letter to prison 18 January 2008
Hey, buddy, I got up before 3am this morning and figured Iíd write you a quick note to catch you up and let you know I havenít forgotten about you. Thereís not a great deal to report here, but I can be fairly windy in reporting very little sometimes.
I still havenít signed the papers on the new truck yet. I havenít heard from the truck dealership, and I havenít called them. The initial problem was that they had no way of documenting my income. I had tossed all my old paystubs, and we changed payroll companies back around October or so. So my year-to-date figure on the check I took them in December didnít show very much. I had very little credit history, oddly enough, other than the lien the IRS has against me, which Iím paying off steadily. So anyway, itís been well over a month, and Iím still driving that new truck for free and not complaining. I have my old truck back, and Iíd be happy to sell it, but Iím in no hurry for that either.
Iíll make some time this morning and go to the post office and get you a money order while I have a little jingle in my pocket. I havenít sent you any money in a while, and it costs me so little to make a big difference in your quality of life in a given week that I hate it when I put off doing that. Itís Friday morning here, so I reckon that wonít get to you until next week, but still.
I got myself into dreams of romance over the last month or so and gradually lost sight of any proportion I had to my perceptions. Itís funny how that can happen with me, but the results can be pretty pathetic, and even tragic, if I donít have a little humility about it.
I met this guy online and chatted with him on the phone a few weeks back. I told him that I wasnít interested in long-distance relationships or internet romance, and that Iíd have to meet him soon. So he flew down from Virginia about three days after we first talked. That was pretty sudden, but I told myself and him that it was the only way I could keep talking to him with any sincerity. That was my rationalization for getting me into the very situation I told myself before that I would not get into the notion of developing.
We had a great visit over the weekend and enjoyed each otherís company and visited with my friends and family and saw some of the local sights. I was smitten, really taken with him, and I hated to see him get on the plane and head back east that Tuesday morning. Immediately I began working on him to move down here. I was relentless about it, actually pretty obsessed with the idea. I reasoned that his circumstances were perfect for such a move. He was unhappy where he is, heís between jobs, heís single and ready for some kind of relationship and we seem to get along perfectly and enjoy spending time together. Thereís also a good deal of mutual attraction physically. He doesnít know very many people where heís at; itís not his hometown, and heís essentially couch-surfing there as it is. He is in the midst of a settlement process for a neck injury he developed while working, and he has a doctorís appointment in February, but I assured him that we could fly him back up there for that at minimal cost so as not to disrupt that process.
The downside, of course, is that this is a very sudden and dramatic change for both of us. I live about a thousand miles away. Weíve only met in the last month, and he knows nobody in Dallas except for me. All my protestations to the contrary aside, thereís no telling how things would actually develop between us. Thereís no opportunity for that process of shared experience over time to take place in which a normal relationship would grow between two people. We would be microwaving what otherwise would be a slow-cooked meal and hoping for the best. He has a history of uprooting his life and moving cross-country with the vague hopes of things being better elsewhere, and heís understandably hesitant to do that again.
All the same, I had convinced myself and told my family and friends that he was probably moving here soon. It suited me to believe that, and it more or less fell in line with the way I approach these things. It also seems to be the way he operates, whether heís comfortable with that or not. I figured that, in light of that, we were both, at the very least, a marked improvement for one another over partners and circumstances we have each chosen in the past. He is thirty-seven and fairly centered and self-aware, and I am sober going on two years and moving forward with my life in a substantially methodical and stepwise fashion. I can really build an edifice of rationalization that is rock-solid and unassailable when Iím in the mood, Bill.
Things began to come to a head over the last few days. Heís been under the weather, and Iíve grown impatient; not so much for him to make a move, but just to tell me that he is, in fact, coming and when heíd like to do it. I pushed, he equivocated. I sulked and pouted, he reassured. I missed the talks weíd had that hooked me in the first place, the long conversations about the things that interest each of us, and the fascination that comes with getting to know someone elseís insides. I really like that stuff when the curiosity is mutual and bound by some measure of affection, but my demands were creating some distance and building a reticence in him, I think. I was objectifying him at that point, and it had become an obstacle to the very thing I desired.
I lost sight, most importantly, of what is really important in my own life. I am living now by a set of principles that require that I be willing to let go of my old ideas about what works and brings me happiness, that I let go of my unreasonable demands for security, prestige and romance. I became fearful that I would not get something I wanted. My self-centeredness in that regard was the chief obstacle to my own happiness Ė a happiness that is not contingent upon the satisfaction of my disproportionate demands when those demands are subordinate to that Process which I have been attempting to put into practice in my life over the last year and ten months.
I awoke this morning just before 3am with a brainstorm. My mind would not shake it loose. I felt like I knew a few things:
1. He is unhappy where he is
2. he is going to move somewhere, and it is likely not going to be in the town where he lives right now
3. heís probably not going to come here, or in other words, I didnít make the cut
4. I have a resentment against him, God and myself for screwing myself out of something I thought I really wanted
5. the only thing I have any real control over in that situation is my own resentment, and that resentment can potentially wreck my life in a very real and substantial way regardless of the possible outcomes of this situation
So I got up and started my coffee, got on my knees in the living room and prayed the way I do every morning, went to the bathroom and sat down with a cup of coffee to read and write and clear my head and find some relief and another way to approach this so that I could let it go. It wasnít important whether any or all of those first three propositions were true or untrue. The last two were where my responsibility lay.
It was exactly those unreasonable demands that were instrumental in bringing down the longest relationship I ever had. It was similar demands that ended the last relationship I was in, though I think it was more my resistance to my partnerís desires that was my part in that one. I suppose it is more or less that situation that drives most people apart and creates conflict in peopleís lives everywhere on the planet. What I had to do was let go of the idea that the solution was in finding a way to meet those demands, and instead, to find a way to let go of that attachment to their satisfaction, such that, whatever happens, I can be happy and usefully whole again. This is how that Process works. This is how moral inventory and self-examination and dependence upon the intercession of God work in my life to dispel the ill effects of self-deception and self-centered fears. Resentment and hurt feelings and the attachment to unreasonable demands upon others and God are all things that work to form a tyranny in my life. I labored under that for forty years or more, and it nearly killed me. It does, in fact, have the power to kill. The slavery to my impulses and emotional states is the end result of following my disproportionate demands and desires and attachments to their logical end. Following that road leads back to a drink. And for me to drink is to capitulate to a living death.
That all sounds very dramatic and verbose, but it is simply a logical process and the nuts and bolts of how I continue to move forward and work toward objectives that are not of my choosing, but which, in the long run, bring me real happiness. The downside is that I have to swallow a good deal of pride and live with the embarrassment of doing all of this in public Ė itís just my nature, I suppose, to let everyone see my guts in all their distended and convoluted glory. The upside is that I grow a bit, and that pride I am chewing was simply false pride in any case.
It matters not, really, whether he moves here. He will do whatever he does, and I canít control that. He may show up next week, or I may never see him again. It likely will be some other permutation of the possible outcomes, as it almost always is in my life. The nice thing about all of this is that the emotional disturbance on my part has come and gone in the space of a very few days, and at no time during that period did I consider going off the reservation. It didnít even occur to me. I got myself wired up on a bit of an emotional bender and showed my ass in public, but the end result was some raw feelings and a clearer picture of me.
I really like this guy. I really do. Hell, he could move here, and we could have a wonderful life together. Everything so far has led me to believe that heís a good fit, and I see no reason why that should change, if circumstances conspired to allow that. The important thing for me, however, is that I not take my eyes off of what is truly necessary for me to keep moving forward on the path I chose back in April of 2006. Without that focus, Iím no good to myself or anyone else. If I can maintain that (and that is an act of will that is really the proper use of will power in my life) then I can have anything I want that God wills and be satisfied with it.
I work with a couple of guys who, oddly enough, deal with very similar issues, and I have lately been at a loss as to exactly what to say to them about their situation. As a sponsor all I really have to share is my experience, and my experience over recent days has really only been negative. I think I see now what the answer was, and why that answer was slow in coming. My experience points toward one thing, really: a dependence upon a God of my understanding to give me peace of mind and true happiness, regardless of circumstance.
Yer faithful correspondent,