The following is a bit of uncomfortable truths; however, in the efforts to answer the question, truth is exactly what this entry calls for. So, in the ideas of love or in the mention of what love is or if love is real; my answer is yes.
Of course love is real. But where does love begin?
Where does this come from and who teaches us what love is?
Come to think of it, back in the early days of my so-called romantic career, I remember an eighth grade science teacher who told me, “There’s a reason why they call them crushes.”
He told me, “They call them that because that’s what happens to you.”
“You get crushed!”
Perhaps this was my first true lesson of love (or lust) and the aspects of finding an intimate other.
Now typically I have to explain that my early years were not common to most teenagers.
I did not have the same rites of passage as most teens.
I never took driver’s education or went to a prom.
I never had a high school romance because, in fact, I never had a true high school experience. Better yet, I never went to high school.
To be clear, school is more important to our early development than people realize. Our social training and the preparation for our future socialization is a practice that begins in the classrooms and in the hallways.
In fact, I have shared this before but I will leave this here again; the lessons we learned on the playgrounds and in the locker room or the cafeteria are equally as if not more important than learning to find the coefficient of X.
Also, since we’re talking about the main question which is “What the hell was I thinking,” it is only fair to discuss the patterns of our life. Or in this case, I will offer an explanation to my patterns by defining the early years of my romantic career. As well, I plan to detail the conditions and my responses to certain levels of input and rejection.
But more, I will offer the math and the miscalculations that go on in our head.
As a means of an example, in this case I will allow my story to be used as a means of study.
Also, please remember this has been my way of coming to an understanding about the way I’ve lived or behaved as well as a mathematic settlement to all the misunderstood equations in my head.
The lessons we learn while growing up are enough to set up the early standard of who we think we’re supposed to be. Here’s where the blueprints of our standard ideas begin.
This teaches us about how we think we’re supposed to react or behave. It’s here at places like your first party or social event where we learn more about our interaction with others.
We learn more about our social cues and, if we are lucky, we learn about how to give and take. We learn how to live with one another and how to get along – or how not to.
We learn about the social graces of manners or mannerisms which can include chivalry or the lack thereof. This is where we learn about the draw of “the crowd” and the separations of popularity. We learn about social status and the commercialized versions of what’s cool, who’s pretty and, of course, who’s not cool or pretty.
Also, and in all fairness to the truth, this is where insecurities percolate and brew and as we grow older, this is where we learn our lessons to either trust less or trust no one at all.
I say this because on countless occasions, perhaps my Earth Science teacher was right – you got crushed once or twice.
In my case, yes, this certainly happened to me.
I can look back now and see the times where I knew that I wanted more or deserved better.
But like I said, insecurity can be a bitch!
The ideas that turn on us or the fears that turn inward, like the ideas that cause us to question our beauty or the thoughts that trigger our sensitivities and past history; these are all factors that can be enough to lead us to compromise our best positions.
This is where unnecessary sacrifices can be made simply because there’s a fear of not getting what we want – or should I say who?
The idea of coming in second place or third or not believing that we’re enough can be enough to cause people to settle.
And me, I settled. I settled more than once because I lacked the understanding of my personal worth.
I settled because I was afraid.
I settled because I lacked the confidence in myself and the belief that someone would ever love me – and to be clear, the beginning of my romantic career was definitely imbalanced. In the beginning, I was afraid that my body was not right; that someone else (or almost everyone else) was better looking than me.
I was uncomfortable about my body, shape and size.
I was never a big person and, in my eyes, all I saw was the awkwardness of a skinny reflection in the mirror.
In my best assumption, I believed that I was subpar.
I thought there were details about me that once noticed, eventually, I would be unwantable.
I thought that I was unmatchable. While acting upon this weakness, I would have to compromise my standards and beliefs because, in the end, I believed that I was incapable of finding the reciprocity of love.
Or wait, even in the chance that love did find me, how could anyone really love me if all I saw was an inaccurate reflection staring back at me?
All I saw were faults and flaws; therefore, why would I believe that anyone could possibly care?
I mean truly care as in long-term, ride or die, together forever, until death do we part.
I never thought that I was “enough.”
See how this works?
Now, I would like to stop here and take note of the raw truth which is this:
No man is supposed to talk like this or admit to these facts.
Men are supposed to be strong. We’re not supposed to cry. We’re not supposed to show weakness.
We are supposed to be the apex predator; the hunter/gatherer.
There is no such thing as vulnerability.
There’s no admission of guilt or pain..
There’s only brute strength, ability and answers. Yes, answers.
A real man has an answer for everything.
I believed this for a very long time . . .
I am 50 now. My beliefs have changed.
I am not worrying about a date for the prom. I no longer have to impress anyone with a brand new car in the high school parking lot. I don’t have to look cool. Safe to say, my chances of being voted the prom king are pretty much squashed.
However, I can say that looking back at my association with love, lust, romance and even in association with the truthfulness of my personal narcissism; I can see how my interactions and the emotional mapping of my history had led me astray.
I can see how this caused me to stay in relationships that were better off left at the first warning sign. I can see where these ideas lead me to different settlements or compromises that were below my true value. Yet, I stayed in places and in relationships where I knew that I didn’t belong.
That’s a great question to ask.
Why don’t we leave?
Or should I say, why didn’t we leave?
I offer this in full and humble disclosure with no armor or any shield to cover me with an image or protection. While accounting for this without the nonsense of the “tough-guy” bullshit, I admit that my early fears grew into old complications. I confess that my biases were debilitating and this later hurt my abilities to both love and receive true love.
I can remember the foolishness of being lied to and when I say foolishness, I mean the absolute humiliation of being vulnerable. Then all of a sudden, I found out how foolish I truly was.
I am like the rest of the world when I say I learned about betrayal, firsthand, and painfully.
I judged myself too harshly. But hey, this was my first time at trying to have a relationship.
I was never anyone’s boyfriend before – at least, not longer than a few weeks.
I knew there was something wrong too.
I knew there was something going on. But the part of me that didn’t want to lose or the part of me that didn’t want to believe this or face the shame that although this might not have been the love I pretended it was, still, I threw myself out there.
Anything that came back to me would either be acceptance and inclusion or rejection and exclusion.
Well . . . I learned about what it felt like to be canceled and excluded alright!
I acted as if. I gave this a real shot and in the middle of an intimate pose with a girl who “supposedly” loved me, I was called the wrong name.
This happened twice and what did I do?
Did this scar me?
One could say that perhaps this was early on in the relationship and that people can grow and move beyond certain mistakes.
One could say a lot of things, but it happened again with another person’s name in the later part of our relationship. Once more, when the threat to my so-called masculinity and my manhood was shaken, it wasn’t so much about how much I loved someone.
Not at all. This was more about rejection and the version that became “ME.”
It wasn’t so much about how much they loved me. It was more about the fact that something about “me” wasn’t good enough.
That’s it, plain and simple.
But yet, I stayed. I believed the lies. I tried to redeem myself to gain acceptance and pull off a big reversal.
However, I believed with a true understanding that I deserved more; that I deserved better and, at the same time, it wasn’t about the fact that I wanted her so much.
No, this was more about the case of my association with rejection. This was about humiliation and the need for redemption.
And I get it.
I have heard people disclaim how they would absolutely never accept such treatment. I have heard people report about their private lives and how they would never be in a relationship like this.
For the record and for you, if you’re following this exercise, nobody ever says this will happen to them.
No one ever expects to be in a compromising position; yet, here we are and all the world believes they know better.
In the end (and here’s the kicker by the way) –
That first relationship (if we can call it that) she broke up with me because, in the end, she explained that I would not be able to financially take care of her and that I would never amount to much.
She told me that I would never be successful enough for her.
Although, at the time, we were both hostage to each other; I can understand where this came from.
We were two people in co-conspirator status where one breathes out so another can breathe in.
I think there’s a word for this by the way . . .
I think it’s called codependency.
Know what I thought after this?
I thought that would never happen to me again.
I swore that I would never be so vulnerable or submissive.
Instead, I would go on the defense.
I would be the one idolized instead of being the worshiper.
I would never be so humbled or submissive again.
I am here now answering the question that dates back to all of my intimacy issues and relationship traumas.
Here I am.
I am accounting for both my mistakes and my inappropriate transgressions. I am accounting for the truth because the truth is this: I was thinking that I was less-than.
I was thinking that there was something defective about me and that in this mindset, I would have to either be alone or accept the unacceptable in order to find myself (or my life) connected to someone else’s.
Man, was I misinformed –
The problem here was my association with truth. The truth is I had a challenge with seeing my worth.
In my best assumption, I was operating with a weakness.
I believed that me being me or living as I was, without a real education, with a mental health challenge (or two or four) which dated back to my earliest memories, and with learning disabilities along with all the kind and lovely little labels that I was given since childhood; such as being labeled “emotionally disturbed” by a specialist when I was 12 . . . and by the way, who in this world has the right or the audacity to tell a 12 year-old they’re emotionally disturbed?
I go back to the insecurities of labels and my social training.
I go back to the necessity of truthfulness and the need for assistance in understanding more about life.
I go back to the ideas of tolerance and patience and/or the lack thereof. Therefore, in this summarization of insecurities and all the bullshit that goes on in our heads; I charge doubt and the chains of insecurity for the thefts of service.
Whereas, had I known better about myself or had I know the truth that someone else’s actions are about “them” and not about “me” or had I fully understood that this was not about “my” sense of worth; or had I known that this predicament of the mind is more shared than we believe; or wait, had I understood that the illusion of people or how they live and pretend to feel is only an illusion, maybe then I might have come to a better understanding.
So, in the practice of better mental health and emotional stability, had I been offered a better and more accurate training in my social circles- or wait, if I knew then what I know now; or if I knew that the pains I felt were more temporary than permanent, I might have made different choices.
I charge this because my permanent ideas or long-term decisions on short-term dilemmas were both inaccurate, wasteful and unnecessary. Had I know this, maybe I might have been spared the shame or the pain or the absolute foolishness of believing something about me would never be good enough.
The other day I wrote to you about an ex-life of mine and while being sat at tables where respect was no longer served; I lacked the strength and the ability to walk away. I can say there are times when my insecurity and old or historic thinking steps in to distract my better choices.
Although frightening and sometimes downright debilitating, I know that it is hard to walk away from things.
I know all about the fears of the unknown because I have been living in that regard for most of my life.
But if we are here together, then we are here together.
The truth is times can be tough. Life can be hard.
But our value and worth can never be mistaken.
Otherwise, we’ll never learn to always seek our best value.
I openly discuss this yet to a lot of people in the world, all of what I said in the above paragraphs are either taboo or too raw and dangerous or too truthful to talk about.
But dammit all, if you want to be free then you have to be honest about the chains that hold you back.
So, I’m being honest.
I’m being truthful about the challenges with the wrong internal diagnosis.
I’m telling the truth about all the bullshit that we allow to distract us from happiness.
No one has the right to destroy our worth.
No one has the right to ask us to settle for something substandard:
By the way, this people pleasing business . . . it’s got to go.
As for the blue prints we were told to follow to help us build a happy life, we need to work on this from an internal standpoint.
We need to be our own artist and architect.
We need to own this and make it “ours’ because no one will ever know what we really want or how we really think (or feel)
Unless we tell them or show them.
Either way, we have to be unrelenting about this.
Until we realize our true abilities and on the day when we decide to set the standards to meet our levels of acceptance; it will be hard to receive the life we want in return.
So, then I ask this question:
When is it your turn?
When is it your turn to have the life you want (instead of the life you have)?
When is it your moment to break away from the chains which hold you back?
When is it your turn to experience freedom?
When I say freedom, I don’t just mean the freedom to talk to whom we choose or walk down the street, wherever we may roam. No, I mean personal freedom. I mean emotional freedom.
I mean the freedom which defines your happiness without the weights of life’s challenges because, rest assured, life will always come with challenges.
But challenges lead to championships
This is where champions live.
And me, that’s what I want to be.
I want to be a champion.
I want to be free.
But more, I want to be free to be myself and realize the benefits of my worth because once I do, I’ll never settle for anything less again – never.