Search This Blog

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Catharsis

My partner been on the receiving end of a great deal of my consideration, forethought, money and support for some time, with good reasons. Lately, a catharsis is happening for him and between us that I believe presages his ability to give back. I believe his situation, both financially and emotionally is just about to radically improve circumstancially. Of course, this is when the shit always hits the fan because something in him can tell that the status quo is about to change that will require a significant adjustment on both our parts. The nuts and bolts of these tacit renegotiations usually involve some degree of chaos. In this case, the chaos has taken the form of breaking his right hand, just about the time he's become impatient with having me "mother" him too often.

Curiously, all these people around him are advising him to cut and run from me. He and I are amazed how so many people would be advising such a thing. Strangely enough, it is his boss, even counselors who are advising to "get rid of" me "just in case" I might become a problem or become the focus of his anger. He has no history of spousal abuse under much more aggressive stimulus. I can see why a boss would recommend this, but why would a counselor recommend pulling away from family support?

He said in our last conversation that I am the one in his life right now who has "been there" for him without judgment when he went through previous changes that were significant leaps for him in the past three years. Nobody else has been willing or able to do that for him, either now or in the future. Now that change involves the giving/receiving part of our relationship and not just a significant change for him personally, he seems to be confident that I'm capable of making a change with him, (as am I.) He'll need to think ahead about how he might give back to me - which is a little weird for him because he's sort of an Emergency Responder who assumes if the wheel doesn't squeek, it doesn't need attention. It will be nice, but unfamiliar for him to receive more autonomy and respect, or so he has said to me.

One of the marks of having been abused is a continuing fear that asking for needs will result in complete abandonment, even if these needs are reasonable and fair. A tactic of manipulators is to isolate, to pull the rug out from under someone else's additional means of emotional support so there is no where else to turn, except to face the issues alone. It also serves the authority of an abuser to be the sole means of fulfilling or witholding needs.

So, let's explore what those people would have to gain if I wasn't present to offer my support. Without me to encourage my partner to negotiate for a fair payment for his work, his bosses could take advantage and milk him dry until he collapses - or use it as a reason to blame him for the collapse as a personal defect without ever examining how they participated in his demise by not providing a fair living wage.

As far as why his band members would want him to break up with me, I guess that without me living with him, his band members, who live in their van, would be staying in his house on the weekends as they have done while I have been gone to the mainland. (Except that this doesn't match. I do enjoy them hanging out. But with the threat of possible conflict, the band members have been staying away, even though there hasn't been any conflict from either of us around them yet. Perhaps they have been on the listening end of conflicted issues from him?)

So my partner has been patiently waiting for this raise to address his needs, while he has been paying out a third of his paycheck in gas, resulting in having to live on less than $7.50 an hr. while enduring a great deal of stress on the job. I've been taking up the slack for him by loaning him money for gas at the end of every pay period, and helping save him time at work by doing work errands for him. I did make his bosses horrified when I joked that I should be on the payroll for doing these things. Where is my $1200 in company stock options that I've contributed in gas since June that I've not been paid back?

On this particular day that he broke his hand, he was very upset at being stood up by his boss who were too busy to do their part to allow the work to be completed on time in spite of an imperative deadline - par for the course. Later, he found out this had been the same problem for others who had done his job in the past and the reason they had quit his job.

Certainly a serious part of this quotient for me is alcohol use. I have seen that a person can turn to drinking when they cannot think of anything else to do. If I do not pass a judgment on whether the drinking has the desired effect and instead look at the effect it does have, I see that there is an intentional motive to release frustration and blot out pain...along with an unwanted effect of determined self-destructiveness. It's intentful self-destructiveness that makes me want to withdraw, because this twists my naturally helpful interdependent urge to give and receive freely into suddenly becoming codependence.

If people had other choices that worked, most would use them. If a person was alcoholic that would not be true - everything that happened would be a thin excuse to drink more alcohol. Most commonly, they would not be capable of keeping their alcohol consumption under control; for alcoholics, a little alcohol encourages drunken binges. What I have observed in this situation makes me wonder if possibly the beginning stages of diabetes is more of an operative factor rather than alcoholism.

Of course there are other choices available to deal with frustrations, such as talking about it to friends or professional counselors, using music to change emotions or making music, even writing songs, exercise, meditation, taking a break or trip, or my unique favorite, making really big abstract art. I might be tempted to turn to alcohol as a band-aid if that option of making art to resolve emotional pain were closed to me. I see that running has been eliminated as a possible coping mechanism for him. It is common to forget under duress that we may have additional ways to work out and express highly emotional issues; these solutions are uniquely tailored for us and usually, we know they have worked in the past for us personally. So it pays to remember these expressions of catharsis so we can use them in important times of need.

I have to admit, having helped him financially and emotionally for the last three years, I would really like to stick around because I do have faith that he is very close to coming completely out of the "chocolate mess" he has been. Having made a significant investment in him personally and in our dream of moving to Hawaii, I do not believe it's practical to withdraw my support now without sending him back to being homeless without a vehicle and perhaps causing him to lose his job because he doesn't have a vehicle. Perhaps that is what his bosses had in mind - they need an excuse to fire him? From knowing his current financial situation, I know he's not capable of paying me back in payments because there is no "extra" money no matter how well he budgets the money he's getting paid now. I can't afford to give him my half of everything we own together or to forget about the money he owes me.

My partner has always had trouble thinking of what the rewards of continuing our relationship have been for me because he has gotten so much value from being close with me. So I'd like to spell those out for him. I could have never moved to Hawaii and situated myself without his help and efforts, so indirectly, he has provided me with health care. Besides the fact that I enjoy his company, he feeds and cooks for me, even under pressure, he has always been easy at communication for me and with me. Partly, my being around the band and the social music scene that I have encouraged him to invest in has been a vicarious outlet for my musical interests and also a social pleasure. I am inspired as I see him opening up to his emotions and having more love in his life as he expresses the creative musician he is. He has mostly lived up to his promises, and if he slipped, he's not afraid to apologize and reaffirm them. He has been faithful, accommodating and considerate. Most important to me, he embraces facing challenge, change and growth and inspires it in me. He doesn't arrogantly belittle my differing interests. He supports my own creative expression in practical and encouraging ways. He has always been a pleasure for me to work with. He usually goes to the trouble to ask about my motives before he jumps to conclusions about what I mean by my actions or by what I say. He trusts and understands me, even though he knows I can threaten others by daring to disregard social norms, because I will directly ask rather than guess about meaning, assumptions or implied motives. Thankfully, it's a mystery to him how I am misunderstood by others who do not take me at face value.

I see this whole event as a catharsis containing constructive growing pains; I could foresee that this issue and stage of relationship would eventually happen so I'm not blind-sided. I see this time as a positive step in a constructive direction that must occur for any relationship to evolve to a more equal exchange of energy going both ways. There is usually a time when the status quo of any relationship must evolve, and it usually involves a character change on the part of both people.

No comments:

Post a Comment