Being real, even when it’s hard – UPDATE

“My life is amazing now. Please, do not come back into my life with drama and chaos again.”

More or less, that’s what I said 12 days ago. Actually, I think it is verbatim what I said.

So, why did Drama run his happy ass to my door, while Chaos sprayed “Liar Spray” all up in my face on a lovely Saturday afternoon in Switzerland? Hmm? Why?

Because it had to be.

It was in line with what was happening the entire time. I just didn’t know.

Lies, drama, and chaos were the bedrock of our relationship the entire time because he was lying about something as fundamental as “I always want to do the right thing.” All this deceit is painful to recall; but, now, because of his email last Monday (I still cannot believe he emailed me), I know the truth. Endlich. (And although, I didn’t lie or create chaos, my life situation sure as hell was dramatic. He is not alone in that responsibility.)

What I’ve learned in the past 7 days hasn’t been easy, and there is a lot more to learn. However, a few lessons include:

  • A man that is uninterested in or allergic to acts of basic human kindness is not a man that I need to invite into my heart.
  • People in my life are in my life because they are good people. If they don’t like a man I am seeing? I need to pay attention instead of making excuses (again).
  • I am naïve and I am gullible. Because I am 39, and not 9, that is probably not something that I can change (do I want to?). Thus, I need to refer to numbers 1 & 2 if I ever decide to date again (big “if”).
  • If I ask someone “not to come into my life with drama and chaos again,” I already know what will happen. People aren’t constantly confronted with those things in their relationships, when they are with healthy people.

The comments, particularly the nicknames about him (I particularly liked “utter turd of a creature” PS- I love the way Brits use “turd”), did entertain me, mainly because I’ve never seen him that way! Until I read his words of truth. Read them…in an email. (So, “utter turd” does somewhat to fit.)

But, honestly? There’s no need to demonize or vilify him. It just gives him power and strength he doesn’t deserve (and never demonstrated).

I don’t think he likes himself all that much. That’s sad, I think we can all agree. My prayer is that he will stop being the “bad guy” and be the “super Catholic” he purports to be. He should strive to become the hero of his own story.

Like I am. Because I…well…I’m gonna kick the ass of my own life and give myself one hell of a great story.

Stay tuned (pun intended).

(Sorry I don’t publish all the comments, but I don’t normally publish comments unless I know the person in my daily life, as y’all know. But, thanks for all your sweet messages and comments.)

Guest blogger: the one, the only Mark Manson “Love is Not Enough”

The blog was written by Mark Manson (original blog post and tons of other amazing posts can be found through this link)  Mark, I’m so appreciative you’d let me share your post with my peeps.

There are many people who need this blog (not that I would know anything about that because I am the poster child for “I seek out only healthy, meaningful relationships focused on respectful reciprocity at all times”) because it does bring the truth into the light. It’s not about shaming anyone, anything, or any previously-held notion of how-to. It’s raw, honest, and real.

So, read. Enjoy. Go to Mark’s website and tell him how fabulous he is (both as a man and as a writer). Then find him on FB Twitter and anything else for which he rightfully deserves followers.

As is usually the case, I probably won’t publish your comments, but I’m happy to pass them along to Mark (or you can, on the original post).

Love is Not Enough

In 1967, John Lennon wrote a song called, “All You Need is Love.” He also beat both of his wives, abandoned one of his children, verbally abused his gay Jewish manager with homophobic and anti-semitic slurs, and once had a camera crew film him lying naked in his bed for an entire day.

Thirty-five years later, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails wrote a song called “Love is Not Enough.” Reznor, despite being famous for his shocking stage performances and his grotesque and disturbing videos, got clean from all drugs and alcohol, married one woman, had two children with her, and then cancelled entire albums and tours so that he could stay home and be a good husband and father.

One of these two men had a clear and realistic understanding of love. One of them did not. One of these men idealized love as the solution to all of his problems. One of them did not. One of these men was probably a narcissistic asshole. One of them was not.

In our culture, many of us idealize love. We see it as some lofty cure-all for all of life’s problems. Our movies and our stories and our history all celebrate it as life’s ultimate goal, the final solution for all of our pain and struggle. And because we idealize love, we overestimate it. As a result, our relationships pay a price.

When we believe that “all we need is love,” then like Lennon, we’re more likely to ignore fundamental values such as respect, humility and commitment towards the people we care about. After all, if love solves everything, then why bother with all the other stuff — all of the hard stuff?

But if, like Reznor, we believe that “love is not enough,” then we understand that healthy relationships require more than pure emotion or lofty passions. We understand that there are things more important in our lives and our relationships than simply being in love. And the success of our relationships hinges on these deeper and more important values.

Three Harsh Truths About Love

The problem with idealizing love is that it causes us to develop unrealistic expectations about what love actually is and what it can do for us. These unrealistic expectations then sabotage the very relationships we hold dear in the first place. Allow me to illustrate:

1. Love does not equal compatibility. Just because you fall in love with someone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good partner for you to be with over the long term. Love is an emotional process; compatibility is a logical process. And the two don’t bleed into one another very well.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who doesn’t treat us well, who makes us feel worse about ourselves, who doesn’t hold the same respect for us as we do for them, or who has such a dysfunctional life themselves that they threaten to bring us down with them.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who has different ambitions or life goals that are contradictory to our own, who holds different philosophical beliefs or worldviews that clash with our own sense of reality.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who sucks for us and our happiness.

That may sound paradoxical, but it’s true.

When I think of all of the disastrous relationships I’ve seen or people have emailed me about, many (or most) of them were entered into on the basis of emotion — they felt that “spark” and so they just dove in head first. Forget that he was a born-again Christian alcoholic and she was an acid-dropping bisexual necrophiliac. It just felt right.

And then six months later, when she’s throwing his shit out onto the lawn and he’s praying to Jesus twelve times a day for her salvation, they look around and wonder, “Gee, where did it go wrong?”

The truth is, it went wrong before it even began.

When dating and looking for a partner, you must use not only your heart, but your mind. Yes, you want to find someone who makes your heart flutter and your farts smell like cherry popsicles. But you also need to evaluate a person’s values, how they treat themselves, how they treat those close to them, their ambitions and their worldviews in general. Because if you fall in love with someone who is incompatible with you…well, as the ski instructor from South Park once said, you’re going to have a bad time.

2. Love does not solve your relationship problems. My first girlfriend and I were madly in love with each other. We also lived in different cities, had no money to see each other, had families who hated each other, and went through weekly bouts of meaningless drama and fighting.

And every time we fought, we’d come back to each other the next day and make up and remind each other how crazy we were about one another and that none of those little things matter because we’re omg sooooooo in love and we’ll find a way to work it out and everything will be great, just you wait and see. Our love made us feel like we were overcoming our issues, when on a practical level, absolutely nothing had changed.

As you can imagine, none of our problems got resolved. The fights repeated themselves. The arguments got worse. Our inability to ever see each other hung around our necks like an albatross. We were both self-absorbed to the point where we couldn’t even communicate that effectively. Hours and hours talking on the phone with nothing actually said. Looking back, there was no hope that it was going to last. Yet we kept it up for three fucking years!

After all, love conquers all, right?

Unsurprisingly, that relationship burst into flames and crashed like the Hindenburg being doused in jet fuel. The break up was ugly. And the big lesson I took away from it was this: while love may make you feel better about your relationship problems, it doesn’t actually solve any of your relationship problems.

The roller coaster of emotions can be intoxicating, each high feeling even more important and more valid than the one before, but unless there’s a stable and practical foundation beneath your feet, that rising tide of emotion will eventually come and wash it all away.

3. Love is not always worth sacrificing yourself. One of the defining characteristics of loving someone is that you are able to think outside of yourself and your own needs to help care for another person and their needs as well.

But the question that doesn’t get asked often enough is exactly what are you sacrificing, and is it worth it?

In loving relationships, it’s normal for both people to occasionally sacrifice their own desires, their own needs, and their own time for one another. I would argue that this is normal and healthy and a big part of what makes a relationship so great.

But when it comes to sacrificing one’s self-respect, one’s dignity, one’s physical body, one’s ambitions and life purpose, just to be with someone, then that same love becomes problematic. A loving relationship is supposed to supplement our individual identity, not damage it or replace it. If we find ourselves in situations where we’re tolerating disrespectful or abusive behavior, then that’s essentially what we’re doing: we’re allowing our love to consume us and negate us, and if we’re not careful, it will leave us as a shell of the person we once were.

The Friendship Test

One of the oldest pieces of relationship advice in the book is, “You and your partner should be best friends.” Most people look at that piece of advice in the positive: I should spend time with my partner like I do my best friend; I should communicate openly with my partner like I do with my best friend; I should have fun with my partner like I do with my best friend.

But people should also look at it in the negative: Would you tolerate your partner’s negative behaviors in your best friend?

Amazingly, when we ask ourselves this question honestly, in most unhealthy and codependent relationships, the answer is “no.”

I know a young woman who just got married. She was madly in love with her husband. And despite the fact that he had been “between jobs” for more than a year, showed no interest in planning the wedding, often ditched her to take surfing trips with his friends, and her friends and family raised not-so-subtle concerns about him, she happily married him anyway.

But once the emotional high of the wedding wore off, reality set in. A year into their marriage, he’s still “between jobs,” he trashes the house while she’s at work, gets angry if she doesn’t cook dinner for him, and any time she complains he tells her that she’s “spoiled” and “arrogant.” Oh, and he still ditches her to take surfing trips with his friends.

And she got into this situation because she ignored all three of the harsh truths above. She idealized love. Despite being slapped in the face by all of the red flags he raised while dating him, she believed that their love signaled relationship compatibility. It didn’t. When her friends and family raised concerns leading up to the wedding, she believed that their love would solve their problems eventually. It didn’t. And now that everything had fallen into a steaming shit heap, she approached her friends for advice on how she could sacrifice herself even more to make it work.

And the truth is, it won’t.

Why do we tolerate behavior in our romantic relationships that we would never ever, ever tolerate in our friendships?

Imagine if your best friend moved in with you, trashed your place, refused to get a job or pay rent, demanded you cook dinner for them, and got angry and yelled at you any time you complained. That friendship would be over faster than Paris Hilton’s acting career.

Or another situation: a man’s girlfriend who was so jealous that she demanded passwords to all of his accounts and insisted on accompanying him on his business trips to make sure he wasn’t tempted by other women. His life was practically under 24/7 surveillance and you could see it wearing on his self-esteem. His self-worth dropped to nothing. She didn’t trust him to do anything. So he quit trusting himself to do anything.

Yet he stays with her! Why? Because he’s in love!

Remember this: The only way you can fully enjoy the love in your life is to choose to make something else more important in your life than love.

You can fall in love with a wide variety of people throughout the course of your life. You can fall in love with people who are good for you and people who are bad for you. You can fall in love in healthy ways and unhealthy ways. You can fall in love when you’re young and when you’re old. Love is not unique. Love is not special. Love is not scarce.

But your self-respect is. So is your dignity. So is your ability to trust. There can potentially be many loves throughout your life, but once you lose your self-respect, your dignity or your ability to trust, they are very hard to get back.

Love is a wonderful experience. It’s one of the greatest experiences life has to offer. And it is something everyone should aspire to feel and enjoy.

But like any other experience, it can be healthy or unhealthy. Like any other experience, it cannot be allowed to define us, our identities or our life purpose. We cannot let it consume us. We cannot sacrifice our identities and self-worth to it. Because the moment we do that, we lose love and we lose ourselves.

Because you need more in life than love. Love is great. Love is necessary. Love is beautiful. But love is not enough.

Searching for Peace? It’s on sale here – free of charge.

“I just want peace. I will cut anyone out of my life, read any book suggested, go to any altitude. I need it,” I realized how semi-pathetic and semi-psychotic I sounded as soon as I said it. I also realized I was farther away from peace than I’d ever been. How did I get here? 

This is part of a pretty great scene in the second book about finding peace.

Daniel is one of those perpetual peace seekers. It’s ironic because, as Pos says about Daniel in the book,  “Idiot will break both his bloody legs to locate what he believes is the nearest well of free-flowing nirvana.”

Peace. We all want it. How do we get it?

I think peace is about living in the chaos. Look at the verb! It’s not “surviving” or “ignoring” or “getting through.” No! Not good enough.

Peace is about living in the chaos. Being present, being humble, being aware, being authentic. In the chaos.

If you are a person living life fully, you will be in the middle of chaos at least once a day – a busy train, a meeting with 20 people talking over each other, a girlfriend screaming at you because you didn’t put the seat down. As if a daily round of chaos wasn’t bad enough, it could be worse than that. You could be in constant chaos because your company is failing, a loved one is gravely ill, a relationship is teetering on the brink of collapse, you are being kicked out of your home, etc.

So, you stand in the middle of this chaos and it’s usually when we hear you scream, “I just want peace!”

“You find your peace in the chaos,” Pos said. “You stand inside it and you make the choice to be who you are, express who you are, and live in that chaos. That’s peace.”

Is it possible that it’s simpler than we make it? Everyone I know tells me, “LA, I just want peace in my life.” Asking me how to find peace is a bit like asking Paris Hilton to explain the Theory of Relativity; but, I’d like to give it a whirl (pun intended).

I really don’t think you need to do ancient Chinese deep breathing, hire a life coach, hike to a remote village void of humans, or take a pill the size of Texas.

Try this instead – be yourself. If everything around you is collapsing, remember who you are. Express yourself however you need to do that – speak up, don’t speak, breathe, sing, dance, laugh, cry. Don’t just survive the chaos, stand inside it, knowing and showing who you are. Could it be that embracing the chaos and living in it will bring you more peace than constantly fighting against chaos in search of peace? Chaos is inevitable. Could we make peace the same?

Here’s the most important thing. Did you make a mistake that contributed to the chaos? Easy fix. Say it clearly, quickly, humbly, and non-emotionally, “I am sorry” and you just might find yourself…at peace.