I find examining the motivation behind why I feel or act as I do very interesting. Its also pretty useful in helping me understand some of the feelings that I have, when I can’t regard them as logical.
Since I have been sober, I’ve done a LOT less things on impulse; still some things (like the very beautiful sculpture I bought on instinct on last year’s holiday) but much less. I generally pause, get less carried away by emotions and employ a cooler more rational and analytical thought process. In general I think this is a good thing, but occasionally I still do things impulsively – I guess the habits of a lifetime are hard to modify.
Since Christmas I have sent two emails to my ex Partner.
The first, sent on an impulse, was the photograph of me paragliding, far above the Himalayas. The second, which I sent last Friday was a considered gesture – I heard via my mother who does voluntary work at the local hospital that his mother has a possible serious diagnosis. Being an only child, whose father is dead and estranged from his son and somewhat from his daughter, he and his mother are close. I know that any such diagnosis would be devastating and frightening for him. I considered whether I should acknowledge this, and in the end sent a short mail expressing sympathy.
He has replied to neither.
This bugs me a bit (as no doubt it was intended to) and yesterday I discussed this with Angela my therapist. She, from an outsiders view point, asked me why I had sent these emails, and pointed out that they send very conflicting messages, that although the first contained no words, and the second only the briefest of sentences, there was a wealth of hidden meaning in both posts, that would have been obvious to the recipient.
The first was a “fuck you” message. In that one image, of me flying high, in Nepal with son1 (whom he loathed) excited, experiencing new things (that my regular income can buy) it was a real ” look how great I’m doing, despite the fact you thought I couldn’t manage without you, look how fantastic my life is now” It was a message of defiance, confidence and condescension. I can honestly say I didn’t think all of that when I sent it, but now I reflect on it I can see what was behind the sending – and I’m sure that’s what he picked up too …
The second message was one of sympathy. I thought long and hard before I wrote it, but eventually decided it was too pointed NOT to acknowledge the information my mother had passed on to me. Angela suggested that this is the exact opposite of what I sent in the first email. Sympathy, empathy, compassion, caring. All the kindness that I genuinely felt, but of course it sends an entirely different message about how I am feeling to the one I posted 3 weeks before.
After discussing this, I concluded that it very much mirrors exactly how I DO feel about him. Confused (still). Alternately free, independent, following my own path, building my relationships with my children, being the best mother I can be, excited about the opportunities that await me, and on the other hand vulnerable, kind, anxious not to see him hurt, thoughtful. Angry, and then sad; Optimistic and then vulnerable and lonely.
The fact that he hasn’t replied probably just reflects that he doesn’t know how to read me, that he’s fed up with my conflicting messages verbal, written and in person, or he may have moved on to the next mug, or he may be angry or …. well , It doesn’t really matter does it. I meant it when I wrote a few days ago that I can accept its in the past and that nothing, no words or actions can repair this broken relationship. But Angela pointed out to me that it’s ok to be ambivalent sometimes, its ok to falter, it merely reflects the depth of emotions and the strength of my feelings. They don’t go away or resolve overnight and that this is a process, a path that I’m following. I’m a great deal further on than I was 6 months ago, but the emotional attachment takes time to wither and die.
The take home point for me about all this is that we convey a huge amount of meaning and emotion in the small, non verbal things we do or don’t do. That the majority of small things; ‘forgetting’ to send a text, not responding to a comment or reacting to situations in a way that is out of proportion, convey a huge multitude of meanings. These things are not unplanned, they are deliberate manipulations to wrong foot someone, they are designed and engineered to gaslight and confuse. I’m getting a glimpse of a deeply unpalatable and thoroughly disturbing outsiders view of that relationship, Its still shrouded in fog at the moment, still obscured by my naivety .. but the fog is lifting a little momentarily and small acts are now assuming a much greater significance.
I think that view, when its clearer, will be a much more accurate picture of the reality than the fairy tale and guilt I’ve been carrying around with me.