It’s not every day that I realize exactly how I subconsciously operate to the detriment of my conscious desires. And even when I do, I don’t always realize the exact reasons for why I’m doing it. With this latest insight I realized that part of what I was doing was conscious, and part was cleverly obscured and sunken into the subconscious. It took a bit of scratching of the surface to see beneath it.
What I realized was that – despite my conscious decision to not get a divorce, I still harbored the desire to get it. And it wasn’t a secret to me. I’d often get glimpses of what life would be like without the marital bond, and a longing for such a life, unburdened by constant prying from a person wanting to invade my privacy in order to express their disgust and irritation with it.
That feeling of longing would then be followed by a pang of regret for what such a life would mean for my relationship with my children; a relationship that would be ground into dust by my wife’s admitted effort to prevent me from seeing them ever again. Of course, I had a contingency plan for exactly such a case. It could take quite a while for that plan to come to fruition, however. It’s difficult to figure out what exactly will happen by the time I finally do see my kids.
But the truly fascinating thing is how my subconscious then decided to deal with these conscious to semi-conscious desires. One manifestation of it was as a desire to watch something on Netflix at around midnight of one night. On top of that, I wanted to grab something sweet to eat while I watched that episode. Now, that was a very clever combination of things to do, because I was very tired and stimulating myself in that way is a surefire way to make myself fully alert and unable to go back to sleep (I’d slept, but I got woken up at around that time).
Not sleeping would thus make me exhausted and unable to perform in multiple areas of life – work, marriage, parenting, you name it. The goal was to fail at a particular aspect of marriage – it was to fail at sex life. Not only was I making myself fat and unattractive by eating sweet foods, I was also making myself so exhausted that I could not perform sexually.
The goal? This was a subtle manipulation of my subconscious directed at my wife: I wanted her to be so unsatisfied with our marriage that she either filed for divorce, or had an affair (at which point I would file for divorce).
I’d known that I was being manipulative in our relationship – if I couldn’t figure it out by any other means then I knew it because I was very irritated whenever I felt manipulated by my wife (indicating that my manipulative self was disowned in me, part of my shadow self). I’d never actually seen it in action, however.
Now that I do, I have the ability to consciously choose a different course of action. I used to follow MAP (Mindful Attraction Plan) to improve my marriage and I continued being frustrated while following it and running into roadblocks. I used to attribute those roadblocks to my wife: she’d interrupt the work that I did so that we would be together for more time than I thought reasonable. Consequently, I’d get no work done and we’d have fights about dirty dishes (for example) even though I felt she was the one who made it impossible for me to do them by demanding so much of my time be dedicated to her. To be fair (to myself), she did demand a truckload of time from me and I didn’t need to cave to her every demand for it. But – in addition to a number of other things I did – I caved; partly because even back then (long before we had children), I wanted our relationship to go sour.
The MAP didn’t account for this one contingency of having one’s own subconscious undermine one’s conscious efforts to achieving a good marriage.
But why would my subconscious undermine me in such a way?
The reason stems from that one moment that I described in one of the previous posts, a moment in which I saw our future together as ending in our divorce. It was the moment when I became resentful of my then girlfriend and subconsciously wanted to get back at her for snapping at me. But I didn’t want it to be out in the open; my way of doing things is much more sinister and devious. What I saw then wasn’t a vision of our future, it was a plan – it was a plan to get what I wanted (children), to appear as if I’m giving my best to make our marriage succeed, but to ultimately let our marriage fail and even to make it seem as if she was the one who wrecked it with her behavior.
The plan is verging on pure evil but it wasn’t unprovoked. Her behavior was indeed uncalled for and it was in itself – in many instances – manipulative and demeaning. That I thought it – subconsciously – possible to portray her as the manipulator and destroyer of our marriage suggested that there were elements in her behavior that were exactly that – manipulative and destructive. And there were. A woman who threatens suicide when her husband doesn’t do what she demands is manipulative and destructive. A woman who throws household items at her husband, swings her arms in a threatening manner – against a husband who is determined not to use physical force against his wife no matter what – is manipulative and destructive.
But to see how I have subconsciously decided to observe such instances of misbehavior long before we were ever seriously involved in order to present them as evidence that she has destroyed our marriage which at that point didn’t even exist and which I’m responsible for beginning in the first place – that’s something that stumps me! Why didn’t I just end the relationship then and there?
I’ve asked myself that question previously, but the answers I got to now all seem like rationalizations or justifications for my decision. Yes, it’s true that I didn’t want to get much older before I finally had kids. It’s also true that I didn’t want to go back to finding another girlfriend. I’m the exact opposite of a “player” and I have no interest in “picking up” women. And worse, there were some little things even before that moment when my subconscious planned out our future together, which gave me the feeling that there was something ominous looming in the background. I keep trying to think back on what exactly created this feeling and although I don’t remember anything concrete, I feel that it was the product of my subconscious perception of what proved true in that moment – that my wishes are not being heard, that they are irrelevant, and to be dismissed (in that particular case, by yelling). It’s a story of my childhood, really, and I had a full skill set to deal with that kind of environment. So along with it being unpleasant, it was also very familiar. A known evil. Manageable.
I suppose I would have been perfectly happy had my marriage been arranged, even as I realize how horrendous the idea of arranged marriages is (and a thought I nearly dismissed as I wrote this was that even an arranged marriage wouldn’t be as horrible as the one I have; maybe the only reason I would’ve been happy with such a marriage is because I would feel no responsibility for it and I could shrug anything related to marriage off with a simple “I didn’t choose this, so if you want it fixed then fix it yourself”).
On the other hand, I was completely honest with my wife – then girlfriend – regarding marriage. I told her that marriage meant nothing to me. She was the one who wanted to get married before we had children and I indulged her, telling her that I would go through the motions of it, but only because she wanted it. So, when it came to pass that I wanted to make good on what I told her – that marriage meant nothing and I didn’t want it any more – she made it into a package-deal. If I throw away the marriage, I also throw away fatherhood – the one thing I do feel responsibility for and the one thing that would truly hurt me if it was taken away from me.
Now, she could have done the same thing whether we were married or not, because: law. So, the fact that I married her is inconsequential in this regard. The truly appalling thing is that the only reason she could do this is because much of the money she would need to raise the boys on her own she would get from the state, and she would also probably get alimony. And let’s put this into proper perspective: she’d get alimony despite the fact that she herself was refusing to let me take care of my own children. This may make sense if I was violent and abusive, but I’m not (even despite my subconsciously manipulative tendencies).
While it’s certainly the case that I’m not receiving (some amount of) respect by having some of my responsibilities as a father taken over by the state, it’s on me to find other ways to earn the respect that is thus denied to me. My plan now is to go back to MAP, this time with certain amount of vigilance about my own subconscious efforts to undermine my conscious ones.
And there’s something more.
My previous therapist once asked me why I’m trying so hard to fix my relationship with my wife. She suggested I should let some things flow naturally.
I realized what she meant only on that night when I watched a show on Netflix, chewing on a sweet treat. After that show, I spent some time thinking about our marriage and some hiccups we’d had the night before. This is when I realized that these attempts to fix things – which were part honest, part pretense – at least the way I implemented them – were the exact thing that undermined my conscious efforts for a better marriage. The best thing I could have done to fix things at that point wasn’t to lose sleep thinking how to fix things, it was to go to bed – to let things flow naturally, as my therapist had said. So I’d gone full circle – from investing effort into figuring out how to fix things, to realizing that the best way to fix things was to not invest so much effort that I would lose sleep over it.
And I had to make some effort to figure this out, so it wasn’t all for naught. For one, had I gone to sleep, I wouldn’t have figured out how I was subconsciously continuing to sabotage our relationship. I might never have figured it out. So while I do seem to have gone full circle trying to think things through, it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch hoping that I’m actually going in an upward spiral.
I say that I’m sabotaging our relationship, but the way I do this is by sabotaging myself. I have already written several times about how I downplay my abilities. I make myself appear incompetent. I never go all-in on my decisions because I fear I won’t be able to follow through. I tire myself so as to be unable to perform and I go out of my way to take steps to make this inability indiscernible from the real thing. It’s as if I’m biding my time, but that moment that I’m biding my time for doesn’t seem like it’s coming.
So I might as well be as incompetent as I’m pretending to be.