Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Just so you know

It's not easy to write a blog this week, but I've been talking alot with friends and I had an amazing therapy session yesterday. Afterward I went back to my friend Geri's house, where I am staying for a few days, and wrote this. I'm not going to edit it really. You might as well read what's on my tiny mind.

Fear is paralysing, blinding. Fear makes me crouch like a small animal in the dark, under a leaf, defenceless, praying not to be noticed. Finally I know what that blank whiteness obscuring the future is: fear. I am so afraid. When Virgil goes out on a date with Sarah, I am terrified. Uncertainty scares me. I am too scared to step away from my jobs, even though they are not working for me, because I don’t know what my next step will be. I will do anything to try to hang on to what I have to stop it changing. Even when it’s not working and I don’t like it, I will still hang on to it because I’m too scared to step away into uncertainty and not knowing. This is fear, it is my fear, and it needs to stop.

I have been denying my fear recently, in therapy it I think it is the layer I have come to beneath the grief and pain I have been processing recently. Grief started for me when I broke up with Jos and my heart broke. When my dad died I experienced an even deeper and long-lasting grief. Fear of the future started earlier, at some point during my teens, while my Dad was ill with cancer. I stopped being able to see the future and even twenty years later that veil has not lifted. Picture the future as the horizon, the sky. I see a think veil of cloud in front of it. I cannot visualise what lies behind. 

I am scared of the dark, of the things in the dark that I can’t see which are out to get me: ghosts, vampires, ghouls, zombies, murderers, witches, demons and werewolves are all potential lurkers in the dark. I am scared of all of these things because I cannot see them but they can see me. I am not scared of heights, open spaces, spiders or dogs – the usual things that people fear. I fear the face at the window or in the mirror behind mine. I fear things I cannot see, other realities or existences. I fear the future. I live in the past, even though it is full of regrets, bitterness and disappointments: better the devil you know than face the unknown.

I am so ashamed of my fear that I need to intellectualise it. Anger is an attempt to do that. It’s a filter or something to channel the fear through, and so I explain my anger as a rational response to something that Virgil has done wrong, a transgression of the rules. He will always transgress. I will always find a way of pulling him up and finding fault. Behind the anger is a fear that I am too ashamed to express. Fear that he will get dissatisfied and leave me; fear that he will love someone else more; fear that our relationship will not last. Maybe even a fear that I will leave him – it’s possible. It’s not as though I think he’s perfect or answers all of my needs.

My fear is my own and therefore I am the only one who can master it, come to terms with it, accept and process it. It’s not a question of completely banishing it, I think (I don’t know – maybe it is!), just transforming it, maybe, or reducing it to a level where I can feel it but still be able to act, think, move, go forward, be at peace with and open to uncertainty – rejoice in it even.

I can’t make Virgil responsible for making me feel safe, but I can ask him to accept and comfort me in my fear, to accept this flawed, vulnerable, dark side of myself. I know and I need him to know that he hasn’t done anything wrong: I just need the reassurance of his love and care, to feel his commitment to me, to know that I am massively, massively imperfect but still worth loving and being with.

In turn, I promise that I will not make him responsible for my happiness and security. I will look for internal solutions rather than external ones. I promise that I will go all out to work on my fear and the anger that I use to try to rationalise and hide it. I cannot promise that I will never be angry again – that’s impossible to promise – but I promise to change the way I behave with it. I promise to do my utmost to not make him the butt of my anger, to be honest about what I am feeling whether it is shame, hurt, fear, grief, insecurity or all the negative emotions I try to rationalise and excuse and disguise with anger – and to express those other feelings honestly, with vulnerability, and own them so I do not make Virgil responsible for them. I know that it is not acceptable to do this. I understand that Virgil has a right not to be hounded and criticised in this way and that he has a right to be in a loving relationship where he is valued and supported – not shouted at, frozen out and criticised. I understand that he will probably leave me if I don’t succeed at this. I want to try. I want to succeed.

In terms of the contract of our open relationship, we need to simplify it. There are far too many rules and they only serve to try to make Virgil responsible for my fear. They also serve me as a stick to beat him with when he infringes or misunderstands them. I can get angry about a rule I say he has broken or I can be honest and admit that it is terribly painful and scary for me when he goes on a date or has a connection with someone else.

Although it is horribly painful and I regret that it has taken this crisis and quite possibly losing Virgil to make me aware of what I have been doing, I am glad of this crisis. Truly, the more you try to deny a problem, the bigger it gets. I am taking some space. I am realising from the perspective of suddenly being on the outside of my relationship, quite possibly single again, that I am responsible for my own happiness and that shouldn’t change when one is in a relationship.

This crisis is forcing me to face truths about myself and it is an opportunity to grow and change. I also have to ask myself: do I want to be in this relationship? Maybe it would be easier and better to be single: in that way I would be forced to rely on myself for my own happiness and could focus on myself and what I need to do to change. However, this cycle might repeat itself. I know I’ve been here before. Would I repeat the pattern with all future partners: a cycle of love (or not love) leading to over-dependence, dysfunction, falling out of love (if indeed I had ever been in it), breaking up, spending several years getting back my life and back to a good place, just to meet someone new and for it all to begin again. I don’t want that. I want to break this cycle. 

I really love Virgil and he loves me. That much I know. Although a relationship is a process, not a product, and we need to tend it and nurture it like a garden, I don’t think we need any more couples therapy. I think we have taken some good tools from that and we should use them with each other. Now I have to do a load of work on myself and that’s not Virgil’s responsibility.

I sent a version of this to Virgil last night. It's my plea, my suit. We are meeting tonight to talk. I have some hope that we will try again but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he doesn't want to. I am still alive and I will survive this if I must.

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