Friday, July 25, 2008


There are still romantics in the world; I should know I'm one of them. Romantics are a dying breed though. We are killed every day by assassination squads of cynicism, betrayal, denial and frustration. But some of us, the ones who hold onto hope against hope, still manage to carry the torch of the romantic. Some of us take it too far though; some of us are diehard romantics. Some of us are such diehard romantics that nothing can kill our spirits; nothing can make us drop our banner, even when we really should. I call those people Romasochists, because we hold onto our romantic notions unto the point of emotional pain. And yes, I have been among their number on occasion. And many of you have as well.

Romasochists first and foremost always believe in the Happy ending. They have usually watched too many movies on Turner Classic Movies for their own good. They believe everything that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have ever taught them. They know every line from almost every Jon Cusack movie you can name. Jon Hughes movies ushered them through many a hard time. As an aside, I personally believe that every single person who does outpatient mental health today in some part owes their livelihood to romantic comedies from the 80’s and 90’s. Those movies have given so many boys and girls such unrealistic expectations about the way relationships should be, and caused so much neurosis because of it, that I think we all would be a little poorer without those thrice-damned movies. I mean, come on, Pretty Woman? Really? This is what we, as impressionable human beings, are accepting into our romantic fantasies?

The inevitable outcome of believing too much in these fantasies is heartbreak. Repeated, inevitable heartbreak. Some people become bitter from this heartbreak and vow never to love again, to become crazy cat-ladies, or move out into the woods and live alone in a one room shack. But the ones who repeatedly go back for more are the Romasochists. This isn’t good for the psyche, like repeatedly smashing your forehead against jagged rocks isn’t good for your IQ. So, you are probably asking, how does one avoid, or in some cases stop, being a romasochist? Well, since romasochists are by definition passionate people, they tend to only engage in extremes. If they get hurt badly enough, they usually engage the other extreme and either become emotionless robots, or swear off love entirely. Neither of these approaches works, because eventually the rubber band snaps back, and we end not where we started, but someplace worse. The romasochist always falls in love again, only the next time the set point for love is a little lower because deep down we want it even more. We maybe successful in fending off most romantic stimuli, but eventually one will get through those white blood cells we developed to kill off any love bugs that come our way. The next time the Romasochist falls in love after a bad experience is likely to be far worse than the previous time, ostensibly because the stimuli will have to be far stronger to get through the thick scab of bitterness that the last disappointment left.

And so it goes. Love, Hurt, Reject, Repeat. Until we put the breaks on the entire process. The problem with this series of events is its rapidity. All of this happens so quickly that its progress generates a large amount of emotional friction, and we all know friction ultimately leads to fire. Problem is that fire doesn’t always end up in passion; it most times ends up in the person with the vulnerable heart just getting burned. So there are two ways to deal with this process, slow it down and reduce the friction. We can slow it down by doing just that; control the rate at which we fall for people. Put on the breaks. It may seem like an impossibility, but love at first sight, as I’ve covered in previous posts, is a myth, and you can take more than a few minutes to decide if you are meant for someone or not. That alone may help you avoid 50% of situations that would eventually end in heartache. The next thing is to lubricate the relationship so as to avoid friction. By this I mean when you enter into the preliminaries of meeting someone, don’t gush, don’t tell them everything about yourself, see if you are compatible, and even if things are going great, make sure that they go great at a slow pace. That way you cut down on friction and sparks. Do not invest more of yourself than the other person is. That is a sure way to get your heart broken.

No matter how conscientious you are about your relationships however, some are still bound to fail, and that is the real test; when you do everything “right” and still end up with a broken heart. That is when you rely on your friends to pick you up, dust you off, and get you back to your feet. Romance should not be a painful experience; if it is something is wrong, and chances are that something is not you. So do not take too much blame when things go wrong, and do not give too much either. Reduce the stress and strain of going between the extremes of love and hate by trying to maintain and learn from experience until the right one comes along. Try and accept what happened and make sure it does not happen again. Your Brain is your most important organ, but your Heart is your most important Muscle, so stop leaving it open to so much abuse. Be more careful and don’t play so fast and lose with your emotions Romasochists. At the end of the day, no one cares more about you than you do.

Special Crazy BF/GF Section
Unless you’re one of those like, crazy stalkers, then ignore all of this and when someone says no to you, just except it and move on. It probably is your fault. If there is a restraining order taken out against you, take a hint. If the person you love moves and doesn’t tell you, take a hint. If they call the police on you, take a hint. If you find that you have to threaten to kill you/him/her/all-of-the-above to get their attention, then give up and move on. In fact, never mind that, maybe you should try being single for a while… like 20-30 years.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How to Save Your Life

Nobody ever really tells us this one. There is no pamphlet for it and no instruction manual. Some of us spend our whole lives trying to save other people, some of us see it as our calling, some of us make it our profession; our religion. And we become good at it, more or less, to the detriment of our own welfare. We learn how to save the lives of others, but every time we do we lose a little bit of ourselves in the process. Every time we acquiesce to the needs of another do we somehow lose a bit of ourselves, or do we gain something back from the act of giving?

Some people do, and some people don’t. But at some point, most people reach a point in their life where they look at their energy meter and see that it is on “E”, and that does not stand for “enough”. Sometimes you are just done; you have had enough, you are through, ready to throw in the towel. There are times when you feel like life has won, and you just want to give up. You fall to your knees and look up at the night sky, wondering why this is, this life, this everything so goddamned hard? All you want is peace, quiet, all you want is to pick the road less traveled, the silent path… But you cannot really, you have to keep on living… or do you?

At times like this, some of us, our thoughts turn to darker places. When we are sick of playing The Game of Life, there really is only one winning move, and that is not to play. Our consciousness begins to dwell on suicide, and some part of your brain, the part responsible for self-preservation, searches desperately for a lifeline, some single thread of light to shine through the opaque depression that covers you and everything you think and do. Because really, none of us wants to die; it is a conclusion we come to like question on a multiple choice test where we just want to pick “none of the above”. It’s like a wrong turn that leads to a dead end. Suicide is a 6-sided Rubix cube that has 8 colors. This is where our pedagogues and politicians have failed us; they have taught us everything; how to save and conserve every life but our own. What do you do when the person threatening your very existence is yourself? How do you do it, how do you save your own life?

First of all, you cannot save anyone else before you save yourself, and the first step is to never, ever give up on yourself. You may give up on everything else in your life, but never, ever give up on yourself. You may lose faith in every institution, every politician, every religion, everyone around you, but you cannot go on if you lose faith in yourself. You can’t ever escape yourself, so never let yourself down. No matter how much you drink, or how many drugs you do, you’ll still be there in the morning, unless you do so much that you find the cure for Living. But we are trying to avoid that, remember? So I say again, never give up on yourself. Some of you may not understand what I mean by this. Well, there is something of worth in all of us, something worth keeping alive, one little spark of light worth keeping alive. Most people have more than one spark, we have great big blazing fires of potential that are gradually buried beneath an inveterate deluge of shit over the course of months or years. Even the most stalwart of personalities can only take such a life for so long. Even if you are mostly useless, there has got to be something good about you. Maybe you’re dumb as a brick and have the personality of one, but you are good looking. Or you are devastatingly intelligent but also devastatingly hideous. That’s something. Find whatever that is about yourself and hang onto it, and make that spark grow, because I guarantee you somewhere, someone in the world needs that talent. Someone needs you and that ability you have. You just cannot give up on yourself before you find that spark and make it grow. And when you appreciate yourself, and your spark, others will see it to, and they will appreciate what you are and what you have become because you have recognized your own sense of self worth.

Through Hell and High Water, do not give up on yourself; bang your head against the wall, punch it till your knuckles bleed, but don’t you dare give up. That is how you stay alive. Some people say the only way they know they are alive is through pain, so they cut themselves; that isn’t pain. Pain is going through a whole MA program only to discover that you cannot get you license in counseling because of the wording of your Masters Degree. That’s more pain than any Emo cutter will ever know.

Real pain is loving someone knowing full well that they won’t love you back, but honestly and truly in your heart wanting what is best for them. That is pain. I don’t make it sound appetizing, this living thing, do I? Most of the time it is not. There is one reason, one thing that makes living worth it; perseverance. Proving people wrong, beating the odds and coming out on top anyway. Like Kanye said, “giving up is way harder than trying”. Become stronger from every defeat. Double your resolve every time someone tells you no. Do it again and again, harder, faster, better, stronger, until you can’t tell what’s your blood and what’s your sweat anymore. That’s the only way to get ahead in life, risking it to get what you want.

Life can be cruel, life can revel in the abject destruction of everything you have, and laugh at you while you try to pick up the pieces. Life can take your mother from you suddenly at the age of 23 with no warning whatsoever, and leave you with no reason to go on with your meager reality. But what can you do? Give up on the people who are counting on you? It may be easy to, they don’t know what pain you are going through, but can you give up on yourself? Can you give up on all of the promises and dreams you have had since you were a child? Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to make the best of your life, no matter how hard life fights you along the way? Fight back. You may not win the first time, or the 5th time, or the 60th time, but never let life beat you. If you take that approach, no man or woman will ever be able to sway you either. If you are constantly at war with the fates for your destiny, what does it matter what some guy or girl says about you? You do your best and leave the rest up to fate to decide.

Finally, not everyone in the world will be against you. Sometimes, you will be lucky enough to find an ally, a friend who believes in you despite the fact that you don’t. Hold onto these people as if your life depends on it, because it does. If you want to survive the low points in life, you have to have good friends. They cannot save you though; just like you cannot save them. But they can be the tools you need to help you save yourself, and that’s good enough. If you have yourself, and you really care enough about yourself, what you went through to get where you are now, and what your family did to put you where you are, you have part of what you need to save a life. If you have friends to look after you and pick you up and dust you off when you get knocked down, then you are damned near invincible. But the most important part is the belief that no matter how many times your face hits the floor, you can get to your feet and keep swinging. Life isn’t like boxing, it isn’t about how many times the wind gets knocked out