Welcome to Apollo's Fire

I'm in my mid-50s, married 30 years, but separated since mid 2008. Apollo's Fire was initially dedicated to my affair with the lovely and fascinating "Tiggy" who, among other things, taught me the joys of blogging.

Our affair ended in April 2008, and in July I admitted to my wife "E" that I had been unfaithful to her. This led to our separation, and a path of self-discovery.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Religious Freedom

I haven't posted anything about couples counseling in over a year, but E and I have continued to see Dr. S just about every week.  I suppose an observer might think, "If you haven't figured it out by now, you're just stalling."  But it has been both liberating and helpful to deconstruct our 30 year relationship.

Compare it to the process of clearing land mines in an former war zone.

Eighteen months: learning to talk about things too difficult to discuss in the past.  And throughout, two dreaded subjects largely avoided: my disillusionment with Christianity and my extra-marital affair.  Again, I imagine the observer's surprise.  "Eighteen months and you haven't even discussed the affair?!"  It's true.  But if until now we've been learning to remove land mines, imagine these subjects as 1000 lb bombs embedded in the basement of the Children's Hospital -- it's better to defuse them than blow them up.

This week we explored my "loss of faith."

I was unable to attend last week's session -- E did it solo and I suspect she expressed frustration with our slow pace.  I'm guessing so, because this week Dr. S started with a bang and moved right along.  He began by asking me some pretty direct questions about my family history and how it has shaped my values.  This was not uncomfortable in itself -- we've touched on it before -- except for my feeling that I was being cross-examined.  But perhaps it was intended as a distraction because we pretty quickly moved out of my comfort zone to questions about church: when did my feelings change?  What were my beliefs 10 years ago?  20 years?  How did I feel about being a church worship musician with an eroding faith?  Was I deeply conflicted?

And I felt that I had good, thoughtful answers at hand.  I surprised myself: I really am not conflicted at all when it comes to my rejection of religion and dogma.  Good riddance.  And it was liberating to talk about it so openly with E, to disarm this particular bomb.  I know it's painful for her, but it's better than leaving the matter buried -- a lurking destruction.  In this I feel no ambivalence or regret, no longing to "go back".  I can see that this has been a process of change reaching back at least 25 years, bringing me to where I am now.

Not that I want to camp out here -- let the journey continue.  But I'll continue without prophets, messiahs, sacred texts, and the industries which exploit them.  God, save us from religion.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December Update!

Well golly, I sure haven't been posting much, have I? For the benefit of those who may still care, and for my own sake in focusing my thoughts, let me summarize events in my life since ...

Four Months Ago

On August 22 I wrote my last real update in this blog. You can read it if you like!

Three Months Ago

E and I are still married, though separated for over a year, and in September we celebrated our 30 year wedding anniversary. We drove to Yosemite National Park and spent a night at the Ahwahnee Hotel. This was the first time we had slept in the same room since our separation and it wasn't all that weird. We had separate beds.

All in all it was a very pleasant trip. To a large extent we each did our own thing and I found that we accomodated each other well. I took a lot of pictures and had a great time. It definitely drew us closer. I am still not feeling the romantic spark, the desire to climb into bed with her, the passion of a perfect kiss. But I do enjoy her company and affection.

A week later I moved out of the Campbell apartment where I had been living since E and I separated, and into a San Jose condo that we own. It's better financially, but otherwise the benefits are mixed.

Two Months Ago

I sent Tigs a couple of CDs for her birthday in October. She sent me a short thank you note and it meant a lot to me.

I suppose I've gotten over my near-obession with Tigs. I don't check her blog 10 times a day anymore -- now it's more like every other week. This seems healthier and I feel good about it.

But there is a problem: I don't know how to describe what's taken the place of these feelings. A sort of numb resignation perhaps? It's not pretty.

One Month Ago

Our beautiful, but ruinously expensive remodeling project was almost entirely wrapped by November, and I spent a lot more time at the house helping to unpack and move back into the all-new downstairs. I really do love what we've done to the house. It is unique, quirky even, and represents a lot of thought by both E and myself to create an ideal livable space. Only I don't live there.

But now that I live only a mile away, I do go over there a lot more to hang out.

The Month Ahead

In about a week my youngest son is coming home from college. He's in the middle of his second year, but he won't be going back. He wants to get a job and live in Santa Cruz (can't blame him) and go to school over there. I worry about him. He does drugs.

Just after Christmas, my younger daughter is getting married. I like her fiancee a lot, but still can hardly believe she's old enough to marry. Meanwhile she's dropped out of college and her life seems to have come to standstill in every other respect. I just hope she finds happiness.

A week later, my older daughter is planning to separate from her husband of three years and either move home or move in with me. Sigh.

The Year Ahead

E and I are still doing counseling every week. It's helped us in a variety of ways, not just with each other but also as individuals. But I have no idea where it will lead. I love E and after 30 years our investment in each other is enormous. So many little shared jokes and stories.

And yet I am very much concerned that if we get back together I'll always feel that I took the easy path.

A year ago, when I'd only been separated a few months, I began seeing some other women. But when Tigs called me out on it I decided that I cannot be pursuing those relationships at the same time I claim to be serious about couples counseling with E -- it will be better if I resolve my marriage first.

And yet now, a year later, I have to admit that I wonder if that's true. I wonder if my perspective would be more healthy if I was getting laid.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mr. Blue Sky

For reasons entirely unknown, the 1977 ELO song Mister Blue Sky popped into my head this evening and simply wouldn't leave. I soon found myself downloading the original Electric Light Orchestra album "Out Of The Blue" from EMusic and as I write this sentence have now listened to the song eight times in succession. It's 5 minutes long, so it's been playing for 40 minutes. And we're on number nine ...

Go ahead, play the song while I continue.

"Hey you! ... welcome to the human race!"

Besides being a classic piece of disco-era art-rock from the only band after The Beatles to seriously explore certain musical directions, the lyrics to this song have always intrigued me. There's a message of hope and celebration after an age of darkness. A personal darkness in which one has been shut away from the light, away even from the joys of human fellowship.

"Today's the day we've waited for"

Yes, the sun is shining, the blue sky is warming every spirit and the folk are playing in the former "streets of pity". It's a springtime of the spirit. But each day comes to an end, and ...

"Soon Comes Mister Night"

"... Creepin' over. Now his hand is on your shoulder." Are our spirits doomed to rise and fall with the day and night? Certainly not. As humans we are capable of greater freedom, and so the message of hope and renewal continues:

Never mind I'll remember you this
I'll remember you this way
Sure it's simplistic. It's "just a rock song" isn't it? But if and when we feel the oppression of many days of rain, we could do worse than remember our days with Mr. (or Ms.) Blue Sky.

Mr. Blue Sky

Sun is shinin' in the sky
There ain't a cloud in sight
It's stopped rainin' ev'rybody's in the lane (or maybe "in their play")
And don't you know
It's a beautiful new day hey,hey

Runnin' down the avenue
See how the sun shines brightly in the city
On the streets where once was pity
Mister blue sky is living here today hey, hey

Mister blue sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long
Where did we go wrong?

Hey you with the pretty face
Welcome to the human race
A celebration, mister blue sky's up there waitin'
And today is the day we've waited for

Hey there mister blue
We're so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Ev'rybody smiles at you

Mister blue sky
Mister blue sky
Mister blue sky

Mister blue, you did it right
But soon comes mister night creepin' over
Now his hand is on your shoulder
Never mind I'll remember you this
I'll remember you this way

Mister blue sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long
Where did we go wrong?

Hey there mister blue
We're so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Ev'rybody smiles at you
Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba
Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba

By the way, for those readers who have not already followed the Wikipedia link for the song title, Mr. Blue Sky is in fact the fourth movement of the 4-song "Concerto For A Rainy Day" (I think "song cycle" seems more apt) that comprised Side 3 of the original "Out of the Blue" LP set. Composer Jeff Lynne was inspired by a break in weeks of rainy weather.