It’s been a while. Real life slog, real life depression. I let this crazy blog experiment slide. Sorry about that. I’d love to report that everything is all better, but truth is I’m kind of in the middle. Better than it was, not nearly as good as it could be. But I miss you, I miss this, and best of all: I have more crazy shit to tell you and pompous opinions to share. Shall we?
I’ve got a few friends who are in different stages of Bad in long-term relationships—one who’s already filed for divorce, another who says she’s about to ask her boyfriend to move out, and another who is holding on despite how shitty and dead things have been for a long time. Got me thinking of just how many people I know who repeat the same fucked-up relationship patterns over and over again.
Inertia. An object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.
—Sir Isaac Newton (paraphrased), Principia Mathematica Philosophiae Naturalis
It’s hard to quit smoking. Difficult as hell to lose weight and keep it off. Heroin is one hell of a drug.
This we know, but we don’t spend much time thinking of the other habits that we can’t seem to walk away from, the stuff we don’t think about because we’re a bunch of hairless monkeys ruled by hormones and hunger. Our brains are hard-wired in different stages of our development. We’re fucked up a little at birth, fucked up more by childhood, fucked up a LOT by adolescence, and then we go fuck ourselves up even more when we’re adults. We’re all creatures of habit, but some of us are either lucky or smart enough to create those that will lead to long lives and healthy relationships. The rest of us? We’re the monkeys who never seem to learn no matter how many times we fall out of the tree, as familiar failure becomes less frightening than unknown success.
Unconscious habits and hidden cycles are why the new and exciting person we decided to move in with somehow morphs over time into the same damn person you ran away from as if she was a burning building. Like it or not, we respond to the comforting unconscious cues of the known—the familiar.
Most of us know the story of someone who was abused as a child and ends up in a relationship with an abuser. But the same thing happens ALL THE FUCKING TIME even when the behavior isn’t so dramatic or destructive. Let’s say you grow up in a “normal” household and the parent of the opposite sex loved you, but constantly criticized you in the name of motivating you to improve, that he/she tore you down a little more than built you up. Bad news! If you begin dating someone that is far more positive and encouraging it may feel fake, or wrong, or you might not be able to put your finger on it but you’re not going to move forward. Then when you meet someone who tells you how you could be doing every damn thing in your life better, that’s somehow comforting and feels right.
It could be the first love that didn’t work out set the pattern for your poor brain, the person who cheated on you shamelessly or ignored you or was clingy and obsessive—all the kinds of unhealthy behaviors that can happen most easily when we’re moron teenagers led around by tender hearts and throbbing groins. You could find yourself living the same patterns.
You folks have (so far) really only spent time in my brief dating adventures, the ones that were over and done with—sometimes without even learning the lady’s name. But I’ve had my fair share of relationships, including one marriage that flamed out spectacularly.
And goddamn, I’m like a bloodhound when it comes to sniffing out the same woman over and fucking over again. Not bad people, but wrong for me. And the wrongness is what I crave because deep down its what I know and what I know is a lot less scary than groping in the dark toward something that could be better or worse.
I need to break out of the cycle, stop being a chickenshit. And so do you.
(Not, obviously, if you’re in a healthy and supportive relationship. If so—congratulations and fuck you!—let us know if you got there after breaking the kind of cycles many of us find ourselves stuck in. Jane, get me off this crazy thing!)
The definition of insanity is NOT “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” (which also was not said by Einstein or Franklin or Mark Twain) but it is a definition of futility. Let’s knock this shit off. If you’re in an unhealthy relationship, either figure out how to fix it with communication or therapy or get the fuck out and stop wasting each other’s time.
We’re not objects in space. We can slow, stop, turn around, take a sharp left. All we have to do is decide.