I’ve long struggled with writing what I’m about to share. This will be cathartic, and I ask the reader for forgiveness if this drifts towards pathos or is too maudlin. I figure that this has been long overdue for me on a therapeutic level, and something that I want to share, if only in the hope that in sharing, it helps in moving forward. If you are hoping for digital camera musings, political rants or another Blurbomat Whore, alas, your hope was in vain. I promise that my next entry will contain partially non-technical talk of digital cameras.
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As part of my divorce settlement with myself, I decided that I was going to make some radical changes inside me. The most important was that whoever I would end up with as a partner would get more of me than any partner previous. I had come to realize that some of the undoing of my first marriage had to do with my own shortcomings as much as anything else and one of the biggest was my emotional distance. I substituted friends and family at times when I should have focused on the relationship. I put her second. Instead of confronting my feelings about the shortcomings of the relationship, I hid them and kept them far from my heart. Once I realized that I was not being true to myself or my spouse, I set on the path that lead to divorce.
I’ve been reading What Should I Do With My Life by Po Bronson. I picked it up after having career discussions with a close friend who recommended it. I recently read the section where Bronson talks about his divorce and the feelings of selfishness he felt over how he handled it. I had felt those same feelings even before the divorce and I beat myself up pretty hard. I share this because I think that it was in this near self-immolation I realized that I was being overly harsh; while I may have hurt people, perhaps they would be as happy one day as I. I also saw a pattern that exists to this day. I don’t like to allow myself happiness. And after splitting, I felt happier than I ever had in my life. I felt for the first time in my life that I was doing something for myself. I am certain there are those out there who disagree with how I handled things, particularly becoming seriously involved with Heather so soon after splitting up with my wife. I still fight the odd feeling that I was somehow selfish in all of it, even though it was clear that the relationship was over and splitting up was the best thing to do.
I was (and still am) new to navigating this landscape of opening myself up. I was not raised in such a way that this is easy for me. Some of it, I can direct towards a strict religious subculture which permeated so much of my life, some can be seen in my familial relationships and the rest can be attributed to, like most people, horrible romantic relationships prior. Continuing to write and share here, partcularly in the face of hardship and illness has been an exercise towards allowing myself to be more open. Seeing the outpouring of kindness from strangers during Heather’s hospitalization bolstered my faith in humanity. But some walls are hard to destroy. The ones that are born in self-preservation and self-defense are mortared heavily with a fibrous cement. Such bonds do not break easily.
What I’m finding most difficult is to negotiate a sense of balance. On the one hand, it’s wonderful to live with my best friend and share like I’ve never shared. On the other, as this is new, I have a tendency to feel threatened. To feel vulnerable. As is typical from a person who feels vulnerable, reactions to even the nicest sentiments can become fraut with overtone, suspicion and even a kind of mild paranoia. I hate this part of self-discovery. You can’t just discover the good parts of yourself without seeing some of the worst parts. I believe this is inevitable. It’s a necessary part of the journey.
I’m very fortunate, however, to have the patient and supportive friend and partner that I do in Heather. Without her, I don’t know if I’d have come this far. The saddest part of this is that she bears all of my missteps. All of my darkest introspection. All of my insecurities. All of the pain from me attempting change.
There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t stop and marvel at my good fortune in finding Heather. That I share my life with someone so incredibly talented, giving and beautiful is not lost on me. It is rare that we get to live with our best friends. Even more rare is being inspired by them in the purest possible way. I can’t imagine being with someone else, I’m just sorry that I’m not more healed from my past. Heather deserves more. Leta deserves more. Even the dog deserves more.