A lot of things became much clearer to me while I was away. A friend had said to me, as I was leaving, You’re the hub, you know. You are what draws everyone in.
I laughed. I do not feel like a hub.
But the truth is, I was the only one who knew everyone. Some I’ve know almost twenty years, some just a few, but if there was a chart drawn, I would be in the middle.
Take some time to think about that, she said. Why you don’t see yourself that way.
Why you should.
I am someone who loves to be around people, and needs quiet time, too. I love to listen, hear others stories. I love being connected, deeply, to as many people as I can hold. I love being the center of attention.
I’ve so often defined myself as narcissistic (this is true), needy and broken. The truth is, I’m narcissistic, strong and scarred.
I have scars. It’s time to stop living with them front and center.
I told a friend today I was going to gather all the negatives, my pals, my thoughts that run around and around in my head like gerbils on a wheel, and have a lovely dinner party for them.
Soak them in, give them airtime, take them all and acknowledge them deeply. After all, most of what I have craved in my life is acknowledgement. For people to see me for who I am. To know me.
After the dinner party, after the cake and toasts, it’s time to say goodbye.
I realized I hold these things, because they are familiar. It rocks my marriage- I not only allow my wife to label me the identified patient, I eagerly grab the title. It is better for me to be fucked up than the alternative- having it be out of my control.
When we first arrived in Costa Rica, Jeanine said to me, I know you’ve been really anxious lately…
And the truth is, I wasn’t. I feel calmer, more centered than I ever have in my life. Yes, Christmas is hard for me but I have also come to a certain amount of peace about it.
Especially being in Costa Rica. I was completely removed from all the triggers- the songs, the decorations and the snow. It wasn’t me.
It was her.
I read “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, while I was away. Sweet book, well written. I kept earmarking pages because she hit the nail on the head so many times for me. At one point, I nudged Jeanine on the beach and read her this passage out loud…
“Moreover, I have boundary issues with men…. I disappear into the person I love. I am the permeable membrane. If I love you, you can have everything. You can have my time, my devotion, my ass, my money, my family, my dog, my dog’s money, my dog’s time- everything. If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you from your own insecurity, I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family. I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check. I will give you all this and more, until I get so exhausted and depleted that the only way I can recover my energy is by becoming infatuated with someone else.”
Is that me or what? I said.
Oh yeah, she said. But you’ve never done that for me.
I was blown away. I felt like all I did for the first fifteen years of our marriage was exactly that. But before I went down the narcissistic well of indignity, I asked her who I did do that for, with an answer I expected.
The person I became infatuated with when I was exhausted and depleted.
The infatuation is long over, and I appreciated Jeanine’s continued hurt about it. AND, it wasn’t about me. I wasn’t a bad person. I wasn’t broken or needy.
I’m curious about why she feels like I never did this for her- was it the continued hurt over my admitted emotional affair or was it something else? What about her was never able to take that all in?
More importantly for today, what is a healthy balance? Because if I’ve been working that hard for that long and she didn’t even take it in? What a phenomenal waste of energy.
The upside? Energy I have. Energy and desire to make my marriage work, to no longer project a screen of what I need or want onto my wife, but to see her for who she is.
To know her the way I want her to know me. Without the negatives running on their wheel, distracting me from what is real.
I’m here. I’m not broken, needy or fucked up. I am reminded of standing at the Fundacion Santuario Silvestre de Osa watching one of the free monkeys walk about. I stood beside her and held my arm out straight- I didn’t try to lean over and pick her up. I simply made myself accessible to climb.
After pulled herself up, walked across my shoulders, she curled into my side and I held her like you would a two year old on your hip. She put her head on my chest.
I’m strong. I love to help, to fix, to love, to laugh, to cook, to dance, to learn.
I am a hub.
And I’m here.