September 19, 2013 at 7:36 pm #42486DanParticipant
My wife said something to me tonight that hurt me, although I know she didn’t mean it that way. It had to do with my unhappy high school experience, and how I should get over it. “You’re 40 years old. It’s time to put it behind you,” she said, not unkindly. She’s not wrong, but she doesn’t understand that I feel defined by the experience, and I feel that it marked me as a loser for life. When I was a child, I expected high school to be like Grease, where everyone was friends with each other had had a great time. I believed they were supposed to be the best years of my life, but they were the worst and I felt (and still do to an extent) stupendously cheated. At the risk of being melodramatic, it feels as if I’m living my life in the shadow of broken promises. High school was one. Going back to when I was very small, I had a brief child acting career that I believe meant the way to fame and wealth and happiness was paved for me. I believed the attention would last forever. Not so much! Also I grew up around a lot of pornography (don’t ask – it was unrelated to the acting, happily) and I think I internalized the idea that sex validates one as a person and is the gateway to a plane of happiness which has been forbidden to me alone. I have a very tough time dealing with the fact that I haven’t had nearly as much sex as I wanted. My wife isn’t physical with me lately (we have a six-month old baby and she’s always tired and not in the mood) and I am angry, even though while I love her, I’m not as attracted to her as I want to be, and I sometimes resent her. She did not take great care of herself before the baby, and she takes even worse care now. Lately I can’t stop fantasizing about seeking sex outside our marriage even though I think ultimately it wouldn’t make me happy and that’s not the husband I want to be. On paper things look good – Wife, kid, a good job even though I have friends who took much less time to reach the same point in their careers – but inside I’m ashamed and angry at myself. Every time I encounter disappointment, I feel like it’s the universe’s way of telling me I’m not good enough, and I can’t stop thinking about what I might have missed out on in most aspects of my life. And a lot of that starts with high school, and I guess that’s why it hurt so much when she dismissed it. I know she didn’t mean to trivialize my feelings, but that’s how it felt. Yes, I’m 40, but even after a boatload of therapy, I’m still not over it, and that, too, feels like a failure I should hate myself for. I know I’m not the person I want to be, but if you asked me what I’d have to be to be satisfied with myself, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.September 21, 2013 at 6:23 am #42550MattParticipant
I’m sorry for the suffering you’ve experienced, and my heart goes out to you. Sometimes our mind becomes intensely dissatisfied, and produces a lot of isolation, regret and shame. Don’t despair, brother, there is always a path toward joy. A few things came to heart as I read your words.
The first thing that has to be done here is shift your view a little. You’re stuck in a delusion that life, the universe, fate, whatever… somehow cheated you. This is not the case. Your brain has knots in it, and those knots prevent you from connecting to your joy. Said differently, the source of your healing is not in a changing environment, its in waking up the part of your mind that has been sleeping. This might sting, but it is also very liberating. It means that even after 40 years, you can change your feelings.
But how to do that? You’re going to have to take some steps where you harness your willpower and turn away from negative habits, and begin some healthy ones. Namely, you’re fixating on the negative feelings of the past which drains all of your energy, and so you fantasize to try to get some energy back. Its normal and usual for us to get stuck in that cycle, but it is also incredibly painful and creates the mental state such as you’re experiencing. The good news is the pain pushes us to throw our hands in the air and say “what the heck is going on, and what do I do about it”…. which is pretty much the role of pain.
Sometimes what we fall into doing is fantasizing about what we wish we could have. For instance, we know that there is a state fair in town, which has a booth that has great cherry cupcakes. We begin to dream of the sensuousness of eating one, how good the buttercream frosting, the soft and moist cake, the bursts of flavor and sensation… all coming together in an experience. Yum! So we go to the fair, and get one, then come home to eat it. We unwrap it, and find out we received a carrot cake muffin instead. The fair has moved on, and we are stuck with the harsh, cold disappointment of the ugly carrot muffin. How our mind recoils! As we eat the muffin, all of the sensuousness of it is clouded by that recoiling… we don’t taste the beauty that is there, it is like chewing ash. Each bite is a reminder of what we don’t have, the missing cherry cupcake. We begin to blame and point and become angry that our special moment was cheated from us, stolen from us. Those uncaring bastards at the booth wronged us, and now we have to suffer.
In your case, the child acting, greasy highschool, wife, life… they have produced these dreams inside your mind that you cling to, as though that is the only way for there to be joy. Then, as you wake up to the difference between your dream and reality, you suffer. It isn’t just something you “get over” such as your wife’s perhaps well intentioned words. Rather you have to grieve the loss of the dream, pull your mind back into the present, refuel your heart, so you can taste the beauty that is present.
The best method I know of for this is metta meditation practice. Metta is the warm feeling we have inside ourselves, which wishes us and everyone happiness and success. When we are full, satisfied, it is natural to be happy for others. When we are empty, dissatisfied, it is natural to compare and be jealous. Instead of trying to produce the right conditions externally, such as going back in time and changing your highschool experience or chasing the cupcake, we sit and use our willpower to refuel. Its just the emotional state of the body, and can be held without any external change.
Consider for a moment that each breath you take refuels a little of your energy, like getting a penny for each breath. Over time, that builds up into a small abundance, which then can be invested in our life. What you’ve been doing is throwing your money into a wishing well, and then noticing that you don’t have enough money to buy yourself food. You notice that the people around you seem happy, satisfied, and well fed… their wishes in the well must have come true! So it must be the universe just has it out for you. That’s just not the case, brother. They aren’t spending as much time and effort wishing, so they have enough to buy their food. This is where doing metta meditation will help in two ways.
First, it will increase the energy received with each breath. When we breathe in, the amount of energy we receive is directly proportional to the amount of openness we have. When we hate the world and what it has done to us, we get very little… we are naturally closed to it. When we wish the world well, and reach out with as much sincerity as we can, each breath becomes more nourishing. Second, it decreases the mental agitation… the mind lets go and becomes smooth, peaceful. This allows us to begin to enjoy what we do have. The carrot muffin is beautiful and sensuous as it is, and as we let go of the cherry cupcake, the bites turn from ash to wonder.
The great news is that your powerful suffering in this moment transforms into powerful joy as you take the reigns. It is much more difficult to inspire an apathetic soul than heal the broken heart of a dreamer. You have such vibrancy inside you, such a powerful mind and imagination, that as you start looking for a new internal strategy, the healing will probably happen fast and profound. Give metta even a few weeks, twice a day if you can manage it, and see what happens.
It really is up to you, each moment presents us with a blank canvas, and what you do with the next 40 years is between you, your heart, and the blank potential of a fertile world. I believe in you, friend, namaste.
MattSeptember 27, 2013 at 9:33 pm #42924MayaParticipant
Past is what it is. Past. Do not re-write it by excuses, blame and judgment.
You are trying to find a solution through the mind that created the problem in the first place.
When you try to solve a mathematical question – you do not just try to find a answer. You try to understand the problem.
To understand something fully – solves the problem.
Do not ask “How” to anyone. We are here to learn ‘how’. We can ask the directions but ultimately we have to walk the road.
If you can spare time- go to any vipassana meditation for 10 days course. This was the best advice I was given.
It is what Mahatma Buddha preached mankind 2500 years ago. This is the first step and the last step.
Wish you well.
If everything is so painful, why do you hold on it and keep repeating it? Have you ever wondered on that.. You dont keep touching the fire once you know it burns. That’s what thoughts does.October 6, 2013 at 5:18 am #43289harshaniParticipant
From what I figure out… its your outlook about things and how you take things. Try to understand that you are feeling neglected now bcoz your wife devotes more time to the new one. You might feel that she is careless about things and other stuff. sometimes you may even find her screaming or yelling at you for no reason and al this makes you feel lonely. You start to think where you went wrong and why things have changed so dramatically. But the fact is you are not the only one.. Most new fathers undergo this phase in life. they feel ignored and sometimes even start to blame everything their past, the spouse and even the new born.But what I suggest to you is just involve yourself with the routines of your family. Try to understand your baby though remember your wife is prime care giver.. It will be tough to gain their confidence initially. Your wife might point out a lot of mistakes in the way you treat the baby. You may know that you are corect but still allow her to tell you. Its just that she knows better what to do. At times she might intervene but just ask her if you are correctly handling and slowly gain her confidence… get to chanching diapers and clothes. Don’t think any work to be menial.. JUST LOVE THEM BOTH WITH A CLEAR HEART AND YOU WILL SEE WITHIN A FEW MONTHS EVERYTHING WILL BE NORMAL. WHENEVER YOU WANT TO GO TO THE PAST JUST GO KISS YOUR BABY AND THE MOTHER. YOU WILL FIND BOTH ENJOYING IT. FORGIVE THEM AND YOURSELF EVERY MINUTE..AND BE A PATIENT PERSEVERE