Prisoner of fantasy

Join Joey Garcia for “An Evening with Byron Katie,” 6:30-9:30 p.m. May 15, $49. Crest Theatre, 1013 K Street. Tickets available through the Learning Exchange, (916) 929-9200 or www.learningexchange.com.

Two years ago, I began writing to a man in prison. I had heard about his energy for life and his sex appeal. I fell in love with his mind and began driving from Sacramento to Nevada every weekend so we could get to know each other. I moved into a new home and began preparing for his release from prison so we could live out our dreams together.

He went to prison for having a quarter-ounce of meth. When he got out, he was happy and drug-free. However, he was not lovey-dovey like he was when I visited him. Whenever I approached him sexually, he would shut me down. (I am an attractive, successful woman.) He has brought meth into our home, and now I rely on it, too. He started lying about everything, even stupid things.

I found a girl’s number in his boot and called. She said my man hangs out, thinking that a guy who owes him money might come by. She says she has no feelings for my man. I listened to his voice mails and heard otherwise. Why did she lie? When I asked my man, he said he was setting up a threesome (we’ve done it before). Why didn’t he tell me? I need help. I am losing myself. Should I leave, or should we try counseling?

Here’s your real choice: life or death. Your addiction to the dream of a romantic happily-ever-after with this man is slowly killing you. It was a fantasy that occupied you in his absence, but what you didn’t realize is that fantasizing builds attachment. So, although your relationship fails to match your fantasy, those hours of dreaming have become an investment in your denial of the truth: He’s playing you.

To blunt the pain of facing reality, you addicted your body to meth. You need to exit your relationship permanently and check into a rehab program immediately. Attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings daily, see a private counselor weekly and read the book Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. Don’t allow your mind or emotions to be distracted by questions about his lies. Just understand that your man’s choice to lie to you repeatedly tells you that your relationship lacks truth, trust and commitment—the essential qualities for a healthy union.

I am lonely and would like to be in a relationship, but I find it difficult to connect with women. I grew up in foster homes and have difficulty being close to anyone. As a teenager, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and given months to live. It’s been 20 years since I had my surgeries and chemotherapy, but I still don’t know how to approach the subject. It’s hard to ask anyone out. I feel pretty fragile about hearing, “No thanks.”

That’s because you believe “no thanks” is a rejection of you. It’s not. It’s a response that reflects a person’s comfort level with your request. The real issue is your belief that a relationship will assuage loneliness. It’s possible to be dating or married and still be absurdly lonely.

I suggest that you develop new friendships and read books on relationships. Take classes in subjects that interest you and invite classmates out for coffee after class. Also, allow yourself to grow comfortable with solitude. Become someone that you would want to hang out with. The combination of friends and time alone will heal your loneliness, if you reach out to friends or see time alone as an opportunity to immerse yourself in a treasured activity. When friendships develop naturally, you’ll intuitively know the right moment to share your medical history. That skill is transferable to your dating life.

Meditation of the Week

Poet Denise Levertov, author of <i>The Sorrow Dance</i>, wanted her poetry to be a force for lessening violence in the 1960s. “Raising Our Voices: An Evening of Social Issues Poetry,” a reading on May 16 at St. Francis of Assisi Church (1066 26th Street) featuring Julia Connor and others, continues that effort. How does art give you hope through violent times?