As I contemplate the general wreckage of my life as I know it, I’ve been thinking that the threads that have come undone were a long time in the making. Perhaps from what is broken, new things will come to life.
When I first fell in love with my wife, one of the things that drew me to her most was her love of wellness. She was into potions and lotions and all kinds of secret beauty recipes and technologies. And while she was not and has never been at all New Age or anything similar, she was always spiritual about it. She was the first person to teach me about essential oils, about scent, about massage oil bases…in part because that was a sensual activity that formed a big part of our early touch.
I’ve always wanted entrepreneurial things, to be independent, to not work for someone else. The need for that in my life, which has been predominantly characterised by self-employment punctuated by career positions (with the punctuation largely driven, initially at least, by my propensity to get fired from corporate jobs), has been driven by economic necessity. My entrepreneurial ventures have not always been super successful—none of them have lost money, but none of them have given enough for us to sustain ourselves in the style we both wanted…so clients and corporate jobs became necessary sources of capital injection so that we might have the best of both worlds.
My wife was a successful businesswoman. It was a huge part of what attracted me to her. Grounded, strong, powerful. I dreamed of being in business with her. Before we even got married or even lived together we bought property together, and this became the foundation of a business. It was a business that neither of us had real passion for, but became a wonderful joint project which brought us many wonderful things and introduced to some amazing people over many years. Joy.
But at the same, there was the real business I was hoping to do, and part of it was a desire born from something that was about her. It was this idea of making a natural products business. One that was based on beauty, and satisfied her love of lotions, potions, and wellness, and my love of for alchemy and magic. We talked about it every now and again, and it remained something which at least for me was a certainty, just a question of when.
But one day in conversation, a few years after we had married, she told me that she was talking to a friend of hers about doing just such a business. “That’s great, I’d love to be a part of it.” And indeed, she had known that, but told me then, “there is no way I am going to do another business with you.” I am sure she had great reasons. I am sure that I must have been awful to work with. Whatever it was, I am sure that her feelings were legitimate. But to discover them out of the blue in that way, to discover that there would be no such business with her, was a heart blow.
It struck to the core of why I had married her in the first place—that she was going to be a partner—a true partner in every sense of the word. I discovered in this moment that this was not going to happen. And then we had children. And she was and is a great mother, and these concerns and thoughts were pushed to the back burner as our children were small and growing. We had new adventures in new places, and they were all kind of exciting. But we were also drifting, not going anywhere professionally—neither in our own business or in my work—and she wasn’t working and not looking—I felt like we were not moving forward…that all the momentum in our relationship had died.
We both focussed on the children, and that was something I would never change. I took a decade off more or less, and enjoyed being with them and watching them grow up. I believe that our children are happy and well-adjusted today because of the time we spent together in this way as a family.
But there was a cost. An economic cost, and we ended up living in increasingly straitened financial circumstances. In the end, I had to leave home, and commute internationally for work. And this pattern lasted for over a decade. And not at first, because the necessity was there, but over time, I began to resent it. I wasn’t at home. I wasn’t with my children. I wasn’t near the place that I loved. I wasn’t with the friends I had there. And I was carrying the financial burden of our lives by myself. And while I could not fault my wife for being profligate—she has always been a penny pincher in a good way, I didn’t like being the only one who worried about our finances and did something about it.
Additionally, I resented that while I went back to “normal” work, I also still carried the bulk of day-to-day responsibilities in our family business. It became too much. When I took a real, full-time job, with hellish hours, I had to give up the day-to-day family business and hand it over to her…only she only took part of it. The rest of it, the part required to make it profitable, she delegated or it didn’t get done, so over time, that business stopped producing for us and became a cost in its own right.
And in truth, from these two threads the realisation that we were not really partners at all, but that she was dependent, began to fester. I don’t wish to criticise her for it, she and I different that way. I know that she is comfortable with a traditional female role, and I know that I would never have married her had I known that was what lay ahead. As any reader of this blog will surmise, being a lover of dominant women, this has been a cruel adjustment. I am reminded of the frog metaphor—that it will be cooked to death when cooked slowly, but not when confronted with death in boiling water. This is a bit like her saying to me on our walk—why did you marry me when you knew I was vanilla? Because you are and were a beautiful woman, one that any man would be honoured to have children with…and I thought back then that you would be a partner to me in every way, just as you probably thought the kinky stuff didn’t matter or would go away.
But as we know, the itches we don’t scratch become deeper needs. And given my thoughts that the erotic is a gateway to our deepest needs, we were asking for trouble from the beginning, and it is a tribute to everything else we had together that we made it this far at all.
And as I think of this, I think of little ways that we shattered each other’s dreams. I mentioned her explorations of starting a product business with a friend and how that small incident became a fault line in our marriage. Similarly, one Christmas or birthday she made a lovely gift me for me. One that was handmade and lovingly prepared. And for some godforsaken reason, I didn’t respect the gift and said something off-handed or dismissive or unkind about it. She threw it at me. And the thing in her life that the gift was born from withered and died—a hobby. And I have never stopped feeling guilty about it. I often said to her that I wished she would do it again. I often apologised, but there was no healing it.
And I think too of Mistress in this regard, and how one day when we went for a walk, she was standing behind me, and she reached around me and put her arm around my neck and practically lifted me off the ground as she choked me. I had never felt or experienced something like this before, and it put me into sub-space instantaneously. Breath play. And I wanted to bounce around like a popcorn on a hot air vent in the folds of her aura…I felt so utterly light and held and contained in that moment. It was beautiful. It was also scary. And because I had never done anything like that before, I was curious. I read about it, and there was some pretty scary stuff online…and so one day I asked her about it, and asked if it was safe. I just wanted to learn, and to be reassured.
But the last thing I wanted from my question was to make her not want to do it again, but that is exactly what happened. And even though I apologized for asking and wished and hoped that she would feel free to do it again, to know that I trusted her, but that it was normal that I needed to speak and have my fears answered, I felt I had disappointed her, and had robbed her of something which she enjoyed…and that felt like failure.
It’s hard not to be hurtful, especially when you can’t even see it happening. One of my therapists picked up on this thread recently, as did my reiki master. The idea being that we are all individual bubbles—like balloons—and holding the string of someone else’s balloon interferes with them and their freedom…it is best to just be, and to allow yourself to be, and the people that will seek to be with you, will be drawn to you because of that freedom.
In these instances, and in many others, I have failed the people I love. I am sorry for that. The easy path is to start again. I will have to. But I would rather do the hard work and not have to. Is it narcissism to be looking? Because those I have loved, are so worthy of love, and hopefully in letting go of expectation, and letting go of my own demands and needs in relation to them, they will find their way back to me—and if not, will at least have better lives without me, enriched by our time together.
As for me, I have no choice but to keep looking. Ironic. It was Mistress who pointed out to me, “you’re always looking for more, but what you have already is enough.” On a recent yoga retreat, where I would say I had my first true real and sustained multi-day contact with the divine—in both good and bad ways, I discovered that I do very much have enough…and when I looked to see what it was, I saw my wife and children. The irony? It was almost the very next day that my wife said this is over. Relief. Why? Because acceptance matters.