Scott: (from creed)
It’s been a long day at the bottom of the hill,
she died of a broken heart.
She told me I was living in the past,
drinking from a broken glass.
Chorus: ( Maynard and Scott)
I’m alone [I never wanna be alone],
now I [now I] try to face the cold.
I’m alone [I never wanna be alone],
now I [now I] try to travel home.
Tool with Scott Stapp, Alone
I had intended to write a non-personal article today. After all, things have been pretty focused on the goings on in my life the last couple weeks, and I do like to mix it up with more ‘big ideas’ so that this does not simply turn into a diary. But last night, my honey and I had a really important discussion and I feel like I need to explore that further today.
Most of my articles about the direction we are moving and the issues we are exploring have been very positive, but lest anyone think we are made of stone, this last month has seen some amount of emotional difficulty. However much I believe in what we are doing, we are at a juncture right now where we are dealing with all of the complexities of bringing an additional partner into our lives (or, more specifically and accurately – my honey’s life, but not mine, at the moment), while getting none of the advantages that I see as goal. I have said a number of times that I feel like I am in a catch 22 position: I think the one thing that I really need out of what we are pursuing is ALSO the one thing I need to survive the process. Specifically, an extended ‘family’ to provide support, encouragement, day to day interaction and so forth.
So last night as we ate dinner, we chatted about some of the things that have been going on: his day, his conversations and interactions with Laura, my day and my emails with Eddie – and somehow, the way things were said, the emphasis placed on certain comments and/or the differing perspectives we each have led us into a big fight. As much as I hate that, sometimes I feel like the emotional release of a fight is a good thing, because we delve into subconscious and barely conscious thoughts that, even with our pro-active honest communication, often get lost or glossed over in our more casual conversations.
My honey is probably going to be disturbed a little by that last paragraph, but I do think it is an important thing to recognize. It is not that either of us are holding things back, but that the issues that come forth in the context of an argument are often not quite real – but still ideas or feelings buried in our minds that color our assumptions and reactions even when we don’t quite realize that they are there.
In this case, the big one was a sense on my part that he is so involved in figuring out relationship with Laura, trying to maintain a fine balance between she and I in his life, trying to determine whether there is any future in it and so forth that he has little or no time or energy left to consider his feelings and thoughts about where my relationship with Eddie might go. It has left me feeling, at times, like all of the discomfort I am feeling over the uncertainty of where we are going may well all be for nothing, because maybe he will never be willing to let me go and see Eddie and figure out my part of the ‘equation.’
Once that was out there, we were able to talk and I began to recognize the steps he has been taking and the discussions that we have had about this very issue. It’s not by any means resolved, but perhaps now I can move beyond the subconscious assumption that my needs were being actively (even if unintentionally) repressed until his needs (and Laura’s needs) were worked out. It’s crazy to me, how a passing thought can get stuck in my subconscious and affect me so much, even when I am barely aware that the thought even occurred. But there it is.
In any case, this was not really the important bit that I wanted to talk about today.
Much later, as we were going to bed, he raised a couple of concerns that I need to think about today. I am, and have been all my life, subject to see pretty significant depression. For met, this takes the form of ennui, an inability to keep myself focused, an inability to motivate myself in even the simpliest of ways, and a tendency to get stuck in self depreciating or simply pointless cycles of inactivity.
If my house is a mess, my laundry undone, my houseplants dying from neglect and so forth, I am probably depressed.
Problem is, it can get easy to overlook, because quite frankly, I am rarely completely free of this depression (and, conversely, I am rarely deep into it). So identifying it – for myself or others in my life, can be quite difficult as it involves analysis of subtle gradiations. Last night, we recognized that I have been in a relatively bad place for the last several months. Before last night I had sort of known — my house plants are literally on their last legs – but it has not been a ‘classic’ example by any means (I have been exercising, eating properly, and I have been getting some housework and work-work done every day).
My honey was extremely distressed when he realized this, because he had been completely unaware. Partly, because I tend to emphasize what I DO, as opposed to emphasizing all of the things I am failing to do, partly because the difference is subtle, partly, perhaps because I am more often a little depressed than not, and partly because even with our openness, this is still a very hard subject for me to address openly. As I told him last night, talking about the depression, invokes the depression: if I think about explaining it, it makes me cry and I cannot get the words out. It’s another Catch 22 – but one that I have lived with forever, so it just is in my mind.
Over the last few weeks I have identified several stresses in my life that are making me more sensitive –he and Laura being one, but in my mind the least central – the big one being work (for a couple days over the holidays, every time I thought about all of the things I had to accomplish in the next few weeks invoked an actual, physical panic attack), a medical issue that is hanging over my head, hopefully not for very much longer, and the family issues I have talked about. Underneath all of that, I recognize that there is a chronic stressor as well – I spend a huge portion of my time alone. In fact, in the last six months, I would say that I spend 70% of my time alone, and the rest of the time, I have only honey and my son.
So the question he raised last night is this: am I pursuing polyamory as a perceived solution to this chronic aloneness that I feel, and, more importantly, is this aloneness really the cause or is it merely a symptom of some deeper issue? My initial reaction? Yes, I am pursing both polyamory AND community as solutions to this depression I have always lived with. That after all of the time I have spent analyzing our culture and why it does not work, where it breaks down and what we might do to change it, I have come to the conclusion that the core problem is the separation it creates between people. And, at the end of the day, my own depressions are a direct result of this insufficiency in our culture.
The further exploration of polyamory is just another piece of the puzzle, for me. Something that is quite unnecessary to the general picture, but nonetheless a component that fits well with my personal wants and desires and feelings on love and relationships.
The idea that there is some other fundamental cause disturbs me. It would mean that all of the work I have done over the last three years, all of the energy and effort I have put into trying to understand this complex system, all of this has been fundamentally flawed and my conclusions are therefore suspect. If it is true.
I don’t think that it is true. And even as he brought it up, he posed the question as ‘this is my pessimstic side, talking.’ But I feel like it is an important enough question that I cannot simply dismiss it. So then, the question becomes ‘how can I know?’
One thing that keeps coming back to me as I think about it is Myers-Briggs. If you are unfamiliar with it, this is a very in-depth personality test that I personally have found quite accurate and useful in the way that it points out how different situations and circumstances are likely to make each personality type react. And one thing I learned that surprised me: I am an extrovert. I have always thought of myself as an introvert, but in fact, this was a result of childhood experiences that made me outwardly shy, but this shyness is fundamentally different from introversion.
As psychologists define it, an extrovert replenishes personal energy from interacting with other people, while an introvert replenishes personal energy from alone time. So, if I am an extrovert, and this is how an extrovert replenishes themselves and I am getting little or no social interaction, then doesn’t that mean it makes sense that I am depressed? And doesn’t it suggest that the way to overcome this is to build relationships and create environments where I can get this interaction as a matter of course?
Right now, this is what I believe. I have been putting together a complex puzzle for the last few years, and as I place each piece I find that it comes easier and easier, that the pieces fit snugly, without forcing them. That the picture they create is intuitively pleasing to the eye. That I am not worried that any pieces are missing from the box. Continue the metaphor as far as you like. It seems right to me.
But I will have to dedicate some portion of my awareness to watching myself place those puzzle pieces, make sure that I do not catch myself cheating.
(Originally Published January 10, 2007)