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The Nature Of Neglect  

QuiteKindMind 35M  
17 posts
10/14/2020 12:50 pm
The Nature Of Neglect

Dearest Amanda,

What follows is some personal thoughts I’m trying to process and understand. I share them because of our mutual trust and the hope you might help me work through some of it.

I know an email is old fashioned, but… bear with me. It’s easier to express myself in long-form.

Thank you for understanding. I look forward to seeing you again soon.


Flowers live and die under the loving warmth of the sun. Lakes and streams survive by constant attention of the clouds. The very air we breathe, because of ever-vigilant vegetation.

So too are humans grown under the recognition of others. We are gardens cultivated by the hands of our parents, friends, lovers, family, and everyone we encounter.

Sometimes those that tend us, fail us. For infinite reasons, those that empower may stop providing sustenance. I find myself in that final category.

My spouse -- the very person with which I entered a solemn vow -- cannot or will not provide the physical, emotional, and intellectual attention that I vitally require. Years I’ve tried to change the dynamic between us. Research, books, therapists, soul searching, personal betterment. All attempts have utterly failed.

Neglect changes a person. Years of it, more so. It is a slowly consuming cancer that leaves behind not a corpse, but another personality entirely. For most of my life, I’ve lived by a framework of concrete, well defined principles. An algorithm, if you will. But these years of abandonment have changed me. I now realize my heuristics were fueled using personal happiness. The life of my spouse was enriched, but huge swaths of my psyche wilted and died to feed the soil.

You may ask yourself why I stay. I have no reasonable answer. The best I’ve got: There is a strong sense of duty within me. At the same time, another part wants and needs to please others. Then to top it off, I hold little value in my own happiness. It’s a complicated mess that I’m still parsing.

Anyway. Back on topic.

Carbon, pressure, and time make diamonds. Time and neglect makes failed relationships. My marriage looks normal externally, but make no mistake: it has catastrophically failed. With it, my principles have drastically weakened. I’ve been asking myself, “Why enact rules to enrich the life of someone who does not enrich mine?” I suppose my answer has been, “Because it is The Right Thing To Do™.” But morality only gets you so far.

So after many years of subtle torment, I sought what I truly need: a friend, lover, and confidant. This dissonant act caused me intense, poignant pain, but it was necessary for my survival. I was fading, becoming less of a human and more of a clock ticking the seconds away.

While we may skulk and slink to find time together, that time means the world to me. In our moments, be it enraptured in an exploration of our bodies, laughing at our own stupidity, or talking about deeper things, I grow. Through renewed attention I become… better. I become more.

I become myself.

It makes me wonder how I’ve endured neglect for this long. All these lost years silently suffering. So many endless, sleepless nights. Countless missed kisses, and touches, and even eye contact. Perhaps an aspect of neglect is forgetfulness. You spend so long in the dark, you forget what the sun feels like. You forget warmth. Love. Happiness. Closeness. Neglect eats until there is naught but shadows. In life, though, nothing lasts forever. Not even darkness.

To endure my marriage for a lifetime would require a sacrifice of horrifying proportions. While indifference hurts me every day, even now, that same solitude will eventually lead to my freedom. The daily sacrifice will take so much that, someday, it will be impossible to stay.

Funny how the very thing causing pain can also free you.

An image comes to mind of a metal bowl filled with water. That water is contained within, but the oxidation will eventually eat right through. Maybe neglect is like that: caustic and transformative.

I wonder what I’ll be at the end of all this. Will I be less? Will I be more? Only time will tell. I hope some of those minutes are spent with you, feeling that little bit of warmth and sunlight again.

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