Saturday, February 16, 2013

Progress Report: Day 4 of Lent - Miserable Failure

Really, truly miserable.  Apparently, for me, computer games act as a kind of anodyne - a pain-relieving drug which enables me to ignore the failures of my career, my parenting, my life, and my marriage.

On Thursday, I went to the funeral of a former colleague, a warm, caring and wonderful man whose work as a coach and teacher had positively impacted many lives.  Listening to the accolades so deservingly accorded him, I had two awful realizations:  (1) my husband is also likely to die young, and I will be suddenly left alone in a house I can neither complete nor maintain; and (2) when I die, no one will give a rat's ass because I haven't done anything meaningful with my life and I'm rotten at friendship.  Just throw my ashes out with the garbage - that's about all my life is worth.

On Friday, I sat on the couch and cried for four hours before I attained enough emotional stability to go to the grocery store.  Then I came home and played games on my computer until midnight, because it hurt less than thinking and feeling.

When I haven't been crying on the couch for the last few days, I've been following my husband around the house, haranguing him mercilessly.  He is unfortunately both a basically nice, decent human being, and simultaneously a selfish monster - without meaning to be, of course - but the net effect of thirty-plus years of marriage is that I have immolated my own desires, ambitions, and needs on the altar of his happy assumption that if he's happy, everyone's happy, and that if he says he's sorry or he forgot, it's okay.  Apparently, reparation or changed behavior are not required; all we need is my ever-lovin' forgiveness so he can continue on his way.

To be fair, I must say that, on one level his failures aren't exactly his fault.  As a sort-of-like-autistic, depressed man with chronic pain issues, he functions about as best he can in relationships.  Empathy, planning, foreseeing negative consequences, and remembering simple things aren't natural, easy or obvious to him.  Nevertheless, he is a taker, and I'm a giver with a martyr complex (like my mom), so we dance this addictive, destructive dance together, as we have done for thirty years.  It tears me apart yet I cannot break free.

When I'm upset, I sit down at the computer and find some game which requires a combination of strategy or problem-solving, and accurate, real-time responses.  It doesn't matter to me whether I'm killing zombies, swallowing smaller fish, or destroying asteroids  To be successful in the game, I have to focus completely on the game, and set all emotion aside.  Computer games are a form of mindless meditaton which enable me to survive without looking too closely at the uncomfortable issues in my real life.

Unfortunately, playing games for several hours a day in an effort to remain happy and calm doesn't exactly help me achieve my life goals or maintain relationships.  So I thought that giving up games for Lent would be a positive thing:  I'd have time to do all the other stuff, and I could become a more spiritual person.  Sounds like a win-win, doesn't it?

Instead, it was liking pulling the Band-Aid off my "ow-ie," and discovering I have gangrene.  I am consumed with rage over the daughter I didn't have, the horse I didn't get, the writing career I sacrificed, the art that didn't happen, the teaching job that my husband sabotaged - in short, a lifetime of regrets, not least of which is finding out that I really don't like my husband or myself right now.

As to what happens next, we'll see.  Just having articulated this clearly feels right, and good.  Like opening a window in a room that's been closed and dark for years and years.

No comments:

Post a Comment