Same old shit – another failed relationship.
Coincident with the start of our relationship, I was struck by a phrase by Dr. Janov, posted in Beyond Belief: What we do instead of getting well:
“It doesn’t matter about the facts we know if we cannot maintain a relationship with someone else.”
I kept that thought in the forefront.
Both of us are prisoners of our childhoods. I’ve tried to see and feel the walls and bars for what they are.
Like all of us, J hadn’t tried to process the reality of her childhood and life. For example, on her birthday I asked her how she celebrated her birthdays when she was growing up. She provided a few details, then mentioned that her parents had skipped some of her birthdays. Although I had no immediate reaction, she quickly said that she had a happy childhood.
I was at fault, too, of course. I again asked a woman to marry me who hadn’t ever told me she loved me, except in jest.
I asked J to marry me around the six-month point of our relationship. I felt wonderful, in love with her that August morning after she slept with me at my house. I made an impromptu plan: in the middle of a four-mile walk, I asked her to marry me while kneeling before her as she sat on a bench outside a jewelry store. But she wouldn’t go in to choose a ring. She said she’d think about it.
A month later, after several dates, sleepovers at her house, and a four-day trip to Montreal, I again brought up marriage while we rested on her large couch in her nice sun room. The thing I felt would be wonderful brought about the end.
I tried to understand why she couldn’t accept me for the person who I intentionally showed her I am. She abstracted everything that she said.
I tried to get her to identify why, after all the times we cared for each other, after all our shared experiences, she didn’t want me around anymore.
Didn’t happen. She didn’t tell me things that made sense as answers to my questions.
One thing she said without abstraction was that I was weak for showing my feelings. She told me I was clingy.
Another thing she communicated at the end shocked me. She somehow thought that I was going to dump her. I said that the thought never even crossed my mind.
I didn’t recognize it as projection at the time. Prompted by her underlying feelings, she attributed to me the actions and thoughts that only she herself had.
I’ve tried to put myself in J’s place.
- How horrible must it have been for her to be steadily intimate with a man and not feel that his touches, kisses, words, affection, expressed love?
- That he couldn’t really love me, and so I couldn’t love him?
- That he was actually after something else, because it was impossible that he loved me?
One thing I’ve felt after the end was that the need underlying my only stated relationship goal – to live with a woman I love who also loves me – is again ruining my life. My latest efforts towards that goal were rife with unconscious symbolic act outs of an unsatisfied need from my early life.
That unrelenting need is for a woman’s love. The women I’ve chosen, though, have always given me what I got from my mother: they wouldn’t accept me as I am, and didn’t love me.
And there can never be a substitute. Most of my Primal Therapy sessions included the PAIN OF FEELING exactly that.
My prison cell is what Dr. Janov calls the imprint where I – as a child, teenager, young man, middle-aged man, old man – futilely ATTEMPT TO CHANGE THE PAST.
“Standing next to me in this lonely crowd
Is a man who swears he’s not to blame
All day long I hear him shout so loud
Crying out that he was framed
I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released”
P.S. – We got back together seven months later
, and are still going strong.
2 thoughts on “Prisoners of our childhoods”
I have the same problem but for me I can’t get past the second coffee date. It seems like they do not know what to do with an open and honest man – it seems to scare them.
Thanks for responding, Gil!
Yeah, it’s a problem – we have to try to be open and honest with ourselves so that we can feel. Doing the same thing with another person as the focus is often neither social nor therapeutic for them.