My dark side. Even through the worst of it, there were times when I needed to escape into fantasy. I used to say that I had a rich fantasy life. I meant it as a joke. However, it was true.
Lots of things changed when our daughter was born. I had to understand, or at least notice, the connection to the return of violence, the greater exercising of control. All of the new learning how to not get into trouble. It was so much our normal that the gradual movement back into all of that was virtually unnoticeable. New baby, new house, my car sold, small and quiet countryside, isolation.
It is so easy to look back and see that those things were happening. Well, not so easy, as it is a process directly related to therapy and a lot of really hard and really painful work. In the beginning of the mess I was in complete denial. All I knew was that I was wrong and always doing the wrong things and that I was going to die there. Thinking about that, death, and writing about it makes me feel weird, sort of spaced or something. It feels unreal. The further away I get from that day, and the years preceding that day, the less real it seems. It makes me feel, sometimes, that I must have misunderstood or misinterpreted everything, that it is just another aspect of my being wrong.
So, O.K., I know that is only what I was groomed to believe. I heard it for the first six or seven years of our marriage, and it began again after our daughter was born. Then, there were two of us doing everything wrong. Greater isolation. So, I did what made me feel better, and that was to have fantasies that I kept going as long as they worked. Most of the time it was the only way I could go to sleep. They evolved into elaborate scenarios where I was liked and then loved. I had friends and eventually there was this kind of hopeful quality to them. Like there was a world where I was fine. Were I was loved. Where no one tried to hurt me all the time, and if, by some chance, someone had bad intentions for me I would be rescued by someone who loved me.
The fantasies were so well-developed that I could get lost in them and finally fall asleep. I got really good at crafting them. Unfortunately, it was a private and secret activity and I felt ashamed of having them, that I was unable to see the goodness and value in my marriage. Well, now I know why I had them and how they probably helped me get through some tough times. Sometimes the longing for a safe and loving life was so distressing that they made me cry, and that is pretty much when they stopped. It was dangerous to cry. Even more shame. You know, like shame on me for being so shallow and weak and needy. After all, I had a husband that everyone loved. He had a great job and lots of friends, the neighbors loved him. He made good money and took excellent care of his family. No one knew him at church or school, but that was only because he was such a dedicated provider. Well, that, and the endless excuses I made for him not coming to anything. He refused to be involved in anything that did not have him at the center of attention and told me what lies to tell.
So, O.K., I know how this was, now I know. In the moments of that other life, I only knew that I did not deserve the goodness of a loving relationship. I did not deserve to be loved. I was unlovable. The problem now is that even if I used to be someone worth care and liking and even loving, that person is gone someplace. Maybe she is a much a fantasy as the ones I made up all those lonely and scared nights.
I know that I have to find a way to believe otherwise. If I cannot do that, if I cannot find a way back to that kind of health, then I will always be alone. Now that I am out of there I do not feel lonely. I have my jobs and my family and the friends worth keeping and CoolCat. I have enough money to just make it and my hopes for finding a job continue. I know that I do excellent work, that I would be an asset to any company and that whomever hires me will never regret it. I have complete confidence that I will eventually find a job and that many parts of my life will be better with just a little extra money.
Where this becomes a problem is that everything I see, you know, DVD-wise, and everything I read has that hopeful aspect of fantasy as a problem solver. A perfect example is the book I finished reading last night. It is Piers Anthony's, Luck of The Draw. It was an on-my-way-out of the library grab. I was tired from a long day and had nothing at home to read. I had read some of the Xanth books a long time ago and enjoyed them. Last year a friend got me started reading Terry Pratchett, and the themes of the two authors are similar enough to lead you from one to the other. They are fun, those books.
It was lots of fun. Until the end, which was an angst ridden star-crossed lovers plot, something that had been a thread through most of the story. The same thing is happening in the DVDs I have been watching. I think what bothers me is the power that one character seems to hold over another. The notion that I am so important that I can solve the problem, just because I am that important. I am the catalyst for saving or helping or something, but mostly saving someone else or an aspect of society or the world or some damn thing. I mean, it really is that big, the ego that gives one person, or, I guess a group of people, to be so important that only they can save the day. If you are the center of the universe, I suppose you are exactly that important.
But, it is all fiction, all constructed and imagined and fantasized fiction. There is not any place in the world where someone could be that important, that pivotal, that essential to anything.
And, it disturbed me. It was just as ego-driven as my fantasies had been. The whole context of being so special that someone would have to be insane to let you slip through their fingers, no matter how many obstacles they had to overcome. The archetypal relationship plot. It did not start with popular fiction or film. The beginnings of these stories is lost in antiquity.
It occurs to me that when my daughter read Romeo and Juliet when she was six years old, that there does not seem to be any age when that need for unreserved and unconditional love is not one of the basic desires. Newborn infants instinctively crave it. That need is why we have pets.
I should probably do some reading on the whole ego thing. What little I have picked up is just enough to be familiar with it, but lacking in real knowledge and understanding. Maybe I should leave it alone, but right now I feel weak when I think of the past and how I wanted someplace without pain. I wanted some life without feeling that I was always wrong. More, I wanted and want to let go of the pain so that I can make good decisions, better choices, in my life from now on. I cannot go back and undo all of the mistakes I have made, all of the times when I did not, could not, be the kind of person I wanted to be, the times when I only responded to what was going on, reactive and rarely, if ever, proactive. Loving and supportive and just making good decisions. That is what I want.
And, I know why all of this is bothering me. I have the opportunity to receive training, some of it on scholarship, to do something along the path of the work I already do, but this opportunity is a paid position. The job and training were suggested to me by someone I trust. The training and testing would be conducted in another city and there is a chance that I would move there for employment. It is a solid opportunity. I am interested. I would be insane to let this slip through my fingers. I have the application and was going to complete it this weekend and mail all of the materials tomorrow.
I have not yet begun any of it. I am worried that I will disappoint the providers of the scholarship. I am worried that I will be too stupid to understand the training or learn anything. I am worried that it will be too difficult and that I will be embarrassed and shamed by attempting something outside my previous experience. I am worried about spending my time and money to do this, not having any financial security because of the mess of leaving my other life. I am worried that I simply am not good enough.
Worrying about all of those are supremely reasonable concerns. Although, it is interesting that the worries are manifesting what seems to be a completely different part of my life. I see the connections, tenuous as they may be, but it sure is interesting. This is about ego. My darker side. My need to be loved and accepted unconditionally. The need to be successful and needed and valued beyond my abilities and ability to be successful at any of this, hell, at anything.
And, there is another part that is about not being good at anything, no matter how much I try. I failed at my marriage. I failed to be the person he wanted me to be, the person who did not do everything wrong. I understand that his expectations and need for control were beyond my ability to perform properly and that they were inappropriate and dangerous and I am so fortunate to be out of my other life. I know that feeling like this is fucked up and that I still have more healing to do. Man, I am working so hard on all of this. I make all kinds of wonderful progress and then something like Wednesday happens and I regress. I received some information on Friday that may indicate the encounter at work was not as random as I had hoped. Knowing that is not helping.
All of the old fears and insecurities come rushing back. So much work and healing to do. I do not know if I can wait until my regular therapy session. I need to discuss this sooner. I need to not be knocked-back by this. I need to stop over-thinking everything.
I need to be willing to take some risks. I have led such a careful life for so long and being brave is more difficult than I can express. I need to be brave.
You know, the center of the Universe aspect. Who would not love to be the center of someone's Universe. I know that my daughter is that person for me, and that her husband and children are those people for her, just as it is for everyone who loves someone, cares about them and supports them no matter how tough the going gets. Surely, all of the people that I know and see, hear and read about, who seem to have that cannot all be faking it.