitting in therapy yesterday and we were talking about my relationships with men and I realized there is this common thread that has always been there with the men I love.  There is always a certain level of dysfunction, high chaos level, a great deal of drama and an amazing heart level connection that I just fail to get unless there is this attendant level of chaos.  It is like I am hard wired if I have one, I must have the other.

So my therapist and I took a walk down memory lane, not too far because we are always able to go to two places in my past that give rise to all my dysfunctional present.  And there they are, still there.  Dammit if time hasn’t removed them!  And they will always be there.  Two pivotal and foundational men in my life that changed me, fundamentally and forever.  And if we fast forward out of immediate childhood, there is another man that takes a seat next to the other two. He bears a great deal of responsibility for why I am like I am today.

And try as I might, I haven’t been able to recover from the damage inflicted.  I mean, I have worked on this particular issue more than any other in my life.  Fuck, quitting drinking and drugging was easier. 

But perhaps I must reach the same conclusion to get the relief.  I mean I had to quit drugs and drinking completely.  There was this up and down cycle that I could not break and perhaps so it is with men.  I will always chase the highs only to be brought to my knees in the lows.  Perhaps this is always how it will be for me, and until and unless I quit them altogether I am just going to ride the painful highs and lows just like it was with my drinking life.

I know I cannot drink successfully, and although I wasn’t a huge drug person, I know that I am a fully blown heroin addict, I just never touched the stuff.   But I know with every fiber of my being, one hit and I am a goner.  That is just how I am.  I do it once, and I am off and gone beyond all recognition before I even know what happened.  My first night of drinking, I also smoked some cigarettes.  Then I kissed my first boy.  The next day, I bought a carton of Marlboros, a 5th of Jack and began my pursuit of the boy in question.  And it was game on from that moment until I hit rock bottom 13 years later.

And I got sober and that has suited me well for the past 29 years.  But the man issue has not.  I didn’t put them down when I quit the booze, I just changed up the kind of fucked up I was looking for...gone were the drunken boyfriends I had to bail out of jail or fight in bar rooms.  I wasn’t frequenting those places anymore so my cast of characters changed.  I exchanged the drunken guy for the sober guy.  And my lot in life improved.

But by how much?  Now I was dating men that were sober but still woefully fucked up.  Most of the time they stayed sober but some did not.  All of them were works in progress (as am I)...some actually did the work, many did not.  Then I swore off all recovery men because it was too painful to see someone come in and do the work, but only take it so far and then be completely dysfunctional in new ways that were equally destructive. (I include myself here as well and in no way blame the is me picking them and totally, completely fucking see that).

And so I sought them elsewhere.  And I found them.  In various states of fucked up.  Some appeared normal at the beginning only to reveal a dark and stormy underbelly that was woefully dysfunctional in ways the sober guys just couldn’t compete with...and after a few rounds on that particular bandwagon, I swore off them too.

I have done a great deal of swearing off with and without a solemn oath for those of you keeping track...

And my final conclusion of late is that in the program and out of the program I am just not attracted to stability and health.  Not only do they not light me up in the ways I wish to be lit up, but I don’t find them.   The dating pool currently for me gives me the following options:

Date my age

Date older than my age

Date younger than my age

Two of the above have the same issue:  In my age group or the one above me, all the secure, normal attachers have long since left this particular dating pool.  They were married off years ago and they don’t re-enter unless someone dies, and perhaps the occasional divorce.  And once they return to the dating pool,  they are snapped up in seconds!  So the dating pool in my age group and above is just a whole bunch of anxious and avoidant people chasing each other around which doesn’t interest me in the slightest.

Dating below my age is similarly fraught...these men often want to get married and have a family, or at least have some notion that they might want to and I am all fucking done with that.  I can’t have anymore kids and even if I could, I wouldn’t.  Child rearing was hard for me on so many levels and I would not re-enter that time in my life for any amount of money.  I love my children fiercely but I am so relieved that one is 18 and the other will be 17 in less than a week.  I am very happily positioned as an almost empty nester and I do not want that to change.

The other issue with younger men is that they are younger and that usually means there is a lack of maturity that is attendant to their relationships.  And I don’t want that either.  Been there, done that, didn’t even want the fucking t-shirt.

So where does that leave me?

Bereft of my choices and of my own ability to make better choices.

I have largely spent periods of time in the dating pool, and I have sat on the edge and watched others for long bouts.  Then I have left the whole fucking pool and refused to swim at all for months at a time because I was so frustrated with the inhabitants or my own level of fuckedupness in relation to being in the pool that I just opted the fuck out.

Last year when my last relationship imploded, I chose to really do the work to heal myself only to be beckoned back into that relationship repeatedly.  And so it would appear I am going to do it again...and I can see all the warning signs.  And I hear all the commentary you all are saying under your breath that you think I can’t hear...I can.  Trust me when I tell you I have thought all the same things and I see exactly what you see.  And yet, I am still right here, engaging and loving and telling myself the only story a drunk can tell...”maybe, this time...”

So while I sat in my therapist’s garden office watching the hummingbirds flit from here to there and back again I realized that perhaps the only way to end this fucking cycle is to do exactly what I did with booze.  Stop it altogether.  Maybe there is just no other option for myself.  I see it.  I really do and yet I remain powerless to change it.

I am in the process of accepting that my love life, the men I am attracted to, the ones I will let in is in full blossom of dysfunction but I have to tell you, that like my relationship with booze, I really can’t see it ever going another way.  If I think about drinking, I always think of it exactly the same way.  It is a vehicle to chaos, madness and excitement.  And so it is with men too.  For the boozing, I hit that bottom where I saw that the highs were too high and the lows too low and I just couldn’t handle that particular pain anymore.  With men, so far anyway, I seem to be willing to still pay the price of doing it my way.  The pain has not reached sufficient levels of high and low to get my attention enough to make me change.  I really hope I don’t have to completely crash myself in order to change but that does appear to be how I do life and love and drink and recovery.

Fuck...sometimes I really hate my truths.

I do still love the chaos.  I am not sure of my ongoing ability to sustain it but I still love it.  I still want it in my life and so I am going to keep answering the door when it knocks.  And I am going to let it in and love it and worship it and feed it and care for it because that is who I am in this moment.  And I see that now.

However, yesterday in that garden the thought that perhaps there is nothing more for me ever than there was with booze, hit me. It landed and I saw it.  And I saw a solution.  To surrender, to stop, to cease and desist.  And while I do not have the willingness today to actually stop and cease and desist, a mustard seed of willingness to become willing took root yesterday.  And as this tiny seed began its germination, a beautiful oriole came to roost in the tree in front of me.  A very nervous bird, with a neurotic fear of people, came and sat on the closest branch.  Telling me without telling me that perhaps the change comes in the slightest branches on a tree, I can select the farthest one away and start there and aim, like that oriole, to find the courage to move closer to the feeder even though that is the one closest to the scary humans.

All change begins with an honest appraisal of who you are, I mean who you really are.  And I think yesterday I saw myself as I am, without a great deal of defensive adornment.  And while I have no clue what to do next, I do know that I was as honest about myself as I am capable.  I didn’t dress it up in love and passion and commitment and all the other shit I have sold myself along the way.  Instead, I just accepted that men are perhaps just another addiction that I have been unwilling to address for my lifetime.  And perhaps, maybe, just a little bit, I am going to have to address this issue in my life like all the others...with compassion, with a great deal of honesty and with a faith that so long as I can find the courage to be honest with myself, I can change, grow and motherfucking day at a time.



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