Life Is My Spiritual Master

Usually I meet people in the real world and do only real things with them, or I meet them in the virtual world and do only virtual things with them. I don't think I've ever met someone in the real world and then tried to carry the relationship on in the virtual world. Virtual relationships really depend on people's willingness to write. Writing can get tired after a while, unless you have new stuff to talk about or new ways of looking at things all the time.

I have had online relationships where I met the person in person once (were lovers during that time) and then the relationship continued online and on the phone. Then again, I have had an online relationship that got very intense and sexual and then we met once, and that one is completely over. These kind of relationships and getting away with them had been my adrenaline rush. But then I told my wife about them, and that is what opened us up for healing.

I've probably made more than my share of deep connections with women. It has always been what I wanted. In the past it was because I needed to know I was a person. It probably stems from the lack of connection I had with my parents. In any case, I have always had this uncertainty that I mattered like other people seemed to matter. I tried to break through that barrier between me and others by connecting deeply with women.

I have become the kind of man a lot of women like: smart, sensitive, interesting, talented, and confident in who I am. Weirdly, even when I thought I was a worthless no one, I was confident about who I was. I wasn't confident about how other people would receive me, but I have known who I am for a long time. Earlier on, I resigned myself to being who I was. In the last few months or so, I have been a bit more proud of who I am. I was actually feeling fairly good about myself before I got sick, but when I got sick -- ......

I have tried to describe that experience over and over, and I never feel like I can describe it adequately. I have an office on the eighth floor of the building. I have the only window on the floor that opens. I'm not quite sure it opens wide enough for a body to slip through, but it is darn close. There are actually two windows. One opens, but the other doesn't.

One time, I came back after the Christmas break. I walked in the room, and it felt weird under my feet. Kind of crunchy. I looked down, and there was glass chips all over the floor. I looked up, and there was a bullet hole in the window about three or four feet above the floor. I looked down, and saw a bullet shell.

Later on, I found a dent in the file cabinet to the left of me. My desk faces a side wall. The windows are to the right of me, and the wall in front of me and the file cabinet to the left of me. There was a dent in the file cabinet that matched the shape of the bullet head. It had hit at an angle, ricocheted to the wall, and then bounced down to the floor. I matched up the line between the bullet hole in the window and the dent in the file cabinet. If I had been here, it would have gone straight through my head.

The chances of me being there when the bullet was shot are probably pretty low. It probably happened on New Years Eve. A lot of people around here shoot off guns on New Years Eve. There's a building for low income people (who often are the kind of people who engage in criminal activities that require a gun) about one thousand feet away. I think the bullet probably wasn't traveling very fast by the time it hit the window, so if I had been there, I don't know if it would have penetrated my skull. If it had, I don't think it would have done so by much, so I'd probably still be alive.

Anyway, they replaced that window with a new one that doesn't have the blinds in it. So the window I can jump out of is clear, unlike the other one. I don't know how many times I would sit here for long periods of time, feeling that window calling to me, and imagining slipping through, and the scant second or so of the rest of my life, unless I survived (someone recently survived a ten story drop in this town -- he, too, was bipolar). It would be over, and I'd know nothing forever.

Obviously, I didn't do it. But it was the pain I was in, the unimaginable pain, that made me consider that way of making the pain go away. It felt like the pain would never end. I couldn't imagine it ending, no matter how much everyone told me it would. It was like this gradually increasing pressure on my soul, killing it step by step. I was turning black and dead inside. It was a weight on my chest and my heart that got heavier and heavier and never let up.

I kept trying to find women to love me because I thought.... no, I didn't think. I felt that maybe if I found someone who could love me properly, the pain would stop. I didn't think my wife could be that person. In the end, I learned that no one could be that person, but I didn't know that then. People told me I had to do it for myself, but I couldn't believe them because that made me truly hopeless. I knew I couldn't do it on my own. I knew I didn't have it in me to love myself.

At that point, I thought that the proof of love was sex. If a woman really, truly loved me, she would show it physically. My wife wasn't showing that to me, and so I didn't believe she loved me. I wanted to find someone who could prove her love for me over and over, perhaps even several times a day.

I found several women who said they could do that and professed to love me. But it was never enough to get us together physically, except for one woman, but we had always been more like friends than lovers even though we played at love. We were lovers for three days, but when I came home, it turned to a friendship -- a close friendship -- that lasts to this day. She saved my life one night when I was starting to think about methods -- which ones were feasible. I didn't think I could do it alone, so I wanted to make a pact with her to do it together.

So we started discussing methods. She said she didn't think she could do it because of her sons, and she urged me to think of my kids. Still, she was really depressed, and we were seriously discussing how we might do it. But the longer we discussed it, the more silly we got, and then we started laughing and laughing until we couldn't stop. We both believe we saved each other that night. It was the darkest moment of my life, but I must be very lucky, because that was also the moment of the start of my recovery.

It was actually my wife who suggest I call my friend. My wife was more worried about me that night than ever, and rightly so. I had told her what I had been up to perhaps a week or two before. Imagine how much she must have been worried about me in order to suggest I talk to the woman I had cheated on her with. My wife knew she didn't and couldn't really understand, and she didn't want me to die, so she was willing to go to that length to save me.

A lot of people were involved in saving me. My friend. My wife. The psychiatrists. My support group. Maybe my therapist. I couldn't see it at the time, but all these people love me. I just couldn't feel it or recognize it. That's what the brain chemical malfunctions can do.

For six months or more, I stopped doing the internet relationship thing. Then, out of the blue, a woman showed up. She was dazzled by my writing. She made one small comment in one online thread, and I knew she could be mine. It was what I had always wanted -- someone to fall in love with me before she ever had any interaction with me. She loved me based purely on what I wrote.

Of course, knowing it and actually having it happen are two different things. I tried not to do it, but in the end, I couldn't resist. And then, even though she lived all the way across the country, I had a chance to meet her in person. I planned as carefully as I could. I carried it off.

I don't know what went wrong, but after I got home, we had one phone conversation in which we planned to talk once a week. She didn't want to be involved so much any more, and didn't want any more virtual sex. But we haven't spoken since. She never called. She was the one who was supposed to call since I didn't have a phone I could use to call without leaving a trail. I couldn't call her, and she didn't call me. I don't know why.

The first week was pretty bad, but I got over her far faster than I thought I would. I guess she didn't matter to me as much as I thought she did. I still think about her from time to time, wondering if I would go back to her if she wanted me to. I hope I wouldn't, but I can tell you there is still that temptation -- perhaps it is a self-destructive impulse.

I realized that there wasn't and wouldn't be any woman out there who was better than my wife. Every relationship has it's problems. None are perfect. I'd never find anything better. Maybe as good, but not better. So why even think about leaving? She is the mother of our children. She knows me. She has stood by me through all my problems and her problems. I've stood by her. We love each other. It's no perfect by any means, but there won't be anything better.

There remained one problem. Filling the emptiness that lay inside me all those years. That sense of worthlessness and incompleteness. Now I knew for sure that no one could complete me. No one could fix me. No one else, that is. That left only me to do any fixing and completing.

I haven't felt anything missing or needing fixing since then. I don't know why. I haven't done anything. Maybe it's the meds keeping me happy. Maybe it's a misinterpretation of physical feelings as something metaphysical or spiritual. Maybe it's just knowing that I have to do it for myself that somehow allows me to let what was always there show through. Maybe I am retraining my neural paths. Maybe it's just a matter of belief. I believe I can learn to feel whole and so I do feel whole.

I still can connect with special people in a way that, in the past, I would have experiences as needing to be sexual. Intellectually, I know this is not the only way it can be. Emotionally, it's confusing because my neural paths have not been strongly enough reset. Part of me wants to go down the old route towards passion and drama and sex and drama and strong emotions and oh, did I mention drama? Part of me knows that route doesn't go where I really want to go, and I have to forge through this new route, as hard as it is to beat my way through the bush with my machete.
wundayatta wundayatta
56-60, M
2 Responses Jul 15, 2010

It's not so much that I believe environment had anything to do with it, as that I am grateful things came together to make it turn out this way. I'm not sure I believe they would have turned out positively had a couple of things been different (say the meds didn't work so well). They certainly would be quite different in particulars. I could have gone that one step further that would have pissed off my wife so much that she stopped being on my side. Or was that before I started taking meds? I can't remember the order of the events any more.

It's funny you should mention positive thinking. I've been thinking about that lately, because I find myself doing it. I find myself believing in myself -- that I can do the things I hope to do, and that people really do like me (I can never say that without thinking of Sally Field).<br />
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I have never liked the image I have of positive thinking. I felt that was fake. People pasting smiles on their faces and being all perky, and I just feel like they are selling me something. They say you fake it until you make it, but I guess I think some things are just too fake.<br />
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But I guess there is a quieter kind of positive thinking. Maybe it doesn't need to sell itself. It just knows. It's more like confidence maybe. It can deal with negative stuff, and it can be sad or hurt, but still be positive. It doesn't require a happy face.<br />
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I also have felt that even when I was at my worst and about to jump out my window, I knew I would never do it. I knew I was too curious. I needed to find out what would happen next, and I couldn't do that if I were dead. <br />
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I don't know if that's what you meant by "make it." I took that to mean "stay alive," but it could also mean "attain your dreams." In either case, it is based on some core belief in self, which I believe we all carry with us, no matter how close we are to killing ourselves. None of us wants to die. We just want the pain to stop. Inside, we know we have value, but the pain can really obscure that knowledge; make it easy to forget.<br />
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I was lucky. I didn't forget and eventually I used it to help me get better, although I had to have a lot of other help, too. I'm lucky in so many ways. I could easily have not made it if only a couple of things had been different. I don't know which things and I don't care to think about it. I just think about being lucky.