Hanne’s and my separation is almost imminent. One more trip for me and Hanne will have moved to Massachusetts and I’ll be left with an almost bare house to sell and a renewed life in California.
I’m going to cogitate sucky things about the split-up, I hope not the obvious ones. I don’t want to go on and on, but I think that I should write about it since it’s been giving me trouble lately.
When Hanne decided it was over (and I eventually agreed), one of the first things to go was our prior and almost constant physical affection. As things were falling apart we certainly tried to hold it together, but Dad’s needing almost constant attention didn’t help much. Prior to the split-up decision, we would constantly be petting and touching each other, exchanging head scritchings and back scratches and ear pulling (try it) and toe pulling (try this too!) and other sorts of monkey-like touchingly affectionate behavior. When we decided it was over, that stopped. I went cold Turkey, and when I did have therapeutic massages or acupuncture, the lightest touch from even my therapist or acupuncturist could almost make me cry.
I knew I needed touch, but I kept giving it a very low priority in relation to all the other stuff going down in my life. Given the nebulousness of when that decision rolled around and when we stopped, I’d guess that I went without regular touch for maybe 6 to 12 months, give or take. Recently I’ve found someone I can share that sort of thing with again and it’s been really amazing to recover some of that closeness with another human-monkey I care about.
The other thing I wanted to talk about is the opposite of touch – rage. Or at least I think about it as the opposite. It’s certainly the opposite of loving touch. Anyway, it used to be that I would, if caught absolutely flat footed with a wave of rage and helplessness, punch some big inanimate thing, like a fridge or a tile wall or something. Prior our extended breakup period, I think I might have done this self-destructive punching about 6 times in my life. Never broke anything, but certainly have hurt myself. I believe I punched a fridge once while fighting with Hanne in the last few months. I dented it and really did a number on my hand, which is still recovering.
If it helps to understand why a generally peaceful Malcolm-type person would do such a thing, it seems that it needs complicating factors like very high stress and very high stimulus and a sense of feeling cornered by circumstance and argument partner. My immediate sensations are both rage and helplessness and also numbness. Generally the punching is out of a desire to feel something concrete. I realize that there are other and arguably better ways to deal with this kind of situation and am doing a lot of self-improvement work to find other ways to deal with that and that kind of energy.
I get that this kind of behavior is strongly linked to physical abuse, or the potential for same, which is why I’m doing my level best to not do that any more (along with not wanting to do any permanent damage to myself). The method I’ve found which seems to be working so far is to redirect that rage and helpless, restless energy into the ground through my feet (this is derived from the meditation technique I study, called Ba Gua Zhang – I should note that this art is actually a martial one but I’ve only studied it as a moving meditation and have only a theoretical knowledge of its martial aspects).
Generally using this technique to redirect those energies improves my stance and calms me almost immediately. I don’t really have a desire to put it to the test any more than is necessary since obviously that kind of situation can be so painful to everyone involved. But I hope that this settles that and there will be no more fridge punching.
I do think that this may help explain why some former shared friends no longer appear to be my friends and may help explain what might possibly be going on there. I worried early on that Hanne might somehow be poisoning the well (for what it’s worth, I didn’t think intentionally), mostly because the change in some of these friends was so absolutely abrupt, but I can understand how if someone like me does something triggering (like punching a fridge) it could lead a shared friend to think better of associating with me. That’s another thing that punching a fridge can lose you, even if the fridge didn’t have any feelings – respect from folks with better control, respect and trust from folks for whom that’s a warning sign of a very bad thing.
For what it’s worth, I’m very sorry for that offense and I hope that I will do better in the future.
At the same time, if folks are still interested in being my friends, I hope they’ll step up and let me know if there are other things I’m doing or not doing that are bothering them. I still think that chances are high that Hanne and I will remain friends after this is all over, and I’d like to think that shared friends can remain friends with both of us.
If that’s not the case, I do want to say I wish it could be otherwise, but I will respect any decisions in that regard that you want to articulate to me.