I’ve said it before, “Autobiographical narrative always runs the risk of narcissism for the chance at establishing authenticity.” I think that, in some sense, those of us who make a life out of words do so out of our desperate need for human connection. We are all of us always alone with our own thoughts. The neurobiological reality is that collective intentionality––whatever it is––never bridges the gap between one consciousness and another. Reading and relating to what someone else has written alleviates the loneliness that we can never escape. Even good faith attempts at “objective” writing obscure the subjective authenticity so important to human connection.
I started this record thirty three months ago after I kicked my wife of seven years out of the house for letting drugs and alcohol interfere with her parenting, and then, soon afterward, allowing me to discover her extensive infidelities. “The maelstrom of emotions unleashed in the wake of an affair can be so overwhelming,” says expert on infidelity, Esther Perel, “that many psychologists turn to the field of trauma to explain the symptoms: obsessive rumination, hypervigilance, numbness and dissociation, inexplicable rages, uncontrollable panic.” I suspect that the situation worsens if you’ve suffered other kinds of trauma––i.e., childhood sexual or physical trauma––because your mind and body have already adapted to managing trauma in ways that might be inappropriate to infidelity. I’m not sure. I’d love to ask Perel. But whatever the case, I can say that, the old platitude that “time heals all wounds” makes little sense to those of us who’ve suffered real trauma. I’ve finally bandaged my wounds by finding the right psychiatrists and therapists, settling on effective drug treatments and psychological courses of action, and committing to the hard emotional labor of healing. All time did was give me space to figure out what needed to be done.
Perel mentions that adultery often acts as a form of self-discovery for the person having the affair. When I first read her piece on September 8, 2017, I said,
And yeah, for me, these last thirty three months have been an adventure in hellish self-discovery. I still feel lost most of the time. I still feel hurt a lot of the time.
But I also feel… better. I am the settled wild, the ambiguous queer, the Nietzschean spiritualist, and the militant socialist. These are core aspects of my personality––which no one could ever take from me––and I’m proud of them.
While I have some mixed feelings about the “on this day” Facebook application––because it hurts as often as it helps––I suppose that, for those of us in the process of healing, it helps us track our progress. Today, I sit in the coffee shop on the anniversary of when I met the person with whom I would have my most serious post-divorce relationship. I look around me. The place hasn’t changed much. The old antique record player in one corner still plays Tom Waits or Johnny Cash. The guitar in another corner still waits for me to pick it up and improv my usual A minor blues. The barista still makes me my usual lavender-infused London Fog without my having to ask. And yet, the peripheral parts of my personality––the parts most people experience upon interacting with me––have changed substantially. Yet another lover has gone.
So, in the coming months, I’m going to run the risk of narcissism for a chance at establishing authenticity. I want to talk to people––connect with them––push collective intentionality toward the unified field––and venture into the fray with new allies. We are all of us always healing in some way. Let’s see if we can help each other.
We are not in the dark,
Our animal anger is eating our human hearts,
How come everything hurts if nothing lasts,
I smile at the way everybody lives in the past.