does water seek its own level?

A few weeks ago…

One of the common relationship aphorisms that sticks in my mind is “water seeks its own level.” The counselor my ex and I went to years ago, in fact, said this to us. And, for reasons I shall soon share, it has come to mind again…

I’ve been seeing the gentleman once accused of aggravated assault (sounds kind of badass, doesn’t it?!). Very early in our getting to know each other, he confessed to me just about everything you can imagine a person unloading:  a troubled childhood, severed ties with family, medical history and more. He still sees a therapist to work through the whole arrest ordeal. As I wrote earlier, he doesn’t look so good on paper.

And yet there’s something about him… I know, you’re groaning. And you should be. The last thing I need is a project.

We were chatting the one night (just before he told me everything) and I recall teasing, “You don’t scare me at all! …but I’m pretty sure I scare the living hell out of you!”

Now I think it’s fair to say that I’m a little scared.

So I’m wondering if the roots of my attraction are reflected in shared experience:  I’ve written about how the failing of my most significant relationship shattered my self-esteem. What I’ve yet to share is a story that I guess it never dawned on me that I’d need to write about here. But now I do.

More than three years ago, I went through a crisis in my family — the very family I helped to create. I was emotionally traumatized. When I think about it, the image I see of myself during that time is me in bed, nearly catatonic and drooling, unable to get up, unclean and unable to go to work.

Memory is a liar. In fact, in the midst of the worst of it, I rose each day, showered, dressed and went to work. I obliquely mentioned to co-workers that I was going through a stressful time with a family crisis, my head was cloudy and I apologized for any areas in which my incapacity caused them to overcompensate during this couple of weeks. (I suppose it needn’t be said that this was a precursor to the split, another manifestation of the symptoms and issues of all that was wrong in my marriage.)

As I slowly “recovered,” I didn’t realize the entirety of the damage to my psyche. I may have believed that I was functioning at full capacity just weeks later, yet external feedback (processed and accepted more deeply after the fact) suggests otherwise. Thus, nearly six months later, I found myself being treated for depression. Within 48 hours of taking a serotonin enhancer, I was a completely different person — a person more like the self I knew.

Still, something in my brain seemed to have changed. My ability to concentrate or focus never really seemed to return to 100%. In other words, the emotional trauma had done sustained damage. For awhile, I thought it was the depression, allergies, hormones or any number of things that can cloud one’s thinking. I’ve since read up on it and, with no formal training or diagnosis, believe that I experienced some amount of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I worked with my usual tools to alleviate the symptoms — applied kinesiology (AK), yoga, meditation, organic diet,cognitive therapy, and Holosynch, a meditation soundtrack that puts the brain into a deeply relaxed state. I quit a stressful job. I’ve been selective about the energy in my environment (people, places and media).

Still, having done this work, I find myself drawn to someone still very much in the midst of healing himself.

So I wonder what this attraction says about me:

  • Do the things that resonate between us have to do with our pain? And, if so, haven’t I already been there? Haven’t I rebuilt my self-esteem? Haven’t I done the hard work?
  • Or is it because of his strength and maturity, having worked through so much, and that he strikes me as so adult…and so willing to embrace all of life head-on?
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About failedatforty


3 responses to “does water seek its own level?

  • Angie H.

    Your kids need you. This guy can fix his own problems. You and your family are first. Go back to your post on Feb. 27th “My Own Worst Enemy” and then really consider whether this bad boy fits in your life. Hugs!

    • failedatforty

      Funny, I was just thinking of you this morning and how great you are at living! Rest assured, I’m a much smarter woman than when I was younger — I’ve learned to rein in my compulsive desire to “fix” someone else, I’m very direct with him and I’m watching my energy very closely. Proceeding with caution… 😉

  • Lipstick and Playdates

    On some deep level, you feel a psyche connection with this guy, as a result of your own pain and trauma. This allows you overlook his past. Still, as one who has ”been there, done that” be careful. Don’t let your empathy allow you to get sucked in and thereby create more problems.

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