Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Where are you and where are you going?
suomalainen
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Do Something

Post by suomalainen » Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:28 pm

A phrase I keep stumbling on in my latest ruminations (I know, I know) is “do something”. I had written up some thoughts on this phrase in a political context (where I’d seen a news report of a crowd chanting this at a rally or speech or meeting with a politician), but it ended up feeling too distracting, so that’s deleted. Let’s leave it at this: in political life, as in mine, it seems as if when there is a general, vague sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo, when a specific cause for a problem cannot be reasonably diagnosed and therefore a specific course of treatment cannot be reasonably prescribed, people get anxious or even fed up until the feeling boils over and the basest elements demand that we “do something.”

“Do something!” This is what people say when they have no clue what is going on and therefore have no basis to make an informed judgment on what needs to change - as if any “something” is better than the status quo.

And yet, applied to myself, the siren song of thoughtlessly flailing about for a different something started as a whisper until it grew to an insistent, powerful, beckoning call. I have been incredibly tempted over the last few years to “do something” to mix up the grinding sameness of my vaguely disappointing life. A new car, a new house, a new job, a new state, a new spouse, a new (ere/van-)life - I’ve fantasized about it all. Life-defining choices in high school, college, graduate school, marriage, parenting - I’ve regretted them all.

What does one reasonably and maturely do when one fears that one is losing oneself to, is being institutionalized by, one’s twin jobs of earning money and raising a family? It reminds me of this quote from David Foster Wallace:
That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.
This vague unsettling feeling I keep having is this constant gnawing sense of fear of having had, and lost, some infinite thing. But when I bring my terrible gaze to bear on this question of what exactly have I lost, the truth of it skirts the edge of the light and hides just outside the reach of my consciousness.

Over the last few weeks (months? years?), I seem to have grasped at identifying some part of this lost “infinite thing” through a series of experiences and conversations with various people. A few threads:

1. thinking about @p_k’s suggestion of finding that thing “that demands your focus and your energy and your love while somehow giving you even more”. You know the only thing that came to mind over these weeks as that thing? Intimacy with other people. I have somehow become a sort of open person, not in groups and not in bullshit schmoozing, but in one-on-ones. When people tell me nothing but negative secrets, I certainly get weighed down - I don’t want to be your emotional toilet. But when they listen to my negative secrets too and we can share our positive secrets...man, that makes me feel alive.

2. I’ve always struggled with a certain feeling of a lack of intimacy in my marriage. It’s not that we couldn’t or didn’t talk to each other about negative or positive secrets, and it wasn’t that we didn’t share physical intimacy on a normal-ish, regular-ish basis. It was just this vague feeling of something missing, something important. I don't want to get into the specifics too much because it's just too vulnerable to share, even pseudonymously and even for me, but let's just say that there are certain ways that we just don't (can't?) connect. Two ships passing in the night. This was brought into stark contrast by a couple of experiences, one of which was this:
suomalainen wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:40 am
Very impressed with how quickly you [@cL] and the gf saw the issue, identified the issue, owned your respective emotions, took responsibility for your own contributions and were able to address the issue, in what appears to be a very efficient and mature-like manner. So not at all what happens in my neck of the woods. You should apparently run some couples-therapy workshops in your newly-found spare time.
The situation @cL described in his journal to which my response is above just does not happen in my relationship and it makes me feel incredibly adrift when even basic understanding of the other's position requires HOURS of conversation, argument and, ultimately, despair.

3. When the kids were younger, there was real intimacy with the kids given their total reliance on you and their desire for your attention and your snuggles. As the kids get older, that type of intimacy completely vanishes, replaced by something more congruent with their own development and individuation. It's a form of intimacy, but I have begun to feel more like a mentor or even observer than a real actor in my kids' lives. And, frankly, I think this is as it should be, notwithstanding the longing in my heart for my cuddly little boys who gleefully greeted me at the door whenever I came home from work.

TL;DR - This vague sense of having lost some infinite thing is at least partly this sense of lacking the intimacy, the deep, real, no bullshit connection to other humans, that I seem to be designed for.

Perhaps the reason for the thing being so hard to detect is that it occurs precisely at the spot of utmost vulnerability. It requires you to accept that the very thing that one has feared for years - that your marriage isn’t what you had hoped it would be, is the irrefutable reality. The mind recoils. And so, a whisper at first, becoming more insistent...”DO SOMETHING.”

Well, I did something. But I did it eyes wide open, not to a vague unsettling feeling, but to a specific identifiable cause. I started a conversational ball rolling that will end in one of two obvious ways. But more importantly, this conversational ball will force this vague, unsettling feeling into the harsh spotlight where it will finally be seen for what it is. Frankly, I'm exhausted just thinking about the series of conversations that will ensue, but...the alternative of living with this vague unsettling feeling (whether I had self-identified it or not) had become unbearable, so I am forced to walk this path, ready or not.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Nuuka » Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:29 am

To be honest: You may have opened a Pandora box you cannot shut anymore.

I have seen this happen with my wife’s best friend’s marriage. She was hospitalised for depression after the complete loss of her belief system, thanks to her husband’s ”desire for freedom” and she was permanently mentally damaged.

Come on man. Think ahead what you are causing to other people. Stop searching blame from others. The void is in yourself. Take the management job and get your thrill there, not in destroying your family.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Vaikeasti » Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:23 am

Your post made me sad and worried for you Suomalainen.

I just had a conversation with a friend of mine that is in a better state with depression and with a partner that's in a worse stage of depression. The worse of was ruminating about why they are my friends because she feels that I don't bring value to their life and my beliefs and situation differs radically from theirs. But this better off friend of mine put a stop to that by asking;" Why not? Why should we not be friends? Just because you're feeling miserable and seeing things black-and white doesn't make it all bad." (I'm not sure if this conveys the idea.)

I feel that is the depression talking. Depression tries to make you throw away everything and drive you to complete inaction. Depression says that you're tired and need to rest when you're really missing on positive emotions. Depression tries to ensure you that only current negative emotions are real and permanent.
I think it is very good that you've identified some things that bring meaning and happiness to your life. I hope you find a person to be fully honest with and share that deeper connection with. But that doesn't mean you have to throw away everything you currently have and burn all bridges. Depression is a disease and can be treated. You are not your depression.

My kids are still in the cuddling stage, but I can tell you that I've reached a new level of closeness with my own parents now that I'm a parent too. We talk about many things and many times on a deeper level than ever before. (And now they get cuddles from my kids.) Of course when you're truly miserable the idea of waiting ten to fifteen years for that might no cheer you up.

Voimia. : /

TLDR; I think that's the depression talking and the basic advise to that is: don't do any drastic changes.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by jennypenny » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:13 am

Signs of a Mid-Life Crisis (taken from a marriage counselor’s website)
  • Discontent or bored with life (including people and things) that provided fulfilment beforehand
  • Feeling restless and wanting to do something completely different
  • Anxiety about the future
  • Confusion about who you are or where your life is going
  • Irritability, unexpected anger
  • Persistent sadness
  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs, food, or other compulsions
  • Sexual affairs, especially with someone younger
  • Fretting about status and the point reached in your career
  • Questioning decisions made years earlier and the meaning of life (he says this is the most telling sign)

I'm not trying to make light of your issues. I'm only pointing out that they are pretty common at your age and most people grow out of them/come to terms with them, so my advice would be* to avoid burning down the house in the meantime.


*If you asked -- which you didn't -- and obviously I don't know any of the details anyway. It's just my gut reaction to what you posted as someone 10 years older.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:17 am

Oh @nuuka, maybe some day you’ll be able to get out of that head of yours and see the beautiful nuance that exists in this world.
Vaikeasti wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:23 am
Depression says that you're tired and need to rest when you're really missing on positive emotions.
@vaikeasti, Yes, this is exactly it. I don’t need a job or my wife or anyone else to make me feel good about myself. I’m comfortable in my own skin. But what these recent thoughts/experiences have shown me is that I haven’t been feeding a very important part of my soul - the part of my soul that misses these certain positive emotions of connection and understanding and love and intimacy. I didn’t do anything drastic. I started a conversation with my wife that went “Our relationship is stale. We’re living parallel lives. We don’t understand each other. I am lonely in this marriage. This can’t continue. What now?” Can I find intimacy and connection outside of my marriage? Absolutely. I work very hard on my friendships, actually. But I also want it IN my marriage. If that’s not possible, fine, let’s call it a friendship or a co-parenting relationship or something else, but it’s not a marriage, not to me anyway. These are difficult conversations to have, yes, and they are consciously difficult, but NOT having the conversation was also difficult - sub- or unconciously difficult. I’m for truth and openness and, yes, courage to bring these things to the light so open, honest, conscious decisions can be made. Call me crazy, but I don’t want to just survive any more. I want to live, and love.

@jp Appreciate that. I’ve never been one to really care if what I’m going through is common or not. It’s not common to me, so I am fine forging my own path...of course, I obviously seek counsel and advice from those who have gone before, but ultimately I (and not the advice givers) am the only one who has to live with the consequences of my choices. And anyway, as you can read above, there’s no house burning occurring, just very difficult conversations.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Nuuka » Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:10 am

Here are some thoughts that come to mind

When you suggested your wife budget for your household, she could have interpreted that her role is housekeeper-wife
Now what you told her, she could have interpreted that she is not enough for you. So she could think her new role being imposed as housekeeper.
As much I understand women, she propably now thinks that she can no more trust you and anything you say. And that she feels emotionally and financially unsafe.

Next thing she logically would do is to seek advice from someone she can trust. But she may not be able to think logically because of the immense stress of the situation. She may now be in very vulnerable state of mind.

Optimist: glass is half full
Pessimist: glass is half empty
Suo: I, me and myself

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Peanut » Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:43 am

Everyone is lonely. That's just the human condition. It doesn't matter if you have the best marriage, or kids, or work life anyone has ever had. You're still going to be lonely. It doesn't mean you can't be happy. Resiliency is a term that is used frequently here. Well what about this--happiness is a form of mental and emotional resiliency. Strive for that.

If you want to improve your relationship there are scientifically proven methods. Do something adventurous together that is new for you both. Go somewhere, or volunteer somewhere, or learn something or build something. Together.

IME ultimatums rarely work the way you want them to.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by jacob » Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:44 am

Nuuka wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:23 pm
But there are some disorder sowing people that create selective chaos intentionally but they are not stupid. I think you may have encountered people with various degree of narcistic or sociopath or even psychopath behaviour charasteristics. These are really difficult to notice and deal with. They can please you in the beginning and show their true face later. Basically their strategy is to create chaos, put the blame on others, then when others beg for help, they stop causing the chaos and continue knowing that they are now in control. Same will happen again if they need boost to their weak self image. Basically this is child needing care from mother and getting always the attention by crying (chaos sowing) and never learned where is the border between self and mother. These peple are ruthless since they have no internal sense of empathy. This is why they can do well in business world (until they are isolated by everyone running out or building shields around).
That has to be the most succinct description of a "very stable genius" I've ever read, but I digress ...

Anyway, in terms of management, I've found Cipolla's essay on The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity to be very helpful. Lacking basic intuition about other humans and thus being driven to classify based on a system (sorry, @Ego) I rank it up there with MBTI and IQ. My conclusion as a corollary of the 5th law has been to avoid "stupid people" as much as possible---and that it's worth it to pay even a high price to do so (also see Dilbert Principle---the bandit solution to stupid). The other three categories can be "managed" and such management might even provide a certain level of satisfaction, but "stupid" is just fractal damage.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal » Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:54 am

I think, in conversations like the one you initiated, the devil is truly in the details. Meaning, exactly how you bring these things up will set the tone for how both of you move forward. Given what I know of you through this journal, I would bet you've broached this subject with your wife in a positive, self-aware way. So I wish both of you luck as you work through this.

As a rule I avoid any family or relationship advice. However, since you used me as an example, I do want to point out that I've only been with my GF for 2.5 years, i'm guessing your relationship is nearing a couple of decades. Part of the reason I act immediately in difficult situations in my relationship is because of mistakes I've made in the past, failed relationships. Also because I've learned from others experiences (your journal being one) as well. We (my relationship) do not have years of emotional baggage that, in my youth, I had allowed to build up in previous relationships. So, it's easier to deal with issues in real time vs having negative emotions from something that happened years ago that was never addressed. I definitely did not handle things very well in when I was younger. Believe me, if i was in a relationship with the same person from years ago, I would have a shit-ton of mistakes to make up for. I guess I'm just saying don't be too hard on yourselves.

On the subject of life review and mid-life crisis. I did not have kids. At first it "just happened", but in my mid to late 30's it became a conscious decision. Something I did not want to do. Still, I often feel a hole. Like having a family is something every healthy man should do to feel like life has meaning. It's not constant gnawing, but it comes into my head pretty regularly. So, just an FYI, at this age (mid-life), no matter how you decided in the past, there will be some regrets. There is no perfect life and the grass will always seem greener. That being said, I think what you are doing, in taking control of your destiny with very active decisions, will make you feel much better about your life in the long term. It's easier to accept a failure (should that happen and it often does) if you very consciously and actively made a decision to take a path, than it is if you just followed a path laid out to you where you feel little agency in the decisions that lead you. IOW, it's easier to accept life, in all its imperfections, when I decided this, not that. Than it is to wake up and realize I decided nothing consciously, and here I am.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Smashter » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:01 am

Peanut wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:43 am

If you want to improve your relationship there are scientifically proven methods. Do something adventurous together that is new for you both. Go somewhere, or volunteer somewhere, or learn something or build something. Together.

IME ultimatums rarely work the way you want them to.
I dunno, seems like they built a family together, they probably have volunteered at church together, and they have traveled together. How is having a tough conversation about what he truly wants such a bad thing?

I don't know what this whole situation is like on Suo's kids, but I can say that I wish my parents had gotten a divorce when I was 8 instead of waiting until I was 28. Kids can tell these things. Not that I am predicting a divorce here, just trying to say that there are some relationships that run their course and it would be better for all involved to find a new way of doing things.
Last edited by Smashter on Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Ego » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:49 am

suomalainen wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:17 am
I started a conversation with my wife that went “Our relationship is stale. We’re living parallel lives. We don’t understand each other. I am lonely in this marriage. This can’t continue. What now?” Can I find intimacy and connection outside of my marriage? Absolutely. I work very hard on my friendships, actually. But I also want it IN my marriage.
Forgive the stereotype but lawyers often try to solve problems that require action by talking rather than doing.

If you want a more intimate, connected marriage then you need to take a chance and introduce intimacy. You will probably be rebuffed at first. Keep at it. There are a million guides on how to build intimacy in a relationship.

Stop talking and start doing.

Also, some people introduce problems like this into their relationships because they are bored or lonely or angry or frustrated.... and playing the relationship chess match where they strategize and plot and scheme to win... relieves to boredom. Lawyers are trained to manipulate, convince, win. When they apply their training to their personal life they lose.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:32 pm

@cL gets it.

@smashter is kinda where I’m at.

@peanut and @ego say true things, just not applicable to this exact situation. I’m not a closed-off, non-intimate man. I’ve been BEGGING for this for 18 years (probably pathetically at times and not pathetically at other times). Two ships, etc. We’ve done the couples therapy, etc. Not like I/we haven’t been trying. And trying. And trying. Read @cL’s thoughts about baggage and you’ll get it.

@nuuka, thx very helpful. Hope you feel better.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Peanut » Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:39 pm

@smashter: Just look up the studies on this they are easy to find. It’s about adrenaline and synapses etc. Yes they have done a shitload of stuff together in the past. I am talking about the present and the future.

And from my perspective many people say their parents should have divorced (earlier) but that’s all speculative. Unless you really believe it could not have been any worse than it was. Because generally things can always be worse and divorce is pretty much a guarantee that those scenarios play out. Is it better for them to play out when kids are in the home or out?

Sorry for the aside, suo. Talking and therapy is not productive for you guys, it’s clear. Why not try something else.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by EdithKeeler » Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:45 pm

I have zero to offer re relationship advice. All I can say is I’m sorry you’re going through this. I know you mentioned couples therapy, but I can’t recall if you’ve done therapy on your own. If not, might be helpful to have a handful of appointments to talk through this stuff with a professional. Just to get a different perspective.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:19 pm

@peanut I don't know what kind of relationships you've been in, but if we stop talking...it's over. I mean, it might be over anyway if we can't figure out how to "talk better", but not talking at all, shit...

@ek I think I've spent 1.5 jacobs on personal therapy. I know there's a bias towards "stick together", but...I dunno...at what point do you say "I've done enough"? Is 18 years enough? Would 20? 30? 50? How much self-flagellation must one endure before it's socially acceptable to leave? I assume the answer is "infinity", so I'm just going to do what I can and, you know, if it's better to put the energy into being good co-parents as opposed to life partners, then so be it.

Yay relationships.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by EdithKeeler » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:45 pm

Only you can decide what’s best for you, and it’s good that you’ve had some private head shrinking, just so you know all the angles, the pros and cons, and will be okay with your decision, whatever happens.

I think there probably is a bias for staying together, because the status quo is always easier. Easier for the kids (unless there’s constant fighting and abuse—that’s a different deal), easier re the money and property, easier re the social network, easier for the parents and in laws.... because there’s no guarantee it’ll be better after the split. How many times do we have in our mind the way we think it’ll be, and the reality is much different. The new guy farts in bed, too, the new chick is a slob, etc.

But people change, go in different directions.... it happens. Life is too short to be truly miserable. What percent of bad stuff makes the relationship a total loss? Only you can know. Good luck.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Peanut » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:12 pm

I don't mean stop talking to each other. I mean try not talking to each other (or for that matter, anyone else) about your relationship. Do something together without the kids and talk about that instead. I don't know what you like to do. But it could be anything and something new is perhaps better. Something new with adrenaline is perhaps better still. Indoor skydiving, that kind of shit. Real skydiving. That way you'll figure out if there are ways that you can relate to each other that is enjoyable and energizing for both of you. It's real basic on some level. Like, can you enjoy each other's company? Once you're sure you can I think things can fall into place.

Me, I've been with DH more than half my life. I remember when we went back to the opera for the first time in a long time after moving to a new city. It was crazy to be nervous and not know quite how to act. It was the setting, being alone after not having been alone together for a long time after having our first kid, all of that. Like a reintroduction. The foregoing examples are $$$ but of course there are many free activities that can do the same work. Way back when he suggested we get CPR certified together. I still remember him accidentally popping off the baby doll's head... And I think volunteer work can be a great bonding experience. Serving shelter dinners with your kids. Look around and you will see most of the men there seeing you and your family as an unattainable fantasy.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by fiby41 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:47 pm

Peanut wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:43 am
IME ultimatums rarely work the way you want them to.
Ultimatums are a declaration of powerlessness.
Smashter wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:01 am
How is having a tough conversation about what he truly wants such a bad thing?
I can not negotiate genuine desire.
seems like they built a family together, they probably have volunteered at church together, and they have traveled together.
If I assume this gives him relational equity he couldn't feel discontent about staleness in the same breath.

SUOMALAISEN can look up 'Rian Stone married dread game' on YouTube.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Nuuka » Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:56 am

I will now assume role of Devils Advocate

< begin Devil’s Advocate >
Nuuka wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:23 pm
But there are some disorder sowing people that create selective chaos intentionally but they are not stupid. I think you may have encountered people with various degree of narcistic or sociopath or even psychopath behaviour charasteristics. These are really difficult to notice and deal with. They can please you in the beginning and show their true face later. Basically their strategy is to create chaos, put the blame on others, then when others beg for help, they stop causing the chaos and continue knowing that they are now in control. Same will happen again if they need boost to their weak self image. Basically this is child needing care from mother and getting always the attention by crying (chaos sowing) and never learned where is the border between self and mother. These peple are ruthless since they have no internal sense of empathy. This is why they can do well in business world (until they are isolated by everyone running out or building shields around).
Does Suo’s behaviour match the above description? Suo is feeling low, so he needs boost, so he creates chaos situation in his marriage. Mrs Suo tries to cope by building a shield. Suo notices increased lack of intimacy due to shield.

A new round will come when Suo feels low again. ... Next round the shield will come up a little bit more

Suo: how was your relationship with your mother?

< end Devil’s Advovate >

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:59 am

Oh jesus some of you are just...so...missing...the...point... To those that aren’t, I appreciate your thoughts and empathy. I wasn’t really looking for advice, as I know what to do and how to do it. It just sucks. So I came here to express that it sucks. If you can’t understand what I’m going through or what I’m trying to say, that’s ok. Maybe Daylen could pop in here and type everyone and explain why some can’t see me. Be that as it may, I debated whether to post something so intimate, knowing that it could turn into a shitshow, but I did it for two reasons: 1) it’s real, why hide it, and 2) there are SERIOUS financial implications (on the order of $1 million in a certain accounting)...but some things are more important than money. Or, looked at another way, I am in a financial and skill position that I could make two households work, so money doesn’t control my choices. This is (mental and financial) freedom - to consciously choose my path through life.

C’est la vie.

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