Like Freud, B divided our personalities into three parts. Unlike Freud, with his concept of the id, superego, and ego, B called these parts the child, adult, and adult-computer. The way I understand it, the adult part is moral and nurturing, whereas the adult-computer part is rational. Today I was reading something — I don’t recall what — that made me see a certain part of my adultery with new understanding.
Back when I was screwing the maid, my second affair partner, I had drawn away from TL as a friend. I had also, once again, begun pursuing sex covertly, rather than addressing it openly with TL. Today while reading, I realized that both behaviors resulted from me retreating to the child part of my personality.
I remembered going through some difficulties at work during that time, due in equal parts to a conflict between my boss and almost everyone else, my attempt to please my boss as well as everyone else, and my failure to be guided by courage and integrity rather than by hopes that pleasing everyone would work out. During that time TL was away for security reasons. During our calls she tried to talk to me about work. I shut down and failed to confide in her.
Today I finally see clearly that I had been failing to relate to TL as a friend, as an equal, and as an adult. Instead, I had been equating the situation to my youth and casting TL in the role of my mother. In my youth I eventually stopped confiding in my mother about life’s daily challenges because my mother would either insert herself, exert her will on the situation, and take over; and/or she would make irrational excuses for the problem, making up conspiracy theories and generally blaming other people, even when the responsibility for the problem was my own. TL was never anything like my mother; my view of the situation was pathological, based in a lifetime of bad mental habits, not based in reality.
So, in those phone conversations with TL during that troubled time, I let my child persona come forward, treating TL with suspicion and fear rather than with friendship, and hiding my desires from her just as I had long hid them from my mother. I could have done better. Here’s how. I could have called on the adult-computer part of my personality and reasoned that distancing myself from TL was going to undermine our marriage. Better yet, I could have called on the adult part of my personality, using its moral focus to learn to behave with integrity, at work and at home, and using its nurturing tendency to give and receive the comfort and friendship that would have helped us both.
I could take this as a lesson that my mother could have helped me long ago by not making sex a taboo topic to be pursued only covertly and by not punishing me for trying to confide in her. But, that’s less important today. I can’t undo the failures in my life education from my parents. Sadly, I also can’t undo the betrayal and disregard I inflicted on TL. What I can do is frequently check in with the three parts of my personality and be sure that today, and everyday, my adult persona is out in the lead.