Disentangling Facts and “Truths”

This is something I have grappled with over the last year. When first confronted with the possibility that my ‘truth’ and Alex’s could be totally different I dismissed the idea out-of-hand.  In fact I couldn’t comprehend it was possible!

Now I view this in a totally new light. And doing so has helped me understand what happened / is happening.

My marriage is a fact. It happened.  20 April 1992.
Alex left.  Fact.  February 2009.

We also went on numerous holidays to Southern Africa.  Fact.   And If I take – say – a particular holiday perhaps I can explain what I think I am getting at regarding truths and facts.

In 2004 we went to Namibia and Botswana. We drove across the northern edge of the Makgadikgadi  (pronounced Ma-huddi-huddi) Pans in Botswana. We then turned off down a track which was virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the bush on either side of it. We travelled for several hours, through small hamlets where the ‘track’ vanished. We finally came out onto the salt pans themselves and drove across several small ones, finally arriving at Kubu Island.

Kubu Island is a rocky outcrop covered in baobab trees, surrounded by the salt pans. On one side you can look out to a completely white horizon. A sea of salt. We camped overnight. The wind got up in the evening and the tent almost buckled under it.

All these are FACTS.

Now for the ‘truths’ – these for me are different from facts.

Firstly if I engage with the Adventurer Me.

It was a brilliant day and evening. Slightly scary. We had to negotiate our way through small hamlets of people who didn’t speak English. We felt like intruders into their private space. When we finally found our way through and out on to the salt pans a new kind of ‘scary’ took over. You have to be careful where you drive as the salt crust can hide areas where the earth underneath is soft and can cave in. The trick is to stick with tracks made before you as you know these will be safe. After so many hours of driving it was hard to concentrate. Reaching Kubu Island gave us a sense of real achievement. The island is stunning. The baobab trees magnificent. We climbed to the top of the rocks and looked out at the view.   All that ‘nothing’!  Amazing. I just love these sort of adventures – really ticks all my boxes – Risk – Adventure – Significance (as in doing something different from most people!)

Now if I engage with the feminine Me:

Alex was amazing. He encouraged me to do the driving so he could ‘map’ read ( the map didn’t really exist!!) and check the GPS co-ordinates he had found. When we were faced with the salt he directed and congratulated me for getting us all the way to the Island. He told me about all the trees and the rocks and how the salt had been formed. He took charge of the fire so we could cook our supper and picked the best spot for the tent. When the wind blew up he staked out the tent so we wouldn’t blow away. I felt protected and cared for and special and significant in this life.

Now the ‘lover’ me:

When the sun went down. The salt turned the most wonderful pink, then red, before the sun vanished over the horizon and the pitch black took over and the temperature plummeted. The effect was spine-tingling. The multitude of stars above us magical. Alex helped me pick out the Southern Cross and told me all about the galaxies.

But. He didn’t hug me, he didn’t hold my hand, he didn’t cuddle up to me. We were two separate beings experiencing this event rather separately. We slept next to each other in our separate sleeping bags – which are actually designed to be zipped together. I think we may have had a brief hug.  Sad really. The night could have been so much more special.

Finally if I engage the ‘fearful’ – ‘masculine’  me – the one I really don’t like:

It was hard doing most of the driving – even though I think I’m the better driver.. I could have done with the occasional break. I felt insecure at times. But Alex prefers to read .  The tent nearly blew away. He could have chosen a better spot.

The point of all this is?   All the above are “true”. They’re all emotions I experienced at the time. By engaging different versions of me I can give myself a different perspective of the event.  Put the whole lot together and they become the total me.

I can’t ‘run’ the same event from Alex’s point of view but my guess it could be much the same as mine except for the Lover version:  I felt tired that evening – too much glaring at the map and anyway it was very cold.  I think she was hoping for more but I wasn’t in the mood and she didn’t do much to encourage me (come to think of it she rarely does – perhaps I don’t turn her on).  The failing Protector Version / weak man Version:  I don’t think I chose the best spot to camp, I should have taken us round to the other side of the rocks so we would have been in the lee of the wind.  I bet she thinks this is my fault and is secretly blaming me………  I feel I failed her.

So what happens when one version of ourselves takes over and ‘kills off’ all the others. The event – holiday – marriage –  gets skewed or distorted. I think this is how people ‘re-write history”.  What if Alex is only living in the fearful version of himself – the weak/inadequate version – or say the “non-lover” –  then all he will remember of the holiday and that magical evening was that it was OK but could have been better.

And we CAN “rewrite history”.  We all know people who suddenly sing the praises of someone who has recently died, having disliked them and found them a real pain when they were alive. They distort the past as suddenly they feel guilty for feeling the way they did so it’s more comfortable to do a quick rewrite – maybe to justify the deceased’s  behaviour  – as it makes themselves feel better – less guilty.

So I believe it is with Alex. To justify his actions, his adultery, the destruction of our marriage, he has “rewritten” or “blotted out”  vast swathes of the good times  so he feels less guilty. So he can justify what he’s done. But what if he has only managed to do this by living in a distorted version of himself? What if he has ‘killed off’ the lover, the seducer, the adventurer, the man, and has allowed a very destructive version of himself to rule him? What then? Will he ultimately be happy? Maybe for now.  But for how long?

That’s why I feel compassion for him.

It doesn’t change what’s happened.  It doesn’t change the facts.  But it helps my ‘truths’ – and keeps them true for me.

Imploding or Exploding?

Everyone reacts differently and in different degrees when pitchforked into a new reality they didn’t want and  they didn’t see coming.

I wonder which is the more challenging for the LC to deal with?

The Exploder who needs to deal with their anger, wish for vengence…….  or the imploder who needs to want to start living again?

Little did I realise a year ago that I had such a long way to go!  Clearly I had much more to unearth than I realised, much more to face, much more to deal with, so much to learn and much, much more to come to terms with.

Amazing to think a year ago I thought I knew all the answers to my problems  and my only problem was  I just didn’t know how to action them!  Wrong!!!

But what is even more stunning is I didn’t know how much I didn’t know!!  And for most of this last year I have put up an amazing resistance to learning!!  Yesterday as I watched the debate on my blog  I suddenly realised I have actually learnt a great deal.

Now I can’t believe I erected such a strong barricade against changing the way I think and understanding me.  I smile at how confused I was with Stephen’s coaching – and how he kept telling me confusion was Good! (don’t get me wrong I still get lots of moments of confusion – but now I realise they are good and that I may be about to understand something new and helpful)

But if I could do that – and I wanted to get out of the hole I’d imploded into – how much harder must it be for the likes of Alex who have had their beliefs so entrenched as a life-long, survival mechanism that to change them is almost to redesign themselves. Very Scary.  I’m not condoning what he did.  But maybe I’m beginning to understand why.  And the why doesn’t have a great deal to do with me.  Yes I unwittingly played my part.  I accept 100% my involvement.  But perhaps what happened had to happen.  Maybe there really was an inevitability about it.  But despite the inevitability of the initial meltdown there didn’t have to be this long-term solution,  the path he chose to take (at least I don’t think so). But I can’t do anything about that.

So the version of me I’m now running is the compassionate and caring me.  Compassion for Alex but really focused on me and giving myself care and compassion.  Don’t get me wrong there is a whole mass of sadness at what we have irretrievably lost but I’m nurturing me into my new future.  Why?  Because I have no other choice.

Why this version of me. Because for me it seems right.  I can’t be vengeful, I can’t be bitter, I can’t spend my life being angry.  Because if I do I will be the one who loses.  And that’s not what I want.

Folding was fun!

Yes – dear reader – it was great fun!!

And two of the ‘folders’ brought bottles of wine so my supplies went untouched!  We all sat round my dining table and everyone chatted away nineteen to the dozen and the job was done in about 1 1/2 hrs!   Brilliant.

I think it helped that 2 of the team didn’t know anyone else so meeting new people was good for the others.  The dynamics of human behaviour are so fascinating.  Had this been a dinner party everyone would have been ‘on their best behaviour’ and conversation would have taken time to get going.  But because everyone had a task and we all wanted to get it done as quickly as possible no one was ‘on their guard’. The normal barriers came down in an instant and the evening buzzed.

Unless, of course, it was my dynamic personality which just won them all over!!!

So we’re off today to give the ‘damn’ things out. At least, for now, it’s not raining!

Oh yes – And I stood up for myself again!  When one of the group (who has known me since I was 14 and so seems to feel he has the right to say how he sees me – good or bad) said that I was so loud.   I replied ‘maybe –  but I am me and I will go on being me the way I want to be and if I come across as loud sometimes then that is just me being a version of me which I like!’

And I said it with a laugh and a smile – rather than apologise for it or shut up – which is what I would have done in the past!!

So some things are working. I am becoming less flexible over how I am!

The different versions of me

Friday’s Life Coaching session didn’t have one of those eureka moments – more a slow, calm change in outlook and the dawning of understanding.

Over the last 5 months I have been learning that we all have different versions of ourselves which we bring into play in different situations.

To help understand these my LC (Life Coach) has encouraged me to find and give the very basic versions of me different names – but names which are part of me, names which I had been called at different stages in my life.

Interestingly the name I use here on this blog isn’t the name I use every day but IS a name I actually have. I’ve never felt very strongly about Caroline, other than it is a name I have. On Friday I found ‘she’ is the one who is the really caring one – the ‘mothering and forgiving’ one. So the one who talked to the 15 year old me (who has yet another name – my childhood nickname) and gave her a ‘hug’ and took the pain away.

The name I use every day is the strong me. The business me. The fixer and problem solver. The me that copes in difficult situations and can be relied upon not to give up. But over the last 5 months has become a much softer version of me as I have come to understand ME. And that process has made me like my name more – more than I have done for years. I used to think my name was rather hard and masculine. It isn’t – it’s great! And I really like it now!! She is the one who can now stand up and make speeches in public – and feel confident about herself!

But I’ve discovered and realised more since Friday. As you know – dear reader – about 4 years ago I wrote a story – a very steamy, over graphic – unecessarily specific sex-romp story! Alex encouraged me to write it and he – and now 2 other people – have been the only people to have read it. (I’m building it up here so if it’s ever published I will have people dying to read it!!). The story has 2 main female characters (one of whom I hate – she has no self-respect and does things that no woman in her right mind would do) and one who is so much me – scared of sex and scared of being seduced. Then there’s the main male lead – my ‘hero’ who is this strong, caring, loving, amusing, dependable man – the man who seduces the scared girl with such tenderness and gentleness she overcomes all her fears.

I’ve only just realised this but the name I chose for this man is one of Alex’s names. A name he doesn’t like and never refers to if he can help it.

For me this is the version of Alex I really crave for – the one I believe I married. The one I actually need, want and loved. The one who I did enjoy sex with (albeit not all the time – but then that’s my problem!) And I just wonder if it’s this version of him which is the one actually Alex wants – or would like – to be.

I hope – dear reader – you can grasp what I have tried to explain. It’s very difficult to be clear unless you have been through the process! So if you’re confused – Sorry!! I know what I’m trying to say! And I am sure somewhere on my LC’s website/blog there is a lot more on the subject – and probably explained much more clearly!!  Actually this post of his explains it very well

What I have learned so far

This is very complicated to write and put down clearly and may sound bizarre and strange to anyone who hasn’t been through this process. (Especially at 2.00am! addendum – it’s OK I went back to sleep having written all this!)  But I want to say it anyway!

I have learned a great deal about myself over the last 3 months or so during the Life Coaching sessions I have had.

I have learned there are many versions of me.  The different versions of me who come ‘into play’ in different situations.

I  found a version of me who had become distorted through  fear who had an overriding wish to be heard and seen and so controlled or fixed situations.  The version of me who I really dislike.  Who I have – I hope – now learnt to deal with and to laugh away when I see her try and come back.  Who I hope I can now control and stop being so destructive.

I have also found a very deep and lovely version of me who I had buried so deep I didn’t even know she was there.  Maybe this is the ‘real version of me’. I hope so!

I know she is someone I really like being.

She is the person who is not only able  to stand up and speak in public meetings (something I have NEVER been able to do my entire adult life!) but actually likes doing it and gets a great buzz from achieving it!

Someone who does have an incredible confidence in herself but in a nice loving & feminine way. Who understands her vulnerabilities and acknowledges who she is and how she wants to be seen by the world around her.  By those who matter to her.  Who can and does laugh at herself.

But I can now see and understand that there are also various versions of Alex.  What I didn’t understand then, but do now, is those versions of Alex came into play all the time – right from the start of our marriage.

There was – and maybe still is – a version of Alex which is incredibly destructive and who at the moment has ‘won the day’ and is running his life.  This is not the loving, kind, honest person I married.  As that wonderful person wouldn’t have been capable of doing what he has done.  Who has treated me the way he has this last 20 months.  Or rewritten the past to justify these actions.

I know he is traumatised by this version of him.  I know because he’s told me.

What I sincerely hope, from the bottom of my heart is that Alex continues to dig deep, to find within himself the ability to confront and deal with this demon who seems to be ruling him at the moment, and in fact, has been trying to rule him for most of his adult life, and then find deep within himself his true being.  The version of him who he loves and wants to be.

Because then and only then will he find true happiness. True happiness has to come from within yourself.  Not from cheating and having an affair.  Not from re-writing the past to justify his behaviour.

The man I married was  – I think –  as close as Alex has ever allowed himself to be to the person he genuinely wants to be.  It wasn’t totally that person as he always had the destructive version trying to stop him.  So he only occasionally allowed that wonderful version to surface – but wow was it fantastic when it did.  He was magic.  So confident, so in charge, such fun, so good in bed!  I felt so special then.

So that’s why I hope through the Life Coaching he is going for that he too – one day – will find and come to terms with really loving being the true honest him I think he wants to find.  Then he will love himself and then he will honestly and truly be able to give someone else the love I know he wants to give.

So until then we don’t have a future together.  In fact no woman has a true, safe, honest and happy future with him.  He has to find himself first. And also learn how to stop the destructive demon from fighting back.  I think this is going to take quite some time as he is so used to allowing this version of him to be part of him.

I would love to be able to say all this to him but I know I can’t.  He won’t hear the sincerity in this from me.  He has too many preconceived notions of what he either thinks I want to say or what he sees as me trying to manipulate him.

So I will face this weekend knowing this is how I feel. Knowing he has to go and do what he has to do.  One day maybe he will realise that the most wonderful way to grow in life is to share that growth within a loving powerful partnership.  Maybe one like the one I believed we could have had, if he had only got to where I have today!

So I do wish him luck.  From the bottom of my heart.  I am incredibly sad that we couldn’t have really worked at this together, to have come through this together and had a future together.  But he has to do this bit alone.  And I have to find a different future for me without him.  Because, at the moment, we don’t have a future together.