Baby Steps, Baby…

I had a breakthrough! I had a breakthrough! I am on the path to…something, as the IMD continues to unfold.

That’s the word I got this week from one of my unofficial therapists, the small group of people offering frequent and useful advice during the New Crisis. I was going to say “amateur therapists,” but the connotation seems a little insulting. These folks are amateurs only in the sense that they don’t have a degree and I don’t have to pay them (thank god). But the wisdom they dispense is invaluable, and it comes from a source better than any book or seminar or postdoc work. They have lived through divorce, they have suffered as I do, and they have survived. They are, now, happy – or as happy as any human can expect to be in an age of lingering recession, unending wars, and political stupidity of all stripes, but especially of the bagged, batty camellia sinensis variety.

Just once I want a couch...

Of course, this breakthrough was more theoretical than practical. For weeks, the unofficial therapists had told me to stop feeling so much for the Fex. Now, they didn’t mean it in a harsh way (I don’t think…). It was just the only way I would begin to truly emotionally separate and move on.  But there was always some issue, some human concern, that stirred me to ask personal questions: a relative’s health…medical tests…something with the cat. And the seemingly innocuous query, whether by phone or email or direct question in person, always made me feel like we were still connected. Or that I wanted to be connected. Then, time would pass, there’d be no contact, all good, until…I would ask another question, and – aggh! Gotta start all over again.

This time, I asked about a trip to Chicago, one I was supposed to take too, when it was first planned some 6 months (6 months! Time is passing, albeit so slowly…) ago, just a few weeks before the first marital bombshell was dropped. I had written about something mundane and refrained from asking how the trip went. But then with a second missive, I slipped it in; it seemed so rude to pretend that she hadn’t gone, and that I didn’t know she had gone, to that city I loved so much and left for her (yes, there, I said it again. I will stop, soon).

Yes, still my kind of town--maybe more so with Daley leaving.

“How was Chicago?”

Her answer, mercifully, was brief. But it was enough to stir the thoughts – we should have been on that trip together, things should be different, why did –

But then I stopped. And sighed. And saw the error of my ways. In a divorce still unfolding, with one party still trying to move beyond the pain, there is NO ROOM for the personal. None. Even something as simple as that three-word question. As much I might want to know, or just seem polite, the answer is not going to do me any good. Even if there is no response, the mere asking does not do any good. And as I read her  brief response to that simple question, it truly, finally registered: I have to stop caring about anything relating to her. Except for selling the house. All our ties and contact have to be clinical. It is the only way I can move on.

And as I realized that, I remembered that unofficial therapist #1 had said the same thing weeks before. Now, now I truly understood the import of those words and believed I could act on them in the future, even if I had slipped up in writing that email. Then, UT #2 said basically the same thing, not knowing her counterpart had already given that counsel. It’s not a question of being nice or indifferent, polite or rude. It’s about self-preservation. Of ending the addiction. That one question was like the “just one drink” to the alcoholic, the little rub of powder on the gums to a coke fiend. It opens the door to a black hole. Don’t wanna go there no more.

So many times during this process, I have heard the words of others who have suffered before me. I have nodded. I have tried to act. But no one can force you to follow sage advice. The time to act comes when you are ready, whenever that may be. I am ready to take this next step in moving on. Cut and dried, baby, everything will be cut and dried. Cut, like the emotional bond she severed long before she told me she couldn’t do it any more. Dried, like the tears I have finally stopped shedding for my pain, my loss, my self-loathing, my loneliness.

"You call your analyst Donny?"

And what about the real therapist, the one I do pay and call Dr. Chomsky, even though his name is Bruce (obscure Woody Allen reference; see Manhattan)? I have often left his office feeling as though I have gained nothing from the spewing of words I feel he expects from me. And oddly enough, the deepest feelings seem to emerge when I talk not about the Fex, but about my father, whose death came shortly after one of the low points of our Chicago matrimonial difficulties. Whose love and comfort I so miss during this latest time of Crisis.

But this week, even with Chomsky, it seemed as if something clicked. I started off telling him how I felt like I was treading water. By the end, I was talking about some of the endeavors I hope to pursue in the months to come: my gourmet garlic garden (save that for another post). Italian citizenship. New writings, whether they actually materialize or not. The old doc seemed to let slip a smile, I think, perhaps a first. The interests I talked about and the passion I showed for them, he said, did not seem like the ways of a depressed man. Well, ok, I guess I’m not depressed. Or wasn’t in that moment. I guess I do still see positives in my life, in myself – things the separation (and maybe even at times the marriage itself) had obscured, or that I had let it obscure. So, maybe another breakthrough.

When I get through this, and win that Tony (or Oscar, or Emmy) I’ve dreamed about for so long, I’ll be sure to add my unofficial therapists and Dr. Chomsky to that long list of people I thank. Along with my loving, supportive partner, the one I know is out there, whoever and wherever she may be.

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~ by mburgan on September 16, 2010.

5 Responses to “Baby Steps, Baby…”

  1. Yay You!

  2. Thank you, thank you, for another encouraging word! I appreciate your faithful readership and for taking the time to comment.

  3. I liked this one!

  4. Thanks! Ditto for you, what I said above.

  5. much better, and yes it is baby steps, but you will get there.
    have fun at the game.

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