Difference between revisions of "Dealing with a Major Personal Crisis/Catharsis"

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Back to [[Dealing with a Major Personal Crisis]]
 
Back to [[Dealing with a Major Personal Crisis]]
  
==Crisis==
+
==Catharsis==
  
On an unplanned occasion she met a young man and they both fell in love.
+
At the end of the sixth week I had a fateful talk with my wife, my aunt, and an experienced moderator.
She didn't hide it from me, told me how happy she was to have met him.
+
I had started to have endless conversations (mostly by phone) which gave comfort and support but this was different.
I misinterpreted it as a fleeting liaison of which there had been a few harmless ones before.
 
But it wasn't. An escalating circle set in of talking about it, getting positive feedback, attention, making the best out of it, sadness, trying to limit the scope of it, appeal, jealousy,  talking about consequences, desperation, begging, her retreat.
 
  
It was a development in weekly steps where the crisis deepened followed by a small success (when I achieved some understanding or concession) followed by a further deepening spiraling down.  
+
It was eye opening.  
  
The few interspersed family therapy sessions didn't help. The therapist couldn't follow the speed of the development. We/I were continuously behind retelling events and getting little help.
+
I was shown the truth. Told unambiguously that she did love another.
  
I thought every free minute about us during this time and wrote it down. I knew exactly what I wanted and how the situation objectively (or rather superficially) developed including the trouble spots - I just was always behind it a few days when she progressed further. I didn't have the initiative and could only react.
+
That I was powerless and was completely at her mercy.  
  
I remembered that she had had doubts from the beginning and that I wasn't her dream lover but dependable steady rock and that that might be add odds with what she had missed.
+
That I could at best wait and hope that their relationship would break and be there then.
I also [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationalization_(making_excuses) rationalized] the situation especially noting positive effects for us/her e.g. that she lost her depression and stopped displacement activities and was more affectionate toward me (initially). I also reasoned that I couldn't hold it against her because strictly she hadn't done anything wrong, been open and honest and it was a risk (not keeping her from flirting) I had taken knowingly.  
+
And I considered it.
  
I browsed online for advice and found (among others less matching) an [http://bfriends.brigitte.de/foren/um-den-partner-kaempfen/151881-bin-am-verzweifeln-meine-frau-hat-sich-in-einen-anderen-verliebt.html online tale] (German) which asked
+
In that talk I remembered something I had read earlier (possibly on lesswrong):
 +
[http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Litany_of_Tarski The Litany of Tarski]. I later phrased it as follows:
  
: * Why did you neglect her?
+
: If she still loves me I want to believe that she still loves me.
 +
: If she doesn't love me any more I want to believe that she doesn't love me any more.
  
Did I? I had to assume that I did. At least in some part. It made me pay more attention and show more affection.
+
And when I looked it up somewhat later I added the [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Litany_of_Gendlin litany of Gendlin]:
  
: * Is she only interesting because you could loose her?
+
: What is true is already so. Owning up to it doesn't make it worse.
  
I had to admit that the crisis had rekindled my love for her. I burned as in the first year. But she wasn't interesting only because I could loose her. Interesting she had been all the time.
+
Being totally exhausted I tried to get free sleep medication (which didn't work) and then went to a doctor who asked me about my problems.
 +
I got a sleeping drug (promising that I wouldn't abuse it) and took it in the evening. It was the first real sleep in weeks.
 +
The next day I considered what I had recognized, had another long discussion with a relative, another ten hours of sleep and was full of new energy and direction.  
  
: * You overlooked the option that she moves out and the children stay with you.
+
I could act!
  
I took this advice and looked into rights and concluded that I had all the rights to stay and exclude her new one from our home. That advice was the key to getting initiative back later.  
+
I could put my energy onto a new goal: Making the best out of it for me and the children. Start a new life!
  
: * Can you see both of you are jointly caring parents?
+
From total devastation I swung into an euphoria of total liberation within two days. I knew that this euphoria wasn't real though it felt great. It swung back an forth between slightly sad and successively lower euphoria until I stabilized almost at my normal level within a week.
  
This I could. I found that this part of our relationship, this shared common goal wasn't actually compromised by this change. She clearly wanted to continue this - even if not with me on her side. We could still follow this path even if not as a unit as before. I only realized this quite some time later though.
+
Most astounding was the feeling when I gave up my love for her; when I realized that in truth she didn't love me. I could feel it leaving me in a few days. Day by day the desire to do anything to make her sustainably happy declined. Strange.  
  
I enumerated logical options for the relationship:
+
===Advice===
  
* One relationship ends
+
* I'm not sure to recommend the litany of Tarski and Gendlin in general because of [http://lesswrong.com/lw/8s3/issues_with_the_litany_of_gendlin/ issues with the litany of Gendlin]. You might not want to put your brain's bonding circuitry under this kind of load. Borders on [http://lesswrong.com/lw/jhs/dark_arts_of_rationality/ dark arts].
* Polyamorous relationship
+
* Get as much help as you can.
* We endure the tension
+
* Visit a doctor if physical symptoms manifest.
 +
* Try to find a moderator for resolving issues. My experience is that a moderator avoids falling into affect and using empty accusations.
 +
* Write a diary!
  
And ways her liaison could end:
+
Continue to [[Dealing with a Major Personal Crisis - Parting]].
 
 
* Patiently wait till it abates
 
* Urge her for more time for us
 
* Force the choice between him an me (assuming at that point that she would choose me)
 
* Urge her to end the liaison
 
* Sabotage her contacts with him
 
* Find help to break their relationship
 
 
 
The last two options I had heard of  but didn't pursue.
 
 
 
===Approaches Tried===
 
 
 
What I tried/did during this time?
 
 
 
I did
 
 
 
* focus full attention to all she said and did. This gave no clear results but it probably helped to be aware of the situation.
 
* show signs of love, fondness, affection. It turned her away ("too much").
 
* Write poems. Was seen as imitating him (though they were totally different).
 
* explain the consequences it will have on all of us. It was seen as pressuring her with consequences.
 
* ask for a pause, for time to heal. It was refused ("can't stand it").
 
* beg and appeal.
 
* cry and break down.
 
 
 
All in all I couldn't reach her and couldn't understand that I couldn't reach her.
 
 
 
I compromised assuming that a healthy balance for us could be reached. But it couldn't.
 
 
 
At some time I let him into our house to learn to know him. To explore the relationship option space. But I couldn't stand it. Him and her together and me out. She asked me on and off about it but I couldn't stand it for any extended period. It just didn't work.
 
 
 
After the fourth week I couldn't sleep more than four hours a day being too agitated.
 
 
 
After the fifth week I developed heart palpitation.
 
 
 
When she left in the fourth week she called relatives to look after me (without telling me).
 
I was furious about her taking the easy way out. But it did help. It gave comfort and a way to get out of my circling toughts. That was the start of a reversal of the trend (even though the bottom was not yet reached).
 
 
 
All in all I lost over 6kg in the six weeks of the crisis and slept on average 5 hours a day (instead of about 7).
 
 
 
The crisis phase ended with continuous agitation and traces of suicide thoughts rationalized as "if he (her new one) replaces me and I only interfere, it might be best for the children if it is short and they all get the insurance". I couldn't live on this way. 
 
 
 
===Emotions===
 
I am usually very balanced and this carried over to the crisis. I was torn but I was also calm a lot. I didn't fall into anger much and never into hat. Hate would have been stupid because it would have destroyed too much for no comparable reason.
 
 
 
Excessive jealousy would have been ridiculous but the jealousy I felt was appropriate. I considered polyamory. I didn't rule it out on moral grounds. But my feelings of jealousy about their behavior didn't allow it. It tore me. I don't know whether it had been different if she had loved us both equally.
 
 
 
 
 
===Lessons===
 
My individual lessons from this phase (caution: these may not generalize):
 
 
 
* Random events can trigger a latent relationship issue (a kind of [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tipping_Point_%28book%29 tipping point].
 
 
 
* Write a diary in emotionally hard times.
 
 
 
* Call for help early. Don't think that you can and have to solve this alone.
 
 
 
*  Look for advice. Consider all the advice you get. Choose advice carefully.
 
 
 
* If you want to use professional help in such a crisis make sure to
 
 
 
** find an experienced professional
 
 
 
** have at least weekly sessions for both of you
 
 
 
** (Note that this is different from help to generally improve marital satisfaction, what we set out to before the crisis).
 
 
 
During the beginning of this phase I looked up research on falling in love and jealousy.   
 
I found out that infatuation has as one effect [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_basis_of_love#Nerve_growth_factor increased nerve growth] and thus feared that the longer it took the more she would learn and adapt to him (and more away from me) thus the harder it would get for me to win her back.
 
 
 
===Quotes and References===
 
Quotes and references (found sprinkled in my diary): 
 
* An [http://bfriends.brigitte.de/foren/um-den-partner-kaempfen/151881-bin-am-verzweifeln-meine-frau-hat-sich-in-einen-anderen-verliebt.html online tale] of a comparable crisis (German), there are probably more out there for each of your personal crisises. This one was quite close.
 
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_jealousy_in_humans Wikipedia: Sexual jealousy in humans]
 
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_basis_of_love Wikipedia: Biological basis of love]
 
* [http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-does-the-brain-react-to-a-romantic-breakup How Does the Brain React to a Romantic Breakup?]
 
* A [http://public.econ.duke.edu/~vjh3/e195S/readings/Weiss.pdf mathematical model for marriage and divorce] (interesting theoretically but of little practical use).
 
* A [http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0040445 study about jealousy triggers]
 
 
 
: We consistently find – across both men and women – that meals elicit more jealousy than face-to-face interactions that do not involve eating, such as having coffee.
 
 
 
: Neuroimaging studies have found that being rejected, even by a stranger, activates many of the same regions in the brain as when experiencing physical pain.
 
 
 
: Attachment between adults is presumed to work on the same principles that lead an infant to become attached to his or her mother or father – or both.
 
 
 
: The chemicals triggered that are responsible for passionate love and long-term attachment love seem to be more particular to the activities in which both persons participate rather than to the nature of the specific people involved.
 
 
 
: The long-term attachment felt after the initial "in love" passionate phase of the relationship ends is related to oxytocin, a chemical released after orgasm.[14] Moreover, novelty triggers attraction. Even exercising for several minutes can make one more attracted to other people on account of increased heart rate and other physiological responses
 
 
 
: the role of the limbic system in love, attachment and social bonding. [...] our nervous systems are not self-contained, but rather demonstrably attuned to those around us and those with whom we are most close.
 
 
 
Continue to [[Dealing with a Major Personal Crisis - Catharsis]].
 

Latest revision as of 17:41, 20 January 2014

The personal account below is not posted in Main or Discussion directly but here because it contains personal details the author does not want to be directly trackable to himself via a trivial Google search. The author is aware that linking and Wiki functions allow to make this connection but assumes that this will more likely happen only by persons who know him and his story anyway. Please respect this wish and don't mention the authors name in a link to this page. You are free to cite parts of this as per this Wikis license. You may of course make typographical corrections or add/correct links and references.


Back to Dealing with a Major Personal Crisis

Catharsis

At the end of the sixth week I had a fateful talk with my wife, my aunt, and an experienced moderator. I had started to have endless conversations (mostly by phone) which gave comfort and support but this was different.

It was eye opening.

I was shown the truth. Told unambiguously that she did love another.

That I was powerless and was completely at her mercy.

That I could at best wait and hope that their relationship would break and be there then. And I considered it.

In that talk I remembered something I had read earlier (possibly on lesswrong): The Litany of Tarski. I later phrased it as follows:

If she still loves me I want to believe that she still loves me.
If she doesn't love me any more I want to believe that she doesn't love me any more.

And when I looked it up somewhat later I added the litany of Gendlin:

What is true is already so. Owning up to it doesn't make it worse.

Being totally exhausted I tried to get free sleep medication (which didn't work) and then went to a doctor who asked me about my problems. I got a sleeping drug (promising that I wouldn't abuse it) and took it in the evening. It was the first real sleep in weeks. The next day I considered what I had recognized, had another long discussion with a relative, another ten hours of sleep and was full of new energy and direction.

I could act!

I could put my energy onto a new goal: Making the best out of it for me and the children. Start a new life!

From total devastation I swung into an euphoria of total liberation within two days. I knew that this euphoria wasn't real though it felt great. It swung back an forth between slightly sad and successively lower euphoria until I stabilized almost at my normal level within a week.

Most astounding was the feeling when I gave up my love for her; when I realized that in truth she didn't love me. I could feel it leaving me in a few days. Day by day the desire to do anything to make her sustainably happy declined. Strange.

Advice

  • I'm not sure to recommend the litany of Tarski and Gendlin in general because of issues with the litany of Gendlin. You might not want to put your brain's bonding circuitry under this kind of load. Borders on dark arts.
  • Get as much help as you can.
  • Visit a doctor if physical symptoms manifest.
  • Try to find a moderator for resolving issues. My experience is that a moderator avoids falling into affect and using empty accusations.
  • Write a diary!

Continue to Dealing with a Major Personal Crisis - Parting.