At a certain point, Joe was open to understanding how his feelings work and where they come from.
He learned that his dark feelings can’t actually come from the state of his relationship with his child.
He learned that the presence of those feelings aren’t evidence there’s something wrong with him or his life. Nor are they a predictor of future misery.
He learned that he is emotionally healthy now, that health includes flows of darker feelings, and that while he’s not free to turn them off, he doesn’t need to. That understanding – that he needn’t fight or flee darker feelings – has opened up an even greater sense of freedom.
Is he satisfied with the state of his current relationship? No. Does he enjoy greater feelings of dignity and hope and less entanglement in painful relationship patterns? Yes.
“Nothing has changed in the circumstances of my relationship,” he recently acknowledged, “yet everything has changed. I am so grateful.”