How badly we crave what we don’t really have…the allure of our lovers

I am always astonished by my mom’s insightfulness.  We were speaking recently about how desire inevitably ebbs and flows in long term relationships.  During the conversation I mentioned that in my relationship with my ex-boyfriend the physical desire for him never wavered.  In fact, I said, it grew and grew over the years and when we finally broke up it was at it’s height.  I used this personal example to ‘prove’ that the curse of long term relationships to destroy passion wasn’t always the rule.

Once I finished telling her my thoughts she responded with an observation that had never crossed my rose colored mind.  She said “the passion lasted because you never really had him”.  Wow.  That is absolutely true and it took me over 20 years to learn it.

This is the ex I have written of before.  We met when I was 23 and were together off and on for 12 years.  We were serious for long stretches of time, then would break up, and eventually would find our way back to one another.  Sometimes the break up lasted a day, sometimes a few weeks, and once it lasted almost 2 years.  This is also the ex that I had an affair with once I learned of my husbands infidelity.  This “affair” was mostly emotional since he lives in another state but it had it’s physical moments as well.  I finally ended it for good almost 2 years ago.  21 years after I met him.  But my mom was right – I never really had him.  I always knew that he could walk out the door the next day.  I felt insecure in the status of our union and anxious about our future.  I never truly was able to depend on him and when I did he usually let me down.  It was that thrill and that uncertainty that kept the flame alive.

I think this is the case with most affairs as well.  We feel a heightened sense of passion because we know at any time the person is going to be pulled from our grasps.  We desperately cling to the moments we can hold them, touch them, see them.  And we are left longing for him/her in those long lonely nights when they are not with us.

This is a horrible way to live.  Always worrying that it’s the last time you will be together, wondering if the feelings are true, imagining them with their spouse and their families, knowing deep down that if they really wanted to be with us they would be.   We go days without hearing from them and our anxiety builds with each hour -then comes the thrill when they reach out again and this act calms all of our insecurities while setting us up for yet another round of passion followed by loss.  It’s a painful cycle.  We want so badly to believe in the fairy tale ending.  But at some point in our adult lives we need to accept that fairy tales are not true.  We do not have them.

Recovery Email # 1

In the days and weeks following the discovery of my husbands relapse, I was bombarded with thoughts, ideas and questions about his behavior.  I also had a lot of common sense “suggestions”.  Calling, texting and IMing with him during the day was not fulfilling as I could never get all of my thoughts into a succinct conversation.  I started to write down my thoughts instead, to construct them to explain what I was thinking, and when they were ready I would email them to him to read when he had an uninterrupted moment.  This method was way more constructive so we both benefitted.  Of course, I know that I can’t change his behavior and that all of my rational ideas are just a joke to the addict in his mind…none the less, I am going to share one of the emails:

I can’t help but worry about if you are now – or will be able to stay sober in the upcoming weeks, months, years.  I worry about you being able to develop and use the tools that you would need to access if you ever feel antsy.  You haven’t really been able to in the past and that is my biggest concern.

It is a natural thing to have sexual cravings and hopefully that will be something that you will want to openly share with me and that we will explore together to satisfy your desires, needs or curiosities in a way that doesn’t send you over the edge.  But maybe it looses it’s luster to share that stuff with your wife of 8 years.  Maybe sharing it with me only gives you a portion of the thrill of sneaking around on your own and that ceases to be enough.   Maybe you will start to miss the freedom you have been allowing yourself over the past 5 years.   Maybe not now – but in a few months – once we are more settled.  Maybe you will start to try to reintroduce that into your world and will search for justification to do so.   In that case I feel like you should rather be single because I highly doubt you will want to tell anyone about it (you will again think you have it all ‘under control’) and I don’t want to keep riding this roller coaster of catching you, forgiving you and repeat.

I think you can ‘have your cake and taste it too’ in a marriage…but can’t really ‘have your cake and eat it too’.  I mean, if your cake is ‘us’ and you love being married for all the happiness it brings – but then you get bored with monogamy and miss the thrill of the chase, etc.  There are sexy things we can do together to evoke some of those old feelings and such….but it’s not going to be as free as what you have been doing (obviously).  So you won’t be eating the cake so much as tasting it.  So there is going to be a sacrifice.  I mean – you can not have it ALL and that’s just the way life is and you need to be mature enough to understand that and not let your narcisistic mind try to constantly find a way around it.  Though that is tempting in and of itself – and I GET THAT.  I struggle with that shit too.  I think ‘oh, I can flirt with max’ and I justify it cuz you’ve done worse and you have mentioned giving me permission and quite frankly I feel owed it.  But really, does that make it ok?  If it doesn’t hurt you or risk our health or cause me to lie then I suppose it’s ok.  But maybe it’s not.  I’m not even sure anymore about boundaries and that is going to have to be something that we sort out over the next month or so.  And I know it will be revisited and the boundaries will change over time but we need a starting place that we can both actually respect and commit to without too much trouble.

But when you act compulsively due to procrastination, boredom or stress – and it either is or isn’t about the sex – then I’m not sure how you are going to get those habits under control.  I know we talked about it, but I hope you can figure out one guy from program that you can call when you feel tempted to act out or distract yourself in a way that isn’t deemed healthy.

It’s all so weird for me to talk about because I personally think it would suck to not be able to just do what I want when I want if it eased my brain. it’s odd also because I don’t see the real harm in much of what you have done.  I guess the harm is that you A. aren’t dealing with the root of the emotions and B. feel like you need to lie about it thus making you feel like shit about yourself (and hurt me/damage us).

I am just starting to feel like you are a little afraid to talk to me – starting to shut down a little.  Maybe it’s just cuz you are sick of talking at all after all the meetings and therapy.  I won’t say I am never going to have a reaction to anything you say.  But I can tell you that as long as you try to remain truthful with me that I will completely accept who you are and love you and won’t abandon you.

Sacrifice sucks.  But you have to remember that it’s for the greater happiness and good.  I hate dieting – but when I really do make the sacrifice then I am thrilled with my body and it is well worth it.  You just have to remember that the sacrifice of giving up your middle and inner circle behavior will be completely worth it when you can feel totally loved and accepted by those around you.  You have no idea how great that is going to feel.

XOXO