"According to a recent national survey, one quarter of all adults experience painful loneliness at least every few weeks..." (source) One quarter! That's a significant chunk of the population.
At last week's session, the therapist focused a lot on me, once more. We talked a lot about loneliness, alienation, estrangement, and other emotions that are believed to be rooted in childhood experiences. I've always known that episodes of feeling blue have always come over me at regular intervals. I've generally accepted it as passing fields of energy, spiritually-cleansing phases, and regular, routine check-ups -- like a systems diagnostic. These moments might last 1-2 days, and would pass with no residual heaviness. But at that previous session, I was challenged by the therapist's (and my H's) probing, feeling as though perhaps that continual sense of disconnected separation was in fact symptomatic of something larger. I'm not convinced that's necessarily the case, and I'm not convinced that psychology has the solutions for me or for any of my "problems". I'm just not convinced. However, I am committed to working on it, for my husband and for our relationship.
Therapy does have a way of forcing you to face extremely fearful things about yourself. And at the same time allowing unresolved issues -- issues that no one wants to change, but everyone needs to change -- the room to develop into something else. For me and my husband, there were quite a few things left under the table that we both allowed to go unmentioned. There still are. I suppose everything that has happened, everything I've allowed to happen, everything I've made happen, has occurred because I actively needed a change, for whatever reasons. Therapy has helped us both to figure out what those circumstances were, why they've been that way, and how to approach even the possibility of changing how things are currently.
For me, there are at least a few things I've wanted/desired/needed in our marriage that I wasn't actually getting. And I didn't own up to them for fear of losing H, for fear of being rejected, and ultimately, for fear of my own choice in possibly leaving him.
We've come up with some actions and agreements that are designed to help us mitigate this unfocused path we're treading -- specific practices and exercises to see what we can do to get where we both want to be. They're baby-steps, but steps nonetheless in the right direction.
I've realized two major needs that I've ignored, and not had the courage to ask for from my H: 1) more personal "free time" -- time that is completely my own, that I don't have to answer to anyone but my self, time that isn't shared with him, time that I choose whatever it is I want to do, with no demand on his part to partake in my endeavors. Sex in my mind does fall within this category, but we've both agreed to temporarily prohibit that. His insecurities are too overwhelming to cope with even the idea of me having sex with other people, let alone face the truth of it. The second need I've ignored: Different faces of sex between us. Over the course of our relationship, our mutual love has grown, and the sex has developed into "love-making" only. I have extremely varied desires in all aspects of sex, and by falling into this rut with H, I've allowed a gaping hole to develop between us. I've made assumptions about what he's "comfortable" with concerning sex, and I've actively avoided pushing those boundaries. Instead, I've chosen to fulfill those needs in other ways, through fantasy, and through other men. Our therapist believes that it is possible for married couples to push those comfort boundaries, with a lot of work and with a lot of trust. It never occurred to me that it's easier to trust a stranger with your desires than it is to trust a loved one, especially one who is so cherished. And yet, that is exactly the case.
I don't know what the future holds, with my H, with YoungMan, or with myself. I know that I need to trust myself more and really believe that my desires are as important as those I choose to love, and be willing to share them. This is a surprisingly difficult task with H, but I am working on it. And with each day that continues, life goes on.