Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Lessons Learned - Part Two...
I’ve had second thoughts about whether or not to post this entry. I’m trying to be positive and dwell on the good (maybe to convince myself that things are getting better), and really they are (there I go again with the positive convincing!), but there is one lingering aspect of my current relationship agreement that is not going well and it’s eating at my core...
At my recommendation, I agreed, and in respect for her feelings and in trying to re-establish a sense of trust, to not meet with any gay friends in secret encounters of hikes, lunches, MOHO parties, apartment discussions, etc. without her knowledge – meaning, she didn’t want me sneaking around and going behind her back having “dates” and relationships that she didn’t approve of. She viewed such encounters as “inappropriate” for a married couple, and very hurtful to her. The hurt comes in the underlying feelings of mistrust that she has in my ability to lock away my heart just for her, and to not find such encounters leading me to attachments beyond our covenanted marital relationship rules of engagement.
This mistrust comes from several sources of pain that I feel responsible for, including:
1. Years of neglect, both physically and emotionally not bonding with her, and seeking to have any kind of physical connection with her. I shot down her attempts to connect, and shunned her for decades and this has left emotional scars for the both of us.
2. Those years of neglect (and neither of us fully understanding why I was pulling away from her physically) led to years of her self-esteem and self-worth being destroyed in the process. Was she not pretty enough for me? Was she too fat? Too old? Too ugly? Too needy? In reality, she was none of these things - it was me being so unsure of what was going on inside of me as to why I was not interested in her.
3. Years of turning my attention to other things (mostly work and career development, and church service… good things, but not necessarily great things when considering what she was feeling)and not on her.
4. And those years tended to focus my attention on connecting with other men, and particularly of men from my missionary past, and even more so with certain young men of the ward. I was seeking physical and emotional attachment outside the marriage (again not truly understanding why I was doing this – it wasn’t a deliberate attempt to hurt her or inflict pain – but it was a need, a driving force within, an unquenchable appetite for belonging and connecting with other men).
To add the MOHO connection to this mix, and to see two of my young men return to the ward and try to connect with me as we did in the past, all have accumulated into a package that she cannot accept no matter how hard she tries to understand. The past decades of neglect and damage and mistrusting and disconnection have led her to feel this way.
Thus, in response to her feelings, and with love for her and demonstrating to her that she means more to me than anything else, and in an attempt to restore trust and heal our relationship of decades of neglect and pain, I have offered to keep away from such connections with other men, to limit my time away from her, and even to avoid extensive hugging and talking and “bromancing” with my male friends. She never has insisted that I do so, nor has she required it of our marriage to go forward. She has been trying to put it in perspective and see the “needs” I have, but can’t get her brain around any kind of relationship that she feels draws me away from her.
So, I’ve pulled back. I haven’t had any “dating” at all for a year now!!!. I have pulled back from my “bromantic” encounters with Tim and Will. I have pulled back even from lengthy hugging, snuggling or other emotional encounters. I’ve tried to be a good boy and be happy and positive in the process.
For some in this community, this has been puzzling to them. And I apologize for any confusion or pain I’ve caused you. For Tim and Will, it has been puzzling as well. Each of them has noticed me pulling back from them, resisting their one-on-one conversations and being alone with them, or in simply hugging them or touching them or caressing them at all. It’s hard to explain why I’m doing this when they don’t know and I can’t tell them the reasons why…
The point being…
Despite all the good of the past post, I am feeling like there is a certain part of me that is dying inside. I am not feeling as spontaneous and open and gregarious as I once was. I am feeling parts of my personality being stifled and snuffed out and I feel like I am wilting away to a former self. And I don’t want to go there.
Therefore, how do I find a better way? How do I keep the confidence and trust and assurance and goodness in our relationship sound and building as it has been in so many ways, while still expressing myself and having an outlet of connectivity, animation, and bromance? How do I show myself trustworthy of her devotion and mine for her, while still reaching out in friendship and free expression that can keep me alive inside? I know I’ve asked similar questions before, but simply telling her this is a real “need” of mine doesn’t work. And after a year of “bromantic celibacy”, I still don’t feel she feels I’m a changed man.
I’m blossoming in so many ways, but in this one particular way I’m a withered malnourished vine on a hot parched summer's day.
Any composting nurishing words of advice?