At last everything seemed to slot into place. I felt connected, wanted and desired. I was able to express myself through my emotions and my passion. I was finally able to discover something about myself. At least, that is how I saw it. But was I just reverting to what I had escaped from?
I was tired of running and not seeming to get anywhere. Yes, I was growing in my work and finding my creativity, but there was still an emotional hole inside.
So I met a girl and we fell in love. We got married, bought a house and started living a good middle class life, just like my father. I understood, now, the life my father had led and what I had been missing. I gloried in it and left politics and drugs behind. A few years later I left the theatre and my first son was born. Now I had a real reason to live. But all of that is for the next chapter of this story, the chapter where I try to justify a whole new way of living, a return to what I really did not want, I only thought I did.
Without realising it, I had been feeling the emptiness of not having a relationship, not feeling the closeness of another person. I can see how I had never experienced this, so when it came I did not know how to deal with it. I fell into it and followed the only path I knew. I did not understand that it was possible to experience this in different ways on the journey to understanding what I wanted or needed. I grabbed at it and clung on—for years after it was gone.
We worked together and became close. The closeness had the power of sex within it. Sex was something I had only had fleeting experience of and never with one person on a regular basis. When this hit me I was bowled over. This was something I had only been able to imagine, not experience.
For her it was fun, something to enjoy and move on from. I do not mean this in a negative sense. She had experience of sex and relationships and knew not to confuse them with each other or with what her aim in life was. It was alright to enjoy life with another person and for that person to move on. For her the future was about stability and settling down, today was about closeness and enjoyment. For her these were not necessarily combined.
For me there was only confusion. I was overtaken by the power of passion and the filling of a void. I felt I was needed but, more than anything I was the needy one. My needs had never been filled, not when I was young and not since I had left home. I never saw it like this, that would have been too simple. If I had I would have understood my seeking. I had not found the end of my seeking, I was not even close, but I thought I had come to an answer I could understand and pursue.
I have still to look at the loneliness of this period, that will come next, but it seemed that it was coming to an end.
After a little time together she moved away, Before she did she tried to finish the affair with me. This was devastating to me. It was crushing the stability and passion I had found. I could not let it happen. I moved into persuasive mode and found my power. I could have what I wanted as long as I could persuade other people that it was the right thing for them. I, of course, knew it was the right thing for me.
It was to be many years before I discovered that this power of persuasion did not serve me well in my personal relationships. It was one of the things that made me successful at work, but relationships are different.
I have never forgotten that evening, when I got her to understand that we were meant to be together and that the sense of chaos and wildness in our relationship was the right thing for the future. Stability was for wimps. What we both needed to was to throw caution to the wind and grow into life together.
To hear me you would have thought that I was the one with experience, I was the one who had things worked out. Nothing was further from the truth. I was winging it. I did not want to let her go and was prepared to do anything to ensure this did not happen.
Why was I so certain, at the time, that this was what I wanted? That is a very good question, one I have never totally answered. I think it comes down to the fact that I was not able to just see myself as sufficient unto myself. I could only see myself in relation to other people. It was about the need to have someone to depend on and who would depend on me. It seemed from my childhood that this is what was at the core of a relationship and that relationships were at the core of life.
My seeking was about finding an answer beyond this, it was about finding who I was in the grand scheme of things, but that was still a long way away.
I see two types of relationship, and ‘A’ relationship and an ‘H’ relationship. An ‘A’ relationship is one of co-dependency. It is one where the two people lean on each other and need each other. If one is not there the other collapses and sees no meaning in life any more. This is common among couples. It does not mean it cannot be a successful relationship but it does mean that it does not enhance the lives of the two people, it merely fills their needs. An ‘H’ relationship is one where two people can stand alone in their own inner strength. They deal with their needs and do not rely on the other. However, when they are together they have something powerful that enhances their lives and the lives of those they come into contact with. This is a relationship of power.
The former staves off loneliness and the latter demonstrates aloneness. This one of the core ideas of this book, the journey from loneliness to aloneness. My discovery of this difference did not come until much later in my life, but it was informed by my understanding of how I created this first relationship.
Getting married, buying a house and having children catapulted me into a life that many people see as more normal than the one I was leading. This was true but it also lead me away from a life where I hid away, where I was not close to understand myself or my role in life. I needed to go through this experience to discover the truth about myself. Whether this was a good idea for the other people involved is a difficult question, one that I am not able to answer. They need to answer it for themselves.
Next week I will complete this period by going back to the question of loneliness. What did it mean for me?
—Photo Credit: Flickr/Alexis Nyal