I wanted to share with you, though, my journal from last night (#61), as it went a long way toward easing the pain and worry in my mind. Feel free to let me know your thoughts.
Tonight is the first time in quite some time that I think everything just might be okay. Not because he's called more than usual (he hasn't) or because he gets it yet (he doesn't), but because I'm reminded of a scene between the President and Toby, the Communication Director, in The West Wing. In essence, the President had required the use of a therapist after a five-night stretch of sleepless that was immediately preceded by a heated conversation with Toby. Toby had said that the President needed to stop trying to get his dad to like him and stop hitting him, because it was never going to happen. Though the therapy episode, which stars Adam Arkin, is one of my favorites ("Night Five"), I'm reminded of the episode in which the President and Toby interact the next time ("Hartsfield's Landing"), in the Oval Office. This is how that scene transpires:
Toby: Abbey [the first lady] told me this story once. She said you were at a party one time and you were bending this guy's ear. You were telling him that Ellie [one of the first daughters] had mastered her multiplication tables, and she was in third grade reading at a fifth-grade level, and she loved books, and she scored two goals for her soccer team the week before, and you were going on and on. And what made that story remarkable was that the party you were at was in Stockholm and the man you were talking to was King Gustav, who only two hours before had given you the Nobel Prize in Economics...
President Bartlet: What's your point?
Toby: You're a good father, you don't have to act like it. You're a good President -- you don't have to act like it. You're a good man -- you don't have to act like it. You are not 'just folks', you are not plain-spoken. Do not, do not, DO NOT act like it!
President Bartlet: I don't want to get KILLED.
Toby: Then make this election about smart and not. Make it about engaged and not. Make it about a heavyweight. You're a heavyweight.
The reason I mention this has nothing to do with the political side of this story, of course. (I'm not about to wade into that territory here.) The reason I mention it is because of the sentiment expressed in Toby's message. From what I can tell, the larger meaning of this exchange is two-fold. The first is that the President is scared to be himself for fear of losing the election; he has effectively lost hope that things will go his way if he chooses to stand his ground and be authentic. He believes what he thinks they might say about him and, therefore, cowers in a corner. But the second thing we're supposed to take away is even more important: he may lose the election anyway. It would be excruciating to also lose himself. The only chance he has of winning is to change the tone of the election and make it about his strengths.
I know this might sound crazy, but that's how I've felt -- desperate to convince He Who Is In Personal Crisis that I'm a good partner; that he can lean on me right now; that we're uniquely suited to be together forever; that I can be both a soothing balm and a welcome distraction; that we can have many more wonderful, peaceful and hilarious moments together; that there is beauty in life; that I have what it takes to be there for him; that I love him. Of course, I decided long ago not to do that outright, but I've still been trying to prove to myself that all of those things are true with every single action.
But I don't need to prove -- either to him or to myself -- that all of those things are true, that I'm exactly what he needs, that I've meant everything I've said to encourage him and that I still don't buy that this is about our relationship. Because I honestly believe those things are true, really don't buy it, have genuinely meant everything I've said, and am what he needs. I don't have to act like it. And if I'm going to "lose the election" anyway, I don't want to lose myself. Who I am is more than enough. Of course, he is free to reject me as his candidate if he wishes, but he will be wrong if he says any of the above isn't true. So wrong. I don't need to offer hollow platitudes; supporting him when he's asked has been my meaningful action. Also, I know that he loves me; I don't have to act as if I'm desperate for that to be true. It already is. I can be confident in all of this.
My therapist has said that he is testing me -- to see if I run in anger (indicating a lack of peace about our relationship) or cling to him (indicating a lack of self confidence). This is a test I've come close to failing because I'm desperately afraid of getting killed. Not anymore. I'm going to stay right here, firm in my footing and neither begging nor angry.
The biggest mistake people make in an argument is to grant the other person the premise. It gives you no option but to criticize their position. If, however, you say, "I don't buy it that that is what this is about", you can argue take the more powerful stand of defending your own position. Just like President Bartlet didn't have to concede that the election was about him being an elitist, I'm not going to concede that I need to convince both him and myself that he should be with me, because he should. This I already know. I'm going to make this about confidence - and not; love - and not; peace - and not. I'm going to make it about a heavyweight. I'm a heavyweight.