Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ambivalence

Carrie pointed out this week that she did not want me to become a "Dry Straight”. We are familiar with dry drunks around here – Carrie’s mother was one, my best friend is working on joining the club. As we understand it a dry drunk gives up drinking without resolving any underlying issues. It can only lead to bitterness, a deep seated unhappiness. Giving up something meaningful – and drinking is presumably meaningful to an alcoholic - requires a reason, an understanding, to balance the equation..

So Carrie is concerned – are our lives better for my not sleeping with men if it is a forced denial, an override of natural instinct. And where is the line – if one gives up sleeping with men but goes on CL – just looking – is that really any different on a psychological level. She is absolutely correct – if I give up men I will be a dry straight. And that scares us both.

Yesterday the schedule unexpectedly worked out leaving time to see Sam, my FWB (friend with benefits). Sam reads my Blog so he is “in the loop”. We have not seen each other recently – work, illness, life: I send him an e-mail and he responds – he has felt my ambivalence and has kept a respectful distance. I go back and forth in my brain – should I see him, maybe a real lunch or maybe a fabled “lunch”.

Of course I have not cornered the market on ambivalence: Carrie has redefined it with her tacit permission, but I do not believe her. She is protecting herself from what she considers the inevitable, my continuing to sleep with men

Carrie may have ambivalence but I fear that it is the wrong word for my disease. I want to be ambivalent: it sounds so much better than the truth. One is ambivalent whether to choose the soup or salad in a restaurant, about running an errand of little import. Ambivalence to me implies a lack of investment in the decision – an item of no particular import.

But I have no ambivalence here - this is not soup or salad. This is looking at that desert, the one with all the cream and cholesterol – I want the desert. But I know it comes with consequences. I may pass up that desert – the consequences may outweigh the pleasure of eating it, but make no mistake – I do want it.

In the end the schedule did not work as well as hoped and given an “out”, well I jumped on it – no lunch, no “lunch.” I had risen above my instincts, honored my marriage, not hooked up. This is not the first time I walked away from the moment. The guilt and fear, and the love and respect, have gotten me over this hump before and presumably will in the future.

I would love to end this post by telling you how good I felt about myself, about the wonderful view of the Promised Land. It is a feeling I have known and it is a good feeling. I really would love to end this post that way, end the Blog that way, but I am afraid that as much as I want to jump to the end, the struggles are far from over. And as I write this I realize that there is a little more to the Dry Straight analogy: the struggle in reality may end, but the struggle in my brain is here to stay, for the moment here to stay on a daily basis.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think that as much as you and Carrie are talking about things and sharing and being open about how each of you are feeling (which is fantastic), you are talking but not deciding. You talk about her ambivalence in that she can be tacitly accepting of y our bi-ness and of your meeting with guys for sex, but would prefer not to know about it and be comfortable in thinking that you aren't. And that at worse you're her husband that is attracted to guys and that's it. You on the other hand want to respect her and your marriage, but at the same time don't want to be untrue to yourself, who you are and the urges you feel. That's well established and that's what you both discuss.

However, where is the middle ground? Where is the compromise for both of you? Or is there no compromise? I know that in my case my wife is 100% comfortable with my bi urges and is open to me exploring them in an atmosphere where she knows about the who and what. I know I am in a special situation because 1) she is bi as well and 2) we most often meet others together.

However, I know where the compromise is. We each know what our comfort level with things is and how much we are willing to accept and allow.

You need to better understand what Carrie is truly comfortable with. Would she be fine if you had only a Sam. Someone who won't be a threat and is a, for lack of a better term, a "fuck buddy." Or would she prefer to be able to know the person as well and maybe this person becomes an extension of your regular social group. Or would she prefer not to know a thing, but fully accept that you will have sex with men on your time.

I understand the living in ambivalence mode once things are out there. And it's only been in the last couple weeks where we've truly opened our conversations again and really figured things out. Sure we still haven't tested things, but at least there is no ambivalence for me anymore.

The more you both put out there where your limits and comfort level ends the better you'll be able to figure out how your marriage will work. May be tougher conversations and harsher realities, but you owe it to each other if you care about each other's happiness.

melvild said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
melvild said...

Interesting post--your remarks on ambivalence really hit home.

Bea said...

. . deep sigh . .

what a strange "place" we are all in

have you seen the movie delovely? i have to say that i'd rather be cole porter's wife than the wives in brokeback

bea

Flip said...

As a recovering drunk, I must say that I'm not entirely comfortable with the term "dry straight." But let's set that aside for a moment.

Are you sure Carrie really wants all the information and honesty you are providing? If you are sure you want to stay with her, what if you just told her that is your ultimate goal and she can leave the sorting out of the rest of the messiness to you.

Just a question.

Later.

F

Nate said...

Thanks for the comments - they are part of a series which have given my serious and valuable guidance.

Mark - Carrie and I have talked today - another post - but thanks for the gentle shove.

Flip - As you know I started with that title but my error was in not realizing along the way the true title of the post - Ambivalence. It blogspot cooperates I may just correct that.

I make no excuse for the "dry straight" imnage: in 150 posts (yes - that is the current number) all sorts of things get test drives and this is not a keeper. Comparing an addiction to a sexual preference while interesting and tempting does not really work.

Bea - "deep sigh" - the joys of simplicity, yes a deep sigh, the hallmarks of our life.

And along the way I have made a new friend who has chosen to remain anonymous - which I respect - but JM, my thoughts are with you and feel free to comment when you feel the moment - we are a very non-threatening bunch.

Flip said...

Hi Nate,

I fear I came across as a little (a lot!) supercilious and maybe offended too. I really didn't intend it that way - what I meant to convey was that I was having a little trouble with the label but really hadn't thought my way through it. Regardless, I have no special insights just because I am a drunk - in fact I probably have a much less clear idea. Ugh. I really need to read over what I type before I hit the "Publish" button.

I hope you know how much I appreciate having you and Carrie around the neighborhood.

Again, I'm sorry for any distress my curt message may have caused.

Flip

Anonymous said...

Nate:

not that I am in any position to point a finger, but I can't help feeling that you and Carrie are in some sort of repeating [heavily soiled wash?] cycle.

What does it take for you to stop and find a resting place?

This is not advice, mind you; I've messed up pretty much everything myself, so I'm not in an advice mode. Just concerned, if there is a discernible difference.

I know this hurts like the Dickens.

And nothing Dickens wrote is short...

yr
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