Thursday, January 19, 2006


An Angle of Repose

I posted this on ETOR's Ambition and Love:

I can appreciate your honesty. As in the title of Wallace Stegner’s book, “Angle of Repose” our life is like detritus stumbling down a mountain until we reach our Angle of Repose. I have looked upon my choices too in marriage; job etc… where it would appear I compromised. But I would discover that in those situations- it was all I was capable of at the time as evident in your advisors advice to you. For me, I would tumble downward as detritus until I settled in once again until I got a new job or a child or wrangled with pathology that I thought was love and all of this providing me a new level of awareness. It has sent me again downward as detritus. Given that I’ve rolled downward without real direction, I am so glad events have occurred that have knocked me out of ruts.

This was my response to EOTR’s on her blog on Ambition and Love. Frankly regarding love, I didn’t know what I wanted or to expect in ambition and love. I have the drive for both but in the past I did not know the impetus! I did not know what turned the engine on for love and ambition. I did not have the knowledge of what influence them. In the early days, I believe so much of was rote behavior brought on by unconscious fear, desire, hunger and other biological reasons. While I search my memory banks for real analysis about being in love, it seems there has been very little thought about it. It’s not like a car where I am interested in compression ratios or where I inspected the rear end to see if it was a Ford or a stock Chevy or if the engine was blue printed. With relationships it was feeling and connection. in my case, I thought it was acceptable not to have deep feelings of connection and it conflicted with what I felt was a more important: to feel a deep sense of connection. I began to crave this even if it made no sense intellectually, emotionally and sexually. What was even more remarkable-this unconscious behavior going on within me and my belief that I was living in love with clarity and sensibility. particularly in my marriage.

Bring on career, children, death and tragedy and I stumbled losing my clarity and sense of direction. It appeared that I lost my ability to be honest and sensible. I made what I thought were compromises that caused regrets in my life. Staying in my marriage comes to mind. I regret the lost time in my struggle to stay with my ex-wife. At first it worked for two young kids together in surviving a new world. We built careers, got educated, acculturated and raised a child along with building a standing in community. But nothing prepared me for the disintegration of my marriage. As we delved into our primitive secrets, I came to an awareness of a 8 year old girl’s tragic death of her father which stiffened her emotional responses so she could survive without him. The shock was imprinted deep within her amygdale, so that her pain was held in check. Also, the vision of her father was that of a perfect human being that could do no wrong. No man could measure up because or our own infallibilities. And I, shaped from birth by a couple who lived in fear of being killed and tortured. They learned to hide and not live their lives because they could die. This is what was brought to the table when these young adults got married and raised their children. These adult children absorbed ancient fear and more that lurks out there and inside too. It’s now a part of how we deal with and live our lives. Neets wrote that “we are walking talking collages”. This collage came together: a girl incapable of deep feelings of connection and a man who experienced little the deep feelings of connection. It was a perfect match. From there we saw tremendous drives toward careers and ambition that was a surrogate for the love we were incapable or giving or receiving. For now I believe there is hope for me and sadly, none for her.

Still, it was hell being brutally kicked out of this rut! As I shared with ETOR about detritus; I had no idea why I tumbled downward until I had aquired some semblance of awareness and I acknowledged these influences. Influences that are and will be a part of of my life forever. They just don't have the power to affect the people I love. I am more vigilant and driven to arrest them so I could live free from these influences and more. From their comes the more difficult task of doing what I felt was right thing to do like getting a divorce because I didn’t want before me a loveless marriage. I didn't want to subject as model for my child: how two people lived as a couple like we did. I feel pain for my ex-wife’s tragedy but I made the right choice. In that choice, hard work and time has distanced the past and I see even a more present peace within me. Peace that has allowed me an “Angle of Repose” from the passage of my marriage.

My compliments to you…your writing is very clear and evokes a lot of feeling in me…I too can relate with losing my sense of clarity and direction in marriage. Most of us who were married in the 70’s were looking for a sense of connection, (at least I was). In my case I couldn’t do more than repeat the same kind of inadequate attachment
that my family of origin provided. Like you, my parents were so caught up in their own woundedness that they were ill-equipped to nurture a sensitive child who needed tenderness. So I sought a partner who would treat me in a similar (distant) manner, and I tried to tell myself it was love. Faced with this lack of emotional and intellectual connection, I then made compromises in my marriage, lost my ability to become honest, etc., because it seemed like the honorable thing to do. Until I started becoming aware of myself and the unconscious behavior going on., I was willing to continue in a toxic relationship. I do not regret any of it today, because I had to travel that path in order to begin the healing process that I am participating in now. And because I knew on some level that it was time to carry on with the lesson, I do not regret any of my life, even that darkest of chapters. As brutal as it was tumbling out of that rut, it still feels far greater to be true to myself and to be as authentically genuine as I strive to live today.
Thank you YoungHSD, your writing is clear to me as well. As for regrets, I don't diminish the struggle that get us to what we've become. I'm proud of who I am. It's the lost opportunities, the pain that was generated caused by the impact of my past behavior that I regret, and if I could take it back I would. That said, I'm quite forward in my life and I am grateful for my authenticity. Grateful for my authenticity as I’ve significantly reduced the damage from these past influences and hence enriching the relationships in my life now.
Do you think it was a mistake to stay? Did you stay only because of the kids? So many people have faced the same situation, and it is hard to say what is lost time; I have stayed married, and I can't say that it is only because of my son, but it would break his heart if we were to split. Your post made me think about this.

Thank you for mentioning me. I think you would be a great person to talk to in regular life.
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ETOR, I stayed for a period of time because I was incapable and afraid of losing my identities as a father, a husband, a man and my standing in the community. I had nothing to replace it. It was an emotional unknown and I was afraid of being nothing not in an intellectual sense but and emotional one. It buckled my knees and immobilized me until I began to create new identities.

Your child’s heart will be broken. How could it not. I believe your son will survive the cataclysm. When we divorced, we focused on operating in his best interest for a child his age who thinks concrete terms. We told him we still loved each other but differently. We told him that our love for him didn’t change; he just gets (2) houses instead of one. It was difficult but we were determined to make less painful as possible so we set aside our volatile episodes that he had witnessed in the past and worked on soothing his fears. We did this by stemming the acrimony between us as much as possible and the almost impossible task of not painting one another as villains. He is not without wounds but he no longer sees the relationship we modeled for him. He sees me content and it is my hope that is influence enough.
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