So, as many of you know, I’ve been maintaining “no contact” with my LO/emotional affair partner since the middle of April. This has been working extremely well, allowing me to re-focus my energy on my marriage and understanding myself & my husband, while at the same time dissipating those pesky “feelings” and fantasizes of being swept away from the realities of real life by a knight in new & shiny armor.
Unfortunately, I’ve been working from my old lab for the past three weeks (lucky for me LO is on vacation so I don’t have to deal with him in person until Monday) and as people who’ve gone through similar experiences probably know, being back in the location of the betrayal is a trigger for all sorts of negative feelings– anxiety, stress, fear, sadness, nostalgia, longing– and with these negative feelings re-surfaced the desire/need for some sort of contact. For the first time in a few months, instead of my thoughts being directed towards my new theories, work or my next blog post, they were re-directed towards musings on the experience with LO and what I would say to LO if I were to send him one last email. As much as I tried to bury these Fe-Si-Ne-driven thoughts (the exact content of the fictional email changed every day and the urge to actually write it down grew and diminished based on my mood), I inevitably caved on Monday.
Since writing, sending it and receiving his replies, I’ve been trying to figure out my intentions and motivations behind its content. What was I really trying to say/prove/gain? What was the response I was expecting? It was written in a frenzy, definitely write now-think later. I knew that if I stopped to think about it for even more than a second I would convince myself not to send it (as I had for the first 2 weeks) and maybe regret not having said these things later? Who knows.
Anyway, my analysis has led me to these potential motivations (feel free to chime in if you can detect some other hidden motives). It really was very idiotic of me to write and send this (and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone in the same situation). I did tell my husband that I’d sent an email; he wasn’t impressed and longs for the day when all this will be distant past.
1. A need to determine his frame of mind (I have started to feel bad for potentially putting him in a “mind funk” as well).
2. A need to help.
3. A need to preach/share my new knowledge and insights and hear his opinions about it.
4. A need to share my experience with someone who might actually understand.
5. A need to make next week less awkward since we’ll be seeing each other every day.
6. An attempt at closure.
7. A need to show that I was doing ok.
8. A need to show that I was available in case he had anything he needed to get off his chest.
Anyway, here is the email for all to laugh at my mistakes.
Title: One more [important] life lesson
Feel free to disregard/dismiss/ignore.
So, after months of deep introspection, solitude, existential loneliness, despair and self-hatred (a bit longer than the 40 days required by the Buddha, but I did have a thesis to write at the same time) I’ve come to several new conclusions regarding the meaning of life, the universe and everything. And, as I’ve suspected all along, the answer is not 42—but happens to be quite fascinating, intriguing and in its most basic, deconstructed form, actually quite simple.
It actually did feel, for a very long time, like my mind was slowly caving in on itself. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t prevent it from happening and I knew I just had to let my mind wander, ponder, feel and just wait it out—somehow the mind would find some way to correct itself. Anyway, I eventually hit what I consider rock bottom sometime at the end of May/early June—somehow I foresaw it coming (I believe it’s happened before, sometime in my teenage years, unprompted by any major life events except for puberty and a deep sense of being misunderstood & alone in the world— it was then that I picked up many interesting and maladaptive behaviors that somehow allowed me to function as a quasi-normal human being in this confusing and strange world). Anyway, it was at this point that I sensed a great void and had the fleeting thought—“LO stole my soul/identity”—I was reduced to nothing, basically the sum of my component neurons and that was it. I felt nothing, I was nothing. I had lost purpose, essence, meaning. It’s at this point that some people would think about throwing themselves off a bridge or starting a religion—but again, I found it to be such an interesting, profound experience from a neuroscience perspective that those thoughts didn’t even cross my mind (well, I may have considered starting a religion/cult for just a second…). I just waited it out.
Amidst a lot of obsessive reading/thinking, I eventually stumbled upon this: http://personalityjunkie.com/ and was like, “there’s NO FUCKING way” and then “holy shit, the strange puzzle pieces that have made up my life so far suddenly fit together”. And slowly the pieces of my soul started to put themselves back together again. Here’s to hoping that it’s stronger and smarter this time.
Anyway, you can take the test if you’d like, but it’s pretty clear to me that you are ENFP… and I am INTP. I think it explains why you have trouble making decisions/come off to others as too friendly & flirtatious/sometimes feel awkward in your interactions with other people… and my propensity to plug my holes with romantic relationships and work/achievement obsessions. And SO many other things about the world as well (at least in my mind, I see all the answers pretty clearly now).
Anyway, I have no blame or hate towards you, myself, my decision-making process or the life experience. It took me an extremely long time to forgive myself since my actions/feelings contradicted how I consciously saw myself. I didn’t identify with this risk-taking/easy-going/affair-seeking side of myself and having to admit to and accept that part of myself took a long time. I wasn’t taking care of myself and my own needs—actually not even consciously knowing what my greatest needs are—in these cases, the subconscious eventually retaliates, forcing you to examine yourself, your actions, your view of the world and try to make amends with it.
As I see it right now, we were just two personalities interacting naturally with each other, behaving as our “true selves”, which is why the interaction was endlessly fascinating, entertaining and dopamine-release inducing and led to that elusive feeling (at least in my experience) of being deeply connected & understood by another human being (even if in the end I don’t think you understood me that well, but that’s ok, no one actually has) and that sense of extreme vulnerability that comes with the realization that you’ve just placed your happiness in someone else’s hands (which is one of the reasons I freaked out—that shit is scary to my independent self). It’s pretty clear to me that I was responsible for setting my own personal boundaries, I just didn’t know what those were at the time (I need to experience life to learn how to function best in the world—and obviously I don’t enjoy following society’s view of how a “wife” should act & behave). How was I supposed to know that I “connect” with others by sharing my inner world of scientific thoughts/ideas/truths (evidently my version of deep secrets)? I mean, I only started being comfortable with my own ideas of the world once I reached graduate school and then finding someone who actually enjoys listening to them and seems to “get it” is another ball-game altogether… anyway, you can see that life has been a pretty lonely experience for me so far.
I really hope you are not too mad or hurt that I rejected your valiant attempts to salvage some sort of friendship— it really was because I ended up caring too much and was in some sort of unsustainable, frightening, altered state of consciousness… Anyway, I will be regarding you as a “friend” in a historical/spiritual sense – I don’t think I can be your friend anymore, you were draining way too much of my brain power and I’ve now found an idea way more fascinating and entertaining than you could ever be, an idea that will probably keep me busy for decades (and it will never get up and leave me mid-conversation or move away…).
I’m hoping I can have some quasi-normal interactions with you next week (you are planning on returning, no?)… although it could be that shyness/anxiety or fear forces me to retreat back into my head. We will see.
Oh yeah, if you come back professing your uniqueness and complexity I will have to hit you over the head with my Kandel book… think about this as a basic framework for what motivates our different behaviors, how our minds work, develop and make decisions, the differences in how people perceive and judge the world, what we naturally pick up and things we filter out, what we are naturally good at and the things we avoid doing because they stress us out—of course each of us will turn out unique based on our personal experiences (which will determine our interests & values), environment and how we’ve tried to adapt to the world. And if you are still not convinced I can lead you to a forum of people that think and behave just like you (my sister is ENFP too, which explains why I was always so confused that she turned out so differently to me…).
PS. It appears you may be better suited to academia & teaching than I am (which explains why I never really envisioned myself as a PI…). Evidently it was only a matter of time before I became disillusioned and jaded with the “system”. I’m already feeling the urge to throw in the towel to work on a book, or something.
Let’s just say that after sending it I realized that I hadn’t really considered how he would feel receiving an insane email like that. After one or two more brief exchanges, it turned out that he’d been happy to hear from me, but did not want to engage with me on anything I had written and wanted to keep the new status quo. It was the appropriate response, but I was nevertheless a bit rattled for a few days afterwards.
So there we go. THE END.