Sunday, May 8, 2011

Blog It Out - All Blogged Out

I haven't read this but it felt appropriate; I'm sure reading it would help, but then how would you see into my head?

I thought writing those posts would help my emotional state and I wasn't wrong.  My emotions feel life-sized again.  Hurtful, but manageable.  Now comes the fun part: waiting to see whether I have more pain and anger to to express.  If so, how will it present itself?  Finally, can I resist taking it out on those closest to me?

I probably have more pain, tears, and anger.  In fact, I'm sure of it.  As Glen Duncan writes in The Last Werewolf, "Once you've stopped loving someone, breaking his or her heart's just an unpleasant chore you have to get behind you."  Being on the receiving end of that treatment - especially over the course of months, to see this person you've loved so well for so long become completely indifferent to you - is uniquely unmanning.

I'm not worried about how these emotions bubble up because I've learned to see the symptoms.  I'm also not worried about taking it out on my family, because Uncle Fester no longer waltzes into my mind, kicks his feet up, and makes himself comfortable.  We verbally spar instead.  Well, once we sparred for about half a day.  The other times, I heard him open his mouth and was like, "Shut the fuck up, Fester."

And he did.

On a related note, I'm really looking forward to the new Mel Gibson movie where he talks to a beaver puppet to deal with his negative emotions.

Pictured: Me and Uncle Fester having a rational discussion


  1. Maybe I should write this out piece by piece on your Blog It Out series, but I read it back to back and a bit of laziness prevails today so I'll offer my apologies now. On Day 1, Alistair wrote "It's hard to see something you see as perfect die in front of you." While I agree, I'd like to share a perspective someone gave me about perfection. We often seek out this perfect relationship, job, or what have you, but we are creatures bound by evolution. Whether we resist change or not, it will happen. Perfection in its very essence, my friend explained, is devoid of evolution. I didn't get it at first. What she meant, was that something that is perfect is static, it has reached a level of completion, it cannot become better or worse because it is perfect...perfectly done. I don't mean to offend, but in so many ways, your old relationship was perfect for both of you. Your relationship with Becky, although I only see it from Sweet, is so beautifully imperfect. I can relate to your vacillation between "...will this work," "...this is excellent," and "...this is miserable". I had more of those in the 1st year of my current relationship (now going on 8 years) than I ever had in my first marriage (where I swore I had visions of us growing old together). My current relationship is so less than perfect. We have had the worst fights known to me. We have hurt each other. And yet every single day, we make a choice to stay. Not because of money, kids or convenience and certainly not but because it's easy, but because we want to (even when the voices in my head are saying I don't). I don't know whether we'll grow old together but I get the sneaking suspicion (a la scooby doo) that we're not supposed to know that, nor make the assumption. Funny thing is, when we don't feel completely safe and comfortable, we tend to pay a little more attention and put in a bit more effort.

    Also on Day 1, you commented about Becky just finding out that you're an asshole. While I wouldn't say outright that you're an asshole (you just have moments), I also agree with Alistair about how silly it is that you both seem to act like it wasn't there. I mean, I've been reading your blogs for a while now. I have nothing but respect for you and your willingness to be candid about such personal emotions. Likewise, I am in awe of Becky. Whatever conversations you two might have about what you post I don't know, but the fact that she is soon to be your wife says a lot about her. She must be one of the bravest people I don't know :) She can read all about your feelings, heartaches and difficulties in no uncertain terms and, knowing that your divorce is still present in your space, she believes in the love and bond you both share. There have been times that I have read something and thought "I can't believe he fucking wrote that!" And I don't even have any emotional investment in any of this!

  2. One tiny, very harsh bit of unsolicited advice about the anger expression thing: you gotta get over it (as difficult as that might be and I'm glad the writing helps). "I feel like the world will come apart if I do," were your words about expressing anger and that is so familiar to me that when I read it, I felt my skin crawl. For me, I would take it a step further and say that the fact that I was getting angry over something I deemed unworthy (which was anything) would make me even angrier. In the beginning of that post, you wrote "don't blame me." While I understand what you were getting at about your family, you now totally have the awareness of that issue and how it affects you and those around you. It's not really about blame, but it is about responsibility to work on it, because if not Dylan will say the same thing..."Don't blame me, my step dad did it." A friend of mine brought it to my attention how I always treated Irvans with gloves on, how I never allowed myself to really express what bothered me. Then, I saw it in Isabella. Unwilling to express her anger and also afraid to anger me, it was like I saw a shell of a child hiding somewhere way beyond my reach, retreating at any sign of trouble. For me, when I finally would let something out, it had grown to beyond Fester like proportions and it was more like I was having a convulsion. Man, it was bad. By and by, I have learned that is ok to be annoyed, ok to express, just plain ok to be angry. Getting angry doesn't mean you will be hurtful or an asshole. She might not like it, you might not like, but it will be over so much quicker. More importantly though, you will be real, not pretending to be a version of Aaron that you can't maintain and she doesn't want anyways. She loves you, so let her have all of you as it comes moment to moment.

    It might not last forever and that's just the cold truth. One thing is for damned sure, this relationship has touched you in beautiful, amazing ways. It has brought out a great version of Aaron. My hats off to both of you.

  3. Thanks so much for these comments.

    "Perfection is devoid of evolution." So true. Perhaps Andi and I had just taken each-other as far as we could, and we needed to split to keep growing as individuals. I'll need to mull that one over for a while.

    So far Becky and I haven't been miserable - I've been miserable with her, but from suppressing past emotions, not from us. I also don't have that kind of anxiety you get from wondering, I have the anxiety that comes from knowing how overwhelming love blinds you from reality. Words like "forever," "always," "until the day I day" come so easily to your lips the first time around. The second time, you realize you've said all those things before and it didn't happen.

    "When we don't feel completely safe and comfortable, we tend to pay a little more attention and put in a bit more effort." Exactly.

    Becky has said she loves SwF&F because it's like having a window into my head. I've never been aces at expressing my feelings (at least the "problem" ones) but it's gotten better as I've gotten older, and it's easier with Becky than it's been with anyone else. These posts gave us a good started point to talk about our fears, to move forward with our eyes wide open. I've promised in the future to speak to her as I'm going through it, instead of having a personal breakthrough and sharing it with her weeks later.

    Becky has been through a hell of a lot in her life. She's also one of those people whose faces don't carry any of it with her. I remember smoking like a fiend in my twenties hoping it would age me faster so that people would stop treating me like a child. I see that in her, people condescending to her because she looks so young - what could she possibly know about life? She knows darkness, and she's not scared of it. She sees the best of me.

    More importantly, she brings out my best.

  4. Before Becky and I started dating, I was talking with my friend Z about fatherhood. "Our parents weren't perfect," he said, "and we won't be perfect. But it's important to admit to the kid when you fuck up. You can always apologize."

    The next day at breakfast, I told Dylan I was sorry for my behavior. He was trying to get to the Dade County Youth Fair with a week of good behavior, and my misery didn't help. I told him that I wasn't at my best, and it wasn't fair of me to hold him to good behavior when I wasn't acting right myself.

    Dylan said, "That's okay. Everybody freaks out sometimes."

    Becky is very up front with her emotions. I know what's good for me, and I need that in my life. I need someone who isn't afraid to be angry when she's angry, who even says, "let me be angry right now."

    I can't imagine a worse thing than disconnecting Dylan from his emotions. It's wild because he is so emotional. The trick is trying to help him express what he's feeling in appropriate ways.

    I let him freak out and cry when he drops a lego toy. I hug him and when I think he'll listen, I ask if I can make some observations.

    I let him scream into a pillow when he's frustrated. When he's ready to listen, I ask if that made him feel any better. If not, maybe he'd like to tell me what's wrong.

    I don't let him tell me his stomach hurts or he doesn't feel good, I ask him to tell me what's really bothering him instead (usually I know what it is, but I'm trying to get him to express it rather than naming it myself).

    None of this is easy, but it's better than screaming back, or telling him to calm down, or telling him to come back when he'd done having his little fit. I've done those things, too. Dylan's childhood, it's like trying to grab a fast-running stream. I wanted to make a positive impact, so I needed to get better at parenting, and quickly.

    Naming what is bothering me beneath the easy reaction is a new trick (and one I've lost touch with, if these past few posts are any indication), but for Dylan's health I need to act like it' s the most natural thing in the world for me.

    The air in Casa Madrid is very different than the air on Carson Drive. Alcoholism tainted my childhood. Sobriety and counseling came late to our family, but not too late to help me. I love Dylan's ups and downs precisely because he wears his emotions on his sleeve. It's the most plain demonstration in the world, that we can blow up one moment, but that moment doesn't last forever.

    In the kitchen the other day, I took a second to breath it in. I marveled at the home we've created together. There's fun, laughter, hurt tears, teaching, hugs, kisses, - and it's not even 8:00am.

    I grew up feeling like I lived my life on eggshells. Now, as you said, we're living moment to moment. Accepting what those moments bring instead of fighting them, it's a good place to be.

    If Dylan is a stream I want to help him run clean and free, not dam him up.

  5. Aaron, thanks for the taking the time to read your comments and for responding so thoughtfully. I got chills as I read through it. I know that if even one parent/spouse reads this, it will have a great influence on their relationships.

    I love how not only Becky and you, but also Dylan and you, compliment each other so masterfully. I didn't mean to suggest that you and Becky have ever been miserable, I was just referring to that feeling of misery that comes from within but it still makes you want to run away or, at the very least, just hide.

    I believe it when you say that Becky has been through a lot in her life. I'm sure that's where she gets the maturity to hear (or read) the truth of what is going through your head (real time or later) and not freak out. I've seen many people, myself included, ask for the truth and then not be able to handle it. I think that's more of an acquired skill.

    One last thing, when I mentioned the perfection thing, I wasn't suggesting that relationships have an expiration date. I was just trying to say that perfection has pretty much no growth. I mentioned it because that perspective helped me see something I needed to at one point.

    Have a great weekend with your beautiful family!