The Heart has its Own Mind – REPOST

You can’t choose who you fall for, but can you fall for who you choose?

I’m pretty convinced that Love is a choice- one that a person makes to wake up everyday and be dedicated to the well-being of another person. “Falling in love”, on the other hand, appears to be something that is completely outside our control. It’s something that catches us off guard and can attach us to the most unlikely people under the most unlikely of circumstances. Sometimes it seems to attach us to people and situations that aren’t best for us, and we have no choice but to walk away.

At the end of the day, most people would agree that “Falling in love” is a somewhat illusive feeling, and it is certainly not one that can be contrived. You either got it or you don’t. And yeah, you can live without it… but do you want to?

Is it Settling or Facing Reality? – REPOST

DETACHSomeone once told me that while detachment can be a very useful survival tool in certain situations, it should not be a way of life. Yet I’m finding that there are some circumstances and people with whom I have had to adopt a lifetime strategy of detachment. Well maybe I’m not employing the strategy of detachment so much as I’m just learning to accept people as they come.

Sometimes you simply have to do away with unrealistic expectations in order to enjoy better relationships without the baggage of resentment or the negativity that comes from simply throwing people away. Clearing away the webs of expectations that we use to keep people within our reach can give us the clarity of vision to see (and be thankful for) the good that exists in them.

The first person that I ever learned to accept on his own terms was my dad. He was the kind of guy who wanted nothing more after a hard day’s work than to kick off his shoes, turn on the game, attach a beer to his hand, and have one of us turn out the lights on our way to our rooms from–which we would not bother him for the rest of the night. Sure there were those nights (which I’ll never forget) when we’d all sit around laughing at those crazy episodes of Cops or crack jokes during episodes of National Geographic safari or whatever. But usually, he kept his distance.

I spent my entire childhood being friendly to him, wearing him down with good night hugs until he had no choice but to hug back, and learning to small talk with him. Small talk with my dad made me feel like I at least partially knew him. It didn’t make him uncomfortable, because I never got too close.

As a teenager, I thought I could change the world, or at least MY world. So I had a talk with him hoping that he would hear me out and start spending more “quality time” with my mom, my brother, and me. I can still hear his response clearly after all those years. It was a bit of a rant, but the ending went something like this: “Fathers and daughters don’t need to be close, and I don’t need to be close to you. Stop trying to turn me into something I’m not.” In that moment I had a most potent experience of clarity, and I began to learn the art of detachment, which serves me well to this day.

resistance

STOP RESISTING

Eventually I came to learn that getting the love we want the way we want it from others is not always the point in life. As much as I needed my dad as a child—his approval, his time, his interest, his opinion of the guys I dated—he was just as much in need, or even more so. He needed something just as badly as we needed him. As lacking as he was in parenting skills, it seems he had been equally neglected and even more so.

As much as I wanted an affectionate, talkative dad who would wear a wedding ring, stay clean after rehab, and accompany my mom, my brother and me to the movies on weekends, I eventually made peace with the fact that that simply was not the hand that fate dealt to me.

Furthermore, it wasn’t about what I wanted for him or from him. It was about what each of us were supposed to learn in our individual journeys. He’s not beholden to my expectations. I don’t get to decide the timeline across which he should learn his lessons and finally “get it”. I am not fully aware of all the circumstances, memories, demons he has to fight through on the way to becoming the person he needs/wants to be. And it’s no one’s fault.

Now our relationship has evolved into one where the small talk remains, but I can immediately interpret his tone, his insistence that I call weekly to check in, as proof enough of his love, of his pride in the people that my brother and I have become. When he does say he loves me, it’s sincere. When he calls, again, to make sure we’re coming to town for that visit we talked about, I don’t feel bad about the fact that the call only lasts five minutes.

I understand his personality and appreciate some of his tendencies more now. I appreciate the artist in him–I only wish he would draw or paint more. I admire the debater in him, the objective thinker who won’t simply give President Obama a pass on everything because he’s black. I’ve come to agree often with the independent thinker who always so vehemently resisted religious dogma. I understand his need to be free.

acceptance

This was a situation in which I had no choice but to adopt a strategy of detachment and acceptance. The slash and burn, just cut people off who make you uncomfortable sentiment that seems rampant these days just doesn’t work on a parent. I only got one dad.

And I’m learning that even in the relationships that I’ve chosen, there’s still room for detachment from certain expectations. I’ve learned to recognize those fair-weather friends and simply appreciate them for the fun and breaths of fresh air they provide when they’re around. Instead of resenting them for being themselves and entrusting them with things that they cannot handle, I keep them in the proper compartments. And yes, I have absolutely no problem with compartmentalization.

For me, this thinking goes hand in hand with developing a more balanced and realistic perspective on relationships, one where we stop expecting other people to be our all-in-all (or to be what they do not have the ability to be), stand on our own feet, and learn to appreciate people for who they are. Of course we need relationships, we need those relationships to be healthy, and we need to back off when they are not. We can also learn to appreciate each unique individual for the small pieces of the puzzle that they bring to the table instead of expecting each person to be one completed 1000-piece puzzle that we can simply look at and admire. We are each in a continual process of refinement.

So long as our interactions are not toxic, we don’t have to toss out the people who aren’t the “complete package”. And we don’t have to go without the relationships we want and need. We can simply seek out relationships with others who fill in the gaps. Variety is, after all, the spice of life!

What do you think of this way of dealing with relationships? Some people may call it a form of settling or allowing others to get off “scot free” for doing “wrong”. But is it really our responsibility to police the behavior and emotional/mental/spiritual development of others? Aren’t our own individual plates already full enough? Does trying to get another person to “do right” ever work, anyway? Who gets to define what’s “right” for a particular individual for a particular point in time?

Female Viagra? Not Quite – REPOST

addyi 3I love Bill Maher and all unabashed commentators like him who know how to sum up bullshit. Take, for example his comments regarding Addyi, the new “female Viagra”:

“…the new female sex pill, Addyi. Yes, that’s right. There’s now a pill that makes women want more sex, but can also lower blood pressure and put you to sleep… It was invented by Bill Cosby.”

Maher goes on to explain that while Viagra was invented for men who still desire but simply cannot engage in sex physically, Addyi, while masquerading as a female equivalent to Viagra, is actually a mood enhancer intended to make totally physically capable women want more sex. And herein lies the problem…

Who gets to decide what is “satisfying sex”? The people paying actors to feign orgasm, the ones who have perpetuated the notion that sex isn’t sex if it isn’t loud, explosive, a reenactment of some porn scene, or tied to notions of happily-ever-after? Many a wayward soul has diagnosed her level of satisfaction as abnormal based upon these fantasy-land notions about sex.

Who has decided what constitutes “normal sexual desire”, and that millions of women don’t have it? Clearly, the people who created this pill and their cohorts. They may insist that it is absolutely the prerogative of the individual woman to decide what is normal for her, and they would be right. But the very existence of this drug (and the campaign to market it) reveals some skewed thinking regarding women’s sexuality and autonomy–or ANYbody’s sexuality and autonomy, for that matter.

When women began to emerge, en masse, from their kitchens, delivery rooms, from behind ironing boards and mops to enter voting booths and colleges in droves and to kick ass in business, many people stood up for the right of women to explore and enjoy their sexuality as well. They rejected the notion that a woman should be coy, “hard to get”, or act as if she had no interest in sex in order to appear pious or demure. No problem–if coy and demure is not that individual woman’s natural disposition. But somewhere, we failed to develop a balanced perspective.

addyiNow the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, and it seems that any women who is not ready to swing from a chandelier (or a shower curtain) at the drop of a hat wearing a thong and a cat tail is labeled with a sexual disorder.

I call bullshit.

Here we are “medicalizing a woman’s natural mental state” all over again. I understand that the organization Even the Score had a hand in pushing for the invention of this drug. They considered it unfair that so much attention, expertise, and resources were being pumped into the creation of a drug to help men enjoy better sex while it seemed the girls were being neglected. They failed to recognize that a medical prescription is probably not the best long-term solution for most people’s intimacy/sexual issues (whether male or female).

Micromanaging sexual urges based on arbitrary standards of normality doesn’t make for better relationships. In some cases it exacerbates the problem as people race from one opinion/therapist/prescription to the next hoping to find a fix to their so-called dysfunction, which really was never a “dysfunction” to begin with. In many cases the problem is simply boredom. Boredom, the need for novelty, and the need to develop more realistic expectations around sexuality and more flexible relationship structures. No prescriptions or pills. Just a shot of reality and an adventurous spirit.

Sexual autonomy is the freedom of the individual to operate comfortably within their sexual truth without undue meddling and criticism from others–whether that personal truth is a very active sex drive or a “once a month will do me fine” disposition. Once our society is mature enough to handle the kind of honesty that will make this freedom possible, there probably will be little need for these placebos, I mean prescriptions. Until then, the drug pushers are going to hold down the block with blue pills for the boys and pink pills for the girls.

What do you think of Bill Maher’s summary?

Opposites Attract – REPOST

1.20.16 OppositesOpposites attract. I hear people say it all the time. I’ve said it myself. I can relate. Though my husband and I have some things in common, we also have quite a few fundamental characteristics that are opposite. Because of this, in many good ways we complement one another. It’s like a natural system of checks and balances within the family unit. Opposites indeed.

But are we really all that different? According to some spiritual thought derived from the Tantric and metaphysical traditions, like attracts like. In many ways, what shows up in our lives is an indication of ideas, beliefs, or expectations that we hold on some level. In essence, we attract what we are. And though you may sometimes seem very different from the one you love, the two of you very well may be two sides of the same coin.

I’m a big fan of Carl and Kenya Stevens, relationship coaches who believe that the purpose of relationships is growth. According to them, we begin to reap the rewards of our relationships when we understand that our “mates are our mirrors” and we do the work of developing our character as a result of the reflections we see. So, for example, if you attract a mate who has problems with honesty, you yourself may have some hidden difficulty with being honest with yourself or others. You may have a subconscious expectation of dishonesty from a partner. You may be a doormat who condones dishonesty on some level. Your ideas, beliefs, expectations act like energetic requests and the universe simply responds with your order. Like attracts like. Birds of a feather… you get it.

It’s in keeping with the idea that we truly are not separate from the world around us. Everything is connected, there are no (or there are at least very few) true dichotomies. Take Jesus and the Devil for instance. (I know that’s a loaded one, but take a walk with me for a minute just to test the logic.)

Christians believe that Jesus is the blessed sacrificial lamb, the one who has taken the blame for all of humanity’s sins and made it possible for us to be in good standing with God. This is “Good” – Side one of the coin.

However, Satan has also been the one upon whom humanity has symbolically heaped the blame for all of its “sins”. He is the horned one, the scapegoat. This is “Evil” – Side two…of the same coin. Opposites, but not really…

See, we have all this polarity in our lives, in our relationships, in our society. We love to cling to sides, favoring labels that pit one extreme against the other: gay v/s straight, religious v/s nonreligious, republican v/s democrat, rich v/s poor, victim v/s villain. Too often, we don’t take the time to acknowledge that there is a spectrum that exists in the middle of these binaries. Most importantly, we don’t realize that the shared life experiences of the gay and the straight, or the shared zeal of the religious and nonreligious, or the shared pain of the victim and the villain make them all two sides of the same coin. We’re really not all that separate. We’re really not all that different.

So which is it? Do opposites attract or does like attract like? Call me crazy but I think it’s both. Look into the mirror and find out why.

“You can’t hide from yourself. Everywhere you go, there you are.”

-Teddy Pendergrass

Because of YOU, I am pathetic. The Blame Game – REPOST

Ever heard this song by Kelly Clarkson?

I’m well acquainted with it. Very recently, I had a part-time job in a furniture store where the soundtrack included this heartfelt number. And every time that sad, pathetic piano music started up, I wanted to run into the manager’s office and kick the stereo. Many… many times.

See, the chorus of the song never sat right with me

“Because of you I never stray too far from the sidewalk.

Because of you I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt

Because of you, I am afraid.”

That’s it?

Some no good man did something that left her hurt and afraid. (That’s happened to every woman on the planet, right?) And, at least for the duration of this song, she was simply hurt and afraid and whining. No resolution. No power. Just pathetic and blaming him, whoever he was, for her damage.

Whenever I think of this song, I’m reminded of all those pathetic quotes and memes that people are constantly sharing on Facebook about how many “haters” they have, hatershow they’re “cutting people off” who no longer serve them,

don't like

(Neither do we)

or how they’ve been hurt a million times and are still standing.

been hurtNo one ever posts a quote or a meme saying:

To whomever I have hurt, misused, lied to, “hated on”, cursed out, or

misunderstood in a time of struggle,

I’m sorry.

or

I’ve been a hater.

I’m hating on some people right now.

I’d like to do some of the things I see others doing but don’t know how

and that pisses me off.

And make no mistake, we’ve all done something to hurt someone. But no, everybody’s a victim. Everybody’s damaged goods. And too many people want to stay that way. They’d rather keep pointing outward instead of looking within. It’s the blame game that keeps us hurting and attracting more of the very things that hurt us, because we focus on pain as if pain is a noble pursuit, as if being a martyr is preferable to having no one to blame.

Here’s the thing: once I sat down and watched the video, I had a much better understanding of what Ms. Clarkson was trying to accomplish with this, actually beautiful, song. The story depicted in it is very similar to my own. It’s almost identical to the background story for Jane Luck, the decidedly unlucky heroine in my debut novel Pretty Little Mess: A Jane Luck Adventure. The self-awareness laid out in the lyrics (whether she actually experienced this or simply is a conduit of expression for those who have) is a necessary part of the healing process. We have to understand the source of a problem in order to solve it.

But I think that’s where the blaming has to stop. Because once you peel back a few layers from the person you’re blaming, you’ll find that the pain they “caused” you could be traced to some pain that they blame someone else for. And on and on ad infinitum. And much of your pain may be stemming from your own interpretation of what was done, or your own assumptions about that person’s intentions–which could all be wrong.

The blows we inflict on each other can certainly be overwhelming. I guess the key is to not wallow in the pain, however difficult the journey to a better place may be.

And the next time you think some “haters” are out to get you, consider this: people like MLK had haters, Malcolm X had haters, Jesus, Joan of Arc, Malala Yousafzai had haters. Maybe you just have delusions of grandeur. Everybody’s not a martyr, and everybody doesn’t need to be.

you are surrounded by humans

yes, you are one of those humans

and we are all learning