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Facing, and Eliminating, Old Feelings of Loss

Recently I separated from my partner of two years. We had a close, loving relationship but were stuck in a few places and the relationship had become stagnant. Once the decision to separate was accepted by both of us, things began to get unstuck very quickly. For the next few weeks we often held each other and cried deeply, agreeing to be close, supportive friends forever. We found that we were able to love each other genuinely again without any of the old pressures and expectations from the relationship getting in the way. It was clearly the right decision.

A couple of weeks later my friend went on a vacation to New Mexico, met a new friend, and "fell in love." I was completely caught by surprise by being totally restimulated. I thought I had gotten past "that kind of stuff" years ago. After the shock had worn off, I methodically discharged with a number of counselors in my Community until I was able to think about what had happened. It's been enlightening in a number of areas. My mother left me to go to work when I was about five years old, and on an emotional level I was devastated. Even though in present time I made the decision to separate from my friend, the old distress distorted reality and had me feeling like she was leaving me. I have worked for years on the memory of my mother leaving, and although I have gotten much more clarity and flexibility on this incident, it still has the ability to send me reeling. It's possible that I may never completely discharge this piece of old distress, but I can now clearly differentiate the distress recordings and emotional reactions that ensue, from the present-time reality. Also I've encouraged my counselors to remind me of reality when my distresses confuse me. This is an excellent use of trusted counseling relationships and Community, and using the wonderful resources effectively makes a world of difference in the quality of one's life, especially when things are difficult.

Supporting my friend completely to go after her dreams has been bringing up my deepest feelings of deprivation. It's one thing to be supportive to a counselor; it's quite another to encourage, cheer for, and then watch a former partner have her dreams come true while I'm alone and in limbo with some of my own dreams!

Thanks to my years in RC I've learned well how to discharge the feelings of deprivation rather than just feeling them over and over again. As I continued to discharge I discovered another piece of distress that was making it very hard to think flexibly -- sexism. I was not raised, as a male, to see to it that my female friends would have their dreams come true, or at least not until my dreams were first attained. I have understood the effects of sexism for years but never have I experienced, with awareness, the power of the sexist conditioning to do its best to keep me from acting rationally in my life. As a result of all my discharging and re-evaluating, I now think that it would be a good idea for men in RC to challenge themselves by making a decision to unconditionally support a female counselor, to see to it that her dreams come true whether or not their dreams have already been realized. I would conjecture that the amount of difficulty involved in achieving this may be a good barometer for men to discover just how much sexism we still carry. I also think that we men have a great opportunity to enhance our lives by adopting and changing the old phrase to have it read "behind every successful woman there is a good man."

In spite of all the discharging I've done, I have struggled greatly to free myself from the pattern's pull to have me think about my friend and her "wonderful life out west." Intellectually I know that things for her might not be as "wonderful" as my pattern makes me believe. I know that it takes a real thoughtful approach with lots of sincere work if things are to go well in a relationship for a sustained period of time. Clearly, when I am out of the throes of the pattern, I want my friend to have good relationships. Despite this knowledge, whenever I allow the pattern to run, I feel deprived, jealous, resentful, not good about myself, and can't seem to function well in my everyday activities.

Part of me has observed with fascination the clever way the chronic distress would sneak up on me and take my thinking over. First, the distress recordings would slip into my stream of consciousness, and soon thereafter the feelings of loneliness and deprivation would take over. The result was debilitating. I deduced, after struggling for a while, that allowing the distress to surface when I was alone just was not acceptable. It seemed to make much more sense to use my sessions and the relaxed, delighted, thoughtful attention of my counselors as the only place that would be appropriate for my feelings of loneliness and deprivation. To date, this has worked extremely well.

To keep my attention off the distress outside of session, I have been using one of the frontier commitments. "It is logically possible and certainly desirable to end the ancient habit of paying attention to old distress, and replace it with a new attitude or posture of paying attention to interesting and rewarding concerns, including the present-time situation...."

Marty Klein
Woodstock, New York, USA

Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00