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Reflections on loss and regret February 11, 2014

Posted by Shaun McGonigal in Polyamory.
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I’ve been here before.  It’s after 3 AM (as I started to write this, anyway) and I’m awake, tired, and anxious.  I’m sure many of you have been here too, from time to time.  The thing about this, however, is I was sleepy and went to bed hours ago.  I slept for 2  hours and woke up thinking it must be 5 AM (which it is now, as I am about to publish) or so because I felt awake but it was still dark. Anxiety is fun.

The last few years have been the theme of my thoughts, which are admittedly disorganized and barely consciously available, despite my intense desire to glean them.  Sometimes, even being deeply introspective is not enough to dig that deep.  I very much want to understand my mind, especially where the fears, insecurities, and darkness lay.  I believe, quite strongly, that one of the most moral things we can do is to know ourselves; not as we want to see ourselves but as we actually are, under all the bullshit we create to hide the terrifying truths hidden within.  Only through such labors can we even hope to effectively grow and contribute well to our environment.  Without such a desire for self-understanding, I would be but a shadow of the person I am today. I would not (could not) love myself (and yes, even in the depths of sadness I still love myself).

How do obtuse and oblivious people survive without deep introspection? (is a question I wonder frequently). Probably because success and superficial contentment are not dependent upon self-knowledge or the courage to dig into oneself critically and honestly.  One can get along quite well, in our current human culture, being myopic because depth of spirit is not the root of the social and political games which bring ‘success.’

Such myopia is an ideal firewall to the insight that would prevent someone from valuing such ‘success’ as highly as so many do. Without insight, one would never know that something was amiss and keep themselves in the delusion that they are healthy and good people.  I have come to learn, over the years  (especially the last couple), that myopic, obtuse, and oblivious people tend not to think about such things often or deeply. I am not even sure they are capable of understanding what I mean.  I hope they will, sooner than later, for all our sakes.

What’s worst, however, is that many who read this will not understand that it is them I am talking about (such people seem immune to such self-criticism), and yet there are many others who will assume I am talking about them (for them, self-criticism is usually the default).  But such a self-deprecating thought usually implies the depth and complexity of a mind who couldn’t be myopic or obtuse, even if they might think such things of themselves quite often.

And yet, such deep and complex people are quite forgiving of such obtuse banality in others, for reasons which escape me.  I don’t think it’s mere compassion and forgiveness, although that’s often a part of it.  Such sensitive people often excuse and even come to accept and love that which they would never be, usually because the insensitivity that compels banality also often makes one seem confident and attractive.  Like a moth to a flame.  Nothing is less attractive than undeserved and so obviously pea-cocked confidence (but you have to be able to see through it, first, I suppose).

Vanity and illusion attract those who are neither vain nor delusional but who seek to be beautiful.  What such-attracted-people often don’t understand is that they were already beautiful, and they needed no salvation from anyone else.  Yet, they so often attribute their concocted ‘salvation’ to the smoke and mirrors of illusion because once you invest so much into the illusion (religion is the most obvious example of this), it’s hard to see it for what it is because we are prone to cognitive dissonance.  It’s why people tend to not leave religion, unhealthy relationships, or their own bad habits. They rationalize and make excuses for what habits they have acquired. Eventually the illusion hides within their own mind, and their very memories are forged to reflect the lie.

And it’s more obvious from the outside.  Atheists see it in Christians, polyamorous people often see it in the monogamous world, and most of us have seen it in the unhealthy relationships of friends, family, and acquaintances.  Not that those relationships could not become healthy if both parties were willing to actually deal with their shit honestly by tossing aside their illusions. This rarely happens, however, even among the intelligent and relatively enlightened.   It’s nearly impossible to have the affected see it for what it is, and so in the vast majority of cases the dissonant song plays on, unchanged and unchallenged, sometimes for many years.  Some never see it and die in the illusion, never knowing there was a better way.

I will never let the above happen to me.  And I don’t have time for people in or adjacent to my life who will allow it to happen to them.  That thought is what has been keeping me awake. In the last week, I have not slept more than a few hours per night and I have bouts of sadness between moments of joy and relative contentment.  You know; I’m human.  But at night, when there are no distractions, I rake myself over the coals of the past, wondering what there is to learn, knowing all too well I’m just making this worse.  But I can’t turn it off.

This week, I’ve also had some good times.  I have to keep moving forward, or the sadness and regret will take over.  But when I can’t sleep, alone in the cold and dark, I can’t escape it.  The fear, the uncertainty, and the loss are palpable.

It’s just like it was 4 years ago when Seana left me, in many ways. Just like back then, I know I have made mistakes and those mistakes led to lack of trust, but there is more here that I may never understand.  Most frustratingly, I’m not completely sure what I am supposed to be learning.  The loss feels surreal, and I don’t have a direction in mind.  I don’t know where the goal is, or what game I’m playing.

As I sit here, writing in the heat of emotions and uncertainties, I reflect once again on what happened 4 years ago.  It was within 2 weeks of losing that relationship when I awoke, in a fever of creativity, and made a truly terrible and sappy video for the woman who left me.  I have no idea if she ever watched it.  It doesn’t really matter, because that creative burst was the beginning of moving on.  It was the first glimmer of what became an understanding that I was better for the loss, even if i did still love her.

But right now, the problem is that I don’t know what side I will land on, when that time comes soon, with this loss.  I do not know what I will want in the future.  There is no lack of love, but the fact is that I have never stopped loving someone who I genuinely loved. I miss Gina. I loved her more deeply than most, and miss her more than I will try to express. How will I feel in a year? I don’t know.  I’m scared to know, and perhaps that’s why the mind refuses to settle on any one feeling so close to the event.  Perhaps I’m stuck in my own illusion.  

But what I am fairly sure of is that part of what causes such losses are out of my control.  No matter how much responsibility I have for what caused her to leave me, there remains the parts I could not control.  Whether fear, unhealthy attachments to ideas, people, or things (on both our parts)—whatever the cause, there comes a point where punishing myself will have to end.  There is a point, and I see glimpses of it already, where the pieces of the puzzle become more clear from a distance.

Will my face appear in that completed puzzle? I don’t know yet. And I still am not sure what exactly I am supposed to learn or what I will want.  There’s still too much debris from the destruction, too much sifting through the ashes, looking for surviving relics that I may or may not take home with me.

Where our lives were entwined, they are now days away from essentially being estranged.  What was to be home is now a place of pain and sadness.  What was a source of hope now has become a source of sadness and emptiness.  What was certain has become uncertain.

Can I sleep now, please?

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Comments»

1. Alan M - February 11, 2014

Shaun, I’m sorry we didn’t get more chance to talk last weekend. One thing:

> In the last week, I have not slept more than a few hours per night

Fact: humans brains cannot work sanely while sleep-deprived. Before your thoughts and analysis can function usefully, you need to fix this. I’ve had a lot of experience with anxiety leading to sleep deprivation and wheel-spinning over-analysis, a self-reinforcing spiral. I broke the cycle with medication and now sleep well, and my analytical abilities are better for it. Email me offlist if you wish. –alan7388 at gmail dot com


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