April 22, 2004
So I spent all last evening straightening up the house in preparation for the pre-openhouse cleaning. Man, what an emotionally draining task...all the fun of getting ready to move with the undercurrent of reminders of the divorce. There's a ton of crap that isn't exactly mine but isn't exactly Mo's either...the result of some clutter synergy two people have when living together.
Mo and I have been e-mailing a lot over the past few days. It's been painful on both sides but I think overall it's been worthwhile. The new thing I learned is that she really feels she put in effort over the course of the relationship and marriage to make it work for her, and to get me more engaged; overall, probably more work than I did. But the thing is for me, she never communicated the significance or severe importance of what she was doing, what she wanted me to do. When she finally talked about how precarious the situation was, last October, I started making some strong efforts to step up to the role. In retrospect, these efforts seem sad and pathos-filled. Not necessarily too little, but too late; I think Mo had already moved on in her own mind, even if she didn't admit that then. So a lot of this was a massive systemic failure of communication.
Though, maybe not. There's another divergence in viewpoint that might make one of those infamous "irreconcilable differences"...she looks for a relationship to be...an answer to some of the existential questions of life, I think I'd say. And I don't; I think those questions need to be answered on one's own. Like Henry Miller wrote in "Tropic of Capricorn":
There are no 'facts'-- there is only the fact that man, every man everywhere in the world, is on his way to ordination. Some men take the long route and some take the short route. Every man is working out his own way and nobody can be of help except by being kind, generous, and patient.And I think that is related to what I look to receive and give in a relationship, being kind generous and patient. I think it's about support and feedback, security and sex, making good times and good conversation and muddling through the not-so-good-times. A good relationship is an end unto itself, but there's this primary role as a means to other ends, more personal projects in life. I need to find out if I can find someone who shares that outlook, or if I need to be resigned to remolding my attitude about this, or just giving it all a miss and being alone.
One other issue, and Mo says it's a viewpoint that some of our mutual friends share though it irks the hell out of me, is that I'm looking for a "mother figure". Maybe I just don't "get it", but to me that charge reeks of the cheapest, most-facile armchair psychiatry possible. Yeesh, sometimes I don't even think I want my own mom to be a "mother figure"...yes, I like feedback when I've done something good or cool, and yes, I tend to defer on making decisions, a funny kind of conservatism where I usually like to adapt myself to the situation rather than struggle to get the situation to adapt to me. And I like to spend the minimal amount of time on keeping body and soul together, because to me that seems secondary to the interesting things in life. But beyond those, I don't see where that charge really applies.
If anyone would like to explain more about people's perception of the "mother figure" thing, or talk about any of this in general, the Comments section is as open as always...
Summary of the Moment
Slate reads Woodward's new book for you! Pretty good summary and some other coverage is kicking around the site as well.