I am confronted more and more with my own optimism. It’s been more than 3 months since Jenny and I separated. At the beginning of that time, I was in constant, crushing pain. I was immobilized, lost my appetite, was crying constantly, and making tremendously bad decisions about how to act. Gradually I’ve tried to get my ass in gear and take care of myself. I have turned my powers of observation and problem solving on their ear. My appetite for mastery of computer and internet technologies, my obsession for understanding, and applied that to my own life.
I’ve been doing the forensic analysis of my life, and my marriage. Hospitals have a concept – the M&M conference. These “mortality and morbidity” conferences are where frank discussions about what deaths and injuries occur in the hospital. The idea is to learn from mistakes, and improve the quality of care in the hospital. I think of what I have been doing as the chance to do that kind of soul searching. I have been lucky that Jennifer also came to be willing to do this kind of work.
I have expressed to Jennifer personally how thankful I am to her for engaging in joint counseling with me. I now also do so publicly. Thank you Jenny.
This notion of my public face is so odd. I always have known that my web space is public. I have found, though, that my increased notoriety brings more visitors. And not just visitors, respondents! I have gotten much good advice, empathy, and love from these kind people. Add to that, my mother, and some members of my family check in here to see what Joe’s up to.
I wonder about this? I have become somewhat self-conscious about it all. I can’t tell that I’ve altered my behavior, or what I say here, but I am conscious of it. I suppose this is a taste of fame. For some, it inflates egos, for some, it destroys. I find that the dose I have gotten maybe makes me even more skeptical of fame than ever. Like I’m getting an inoculation from seeking fame somehow.
But really, I seek tonight to answer that question. Should You Be Worried About Joe? I believe the answer is no. Particularly over something like the poem from the other night, do not fret. At 1 in the morning, I’m sure I’m more dramatic and maudlin than I am at other times of the day. I think you should think of this blog as only a sampling of my experiences and life. It’s not the sum total of my life. I’ve been reading a biography of Georgia O’Keeffe these days. What has struck me is how much happens in a life, and that incapsulating it all is impossible. At best we get truthful glimpses. My hope is that this space, this blog, provides something like that. But it’s not everything. Not by a longshot.
So please, take my whimpers of pain with grains of salt. Sometimes I’m more down than others. I cry easily these days. My Grandmother says that’s her family’s influence — the emotional edginess that can strike unexpectedly. I think I feel empowered that I can now say that at times in my life I struggle with depression. I think that knowing this about myself makes me more capable to cope with it. I always assumed that stoicism and time will heal anything. But now I find myself in the position of needing to be able to step outside myself and watch myself. This shift in perspective has been beneficial. What am I doing? Why do I do it? How do I feel? Listening to my self is a must if I’m to live an authentic life.
So what’s new? Well, tonight Jenny, Erin and I went and saw the Margaret Cho concert movie. It was great to see Jenny. Our friend Tracy was supposed to go, but she was in a car wreck the other day, and found out today that the car is a total loss. Dealing with the financial aspects of that, as well as being shaken up by a bad accident, and add to that a cracked sternum and real pain — I realize that I’m very lucky. I’m having good thoughts for Tracy now. I want things to work out for her.
Anyway, though I saw Jenny briefly, I would like to see her again, perhaps this weekend. We’ll see if that works out, schedule-wise. Joint counseling went so well last week that we’re taking several weeks off. The lines of communication are super-open, and we are talking and communicating. I’m very pleased to have her as a friend — as a person with whom I can share confidences. She’s a remarkable woman, and I would like her to be happy. I would like to continue exploring our friendship, for I have no idea where we are headed.
Additionally, I think it’s time to acknowledge here that I’ve engaged in an outside relationship during this separation. The intensity of this relationship has dwindled and changed of late. I have been honest and forthright about this with my parents and sister, and with my closest friends, this includes Jennifer. I don’t feel the shame over it that I think I would have. It’s peculiar to write about it now. It’s peculiar to mention it so publicly. But for some reason, I feel I should. It’s an important aspect of my experience of the past months. It is no longer a romance, but a great deal of the pain I have felt lately I can tell is over that. This is something that has been on my mind a great deal, and watching myself and my behavior has shed light on motives and mistakes I have made in the past 20 years of decisions, feelings and attitudes about women. I am deciding to keep talk like this unspecific. I have no desire to air every one of my character flaws; I do not want to embarrass or expose anyone I care about to trouble. Suffice it to say that I am clearly a human being, and I have made mistakes, some large, some small, in my life. And with luck, like an M&M conference, my thinking about these incidents will help me learn to provide better care.
In this case, the patient is me. I must take care of myself. Interestingly, this is the advice my parent’s gave me three months ago: that I needed to use this time to take care of myself. And again, there’s a reminder of how lucky I am.
The effort I am currently engaged in is to take care of myself.
As many of you have noted, I like to sign off messages of this depth with…