At least 15 years ago, I had this Lucid Dream while I was awake:
I was walking down a long hallway in a house. The walls were painted a pale yellow and the flooring was a dark wood. All along the hallway at eye level, were framed 8×10 color photographs of every man who I had ever had a relationship with. I was walking by slowly and smiling at the memory of each love affair. I felt they were all good men and I still felt fondly about each of them. When I got to the last photograph, I looked across the line of faces and asked myself this question, “What do they all have in common?”
I knew the answer rather quickly. They were all suffering.
When I had met each man, I saw that he was suffering and I wanted desperately to help him. I wanted to heal him. I awoke to the knowledge that I have some sort of Messiah Complex. I want to heal the whole world, one person at a time.
About five years later, I had another epiphany. I was making myself insane and deeply depressed because I had fallen in love with a co-worker who was probably gay and didn’t want me. I gave myself this warning to memorize so I would stop these self-destructive love affairs:
If there is a crazy man within five miles of you,
You will find that man and fall in love with him.
In the first epiphany, I learned that I want to save people from their suffering. In the second epiphany, I learned that I am attracted to suffering. But I want to change this thru my counselling sessions. I want to learn to be attracted to healthy.
The thing is, though, I don’t know what ‘Healthy’ means.
Many survivors of abuse blog this very same idea. We certainly didn’t learn ‘Healthy’ in our parents’ house. Here’s an example of one situation where I don’t know what healthy is: time management. My friend, Chava, says it’s healthy to see your girlfriend/boyfriend a couple of times a week. I can’t live that way. When I get involved with someone, I want to live together immediately so I can get the face-to-face time that I need. I want coffee together in the morning, then at least one text message a day, and then a few hours together in the evening. I want it every day. None of this would be excessive in a marriage, I think, but most healthier people who are just dating say it’s too much. I wonder if they are really in love? If they can go three days without contact from their beloved, how strong are their feelings? Just to be clear here, I only want one text message a day, not 15 phone calls. Is that too much?
In my first marriage, I did put extreme pressure on my young husband. I had raised myself on fairy tales of princesses locked in towers and brave warriors who saved them. (One of my favorite tales is ‘Bluebeard’. Now that’s no story for children! Seriously. Here’s a link: http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/68/fairy-tales-and-other-traditional-stories/4858/blue-beard/)
Back to my first husband, I thought we should be together 24/7, joined at the hip. We would be husband and wife, but also best friends and lovers, and also do the household chores together, too. I thought he would be My Everything and I did not want to be separated from him for even one hour. I thought that that’s how a loving marriage was supposed to be. The fairy tales always end with “…And they lived happily ever after.” I assumed this meant they held hands for the rest of their lives and spent each and every day together frolicking in a meadow. I know now, 18 years later, that it was too much. If I had kept a circle of lady friends and let him have a circle of guy friends, our marriage may have survived. But I thought true love meant that we would want to spend every waking minute alone together. Maybe I have hidden abandonment issues? How would I even know?
By the time David came along, I was happy to support him in his “private time”. He has interests that I don’t share, like doing volunteer Search & Rescue. Also, his PTSD keeps him from riding the bus and from feeling comfortable in crowds. Whereas my favorite place to be in the whole world is right smack in the middle of a festival crowd with a good beer in my hand, and listening to Memphis Blues. I did learn from my first failed marriage that it was okay to let my lover have time with his friends or pastimes, and for me to have time on my own also, but I still feel uncomfortable about it. I think it shows Adultness that I can change my behavior to be more healthy even if it doesn’t feel great to me. I am getting better at recognizing “Healthy’, but I wish I didn’t have to learn the hard way all the time. I wish I could learn without having a failed marriage or relationship. But first I have to figure out how to stop being attracted to Crazy!
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