Edward Estlin Cummings (October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962), was an American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright. One of his many quirky and odd poems was called ‘pity this busy monster, manunkind.’
The poem starts off with a statement: Progress is a comfortable disease: your victim (death and life safely beyond). The poem’s odd cadence continues on and in the end he writes: plays with the bigness of his littleness-a hopeless case if — listen: there’s a hell of a good universe next door; let’s go. Interesting prose for sure. So why my reference to E.E. Cummings and this poem? During the past few weeks two men, one old and one new, have come and gone in my life all in the name of progress, all looking for a better universe next door. Addiction for many is a comfortable disease.
A young man barely thirty came to see for his compulsive chat room affairs all the while dating someone in real life. In the beginning of 2013 she caught him for the first time. His automatic natural predictable response was: #1- this was the first time. #2- I promise I’ll never do it again and, of course, #3- please don’t leave me. After a week of no sex, life returned to normal and the crisis had officially passed, enough said. Fast forward six months and low and behold, whoops! There it was again. More fireworks, anger, tears, fears and eternal pledges. This time sex was back in play within the first twenty four hours. And when I asked: so where did her anger go? He had no response. Surprise, surprise within two weeks they were officially engaged, date was set for a next summer wedding and life is beautiful in the land of denial. My young man showed up for two weeks of sticking his toe in the recovery pool and then away he went convinced he can lastingly out run this piece of who he is. He cancelled his next appointment with me in a phone call but didn’t have the courage or integrity to really want to talk about it, he couldn’t run away quick enough. A big façade of okayness to mask his littlleness- a hopeless case behind the curtain. Chances are he’ll find hell before he finds the good universe. His intended bride only knows about 50% of his behavior. The next time the shoe drops he’ll probably have two kids, a mortgage and a very pissed off wife screaming “how could you do this to me.” My instincts tell me this is not going to be an elegant ending.
A man in his late fifties, very married, came in and out of my life over five years ago, and just had his story finished for me. Back in the day he did just enough recovery to stop the behavior and get back into his home and marital bed and after two+ years he deemed himself cured and left No More Secrets and recovery for life as a normal happily married man. Last week a woman I know who was in the program back then told me that this man’s wife had recently shown back up at a Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous women’s meeting, falling apart in pain. It appears her husband was back in the affair saddle again. This time she had enough and was calling for an end to the myth, charade and sham of her marriage. To add insult to injury to her, they had arranged a meeting with their three adult children to deliver the ominous news but he was a “no show,” hanging her emotionally out to dry. Honesty, ethics, values, good judgment and integrity are always nowhere to be found in an active addict. This also is a sad story and she certainly didn’t deserve it after twenty plus years, but fair is not part of the equation, only selfishness, hurt and despair.
As the great author, poet, cartoonist and counter culture literary figure Shel Silverstein (September 25, 1930 – May 10, 1999),[wrote in his famous poem “The Story of Gimme Some Roy” … “old men and wide eyes youth, it’s easier to tell them a sack of shit then it is to tell them the truth.” At the end of the day the truth is all I tell.
Are you living a lie?
Are you living with secrets?