I am sitting here bundled in that old black wool coat and a hat, I can't seem to get warm this morning. I was up most of the night. I woke up, heart pounding, feeling anxious, restless, couldn't get back to sleep. I got up, re-read my last post, and was dissatisfied. So I tweaked it a little bit, added images. I really do like that poem about the peacock... and the line in it "inner refugee" --
I have been thinking about that letter-writer so much. She has really crept into my thoughts. I identify with her situation - almost literally -- as though I am her, I can picture being her, how she feels. My thoughts still go to someone who I am really trying not to think about anymore -- very painful. In the night I thought (sort of like George Sanders in what was it - Village of the Damned) -- Don't Think of Peacocks!! Think of grosbeaks - or nuthatches - or towhees!
I re-read her letter this morning, CT's response, and all the comments. I thought of her in light of my background. I am trying to work out these thoughts, they're jumbled, and difficult. One thing that bothers me greatly is how letter-writer's married paramour is not only having an affair with her, but carrying on with other women as well - with whom for the most part (letter-writer guesses) he doesn't have sex, mostly because they seem strong enough to resist his advances because he is married, as perhaps so are they, some of them at least. So it makes me feel (in this way that I find myself, as in that Bergman film Persona, almost merging with her, being able to see through her eyes) that by contrast, she is lacking in such psychological fortifications, and thus vulnerable. And that he was attracted to the vulnerable in her, that part of her that isn't strong, which rendered her pervious, more easily penetrable, and ultimately compliant as to not only his carnal desires but as well, his set conditions.
He is charismatic and flirtatious (in her words) -- and I would add to that - powerfully seductive. He visits her three times a week for a year and then -- I know the feeling well -- it's as though he shuts the cocks -- for whatever reason (which he doesn't state) something has changed, he has changed his mind, he is about done. So now it's down to once a week. For an hour.
He does all this - from the flirting, to the seduction, to the arrangement, to the inexorable cutting of ties - with clandestine impunity, an echo of the impunity of her alcoholic father who many years earlier had sexually abused her, as a vulnerable little girl. The little girl is now a grown woman -- but not entirely. And this is something that gets intuited.
(Another echo -- my alcoholic father too abused me, though not sexually, as a vulnerable girl, now I'm a grown woman...)
It was many years ago, when my first boyfriend and I were involved. I didn't have letter-writer's experience, of having an illicit relationship with a married man. (Though arguably it was illicit because I wasn't of legal age, but only barely so, and times were different then, unlike the witch hunts now.) I was a junior in high-school; he had recently graduated from college. We saw each other openly, I spent a lot of time with his family - though obviously his & my erotic encounters were as secret & private as we could possibly arrange. We dated for about ten months, and he was planning his exit - graduate school - for months in advance, and then the time came in August, and he left, and there was correspondence after that, and phone calls, but I think he knew much better than I did that the relationship was over for good. I have no doubt that after he left, he lost no time finding a new interest.
I was sixteen, he was twenty-three. I was vulnerable, emotionally immature, and from a very chaotic, unhappy family. He and his family represented lifelines for me, that I gratefully seized & clung to. I could hardly believe that such happiness & bliss were possible. I was devastated when the relationship ended.
A stronger young woman -- from a stable family, with loving parents who were genuinely looking out for her -- might not have gotten as emotionally mired as I did. (I picture younger versions of the laughing, attractive women he socializes with - secure and strong – truly emotionally unavailable.) Here I am all these years later - still feeling the psychic pain. Which feels physical too, when I think about it, the dull ache, pounding heart - bodily expressions of my feelings.
Don't Think of Peacocks! Or think about why I shouldn't think of peacocks. I feel so bad for letter-writer that - while he has lunches & drinks out with other women -- she is buried, deep-sixed -- they never go out in public. What a psychologically damaging situation that must be to be in - perhaps for both of them - so secret that it smacks of shame - an echo, again, of her father's egregious behavior, the secrecy and shame concomitantly shared by both.
As I think about all this, I think -- yes people have extra-marital affairs. I can accept that (I don't believe it is ever an ideal situation, but on the other hand do not feel strictly and rigidly moralistic as to the issue). I do, however, see a distinction between having a passionate love-affair, a long-term mistress for example, with whom there's an emotional attachment of a kind -- versus having an elaborate lifestyle set up with an entrenched "official woman," the wife --- and a revolving door, over the years, of short- and long-term sexual liaisons, including brief flings. And maybe I can even accept that kind of bloodless philandering -- as long as it's carried on with similarly strong, emotionally-equipped players --
unlike Letter-Writer -- who is clearly not that, and must I am sure, however unconsciously, betray her vulnerability -- I would imagine (especially if one is looking for an opening) that it must be rather obvious, that it shows on her face.
I wonder if she reminds him of me, if we share that quality, if we're similar in just that way -- a source, however inchoate, of the attraction.
I cannot relate to all that compartmentalization. There's the wife. There's the three-times a week sex partner, now down to once a week -- so perhaps there's another lover now as well. There are other women friends whom he sees, platonically, because they are otherwise largely unavailable. There's a muse, at least one -- not even corporeal…
Each woman is sorted into strictly delineated categories, according to function. Is any one of them apprehended as a whole, integrated individual, in his relationships with them? No - I don't believe so. The array of women is like a kit of parts, each representing individual aspects of importance to him, in her circumscribed role.
Letter-writer says that he is "emotionally unavailable" to her, and that he was upfront about that with her. I wonder if he is, in fact, truly emotionally available with anyone. My guess is - no. (Oh but what a glorious semblance - those resplendent initial seductions!)
He searches for his soulmate, intuits Letter-Writer. I realize it is not me, she writes.
I try to decide if I too realize it is not me. I don't know if it is, or is not me. It is me. It is not me. My heart pounds. I tear at the conundrum.
I realize that... that... I am here.
Perhaps he does search for his soulmate. Do I believe that? Yes I do. It's a primal desire, after all, archetypal. So yes I believe he does, his inner refugee - unconsciously, and at the same time so strenuously.
But I wonder - what would he do if he ever found her?