Friday, January 27, 2017

Why you should never, never, NEVER, never judge when you hear about an affair...and why you should be wary of participating in one.


I was feeling better about things than I have felt in a long, long time. I'd gotten over the neediness, the thought that if he'd only come back, it would be the best, best thing, better than anything else I could ever have in my life. I understood that I wasn't operating in entirely healthy mode when I entered that relationship, and I have spent the past two years learning all about that and trying to fix these problems in myself. I understood that he wasn't healthy at ALL when he entered this relationship...and hasn't been healthy at all his whole life. 

I understood. And I considered that a triumph. And I feel better than I have in a year and a half, even though the memory of this man never leaves me even for a minute.

That's progress, I suppose.

And then I was in the bathroom at Panera Bread today, and our song started playing.

We had more songs in four months than most couples have in forty years. We played each other music a lot. For his part, Chi had a "Ridley mix CD" which held a lot of songs that made him think of me. He played me a few once. The music was just like him--eclectic, different, indie, sad songs by artists I had never heard of before. Plaintive, ephemeral, sad. He'd said several times he was sure something would happen and this happiness would be snatched away. That he had the feeling he just wasn't fated ever to be happy in this life.

My songs were more upbeat. I played him a lot of Taylor Swift. But THE song, the one I hardly ever hear anywhere, the one I finally heard today, was "Say Geronimo" by Sheppard. I think it's in the promos for Zootopia; I don't know if it's in the movie. Our flagship song.

That was the one I played him after he left me the first time.

Before he moved out, I had the luxury of being the only voice in his ear besides that of the therapist I insisted he find once I realized how severely ACoA he is. After he moved out, a lot of other voices started talking. For one thing, Rory, of course, finally realized (after basically ignoring him for two decades) that they had serious problems. And their grown daughter, Hope, had a lot to say, too.

Hope took him to breakfast the morning after he moved out and lobbied him not to leave. It wasn't fair, she said. They'd been married thirty-five years, and hadn't really talked for twenty.

Hmm, okay, but I had to point out to Chi the sort of treatment Rory had been handing him ever since he had started trying to tell her they had serious problems. Unacceptable. Completely unacceptable. If I ever treat any man that way ever in my life...shoot me.

He was afraid she'd manipulate him back into the marriage again and then start her behavior all over again. She'd done it before, he said. She'd do just enough, in previous years when he'd complained about her near-constant neglect, to keep him, then go right back to her old ways yet again. He didn't trust her. 

I asked him, Do you trust her now? Can you trust her? Because I can't carry on a full-blown affair with a married man. The only reason I'm still here is that you moved out, and you're planning to file for divorce. If you start counseling with her, I have to say goodbye.

And I didn't want to. I really didn't want to.

After that conversation, I played him that song. 

He told me he really didn't want to fix things with Rory. His therapist asked him, if it wasn't for his daughter, would he be thinking about marriage counseling at all. He said no.

In two days, he was back.


Now I'm hearing that song in the bathroom at Panera Bread. And what comes back to me is how silly, how unrealistic, what a child I was. I was the conquering hero, saving him from Bad Old Rory. Who knew why she was acting the way she was? We only knew one thing: It was bad. Real bad.

And I was the one who saw he was ACoA, who knew enough to insist he find himself a therapist, who talked him down over the phone on one of the worst nights of his life (I won't even say where Rory was, only that he'd been going around the house crying all week; she didn't even notice and had left town). I was the one who showed him he was lovable and sexy--and he believed me! This tall, handsome, sharp, smart, successful, sweet, sexy guy believed in himself again. And I had done that. While she was still acting like a world class horse's ass.

I was going to win this fantastic guy, Rory would get what she deserved, and we would be happy ever after!


When you first enter a relationship where one party is already in a relationship with someone else, it always looks simpler than it is. 

By the same token, when you first hear that someone you are close to has cheated on their longtime spouse, it always looks simpler than it is.

Trust me on this one: You never, ever, ever, 


ever, ever, ever,


see it the way it REALLY IS 

with your first damn glance.

Or your second.

Or your THIRD.

Trust me on this one. Really.

I'm about to prove it to you.

Are you ready?? 

(coming next week...)

Friday, January 20, 2017

Five Ingredients That Will Save Your Marriage


If you read this blog at all, you know I'm a big fan of Family Tree Counseling's You Tube channel.

If you're married and cheating-or-about-to cheat, what's your future?

The Fabulous Mark Smith on the Five Ingredients You Need to Save Your Marriage. (In short, here they are, but the video is linked up there.)

1.)     Let psychological walls down and be highly motivated—not to “not get divorced,” or to “save the marriage so we don’t have the public embarrassment and the financial problems of a divorce,” but to fix your OWN brokenness. Be disturbed about YOUR OWN dysfunction, have insight into how messed up YOU are and be motivated to work on THAT. 

2.)    Be teachable. Know how much you don’t know and be open to feedback in your therapy.

3.)    Pain informs you that something is desperately wrong with YOU. Consider it a gift.

4.)    Trust in the process of therapy.

5.)    Be willing to read books and watch videos and do your homework.

Friday, January 13, 2017

On Neediness...and How I Got Over It


(Please note: I don’t know if astrology is really true or not. But the good thing about it comes when you can read insights like this and apply it to your situation, whether the planets in the heavens actually pertain to you or not.)

When you get, then lose, the guy you looked up to for sixteen years, who felt like the second love of your life, AFTER losing the first love of your life—who was your best friend ever—life doesn’t look as if can or will ever be happy again.

Especially when you were the kid who was always laughed at, picked on, and picked last for the team, the loss looms larger than it might for anyone else. Other people have family they can still speak to, family who aren’t mentally ill. Other people have at least one other deep, close friendship.

I found myself looking at my life and saying, “Where are the people?” And, although I tried what had worked in years gone by, joining groups, trying to meet people, I have found that I am of a sufficiently deep and peculiar frame of mind that my “tribe” isn’t very many people at all, and that my kind of person is very hard to find.

Chi was my “tribe”, and so was Simon. As long as I had them, I was happy. I didn’t need other companionship. And that was why losing Chi hurt me so badly, and why all I could do for a year and a half was look back…and look back…and look back.

Well…it was part of the reason why.

In my search for answers, I turned once more to psychology and astrology. I read self-help books about essential loneliness, emotional loneliness, and how this stems from having parents who didn’t meet your emotional needs as a child, and perhaps weren’t at all well themselves. In therapy we talked about getting out there and finding other people, but the fact is that the right other people for me just aren’t really out there right now. Either they’ll come along, or they won’t. The emphasis in my life is on learning to get along just fine by myself, and not needing anything or anyone else to make me happy. Happiness has to be generated from within.

And I tried. I really did. But always there was the memory of how right Chi was, and how well we understood one another. Just like me and Simon. I could never sit in another club meeting again without seeing ghosts of them there, imagining the droll and funny things they might have said.

Astrology, I discovered, had somewhat different things to say. Let’s look again at that pesky Moon opp Neptune. I’m clearly the Moon person and Chi is the Neptune person, here.

So I see the dynamic. I know that’s him, and I know that’s me. I know that it’s unhealthy. And I still feel that way.

Yep. Me running from loneliness, scared to shoulder the rest of my life all alone, him not understanding that his horrible low self-esteem is neither normal nor deserved, and trying to put a band-aid on it with an affair or marriage counseling rather than sitting in the therapy room crying over how horribly his alcoholic parents treated him and how it made him feel about himself, and that sad little boy who never grew up and attained an adult perspective.

True? Yep. Do I feel less needy yet? Nope.

But when I read a little more about Neptune, at long last the lights came on.

The answer lies in an aspect of Neptune that provides the key to really understanding it. Neptune is a totally selfless energy, not readily harnessed to the demands of the human ego.  If you have a strong ego-wish that something be a certain way, Neptune's involvement becomes dangerous.  The more your ego needs to enforce a situation, the more Neptune will delude you about it.  Your own wishes seem to create a barrier to your seeing clearly, because you are too involved in the situation. Neptune often makes the two of you think that what you want is already so, even when it isn't.

However, if you can learn to accept the situation as it is, Neptune will help you to learn even more.  If you can hold your ideals and still be able to deal with reality, Neptune may even help you realize your ideals.

When I read that, I finally began to see not only that that was what I was doing—and what Rory is doing, when you think about it—having a strong ego-wish that Chi be certain things for us in our lives. And I started to read that as if Chi’s name were inserted where the word Neptune is, and it hit me suddenly that that is EXACTLY what he does.

It’s what all codependents do. In fact, let's substitute the word "codependent" for the word "selfless" up there, and it makes even more sense. Having learned in childhood that they must be really rotten little children in order for their parents to treat them so badly and hurt them so much, codependents grow into adulthood—and I have Chi writing me this right here on my hard drive—believing themselves to be such substandard people that no one could ever want them.

So when someone does, they think they have to bend over backwards, twist themselves into a pretzel, not have any needs, make sure that person is perfectly, perfectly, perfectly happy at all times no matter what it does to Neptune, because Neptune is so unworthy as a person that this is the only way they will ever have someone in their lives to love them. And when domineering Rory insists on her own way, with a sharp and belittling tongue, that’s exactly what Neptune has come to expect, so there you go. Only Chi is so very, very, veryvery sensitive to other people’s needs and wants, that now he’s going to pretzel himself around ME, or anyone he’s with. Because in drug-addicted households the kids are taught by example after painful example that that is what good people do, and if you aren’t doing that then you aren’t a good person.

So the needier I am, the more I’d be cueing this very response in Chi, when I know that it’s horribly wrong, horribly unhealthy, and that’s what’s destroyed Chi and Rory’s marriage in the first place!

And if somehow I ended up with the man, and I were still this needy, I’d be cueing the same thing to happen to us.

And that was when it finally, finally, finally sunk in: Feeling this way toward somebody isn’t normal. It isn’t healthy. It isn’t the right thing to do if you want life and relationships to go well.

And I hadn’t been thinking of it that way at all. One reason I felt so needy for the man for a year and a half, was because on some level I was thinking that it was the right thing to do, and that in some strange sense I would be doing a wrong thing if I didn’t.

So this occasioned some very deep thought about why that was.

WHY do we think that NeeeeEEEEeeeeEEEEeeeeding another person to come back and make us happy, is right, somehow?? Why don’t we see that when we are doing that, we are actually doing harm?

When I was able finally to look at that Neptune paragraph, from some expensive computer-generated horoscope on an astrology website, in a desperate attempt to figure out how to get the person back again, I finally had this thought that I had never ever had in almost fifty years of life on the planet:

In feeling like this, I’m not doing this person or myself any good or promoting the relationship going the way I say I want it to go. I AM ACTUALLY DOING HARM. All that neediness is NOT the way I ought to be.

And I know that must be the reason I felt so needy for so long, because once I experienced this thought, POOF! That need I felt, for this person to come back into my life, for the relationship to be the way it was, disappeared. And it hasn’t been back.

Which prompted an awful lot of analytical thought.

In relationships, why do we think that that deep obsessive NEED for the other person to come into our life and be and do X for is, is the way we ought to be?? WHY do we think it’s helpful??

Why did I think it was helpful in the first place??

Because he so badly needed to be loved, and I felt and resonated with the pain of that so much, that I thought I was doing him a favor. If I needed him so badly that I could never be happy again without him, then he’d really know I loved him, right? He needed to know he was loved. And I, in a misguided way, was trying to show him that in a way that he’d know it was true. I was trying to help.

But…what’s wrong with that?

Isn’t that what everyone else in his life was already doing? When he finally struck out on his own, to be alone and think and get his head together—something he desperately needed to do—weren’t there already dozens and dozens and dozens of people in his life showing just that neediness themselves, when they said, “No! You can’t do that!! It’s a thirty-five year marriage! You are our father, our husband, our relative, our valued forty-year friend. GET YOUR ASS BACK HERE AND FULFILL THESE ROLES FOR US! WE NeeeeEEEEeeeeEEEEeeeed YOU!!”

When people do that, what they are really saying is that they love the feeling of the role being filled, of the person being there doing whatever they’re being there doing in that person’s life.

And if it’s now hurting the other person to be there and do that, they don’t want to hear it. When that person is saying, I need to move out. Being this for you is causing me too much pain, they can’t get their minds around it. They don’t want to hear it.

What this kind of neediness really says is, You are valued. And the role you play in my life is valued. And in Chi’s case, that most certainly was true. The role he played in my life was very much valued.

But that is not the same as love. That is not the same as love.

Love cares for a person’s welfare. Love asks you how you’re doing in that role. And if what you’re doing to stay there is causing you pain, love believes you when you say that and does not allow you to continue. Love wants to make sure you are okay. Even if the loss of you in that role causes pain, love puts your welfare above that comfort in having you play that same old role in that same old way.

That’s what love is.

In NeeeeEEEEeeeeEEEEeeeeding Chi to play the same old role in my life, I was not loving him. And NeeeeEEEEeeeeEEEEeeeed is the only thing that looks like love that Chi has ever known.

And that’s terrible. And that’s why it isn’t healthy or right.

In order not to do that to him, I have to be independent. I have to be able to stand alone. I have to be able to find happiness in my life without any people at all, all by myself, all on my own, so I’m not so dependent that I have to do this to him in order to survive. Dependency isn’t love. It isn’t even kind. And to stay dependent because you think it proves that you love someone…well…

There are better ways.

There’s more than one way to love. If you had a good mom, think about how often you were mad at her. She forced you to make your bed and do chores, preparing you to take care of yourself once you grew up and she wasn’t there to do it anymore. If she was a really good mom, she listened to your feelings, thus teaching you to do the same. She made you eat vegetables and go to bed on time, teaching you to listen to your needs and keep your body in good working order by doing the things that will keep you healthy and well.

And she taught you to do this for your emotions as well as your body. She didn’t let you get stuck in a clique, in too tough a win-win-win sports mentality, or in a career that was hurting you. Tough love, mean mommy, looking out for another person’s welfare and enforcing what’s necessary for their health no matter how bad it feels to HER.

THAT is what real love is. And you have to be very independent, strong, and able to stand on your own without the person in order to be able to do it.

And there’s one other thing I saw. I realized that in feeling somehow “less-than” Rory if she “wins” her husband back, I am acting as if I can put the impetus to heal into someone.

I see very clearly that Chi has adult child issues, that they are very painful to him, and I see exactly what and where he needs to heal. And I am acting as if, if the marriage counseling goes well and their marriage is fine, I am somehow less of a person because Rory got to do that and I didn’t.

I am acting as if any person can implant into another person, the impetus and the motivation to do their emotional work and to do the hard, hard process of looking at a painful past and healing and growing as a person. I am acting as if I think that I have the power to somehow control Chi and implant the desire to grow and heal, as I have healed, into his mind, into his heart, into his brain.

When I can’t do that. The only person who can decide to heal is the person who needs to heal, himself. I couldn’t put the impetus to heal into my mother when I was little. I cannot put that into Chi now, no matter how much I wish I could.

I feel so badly for his suffering that even after I take care of the fear-for-my-own future issues, the I’m-so-alone issues, the how-do-I-survive-without-the-love-of-anyone-else issues, I just want Chi’s suffering to stop. I can go into my hard drive and point to some very poignant phrases that speak to how deeply this person has suffered his whole life as a result of the upbringing he’s had and what it did to him.

I know how much better I feel after healing from the same issues. I want that for him. But although I can explain it to him, I can urge him to apply himself in treatment, I can talk about how it was for me and how I felt and the issues I faced, GETTING WELL IS A DECISION.

I remember making that decision when I was fifteen. Watching my mother complain and complain and complain and never get better was my impetus to heal and keep healing no matter how hard it was.

But I cannot implant that impetus to heal into another person, and I was acting as if I could if I just loved the person enough. And I see that I can’t, and that this neediness in me, and any neediness at all in Rory or me or any woman Chi is involved with, is going to make the situation WORSE, not BETTER.

And now that I see this, I can detach myself from it, and I feel a whole lot better. Whether someone heals or doesn’t heal is not my fault. I cannot change or impact that in any way. I do not have the power. I can’t make someone do what they need to do to heal.

And NeeeeEEEEeeeeEEEEeeeeding to be able to do that, is basically needing to be God. Which I am not, and which I cannot be.

Sometimes people are so wounded in childhood that they don’t get well. Sometimes people look at the pain, the time, the work, and the rejection involved from people who don’t understand, say, “Yuck!” and quit. And then they make up an excuse. “I can’t do that because my family, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

Crying for the Moon won’t give you the Moon, no matter how much you wish it could be otherwise.

It won’t give you Neptune, either.

And now that this is all clear to me, I really do feel much more independent, much more able to just be by myself in life, with no friends or significant other ever again if that’s what fate has in store, and stop asking Chi to come back and make me feel better. Would I take him back if he were on the path? Hell, yeah! We had the best connection ever. But I can’t ask him to come back if he isn’t on the path, just to make me feel better.

He can’t even do that for himself.