This is a very important post, a culmination of all the hard heart work Maximus and i have been doing these past couple of months.
Maximus had an epiphany, an “Aha Moment” yesterday.
Maximus had His first one-on-one appointment with Fern via Skype yesterday, but it wasn’t where He had the epiphany. After His appointment, He texted that it had gone very well and that He wanted to share with me. Due to our schedules, it took several hours before we had a chance to go over it.
Maximus had done a lot of work prior to the appointment to put together timelines and notes so He could explain to Fern His relationship history and the timeline of Ms. W within it. Much of the appointment, He shared, was Him going over this history. When He finished, Fern asked Him to share with her His feelings of these events rather than the timeline. At first, Maximus said He was kind of taken aback by this and had difficulty describing His emotions about His history. They spent quite a bit of time discussing the emotions He felt about JB and the breakup of their marriage, but nothing about Ms. W. After this discussion, Fern mentioned to Maximus that it seemed to her that i had not shared a lot of the details about this relationship with her and felt that perhaps Maximus had only shared the timeline of events rather than His feelings about the breakup with JB. She asked Maximus to consider sharing His feelings about the loss of His second marriage with me.
While Maximus was explaining His session and Fern’s request to me, i thought to myself, “Wow, how off-base was this session?” How have they so missed the mark?” And actually, i was kinda ticked off by this session because i truly understand the breakup of Maximus and JB, know every detail and emotion because Maximus HAS explained this very thoroughly with me. i have NO ISSUE at all with JB or Maximus’ emotions from the breakup or about her now. And i realized that the only time i had shared Maximus’ history with Fern was at my first session, which was a huge amount of me talking trying to get all of His and my relationship histories communicated to her. The rest of the sessions have focused on my rage response and unfinished emotional business from my previous marriages.
So i shared with Maximus, who wanted to go over His emotions about JB at this time, “i have no issue about JB and i have, what i think is, a thorough understanding of your emotions and feelings about the breakup of your relationship with her. The big issue is that i have no understanding whatsoever of your emotions and feelings toward Ms. W. And i’ve been asking for that for months. In fact, when i have asked you to explain your feelings toward her, you answer ‘I have no feelings about her. She’s taught me about birds, we’ve gone for hikes, but i have no feelings about her,’ and that has been extremely frustrating to me. Of course you have feelings about her, we all have feelings about everyone we encounter in our lives. You have feelings about The Englishman, You have feelings about SwimmerGuy. i feel that by telling me You have no feelings about Ms. W that you are evading the question and i feel frustrated and hurt by that.”
Maximus pondered this and then agreed, by way of an analogy about feelings about olives, that yes, we do have feelings and emotions about all people and things we encounter, emotional responses. And He realized that it was true, He had not answered my question about His feelings about Ms. W. And that He never understood why i kept asking the same question over and over as He thought He had answered it, but now realized that He never had. “I’ve been thinking you’ve been bat shit crazy asking me that over and over, and now I see why you’ve kept asking.”
So Maximus started in on His feelings about Ms. W. “I feel pain, anger, and guilt. And i feel support and friendship…” And then He continued on talking, and i needed to have Him explain these feelings as they were so radically spread out across the board from negative to positive feelings and i didn’t understand. Why does He feel anger and pain about her? So i stopped Him and asked Him to explain each feeling in detail as i needed to understand.
Maximus explained that He felt pain, anger, and guilt about Ms. W over the breakup of His marriage with JB. Pain, because He was deeply hurt by the breakup and angry about it. And He, “in the past,” felt an enourmous amount of guilt for introducing He and JB to Ms. W and Covert Ops, which led to the breakup of their marriage. “But I’ve worked through that, with the help of counselling, talking to Ms. W, The Englishman, and you, and that helped Me understand that I am not guilty and should not feel guilt about that. I don’t feel guilt anymore.”
“So what about support and friendship, then?” i inquired, “Explain that to me.” He responded that Ms. W and He had a common experience and shared information and supported each other during the divorce process. “I got a lot of support from her from the breakup until the spring, when you appeared in My life and grew to be more of my support than she was.”
“Ok,” i continued, “that’s all your feelings in the past. You’ve explained the pain, anger, and guilt you felt in the past at the time of the breakup, the support during the divorce process, but that doesn’t tell me how you feel about her NOW. How do you feel NOW?” Maximus went on to explain that He feels friendship, friendship of someone who has had a common experience, but that He does not and has never felt a connection with her, and has never felt love for her. “If I met her at a party and we started talking I would be bored. If she said, ‘Hey, we should get together and meet for coffee or drinks sometime’ and gave me her phone number, which she would never do, I would thank her for her number and say, ‘Sure, that’d be fun,’ but I’d never call her. I just don’t have a connection with her and never have.” He continued, “I have always struggled about not having an connection with Ms. W. I kept telling JB that I just didn’t feel any connection and she told me I needed to figure it out and ‘Don’t screw this up,’ so I just sucked it up for JB. And, as I’ve told you before, the sex is pedestrian, vanilla, boring.”
“So,” i replied, “would it be accurate, based upon what i am hearing you say, to say that You were taking one for the team with Ms. W?” Maximus exclaimed, “Yes!!! That’s exactly what it was!” And here is where i have my struggle and always have had. “So here is were i am completely confused in that, to me, Your words do not match Your behavior.” i continued, “You are no longer with JB….there is no team for You to take one for, yet You still have sex with Ms. W, which You describe as pedestrian and say You don’t enjoy; and you continue to do things with her, someone you don’t connect with. You don’t have repeat sexual encounters with anyone else that You’ve not enjoyed having sex with–only Ms. W. In fact, You did not enjoy sex with little e and have turned down play dates with her and Big E because of it. So to me, there has to be a reason, that You’re not telling me, some feeling, that makes You continue to engage in sexual activity that You have said over and over and over that You do not enjoy! Moreover, You tell me that there is no connection with her personality as well, that if You met her socially now, there would be no draw to her. This is the crux of my confusion, it makes no sense to me and makes me feel like You’re not being completely forthright about Your feelings about her. There has to be something that’s driving this, some feeling. What is this?”
Maximus replied, “you’re making me feel defensive about this.” And i responded, “Well, it’s not my intention to make You feel defensive, i’m just communicating how the incongruency of Your words and behavior make me feel. i’m sorry that it makes You feel defensive.” He then answered, “Well she calls me up and wants to fuck and she hasn’t got anyone else to fuck, so I do it. I don’t abandon people, you know that.” i replied, “That’s not Your responsibility. You don’t have to fuck her because she has no one else to fuck, that she’s not found anyone else to fuck. And she never will find anyone else to fuck as long as You continue to give her the impression that this is something you want and enjoy. You’re leading her on and it’s really inconsiderate, actually. She will never move on as long as this continues. Furthermore, i think You are doing this out of guilt, that while You say over and over that You no longer feel guilty, You are having sex with her to make up for the fact that You feel responsible, because of swinging, for the breakup of her marriage and You somehow owe it to her to make it up through sex. And as long as you continue to do this, she won’t be able to move on, You won’t be able to move on, and we won’t be able to move on. You aren’t abandoning her, You are allowing the friendship to take its natural course, honestly. Not having sex with her is not abandoning her.”
The phone was quiet for a moment and then Maximus said, “Oh My God, this is a break through. I’ve not considered this and I think you’re right. I’ve been saying over and over that I don’t feel guilty but my actions are saying it different. I am enabling her by doing this and that’s just wrong! I don’t enjoy sex with her, I don’t seek it out, but I am having sex, which I don’t enjoy, because she asks for it and I feel guilty. Oh My God. Here I’ve been thinking all along, why doesn’t gabriella get it, that i don’t have a connection with Ms. W, and now I get why you just haven’t gotten it. you must have been thinking, i love Him, i trust Him, but i just don’t get this, why is He acting this way?”
And i responded that i had been trying to explain this for months. i’d ask Him to explain His feelings for Ms. W, get an evasive answer that He didn’t have feelings for her, try to explain my confusion, and getting nowhere, would eventually get so frustrated that i’d rage at Him. i just felt so frustrated and couldn’t articulate in a way that He understood. i got to feeling that He was avoiding answering or not being truthful about His true feelings for Ms. W and reverted back to the feelings I had during my relationship with OneGuy and his dishonesty and took it all out on Him. i’d try to be calm, but frustration took over and i exploded. That is why i raged every time we started talking about Ms. W. As he continued to insist that there was no connection with Ms. W, sexually or otherwise, it gave me an impression that His relationship was unconditional, that she could do no wrong and that there was a connection deeper than ours.
i also shared another thing that i had discovered about myself, and it wasn’t until i read The 5 Love Languages book that i realized this. Maximus, as a way of making up for His guilt in breaking up Ms. W’s marriage, would sneak food and money into Ms. W’s car and purse when she visited, as she had been forced out of her home by Covert Ops and JB and lived in a one room cabin with very little income. He felt responsible for that. He would also collect old magazines for her so she’d have something to read as she did not have internet or cable. i have felt jealous about his, especially the magazines, and it really bothered me that Him giving Ms. W old magazines made me feel jealous. Now i understand, though, that i was reacting to the feeling that those little gifts were gifts of love, as i was viewing them through the lens of my primary love language, when they were really gifts of enormous guilt. “Yes!” Maximus replied, “I was trying to repay her for the huge financial loss she had encumbered due to my breakup of their marriage! In fact, if she had asked for money, I would have gladly given it to her.”
We then reflected on what we had accomplished with this dialogue and how important it was. And we discussed the logistics of how Maximus was going to proceed with His friendship with Ms. W. “I can’t keep having sex with her, it’s just wrong to do that.” i shared that one of the reasons why it was so difficult for me to understand how Maximus could continue to have unenjoyable sex with Ms. W was because of a great non-sexual relationship i have with a couple i used to swing with, Crash and Double D. i had tried four separate times to have an enjoyable sexual encounter with him, and finally had to let them know that we weren’t going to be able to continue a sexual relationship together. We are wonderful friends, i’ve never had more devoted friends and their friendship means the world to me.
Maximus has asked for guidance from me on how to have the conversation with Ms. W about not continuing a sexual relationship with her. He is concerned that He will lose her friendship. And i shared with Him that honestly, He has no control over how she will respond to this, but He has to be true to Himself and her. That is what He owes her. i promised to work on writing down what i had said to Crash so Maximus has some ideas on what to say. In addition, Maximus will wait until she contacts Him again for another sexual encounter to have this discussion, in person, in private, not seek her out to tell her. They can remain friends, do things together, visit. We have both agreed that she can stay at His house, but not in the same bed together, as that would be midleading (Maximus’ words), and while she does do a good blow job, there can be no sexual contact, again, as it would cause confusion and hurt. And i trust Him in this. These were His plans and His decisions and i support Him in them.
i cannot entirely explain the relief from hurt i had from this dialogue. i have been carrying this confusion and pain of not understanding and not being able to articulate to Maximus in a way He could understand for months, since September, ten months, actually. It was like a sliver, something small that when brushed, even ever so slightly, caused pain and irritation and i just couldn’t dig it out to make it stop. Yesterday removed that splinter.
Maximus asked me to write this blog before His next session with Fern on Monday. i was absolutely emotionally spent after we were done and wasn’t sure i could write this, but today, i felt renewed. In fact, at the end of the conversation, Maximus said, while spent, He felt like an 11; i replied that if it wasn’t for being exhausted and having a headache, i’d be a 23. This blog is my act of service for Maximus, as i know that He really wanted a accounting of what happened, what was said, so He could refer to it as notes when recounting it to Fern. It was a pivotal dialogue.
Once He has His next session with Fern alone and we have our joint session this week, we really do think we will be done with this chapter. It has been a difficult one, a hard story, but one with many lessons. And i believe we are all the better for having gone through this. There is a reason we stayed with this, stayed with each other. It would have been easy to have just split, written us off as an incompatible relationship, me as some bat shit crazy chick and He as some philandering liar, and look back upon it as a failed relationship that ended in bad feelings. But it is always better to go with the difficult right than the easy wrong. We are stronger and closer because of it.