TL and I re-read my last post, “The risk dichotomy,” and discussed it. I think it finally makes more sense. I think we finally see why I took some shocking risks while simultaneously avoiding more mundane risks. To me, before D-day, it was not a paradox. The dichotomy was caused not so much by me choosing some risks over others, but more by me being cavalier about risks to health and hearth while timid about risks to my ego.
Before D-day, I never really thought sufficiently about risks to health and hearth. I took those things for granted. I was not thankful for them. I did not count my blessings. What I did value, however, was my ego.
I obsessively protected my ego. I often did not initiate sex with TL before D-day because I feared rejection. I probably kept silent too often or too long in many professional and social interactions to avoid conflict in the short term. I kept silent with my mother too often, to avoid short-term conflict. And, I never sought sex from any woman who might turn me down. Prostitutes don’t say, “No, I have a headache.” They just take the money. My affair partners were so desperate, in their own ways, that they did not turn me down. I never took a risk toward my ego with women.
I obsessively protected my ego because I was struggling with low self-esteem. As I described in my previous post, the basic goal of my individual counseling and my self-improvement efforts is to build healthy self-esteem.
I think the practical lesson from this is that I might be able to feel more like an adult man if I work at being more courageous in my relationships. This will require me to stop obsessively protecting my ego. I’m working on this, specifically regarding the three types of relationships where I used to cowardly and obsessively protect my ego.
The first type is sex. I try to initiate sex with TL now, without obsessive fear of rejection. It helps that I see my whole life from a more realistic perspective now. No longer using sex as a way to medicate my sick ego, I can now view sex in the context of other priorities, including health, love, friendship, sleep, and even other pleasures such as food or fitness.
The second type is with my mother. I try to be super-vigilant with her, working hard to break my old habits. That means looking constantly for her attacks against TL, our children and/or myself. It also means pushing back quickly and firmly against those attacks.
The third type is with bosses. I try to be braver about speaking up when I disagree or when bosses mistreat me or my staff. Again, it helps to look at my relationship with bosses from a healthier, more holistic perspective. So what if the boss responds with something petty such as childish games or a poor evaluation? If that’s what they do and worst comes to worst, then I tell myself, “Perhaps I’d be better off working elsewhere or being self-employed.” I can no longer allow the fearful child to rule my choices.
A secondary lesson is that I can approach risks to health and hearth from a more healthy, realistic perspective by truly appreciating health and hearth. I need to be thankful. I need to count my blessings. I need to make choices as an adult.