Room Inside a Box

"There is no room inside a box." ~Doug Pinnick

Location: Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, United States

I started this blog as a soundboard for some much needed therapy during my separation with my wife throughout much of 2005. It was truly a blessing to get my thoughts out there through the writing process. Thankfully things have worked out between us. I would have continued to blog, but ever since I started my teaching career, I have found it impossible to do as much blogging as I would like to. So now I hope to periodically post as time and energy allow.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Fine Art of Friendship (Meaning of Love...)

Disclaimer: I actually wrote the following post yesterday, and in light of some very recent events I was considering not posting it, but I think it needs posted. A lot has happened since then that I need to write about, AND I still need to get back at Kelly for misinterpreting my previous post, or at least ignoring the part where I specifically said, "There is nothing wrong with being a smart-ass." But my lame ass will take care of her dumb ass later on in an asstastic blog the whole family can enjoy. Now, onto my shitty life as seen about thirty-two hours or so ago...

Over this past summer I started seeing a counselor, a family and marriage specialist to help me figure some shit out. My life was falling apart. Actually, it had been falling apart for years but I was too blind to see it and Ann was incapable of speaking in a language that I could hear. In other words, I did not have eyes to see and ears to hear. Anyway, this counselor I started seeing was excellent—a very wise woman in whom I could put my confidence and trust. She was big on assignments and, knowing that I kept—and still do keep—a journal, she assigned me to write on the broad topic of things that are hindering Ann and me from being civil toward each other. I wrote at length on this or that, but one thing that I thought summed up our problems was a little diagram I drew. I drew two diagrams, actually, each of which had two stick figures on the far left of the page, which represented Ann and me, and on the far right of the page I drew a mountain. The mountain in the first diagram, titled “Tom’s View,” was labeled the “Mountain of Friendship” which could only be reached once the “Chasm of Issues” was crossed. In my view, Ann and I could not arrive at any type of friendship until we first got over our issues, which is why I was seeing a counselor and why I wanted her to go to counseling with me. The mountain in the second diagram, titled “Ann’s View,” was labeled the “Mountain of Issues” which could only be reached via the “Road of Friendship.” In Ann’s view, she and I could not arrive at any resolution of our issues until we mastered the fine art of friendship, which is why she stressed being friends so much.

There is nothing wrong with either worldview, different as they are. The problem is that neither of us was willing to adopt the other’s point of view and put it into practice. She was too angry with me and didn’t trust me enough to work with me on our issues, and it pained me too much to be friends with her because all it did was either remind me of what we once had and how special that was and how it is all lost or it would make me really horny and since she wasn’t about to get naked with me the hormones raged and I would become very angry and frustrated. We were at a huge impasse and someone had to do something about it. So my counselor told me to do something about it, to stop thinking about myself and my pain and misery and focus on her and her pain and misery. If she needed kindness and warmth and compassion and friendship, then I needed to give that to her at all cost.

So all this was swirling around in my head during July. Is this not what Jesus did, sacrifice all of himself for us? If I was who I said I was, then this is what I had to do. But fucking A, this was hard! I had never done this before in my life, this self-sacrifice. It was completely foreign to me. I struggled immensely in esteeming her and downplaying me. So I went to California and read Anne Lamott’s new book, Plan B. Reading Lamott is truly a blessing, especially when I can read her uninterrupted in the pristine wilderness of Yosemite and Hoover National Monuments. When I came across the following it struck me very deeply, for it is as though she were speaking directly to me and my situation: “If you want to change the way you feel about people, you have to change the way you treat them.”

This is why I love Lamott: She intersperses these little nuggets of Truth throughout her books with such ease and candor that just when you least expect them, there they are to punch you out and jar you awake from your blind stupor. For practically all of 2001 to 2005 I was walking around in a blind stupor. Now I was not as blind as I was in past years, but I was definitely not seeing 20/20. My wife, Ann, and Anne Lamott helped me see that I needed to see things from a different worldview, a different perspective. And in this way, Ann’s worldview was better than mine—at least in this instance. Would my way work? Sure it would. But would Ann’s way work? Sure it would. But neither would work if we each refused to change the way we treat each other. So I have been trying very hard to do the right thing, even thought it’s killing me inside. Now it is getting better with time, but it is still a difficult thing to continually give and give and give and receive virtually nothing in return. Actually, I shouldn’t say that because it makes it sound like Ann isn’t trying to do anything right. She is doing what she thinks is right, and she is probably doing a lot of right things, but as far as my needs being met emotionally and physically, that is what I am not getting that I am desperately craving. I want her companionship more than anything else in the world, and these snippets here and there, these crumbs on the floor from the feast that could be our marriage just aren’t satiating the emptiness inside me. But in all this Lamott's words are becoming real, for in treating Ann differently, I am changing the way I feel about her. But no one ever said change was easy, and this change is the hardest loving I've ever done in my life.


Blogger Kelly said...

You're right. I DID ignore what you said.

As usual.



September 23, 2005 10:13 AM  

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