1/21/79 - Seven years ago I gave up alcoholic beverages, finished my undergraduate degree, and began this journal. In the year that followed I took up the LW lifestyle and began trying to meditate each day for two and a half hours. Despite intellectual reservations and other inner conflicts, I maintained this spiritual approach for the next five years. In that time many events have occurred of greater or lesser interest. But within me there have not been significant changes. I'm older. That is all. I feel ready now for a new beginning, a fresh start, one at least as innovative as at that time, when many meaningful things seemed to be going on for me, not only outside, but also within.
1/22/79 - Today I went to the first meeting of a TA (Transactional Analysis) group that has been organized for U.S.C. education students, especially those going into counseling and related fields. We had a good session. I made a contract to tell the group my feelings, to be aware of times when I am relaxed during the week, and to report on this to the group at the next meeting.
Read War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, and Hundred Years of Solitude.
1/25/79 - Discovered a spot on my face this morning that I'd not noticed before. It could be cancerous, though I think this unlikely. In any case, I measured it at approximately 5 mm at greatest diameter, give or take a mm. If it gets measurably larger, I'll go to Health Center for advice.
1/28/79 - Today, during three hours of meditation at the Columbia Buddhist Meditation Center, I experienced some very vivid, full-color imagery of a man eating a woman, literally! It began as sex play but he did not stop with kissing her face, breasts, neck, and belly, but continued on to bite her, first teasingly, then more deeply and vehemently, until the blood was pouring and spurting out, and pieces of skin and muscle were tearing, dripping, and falling away. The woman, far from fighting this attack, seemed to relish it!
1/29/79 - If the sixties will be remembered in U.S. history for the Vietnam War, advances and developments in outer space, especially our going to the Moon, and for space technology, with all the ramifications thereof, perhaps the most significant occurrences of the seventies, for this country at least, will prove to be the normalization of U.S. relations with the Peoples' Republic of China and, ironically, the resignation of Richard Nixon, the first American President to visit that country.
2/1/79 - Been feeling kind of low lately. Despite high hopes, good plans, fine fantasies, and excellent expectations, I am once again as isolated and lonely as ever - no, not as ever, but much more than I imagined for this period in my life. Feel in a rut. I am in a rut. But how to get out of it? Most all the things I do so far end up being a disappointment, each just one more distraction. Well, I'm tired. Perhaps I'll let myself be more cheerful and optimistic tomorrow.
2/2/79 - It has occurred to me that, more even than a greater social life, it will be good for me to find reason for (and believe in it) greater confidence in myself. If I have one primary difficulty, at the root of all aspects of discontent, it seems to be a lack of sufficient self-assuredness.
2/3/79 - I feel it best, when possible, to avoid taking an action over which I have serious misgivings or indecision or to do things simply because I feel I "should" do them. Instead, whenever practicable, it would be good to wait until an action, previously a source of inner conflict, seems at last to leap into its own accomplishment, to "do itself," spontaneously.
Read Hope Against Hope.
Read The Unsettling of America.
2/5/79 - Today in the TA group I agreed to some additions to my contract, so that now it goes something like this: "I contract to be aware of times when I am relaxed, of times when I am not beating up on myself, and of times when I am letting things happen, instead of trying to control them or make them happen. I contract to report on my feelings and on such times of awareness to the group. I will give at least two weeks' notice if I'm going to leave the group."
2/6/79 - I learned recently of LTC Rasher's sudden death last fall. He was my immediate superior in the long days at Fort Jackson when I was forced to run the Safety Office, a time of great stress, overwork, and lifestyle clashes. I had "under me" a crew of veterans of civil and military service, all older than I by at least a decade. And I was defending my idealistic conscientiousness, simply to do my job well, against the wills and differing interests of full colonels and generals plus the ranks beneath them. LTC Rasher, whom at first I'd supposed to be another adversary, had become a friend. I knew him, then, before it was done, probably as well as I have known my own father. I understood his strengths, his ordinary humanness, his limitations. I had more qualifications about him as an officer, who sometimes gave halfhearted support, at best, for programs our office was required to attempt, than as a man. I liked him. I respected his humanity. He was a better family man, I felt, than a military one. In the latter role, he seemed to me too careful, too expedient, too conscious of his image, too self-consciously political, too nervous. Yet these were failings I came to accept. We would eventually work well together, and I got things accomplished under him that became impossible once the official safety manager was finally hired. As I say, I liked him. It is ironic and tragic that, once he left his military role and took up full-time, in retirement, the family one for which he seemed better suited - by character if not habit - he died of a heart attack within only a few months. There was no warning, no previous evidence of trouble. He had been a lean, healthy appearing man who had served in the Army for thirty years. He was only in his fifties when he died.
10 PM. We're in the middle of a freezing rain storm. Everything outside is acquiring a coat of dripping ice. Tree branches are dangling down every which way, bearing great loads of icicles. A few minutes ago there was a crash out back and the lights and TV dimmed considerably, then came back up. On investigating, I discovered a branch had fallen onto our power line. It's still lying on it and the line is now hanging down to within a foot or so of a lake forming in the parking area. So at any moment we may lose all power till the repairmen can come. The same thing must be happening all over town. Outside the ice is creating loud snapping and crackling sounds, like small explosions, every few moments throughout the neighborhood.
2/28/79 - Saw a program on E-TV last night about how hemophiliacs of varying ages, even quite young children, are now learning to use special self-induced trance states to effect deep relaxation and a shifting of blood supplies to the extremities, resulting in "highs," in general calm even in stressful environments, and often also in dramatic reductions in the numbers of transfusions needed. All this is with just a couple sessions a day, of about 8-10 minutes or even less. Feeling pretty keyed up at bedtime, I decided to try it myself, using my own method, initially with the added support of a warm bath. So I began to soak, and was still quite tense, with a mild cramp in one leg, as I began to induce a trance state. First I "watched" my breathing to a count of ten, twice, then "watched" it while thinking "deeper, deeper," with each inhalation and exhalation, a few times. Next I slowly repeated and tried to feel and to "image" the following: "Deep peace. Warm hands. Warm feet. Heavy arms. Heavy legs." And it worked! It seemed to begin immediately and progressed until, within a very few minutes, I just felt a beautiful state of deep relaxation throughout my body. I then said to myself that I would arouse on the count of three and slowly said "One," then "Two," then "Three." I opened my eyes, smiled, got out, and dried off. Wonderful! I deserve this treat, one way or another, at least once a day, whether or not I use a warm bath.
3/1/79 - Was involved today in a workshop conducted by Ram Dass, and I also attended two talks, one by him and then one by another speaker. The total experience was very inspiring for my meditation endeavors and related thinking. I have decided to continue with both regular meditation and participation in at least one meditation group's activities. I'll also continue to attend more of this kind of workshops as well as associations, spirit fests, and so forth, and hope to go for sesshins, stays at Gagan, periods in ashrams, or for similar extended experiences in this country. In general, on my own, I expect to be meditating in accordance with "the gentle way," not trying, resisting, indulging, striving, struggling with or against myself, or trying to change, but just sitting, just sitting, just sitting, just sitting...
3/6/79 - Went to a Unitarian Church service two days ago. Yesterday, went to classes and my TA group. Did some good work in the TA meeting: went into my perfectionism, critical parent, shyness around women, and anxiety over situations with authority figures. Made a contract to give myself good "adult" counsel, such as "You did the best you could; and that's enough; and you're a good guy," when I discover I'm beating up on myself. Also contracted to deliberately do something imperfect, as with an instance of social awkwardness, each day and to report on this next week.
Afterward, once back from Pizza Hut at 11 PM, I called Susan, and we talked for nearly an hour. This was my first social awkwardness, calling her so late and in my sometimes tongue tied state and confusion or hesitation over how to proceed, because she's very bright, uninhibited, confident, and pretty, but wants our relationship only that of "friends" - she's already got a lover - and I'd rather be friend and lover. Oh well!
Reading Stalking the Wild Pendulum by Itzhak Bentov, a friend of my former mentor-psychiatrist-mystic, Dr. Harold Pearl.
Definitely in the social boo-boo category are two incidents today: at an informal get-together of a few folks from a church I'd gone to for the first time Sunday, one of the women said she thought she'd known me before and I said with a straight face, "Yes, we had an affair ten years ago!" (She seemed to take it well. After a short stunned silence she said "Oh you were the one!") "That's right," I said, "we should talk over old times!"
Then tonight, in class, folks had convinced our professor to not give a mid-term scheduled for next week, when I said "How about a take-home?" Went over like a lead balloon.
3/7/79 - More social faux pas today. I started getting into specific steps my client could take toward getting a job before she was ready to discuss or deal with this, and apparently before she felt really comfortable in our relationship. She got mad and began blaming everyone but herself for her continuing unemployment.
I called up the girl who lives upstairs and invited her down for some of my rice gumbo. It turned out she'd already gone to bed. Then when she was talking about how scared she was about starting her student teaching, I started telling her about how bad my interview with my client went.
Larry and I met at the Pendleton Building, when I was getting some candy out of the machine and he was coming in, but at the time I couldn't remember his name.
Thursday's faux pas: I wore different shades of blue socks to my first interview with my second vocational counseling client.
3/9/79 - A girl told me she noticed I had less eye contact than many people. (I was trying to make casual conversation while a few of us were having a coffee break.) "Yes," I said, staring at her, "where I grew up we all knew that if you looked directly at someone it meant you either wanted to kill them or make love to them."
3/10/79 - Today my social "boo-boo" was simply to wear my grungy clothes when I went for pizza and to the university to study all day.
Learned this evening that a consistent research finding is that significant decreases in anxiety, tension, and cynicism follow a fitness-enhancing training program. It would seem, then, that not to participate in such a program, just like not doing regular meditation, is to choose not to be as happy as one might be.
Further, in at least one study, high levels of fitness were found to be positively related to social confidence, acceptance, initiative, calm, composure, competent assertiveness, critical exactness, high motivation, persistence, greater group independence, empathy, adventurousness, good appearance, leadership, self-awareness, improved self-concept, and increased positive body image. In addition, high levels of fitness are positively related with high rates of selection (in sociograms) as friends by peers. Further, studies of popularity show its being positively correlated with high levels of physical fitness. Academic performance is also positively correlated with physical fitness. Positive relationships were found between high levels of physical fitness and effectiveness in social service/teaching/counseling roles. Finally, high levels of physical fitness are correlated with overall success. In short, combining what has been written here before with this new information, an hour or two (or more) a day of brisk, strenuous exercise plus meditation would seem to be an almost unbeatable combination, leading to, or at least correlated with, positive personality change, good health, and happiness.
Later, consideration for diet can be added to my overall mental-emotional-physical fitness regimen. Now that I've begun to feel early symptoms of arthritis and am a bit pushed out around the belt buckle, it may be time to eat more salads, fruits, and high protein foodstuffs and to cut back on candies, caffeine beverages, and pizza.
3/11/79 - Today's social boo-boo: I met an attractive woman after church this morning. We introduced ourselves and started talking. Then I completely forgot her name, so had to ask her again!
3/15/79 - This week a new psychometrist began working with me at the counseling center. We've not been getting along too well. He's been "observing" the last few days and will start regular hours next week. After today's four hour "bout," I felt so tired, angry, and worried over our future relations that I obsessed about nothing else and have stayed in a stew now for several hours. We have gotten into a pattern of mutual put-downs, barbed comments, unconcealed annoyance with each other, or even contempt. My impression is that he is better and more determined at the negativity than I. Yet both of us periodically make efforts at being friendly, and at least are going through the motions of politeness and courtesy. Considering only the initial communications and the outcome, separate from all the confusing or emotion-laden things in between, it appears, in TA terms, we've played a rescuer, victim, persecutor game (and perhaps "I'm only trying to help!" on my part, and "Blemish" on his). Of course, it's not that simple, but just that amount of info/insight opens great spaces in the clouds.
In an Adlerian view, he seems to have initially been seeking approval and attention, then more power and dominance, and, by today, even a bit of revenge and vindictiveness. For my part, in these terms, I have failed to give the sought approval or attention, then have engaged him in the struggle for dominance, and finally have wished to hurt him, or have felt hurt myself. Thus it goes, on and on.
During our three mornings together this week, so far we have each played several short scenes of critical parent and of not-OK, defensive, or hurt child, and have each played persecutor and victim. Now the question is: how to get out of this shitty cycle?
Among the several options, my personal favorite is to ignore the whole thing and just do my job regardless of his attitude, adapting and adjusting to it as best I can. Is this a cop-out? Perhaps, but anything else would seem to involve more game playing or power-struggling.
3/20/79 - Things are going well again at work.
I am now really feeling under a lot of pressure, however, to complete several big projects in the few weeks remaining of this semester. Also feeling a lot of stress-related cynicism, bitterness, hostility, aggression, and depression. Plus a strong, angry, suicidal desire not to be in this world. It seems pretty hopeless much of the time. Well, perhaps I'm just tired. It's 12:15 AM. I guess I'll meditate for a few minutes and then hit the sack.
More violent dreams lately.
3/28/79 - Have learned that I am "scripted" to be what TA folks call a "driver," meaning that I feel I must be perfect, try hard, hurry up, please others, and always be strong. Now I want to employ some countering "allowers," like "It's OK to be myself," "to take my time," "to do it (rather than try to do it)," "to consider and respect myself," and "to be open and take care of myself." Apparently, the result if I do not employ such allowers will be that I'll always feel alone, unloved, helpless, etc.
I can now see my life more positively than in a long while, as a patchwork of times when I've "tried" to please others and, alternately, taken off from the conventional mainstream way in attempts to please myself. These latter, then, are the better part, except for their being merely attempts rather than actualities.
3/31/79 - Have discovered from my TA group that most of my time while awake is spent in "critical parent," "adapted (not-OK) child," and "contaminated adult (contaminated by "driver" scripts, as above, and by angry, impatient, frustrated, compulsive perfectionism and stubborn, competitive aggressiveness)." Clearly, this state of affairs is not conducive of contentment or of having friends! So, what to do?
4/8/79 - Once upon a time there was a baby seal. And he swam and he swam and he swam, and there were lots and lots of fish and clams and sea urchins to eat, and the sun was beautiful and warm and bright, and there were chunks of ice in the sea to swim around and climb, and there were lots of other seals on the islands, but not so many in the sea. The deep dark depths held dangers he didn't like to think about, but all he ever saw of them were great movements far below, though the colors in the sea were marvelous. And as he grew up, he looked and looked for a friendly female seal to play with and be his love.
But what silliness is this? Male seals do not pine for single females. The female seals congregate around them until they have a harem. Either that, or they have none at all.
I've met a beautiful woman, Betty, at the Unitarian Church, where I've been attending Sunday activities for the last few weeks. We've had a couple dates in the past six days. The first time, I got back at 4 AM. Last night, it was 5 AM! From our conversation and behavior you'd say we must be getting pretty serious, rather fast. But she is still somewhat involved with two other men, one here, who also goes to the same church, and one in Florida!
So, I must take nothing for granted nor assume that we are going to be a "couple" soon. There is, however, that possibility. I like her a lot. If we do get serious, I shall also be joining a ready-made family, for she has three children. I find myself wondering from where the money would come, but otherwise have no qualms about that prospect. I think she begins to like me pretty well too. It will be interesting to see how this all comes out. Perhaps this is just a fluke. There is no reason at this point to think we shall be more than what we are, friends and lovers. Without mutual commitment, I would be foolish to become very emotionally involved or to cut myself off from seeing other women.
4/11/79 - The past ten days or so have been rather significant simply in that during this time I have shared myself more with, and been shared with by, this woman, Betty, than I have with anyone in quite some time. Willy-nilly, we are "involved," though whether this will lead to anything or not remains completely up in the air. Whether we might want it to lead to anything is also uncertain. We simply can no longer avoid having an effect on one another.
4/19/79 - Betty's the first woman with whom I've been sexually active since committing to LW (with its strict rule against intimacy before marriage) began, back in 1972. I'm quite taken with her. I had even thought we loved each other. Yet she now says she has rediscovered a lot of feeling, perhaps even more than for me, for a "friend," Keith, the man who goes to our church with whom she was involved and who fathered a child she is carrying! She now feels she may marry him.
After she told me this and about being pregnant(!) today, I became quite angry, hurt, and upset. I even found myself sobbing, slamming doors, etc. I still feel really low.
Well, now I shall throw myself into my studies, during what free time remains in the last twelve days of this semester. Certainly I am behind enough that I shall thus keep very busy!
4/21/79 - Betty and I have resumed communications and even plan to spend some time together tomorrow. I've been still feeling really frustrated, sad, jealous, angry, and generally confused. But this evening I'm more relaxed about the whole thing, though it is now clear to me that, more than likely, she will be marrying Keith, with whom she has already been involved, off and on, for the past year, so that nothing much is likely to come of her friendship with me, and it will probably end completely once she marries him in a month or two.
Still, there is just a chance she and I will make it together. (After all, why would she have been seeing and sleeping with me if she were so intent on spending the rest of her life with Keith?) If so, however, our relationship will no doubt be my biggest challenge to date, for already it is apparent we have much potential for conflict. My guess is, and I just hope it is not naive, that ours would be an intense friendship, marked by peaks of loving closeness and depths of stormy conflict, yet generally more loving than bellicose. Certainly it would not be boring.
I think now I can accept that Betty will make the best decision. She knows herself. She is very perceptive. She knows Keith, her fourth child's father. She knows me about as well as she can in the time we've known each other. She will, then, choose on her own and make the best choice possible, one which will be most favorable for her and her children. Neither Keith nor I can really advise her because we are not truly unbiased, indeed are still less so than she.
The best course left for me (or Keith?) is to remain available and try to be understanding over at least the next few difficult weeks.
In fact, the more I think about Betty's and my high potential for conflict, typically with her in "critical parent" and me in "not-OK child" or, sometimes, vice versa, the more I feel it will be best if we break this thing off soon, she just marries Keith, and they make a life together. If we do marry, there's going to have to be a lot of adjustment for both of us. Yet, at this moment, if I had the option, I would marry her. Folly? Perhaps. I seem to be hooked.
4/23/79 - 12:35 AM Just returned from Betty's. Have been over at her place since about 1:30 PM yesterday, and we've had the best time together yet. Both of us have been relaxed and enjoying each other's company. If she's marrying Keith, she's surely got a strange way of being his fiancé, in my arms and telling me she loves me. I also took the whole family, mother and children, to see a fun Disney movie this past afternoon. Back at Betty's place, I helped fix and serve supper afterward, and we and the kids talked and played games or watched TV till time for the youngsters to go to bed. I even "got lucky" before returning to my apartment.
Meanwhile, my studies are definitely being slighted. I guess (hope) it's worth it.
5/3/79 - Early morn of a muggy night. Sitting alone in my hot apartment. Radio playing popular ballads. Thinking about what's next. Late yesterday evening, I finished the semester's last final examination. I don't begin new classes till June 4th. I work only about forty hours, scattered over ten periods, between now and then.
Some minutes of not very concentrated meditation daily and my continued abstinence from meat and alcohol are now all that remain in my lifestyle of the beautiful dream called Lifestream Way. And even this seems under siege now as I contemplate marrying and moving in with my girlfriend of these last several weeks.
Betty feels my austerities and meditation represent weirdness, fanaticism, crutches for psychological weakness, rigidity, and extremism. But, for me, such an assessment seems at once intolerant, simplistic, and an exaggeration, making my commitment seem a bigger deal than is really the case.
My feelings for Betty are perhaps at least as complex as my allegiance to LW. Mostly, I think I'm in love with her. At other times I wonder how it could ever work out that we would be happy together. Yet we keep on seeing each other and, one day at a time, despite frequent unpleasantness, we seem to grow incrementally closer. If we marry, it will require a major adjustment for me, used as I am by now, after the better part of eighteen years, over half my life, to being a bachelor and usually a loner, self-sufficient, accountable to no one but myself for my decisions, words, thoughts, time, actions, finances, feelings, and so forth.
Is Betty the right person with whom to begin a life so different than that with which I'm familiar?
She has three kids plus another on the way, due in September. That I am seriously considering becoming part of this household is not just because Betty and I love each other, despite our disagreements, or that I also like her kids. It may be partly that the situation appeals to my sense of irony. My life already seems full of ironies. It would be strangely consistent!
Yet I regard my meditation efforts and related practices as still very important and so do not, of course, agree with Betty's fears that they are a threat to her or her family's interests and needs. Indeed, I'll be a better father, husband, and lover to the extent I live up to the LW lifestyle.
Next in importance comes my career. About this, too, I have mixed feelings. Some days I am very excited over the possibilities. Largely, though, it's just a means to an income and the prospect of something to do, hopefully more interesting and rewarding than not working.
5/6/79 - Betty and I are now arguing with and loving each other just like two people deeply involved and vying for final position before the marriage ceremony applies its fixative. Sexuality has become our greatest frustration for the moment. She claims we cannot be intimate due to her pregnancy. Our conflicting willfulness has become the greatest impediment to calm enjoyment of each other. Meanwhile, her children and I grow closer.
Read Commonsense Childbirth by Lester Dessez Hazell.
5/24/79 - After many more tempestuous days with Betty, and a trip with her and her children to visit her parents, then on to Panama City, FL (where we played in the surf and sand and stayed in a beachfront motel for a pleasant interlude) and our return, plus a few days apart while I went to see the Maples in Raleigh this week, and after many good times but many intensely bad times as well, I began to have serious misgivings about our marrying right away and so asserted to Betty that I now felt we should wait for awhile, preferably at least till after her baby is born.
My unstated thought here was that we had gotten serious so quickly, and were saying and believing that we love each other, perhaps primarily because of the urgency of her sense of need to get married, to ease her adjustment to being pregnant, to "legitimize" her new baby, and to provide income, security, and some stability. I could not help thinking that, were it not for her resistance to dealing with her pregnancy on her own, she would probably not be that concerned with our getting married.
I have found all too much evidence for this in her great ambivalence about remarrying, feeling depressed over the idea of marrying me, and her repeated references in general, or in very personal ways, to the negative side of marriage. What is more, it seemed to me our arguments, often over the most trivial, idiotic things, were more frequent and intense primarily because of the pressure to get married right away (because of the pregnancy).
So, I wrote her a long letter explaining how I felt we should wait awhile and till after we had gotten beyond the pressure of her pregnancy before deciding to marry. Her reaction was quite severe. She was hurt and very angry. She said she now felt "cold" toward me and did not want me close to her. She added angrily that if I wasn't there for her in this time of great need, if she had to be "alone" now, then she couldn't see how she would want me around later, at my convenience, that this was hardly what she would regard as "love" on my part. She said also that having a baby was a very absorbing experience which, of necessity, excludes a great deal else and that if I opted out of being married with her at the time of this event, so important for her, then she couldn't see how she could ever feel the same toward me.
I, in turn, responded defensively and said it would be silly for us to act nicely toward one another if she didn't want me around, that I had better leave, and we probably should no longer plan on going on a date we had planned for tomorrow night. I had already tried and failed to get across the need for and justification of our giving ourselves more time and had argued that I was not opting out of involvement in her pregnancy and the new baby but rather was simply saying we should not marry so soon.
She reacted by saying that to her it seemed I was opting out of everything and leaving her to deal with things alone, while I would be there or not simply at my pleasure. She did not respond to my suggestion that we not see each other for the planned date. She simply stared angrily. I gathered my extra clothes and other things and said "Goodnight." Again she said nothing and did not respond. I left.
It would seem our relationship has come to an end. I am deeply saddened, hurt, angry, and depressed. It may take some time to feel good again! Yet I do not feel I should change my mind again and plan to marry her right away. We simply are not presently compatible enough, nor mutually sure enough of each other or of marriage, to justify this. Besides, I am not at all confident that anything now would restore me to Betty's good graces, so vehement has been her reaction.
Meanwhile, I hurt, and she hurts. It is too bad! I think in our peculiarly complicated way we really do love each other and that the circumstances, and our unfortunate bent toward misunderstanding each other and looking at the extremes, have killed something that really could have been very good.
The innocent victims of our breakup in such an abrupt way are Betty's kids, with whom I've grown so fond it brings tears to my eyes just thinking now that in such a stupid fashion we've done in our relationship, so that I'll perhaps never even see them again.
While I've written to Betty in a short letter today, to try to clarify things and urge that we reconsider and try to start afresh, I am very afraid that she is simply no longer receptive to anything from me and, once more, will not respond. I don't know what to do in the face of her cold resentment. It makes me feel helpless and hopeless. There seems to be no good resolution, and this drama apparently has a very frustrating and unhappy ending for everyone. What a shame.
5/27/79 - Coffee and pizza at the Pizza Hut. Just sitting here thinking, a tiny knot of fear in my stomach. Betty and I, after all, did get back together, but then, again, had a long disagreement last night.
Although it ended well and we felt very loving when I left, she had brought up a lot of stuff about my behavior that has hurt her or caused resentment and, realizing the truth of much that she said, I was feeling pretty low. The previous day, however, we had seemed very close, and, with the loving way we were able to end last night's argument, I left feeling that probably the tide had finally turned in our relationship, that at last we could have more confidence in our ability to work these things out instead of feeling, each time such issues arise, that they are terribly crucial and that our continuing together or breaking up completely hangs in the balance.
Why then the knot of fear? A short while ago I was on the way over to see her but called first, and her kids, left alone, told me she was long overdue in returning from church, which is where she would be likely to see Keith. Friday she had told me she wanted to talk with him once more, before she could really determine her feelings for him now.
This relationship is a pretty heavy trip. The key right now, though, would seem to be accepting a greater degree of vulnerability than is at all comfortable!
5/28/79 - Memorial Day - I arranged this morning for Betty and me to be included in some couples counseling at the university's Psych. Services Department, beginning about the 2nd week of June. They asked what was the purpose of our coming for counseling, and I said to find out if we really should get married and to consider what all may be involved. They asked about our current situation in a nutshell and, without going into details, I explained: I'd never been married and she'd been married once before; that she had three children and another on the way; that I was 35 and a graduate student in rehab. counseling; she is 32 and a homemaker; that we were seriously planning on getting married but had not gotten officially engaged or gotten any rings; that I worked part-time in testing; that we had been having some friction, perhaps nothing really bad, but certainly a lot more than we'd like; and that I had been in some counseling before, but I didn't think Betty had. I added that Betty hoped to have us seen by someone very well qualified, and I needed us to see him or her after 3:15 in the afternoon, due to my school or work schedules. They said we'd be seeing an advanced doctoral student and hours could be worked out, including after 5 PM if necessary. They said they'd contact us next week and got my phone numbers and Betty's.
I was feeling pretty good about our getting married yesterday, but then Betty said she felt "defeated," as if she'd been in a battle and had lost. She claimed to now be "resigned and numb."
Sex, when it happens, continues also to be an occasion for frustration or disinterest for her, depression for me. When we are intimate, she usually does not come. Certainly I've done my best to stimulate her in advance and to have our lovemaking be playful and relaxed. And we've tried different techniques (though she refuses any kind of oral sex as against her morals). Of course, it did occur to me that, with the combination of her advanced pregnancy and our relationship turmoil, it would be practically a miracle if we could enjoy much mutually satisfying screwing.
Betty spoke also at some length of the rejection she feels for the unfair, inferior role in which women are placed in our society, forced to act dependent, restricted from exploring their full potential the way men can, playing second fiddle to males, particularly to their mates.
I left feeling that marriage at this point is not the right choice for us, and somewhat defeated myself. When she feels this way, the only reason for her getting married would seem to be to provide income, stability, and legitimacy (for her fourth child). But these do not seem sufficient reasons for entering into marriage, since it is intended to be more than a contractual agreement and, indeed, both partners have expectations of its fulfilling deep needs and desires.
Once again, I found myself wishing she would deal on her own with her pregnancy and finally begin being open about it with her children, parents, friends, etc. (She's still trying to keep it a secret!) This would remove at least half the reason for a perhaps otherwise unwanted marriage.
For the other half, income, stability, and the assistance of another adult with necessary chores like babysitting, house maintenance, etc., marriage is certainly not the only, but merely the most convenient and socially acceptable option. And why marry for these things if by so doing one gives up so much that she feels defeated and resigned? Sure, the alternatives are very tough for the short term! But the defeat and resignation might be more permanent. How is it worth it?
I note too that for her there is little pretense, even, of a desire for us to get married because we love each other and cannot imagine not being together.
Meanwhile, I have no desire to be either "rescuer" or "oppressor" to Betty's role as "victim" (of society? of men? of pregnancy? of me? of marriage?).
Well, regardless of what happens between us, I am behind on several things and should try to catch up some before the next summer school session starts in a few days. Then too, I ought to begin in earnest to prepare for my masters comprehensive examination, coming up in about three weeks.
Need to get a fan, at least. My apartment is getting very uncomfortable.
It occurs to me that I shouldn't react to Betty's moods, that even when they are "about me" they do not require an emotional response. It may be much better to simply accept her latest reaction without judging it, seeing it as only where Betty is at the moment. In any case, trying to change her, or wishing that this or that behavior of hers were different in some way, can only prove frustrating for both of us. We can, however, hang loose and let each other be.
6/3/79 - Evidently Betty has gone, after church, to see Keith again. It's nearly 6 PM and her kids don't know where she is. As was the theme of the sermon today, things in real life certainly are not simple!
With my new work/classes schedule and study load, I can not keep on seeing Betty as much as I have been, and so will now probably be cutting back to going over to her place about every other day or so, I expect.
Later. Have just talked with Betty who admits she's been with Keith, is still seriously thinking of marrying him, and says she will decide this after she receiving a letter from him describing his current feelings about her and the whole situation.
That she is still seriously considering marrying him after what has occurred between her, me, and the kids for the past several weeks shows me that she really is very involved with him and, if she were to marry me now, probably would be feeling strongly that Keith might be, or have been, the better husband for her.
My apartment is hot and muggy. Also, the new neighbors are loud, with the TV, stereo, or radio going full blast. If Betty and I are not going to wed, I probably need to get an air conditioner for over here or else move to a better place.
Nothing seems very meaningful right now. I'm just going through the motions. Pretty sad. Whatever happens, it seems a good time to be doing a lot of meditating. (Long walks and long warm baths and plenty of rest also would not hurt at all!)
What with the heat, thinking about Betty, and feeling more and more hurt and angry with her, I can't seem to get to sleep. I guess I'll read from my new text for awhile.
Later. Still just getting angrier and angrier. So am off for a long walk! At this rate, I may not be back till tomorrow.
6/4/79 - 2 AM Still awake from yesterday.
Have decided I need to do some things each day for awhile to get out of this blue funk. Meditation, long walks, long baths, and plenty of rest should help. In addition, I can throw myself into my studies over at the (air conditioned) library.
Further, I can do at least one thing each day to meet new people or cultivate the acquaintances or friendships I already have.
9:30 PM - I miss Betty terribly. And the idea of her being Keith's lover again and his wife is abhorrent. But, every now and then, I realize that I could go on without her and even begin then to enjoy life again.
I can see how Keith, who is about twenty years older and works for a decent income as a professor at the university, would seem to have more to offer. Though I really hate to admit it, the less I cling to what I thought we had, the easier it may be for both Betty and me to accept what is probably for the best in this complicated circumstance.
11 PM - I'm feeling great! A fever I had earlier in the day is gone and, despite no sleep, I'm full of energy. Wow! I find myself singing and dancing a lively jig around the apartment and convinced that everything will work out alright. Yes! "Can't keep a good man down," and all that.
6/5/79 - 3:30 AM - It is now well into the second night since this "love crisis" began, and I have yet to get any sleep. I guess I'll try meditating some more. Lying there to sleep, I wind up just thrashing around, tormented by thoughts of losing Betty. Evidently the body needs less sleep than one would imagine! I don't even feel tired.
It's all I can do to keep myself from going over to see her and telling her the only way I'll leave is if the police take me away. I keep crying and it doesn't do any good. All my words of wise self-counsel come to nothing in the face of a little test like this. I'm not being very sensible.
Indeed, every time I think of her with Keith I get furious! I can see how "love triangle" situations sometimes lead to homicide.
7/4/79 - Independence Day - Betty and I once more got together. Perhaps Keith's letter to her did not include some magic words she had sought. Inevitably, things deteriorated between us within a short time after we'd restored our "normal" relations again. Betty went to just one pre-marital counseling session with me, then refused further therapy.
In my second individual session, yesterday, Ms. Washington led my thinking to the realities of what was going on between Betty and me, and to what our life together would probably be like.
She strongly suggested that I was so eager to marry that I was asking to be really hurt and used in this situation, not even putting any conditions or demands whatever on Betty, so dependent on her that whether I felt good or bad from one day to the next was completely in her control, a control she had exercised (and probably would again) extensively.
She reminded me that I had a choice, that I did not have to do anything with Betty. She also said that both my fear of isolation, of never marrying without Betty, and my general lack of self-worth were rather unrealistic, that the only way I was screwed up was in how much I put myself down and become overly dependent on my women, that I have many good assets, that there were many ladies who would find me quite attractive and would be eager to love and marry me.
She also said that this relationship was not typical of male/female involvements, that in most there was not this day-to-day fluctuation of extremes, frequent changes in the rules, new demands, huge up and down shifts of mood, etc.
She told me she saw me as a good ol' guy, pretty easygoing, who was so concerned about getting along with a woman and being needed that a strong-willed, manipulative person would walk all over me. She questioned if the prize was worth the cost.
She added that it didn't matter, probably, whether the woman's name was Betty, Carol, Ann, Joan, or Barbara, that to a lesser or greater extent I would still be sticking my neck out to be cut off, so long as I valued myself so little (why, she didn't know, because, she said, I certainly have a lot going for me).
" 'The world is a school where the sleeping are woken up. You are now a little awake, so awake that you can never fall asleep again.' "
Van de Wetering. A Glimpse of Nothingness, Pocket Books, 1975, p. 18.
7/5/79 - Yesterday, on the two mile walk back from the theater, near Columbia Mall, I took off my shirt because of the heat and wanting a good tan. Three cars honked as they whizzed past, and one girl yelled out as she came abreast "Hey, good looking, you want a ride!?" Alright! Ha. I needed that.
7/11/79 - I register for the 2nd summer session this morning, and for about the next six weeks will have class at 9:45 - 11:15 in morning and work 12:30 - 4:30 each afternoon, Mon. - Fri.
Last night I formally proposed to Betty. I did so with a feeling that, since I had gotten so involved with her to this point, I would be irresponsible to end our relationship without giving her one last chance to make this kind of commitment. If she would give a negative reply, then I'd be free to close that chapter in my life. If she said "Yes," then a new part of my life would be starting.
Betty gave me no final answer, but instead sounded as uncertain as ever whether she would like to marry me or Keith or, indeed, if she wanted to get married at all. However, she no longer feels comfortable with my either dropping over to see her or going out with her, for fear Keith will get mad and not be willing to support her and his child.
My position with her seems at last to be so untenable that I can break things off, without feeling like a heel, and stick by it. I've told her, then, that if there is no significant change in our relationship before then that I'll consider it at an end by the close of the day tomorrow.
My counseling sessions with Ms. Washington continue to be fruitful and will be ongoing through most of August. We're no longer dealing with Betty and me but have gone on to more basic, general issues, such as lack of self-esteem, depression, little flexibility in the awareness and appropriate expression of feelings, sex, and exaggerated dependency in intimate relationships.
My brother, Ralph, and sister-in-law, Mary, are due in Thursday evening or Friday for a two to three day stay with me, on their way to Texas to visit for a few weeks in Austin at our folks' place.
I had a nice dream last night in which an attractive woman, who'd been in love with me from afar, decided to be more overt and climbed into bed with me. As the woman was not Betty, or anyone else I know at this time, I am encouraged that I seem to be getting ready to start something with someone new!
7/15/79 - This is my anniversary. Six years ago today I received LW initiation. Ralph and Mary are here for their visit. We've been having a good time.
Betty and I seem to have ended things, at last admitting to ourselves, if not completely to each other, that it just won't work.
I hope, then, meanwhile to be actively branching out socially, making new friends, and soon taking other ladies on dates.
7/16/79 - Evening - In my session with Ms. Washington this evening I broke down and sobbed for awhile. I also got somewhat in touch with the most precious, vulnerable, yet also strongest, deepest, most vital, most lovable and loving, most creative, and most child-like aspect of myself. I reassured this "Little Phil" that from now on I would be loving, protective, and supportive toward him, responsibilities I have shirked most of the time heretofore. We "conversed," and I told him I was afraid I was not strong enough for him, that I did not know how to look after his needs, that I wasn't sure I wouldn't make mistakes, though I wanted to take good care of him. "He" reassured me that he liked me, weakness and all, and that he understood I might be shy and unsure of myself around him, that it was alright.
7/26/79 - In the last few days there were yet new games played between Betty and me. For awhile she once more encouraged me and sought to have me be a part of her and her family's life. Like a fool, I went along with this, only to have her, yet again, dash my hopes and bring in her involvement with Keith. She said she just feels she must maintain her relationship with her baby's father, that she cannot help herself. If I let her, how many times will she give that a chance to work? And how often would she reject Keith again and come back to me? As I left, I told her, calmly but firmly, that I'd prefer she not get in touch again.
Betty did give me a consolation prize: she said that her interest in Keith had nothing to do with deficiencies in me but just that, as the father of her new baby, she felt an almost instinctive attachment and regard for him in relation to the child and its needs for its real father. She said that she and I would not have continued as long as we had if she hadn't felt I had many qualities and assets such that they would make me a good husband and father.
I'm reminded of a play, "No Exit," (by Jean Paul Sartre?) in which the protagonists are, in effect, all in hell, doomed to repeat their self-defeating behaviors ad infinitum. I know, and perhaps she does as well, that under certain circumstances I would still be receptive if Betty calls or comes by again. Still, I shall make a great effort to move beyond this existential impasse. Maybe there is an exit from, and end to, this after all.
Well, the laundry needs to be done. The cleaning must be taken. The studies are waiting. I feel like smashing things or sobbing, but I guess I ought to get on with the practical matters at hand. This seems a good place to end this part of "My Steps" as well.