With Love To A Dying Church

I don’t write about religion on this blog. There are many reasons and not all of them are healthy, but I never wanted this to be about church because I have literally been there, done that, and I’m better now. Religion is a topic that divides families and I’m not about that, and I’m too pink to care, and I have other outlets. I rarely delete comments but come at me preaching and no one will ever know you stopped by. Contrary to what some allege, I am absolutely not anti-faith, quite the opposite. Spirituality is essential to mental health and I really just wanted to talk about your Hippocampus and not John 3:16. Don’t worry mom, I’m not going rogue.

I grew up around the Evangelical Movement. I attended boarding school because my local school had no room for me and it was a boom-or-bust oil town; so my parents sacrificed their middle-class savings and I went to the middle of nowhere. Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan may not be the end of the world but you can smell it from there. I remember the first day of grade 10 – we had to go to chapel. I did not know what “chapel” really was, but soon I found out it was Monday Church before class. How quaint, I thought. Then we had to go to church again on Tuesday. You saw the pattern here before I did. Holy Monkeys.

I didn’t come from this. My family went to church whenever my dad had to do the books (he literally missed the service) and he could scrape up the money to bribe us with a Happy Meal. It was a long time ago and Happy Meals were cool so shut up and quit judging me. They had a prize inside, for heaven’s sake (see what I did there?). Oh, and I had a Summer Bible Camp girlfriend. Sorry Connie.

Church came with a Happy Meal. We would stretch out on the pew and have a nap, right there in front of a hundred people. My father would literally put up with anything to get us to a service. My mother didn’t even go, and it took me years to realize that eventually even McDonald’s wasn’t enough to keep most of us in church.

One day I grew up and married into a religious denomination because everyone knows that Christian chicks are hot and I was an adolescent hormone who had to go to Thursday Church. I met some amazing people on the journey and learned what selflessness looked like and tried to play a small part. Everyone seemed to want to change the world.

As a therapist I get to visit many different realities. I am intimately familiar with the nuances of both a crack house and a mansion, occasionally on the same day. People come to Drop-In and tell our counselors things that are unbelievable, but absolutely true. One day last week I heard three horrific stories in a row only to realize it wasn’t yet 10 am. I’m not complaining, my job is rarely work and it turns my crank but it’s staggering, the measure of pain that is in your town.

The world became complicated and my religious friends began to look baffled and overwhelmed. Pastors told me on a regular basis that they “had no idea” how to engage the culture anymore; and when they said this to me it sounded as if they were talking about a foreign country with a different language. Several even had a visceral reaction to their own comments. Words were spoken with grief, not animosity; wonder, not cursing. It must be a horrific thing to feel like an outsider in a world you walk through every day. “In the world, not of it” became for some a mandate to circle the wagons and run from the homosexuals. Churches formed schools, than Starbucks and bookstores and yoga and health foods, and before you knew it you no longer had to talk to pagans at all.

We still need you, church. We need your brashness and your balls, your unswerving and unsuccessful attempts at integrity, your idealism and your faith in humanity. You don’t need to worry, we know you are flawed, but so are we. If only we could put down our weapons and have a beer. Many of the kindest and most loving people in the world are from your camp. The media is wrong, you do have something to bring to the table; but you need to realize that you have become only one voice, a voice easily marginalized when the volume is cranked too high. It is not as scary as you think, out here in the wilderness. Many friends are still asking the hard questions and looking for community and aren’t as angry as they once were. You taught us about hope and faith and happiness and family; and that stuff, when you hear it from someone who actually gives a damn, sticks with a person.

I was giving a talk on Current Drug Trends last week and I offhandedly commented, “There is no war on drugs, we clearly lost.” People who don’t believe that addiction has become a permanent part of our cultural landscape are called Amish. Many of us really really like dopamine and serotonin because they are super yummy and Canadians sometimes do drugs because drugs are awesome, for a while. Being high can be significantly more fun than being sober, especially at work. Many of us smoke pot every single day and then tell our friends that it’s not addictive. The Amish are lovely people with a rich and diverse heritage.

What do drugs have to do with Methodists? Many of my friends in the church are very nervous about having a frank conversation with a society which is often highly medicated and has embraced gay marriage, divorce, premarital sex, pornography, shopping on Sunday, recreational drug use, cheating on taxes, promiscuity, reality television, partial nudity, pluralism, The Long Island Medium, gay marriage, legalized pot, living in “sin”, potty mouth, “worldliness”, abortion, 4/20, yoga, violence and gore, Justin Bieber, and women in stretchy pants that are so tight you can see their bladder. As the world swerves into the Post-Christendom Era it has caught the conservative Christian world with its pants down. I am keenly aware that this can offend but I do this for a hobby and my wife thinks I’m good-looking so I can take it if you can just understand my heart on this.

Our hemisphere is experiencing a seismic shift, yet again.

Many in “the world” are willing to have an authentic conversation and they know you can’t give on a few things because of the Bible but that’s ok, let’s just be real with one another. I can honestly say that I have never had a candid conversation about faith with anyone in the past ten years who was not warm and engaging, with the possible exception of a few faithful.  People love talking about spirituality with anyone who validates their journey and doesn’t tell them what to think. Why is this so hard, church people? People are interested in the conversation, just not the condemnation. Spirituality is incredibly important and when we are easily wounded we shut down the dialogue before it can really bear fruit.

I miss you, the friends of my youth. Some of you were wise and sage counsel and I loved you like a brother or sister. If I could wish for you one thing it would be the gift of not being offended. Priests can’t kill people anymore, so groups who want to get their message of hope across need to figure out how not to pick a fight. Learning to take a little less offence at the obvious blunders and shortcomings of others is probably something from which we could all receive benefit, myself included.

Let’s hang out. I’ll buy you a Happy Meal.

You Suck

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
– Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

So I was sitting in the tub this past week (cue disturbing visual image) and reading an article about “fun with semi-colons”. I’m not really a tub guy but I had a busted wing and it was either that or stink. If I had a dime for every time I’ve started an article with the line, “so I was sitting in the tub”. I have become a nerd who reads psychology and philosophy and Mental Floss. I can live with that.

My wife walked in the bathroom and upon hearing what I was reading, sardonically announced, “I have never been less attracted to you.” If I had a dime for every time…

Making fun of myself is easy. I have plenty of ammunition. I’m an expert at self-abasing, most of us are. I was birthed in Canada, where false humility is a national preoccupation. Growing up we all believed that self-promotion was sin, and bragging was something you only did if you were an American (it’s not you, it’s us) or hung out with people who had really good hair. In grade ten I had an afro so had little reason to brag. Ok, I was prone to self-promotion and I secretly miss the Fro.

It is common, although often incorrect, to assume that people are arrogant when they brag about themselves. This seems to have little foundation in any real psychology once you exclude the narcissists and the psycho/sociopaths and your Uncle Bert. For the rest of us, isn’t it true that (I got that line from a lawyer who kept putting words in my mouth during a trial I was called to testify as a counsellor at)… Isn’t it true that for most of us we tend to brag because we are actually insecure and generally feel bad about ourselves? I can sense, somewhere deep inside me, that when I lean towards self-promotion I am usually trying to convince myself and others that I am not the secondhand turd that some people believe me to be. I’m just saying, for me.

Insecure people brag. Secure people rarely feel the need. To be candid, the more I learn to accept myself the less my detractors matter. It is a testimony to this problem that at this point in the article I feel obligated to include the detraction, “I don’t mean that in an arrogant way”.

There is a measure of psychological sense to the religious confessional. When clients are trapped in the cycle of emotional self-abuse I often ask them, “Do you feel you have done enough penance yet?” There is something in most of us that is prone to continue the self-blame cycle forever. When will the day come when I have punished myself enough? Shame is a powerful and pervasive sickness that can trap a person and convince them that they do not deserve a rich life. At some point in the journey it is time to say enough is enough, forgive ourselves one day at a time, and scratch a little happiness out of life.

“Your problem is you’re… too busy holding onto your unworthiness.”    Ram Dass

This is not a self-help piece that ends with a parade and hot chocolate, although I highly recommend both with a splash of irish cream. In the real world, it is up to me alone to learn how to move beyond my own insecurities and learn to become comfortable with who I am right at this particular time. I will never be “good enough” until I learn to settle for good enough. Many of us can agree that we are sick and tired of feeling bad about ourselves.

Bragging can be a very healing and affirming thing, when done with someone who is safe and gets it. I have a few friends who really encourage me to feel good about myself. You know who you are and thank you. There is a time and a place for everything, apparently, and when was the last time you really bragged about something that matters to you? We need to be cheerleaders for our friends. In a world that constantly reminds us how we do not measure up we all need someone who is wise enough to give us a chance to crow. Everyday and in every way we are given the message that we do not measure up, we’re too ugly, too fat, or too old, or too whatever. And always not enough – not enough education or maturity, not enough love or health or understanding from a world that appears to take delight when you wipe out and they can get it on tape.

So go ahead, brag a little. You’re pretty awesome.

Some People Are Finished Products

I like to tell people who I come from a family of hillbillies. It’s not true but I to never let the truth get in the way of a good story. What is true is that I come from generations of humble peasants, usually of the military persuasion. We didn’t lead in war, we probably dug latrines. There was no family money to inherit. My kin were never afraid to pick a fight or yell at their spouses.

I was raised that you won’t just die for your family, you would kill for your family (and I’m a pacifist). I remember hearing a preacher tell that story about the bus driver whose breaks were out, and there were only two options. One road would drive over your son, the other a group of strangers. Apparently ditching it was not an option, which makes me wonder as to the veracity of the tale but what can you do. He sacrificed his son and that was what God was supposed to be like if he was in the transportation industry.

This is undoubtedly an urban legend if for no other reason than that most parents would kill the strangers.

I would mow down a city before I would sacrifice my child. I’m not admitting I’m a psychopath, I’m just saying your chances, in a strictly mathematical sense, are not good. There are three toddlers in my family that I would storm the gates of hell to protect. I have a few close friends who are my family by choice. Friends will help you move, good friends will help you move a body, or so the joke goes. Chances are a few of you know how I feel. Loyalty and familial love are not character traits for which one must ordinarily apologize.

We all have a mental list of the people for whom we would storm the castle. My friends, and by friends I do not mean the mass of acquaintances with whom I have a peripheral relationship, are those who have been tried by fire but refuse to walk away. Friends are those few I love and will protect, if I am able. Friends and family give my life meaning, even if more than a few of them are absolutely bat-crap crazy.

My tribe, because I live in what I like to call the real world, come in three categories: those who enrich my life, those who are neutral, and those lovelies who are emotional succubus, the vampires who take away my will to live. I love them, but a few of them could use Cipralex with a tequila chaser. Three kinds of friends; three types of people when you pause to think about it.

I am endeavouring to become keenly aware when I begin to weigh down the hearts of those I care about the most. It is much easier to live a life of self-absorbed pedantry so I may continue to take selflies and be easily offended. No one really gives a damn about my medical problems, if I have to bring it up. If you talk for twenty minutes and do not say one thing that makes someone smile, unless you are in crisis you may just be a negative person. There is no right way to tell someone they are a negative person so few people recognize this particular character trait. Other people know but usually no one is talking. I am becoming aware of my own propensity to complain and it is something I may have to address in myself.

We all have times in our lives when we desperately need to get help carrying that burden. I am here for you and you have been there for me. There was a time in my life when if it wasn’t for a few people like Susan and Steve and a handful of others, I might have taken my own life (I cannot put any more names for fear of missing someone). Persons slept on my couch for a couple of weeks at a time. People fed me and looked out for me. When everyone else walked out a few of you walked in. You know who you are, really. I would never disparage reaching out. That is literally my day job. This article is not about that.

I have spent several months conducting an informal survey of people in my life that are finished products. without their knowledge questions have been asked and unknown interviews given. I have little fear of offending them here because they would have no impetus to read my blog about psychological and emotional health. They don’t talk about philosophy, they argue about it. They don’t grow.

By labelling someone a finished product (I can freely admit I could be wrong) I mean that, for whatever reason, there are those individuals in my world who have decided that they are not going to change anymore. They believe the exact same things they have seemingly always believed and they are done. Some immerse themselves in popular culture and drop-kick their brains out the window. Others become consumed by their children or fashion or menial politics or sports and stay dumb. I can’t help you with dumb, it’s often terminal.

I can’t help you with dumb, it’s often terminal

Finished products are difficult to live with. Many wives or husbands sit in my office and admit that even if we come up with a jim-dandy plan of attack for their marriage their spouse will never seriously engage in the process. This is the session in counselling when I begin to subliminally prepare you for the eventual death of your relationship, even if you do stay together. Few relationships can survive when one partner is trying to become wise while the other is in love with their boat or  shoes or hobby or daytime television. I do not need my spouse to be my intellectual equal but I do need that person to still try at life. Nothing is harder to watch than a partner who has given up or thinks learning is dumb. I can put up with almost anything if I know you’re trying.

One further thing. I don’t want to be sick forever. My mental illnesses should probably not be an inheritance to my children. I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad, quite the opposite. The good news is that if nothing else, the more we know the faster we grow. I just said something cheesy. I’m deadly serious about this topic because people who are reading, unceasingly engaging in meaningful activities, diligent about moving forward, these individuals always get better faster and move into wisdom. That has to be worth it. I still want to be a Jedi.

Happy birthday Albert Einstein, may we never give up the quest for a grand and unified theory.

Band-aids

band aid heart 2This morning I was watching TV when a commercial for the new Proactive Dark Spot Remover showed up. Apparently if you pay the money and use this product it will remove the “appearance” of blemishes and restore your complexion to “perfect skin”. Quite a promise… or is it.

Notice what they are not saying. They are not saying that they will improve your complexion or skin at all, only give the appearance of change. The cosmetics industry, a word that means “to make order out of chaos”, has made millions, even billions, hiding the world from the truth. No wonder many women talk of “putting their face on” in the morning or before a date.

This past week The Chive and various other online rags ran a pictorial called “The Face Of Porn: Porn Stars Before And After Makeup.” To say the pictures were revealing is an understatement. Most of the most famous goddesses are less than perfect without artificial enhancement, to say the least. Some were downright homely, not even attractive. It is a reminder of the power of fantasy, of Photoshop, and of an extreme makeover. Cosmetics sell an illusion, an illusion of beauty, of perfection. Makeup is made to cover, it’s a band-aid that does nothing for us except hide our blemishes and present a false face… literally.

Many of us treat our problems the same way. We have spent years trying to cover up our faults and our past. I often tell people when they come for counseling that they may not really want to dig that deeply into their issues. I have an irritating habit of making people very uncomfortable, of asking them to think about things they have spent years trying to bury. Counseling, when it works, is a very painful and humiliating experience. It is much easier to just throw some Proactive on the problem, apply some makeup to our ugliness and give the impression, even to ourselves, that we have taken care of the problem. This is one of the reasons I rarely do groups on Anger Management. I have this annoying habit of treating anger as a symptom, not a base problem. I keep asking clients and patients ‘why’ they are angry and tend to gloss over anger management techniques.

There is an old maxim in psychology that change usually happens much slower than we imagine and the results are less pronounced than we would like to believe. Transforming oneself from a broken, hurting, violated victim of abuse and trauma into a whole person takes years, not months. The twelve sessions that your counselor signs you up for may be an excellent start but will probably not even begin to address a complex life full of dysfunctional coping mechanisms.

Band-aids are far easier and if you play your cards right, you can even find them with pictures of Spiderman on them.

How To Pick Up Women In Their Twenties

dating-tips-for-guys-how-to-pick-up-womenI am not in my twenties and do not make a habit of hitting on any women, especially not women that young. I do, however, have a very attractive and intelligent son who was more than willing to provide a few insights for this Part 2 of “How To Pick Up Vulnerable Women”.

In my first instalment I wrote about manipulating a group of women who were in their late thirties and forties. You may want to familiarize yourself with that article before going on. It has been, and remains, my most hated and revered article to date. I have received private letters, several in fact, accusing me of being abusive and misogynistic, even cruel. Read it for yourselves and ask yourself why I would do such a thing and then freely tell everyone I did so…

In this instalment I begin by recognizing that everything I am about to say may not apply to you. Like many of my articles what follows is based on generalities. Please understand I’m not talking about anyone in specific, only trends and observations which may not even be objective. If nothing else it should be interesting.

You are sitting with friends at the local bar and I can tell, because you wear it like a beacon, that you are looking for a guy. I intend to be that guy. You are not in your forties so I am not going to gush, not going to give too much away. In fact, just the opposite. Your divorced mom is looking for someone who is emotionally sensitive, someone who is going to make it all about her. That isn’t my tactic, though some of the techniques are transferable. When I first meet you I’m very interested, very charming. Initially, at least, it’s all about you. But only initially. If we have been introduced I will be nice to you for a minute or two, then move on. If we are not introduced I will make a point of ignoring you and talk to the person directly beside you. I’m not going to hit on you, I’m not needy. And that is really the point.

1. I’m not needy. I act aloof but not rude. Okay, occasionally I can even be a bit rude. I will make the obligatory conversation, but little more. While I am talking to you I may check out other women. I will talk, engage, but we are not exclusive. That is the point. Heartiste writes, “That aloofness is catnip to women. You may as well prop a neon sign over your head that says “Preselected by women who have come before you, and who are standing right next to you.” Aloofness is one of those male characteristics that women are finely tuned to discover, isolate, and hone in on, because it tells them, subconsciously of course, that THIS MAN, this one right here, has a lot of choice in women. ERGO, this man, this one right here, must be high value.” I know this because the internet is polluted with websites that teach this very thing. Confidence and self-assurance is an aphrodisiac to some females.

I don’t need you. I may or may not be interested, but I’m keeping my options open. I like myself and I don’t need anyone. I’m mysterious. It’s hard not to want what you cannot have. My strength and even dominance is very attractive. If you don’t believe me than why are so many women attracted to the bad boy? Yummy.

The social context has changed  in the past few years. Women in their thirties and forties want to invite a man into their emotional world. In your twenties he invites you into his social world. As one twenty-five year old player told me today, “If you can get the girl to leave her social grouping and come over to yours you are 80% of the way into her pants.” That’s important to remember because…

2. It’s all about social context. Meet my entourage. We are not at the bar to take pictures of ourselves for Facebook. We are interesting. Come hang out with us. Let me separate you from your friends and take you out of your comfort zone. Let me introduce insecurity. After all…

3. I’m here to exploit your insecurity. I may compliment you but it is often tinged with irony or sarcasm. The unspoken point is the exploitation of your negative self-image. The trick is to not let you know I’m interested and get you wondering whether or not you are worth my time. Watch me dominate the social setting, see how I handle myself. Am I or am I not interested in you? Later, when I am very direct with you, and tell you I want to be with you, you are surprised, intrigued, complimented, and affirmed. But make no mistake, the underlying tactic is dominance (and not in a good way…). There is an interesting dichotomy at play. You want to be thought of as a strong woman but you also have insecurities. Doesn’t a part of you wish you could be taken?

Even a plain guy can confuse a beautiful woman if he acts like he doesn’t need her.

As a counselor I find this topic sickening. There are people out there, regardless of age, who use psychological and emotional manipulation to exploit the vulnerable and hurting. It usually isn’t until it’s too late that it becomes apparent that a damaged and delicate person has been exploited and often degraded. It is also unfortunate that so many women get taken in more than once. Some of us are attracted to personalities that lend themselves to narcissism and depravity. It is a sad thought that the confidence and maturity you think you are attracted to may only be a tool to tear your heart out.

Ladies, we lie to you. We believe that we understand the score far more than you think we do. If you don’t believe me ask anyone who has gotten into a relationship with a narcissist. Everything was amazing… at first. We told you what we thought you needed to hear. We held the door open, we talked about our feelings, we shared our hearts. We know you get off on that stuff. Some of us actually read about how to pick up women. We are smarter than you think.

I am often asked why I write about this topic. Sadly, it has become apparent that many vulnerable and emotionally damaged people are being treated as prey by morally bankrupt individuals who think nothing of ruining lives as long as they can get what they want. I would invite you to read some of the heartbreaking comments on the first installment of this topic here. That alone is incentive enough.

I have this crazy idea that if you know what is going on you might know a predator when he buys you a drink.

Do You Really Want A Sensitive Guy?

Real Men KnitWomen tell me they need a man to be emotionally sensitive, in touch with his feelings.

Two minutes later that same woman will tell me they want their man to stand up to them, to not let them always get their way. They want a strong, powerful man who is rugged and independent. They actually say that, “I don’t want to get my way.” (Am I to believe them?)

Well which is it?

I have written before of the influence of the myth of Prince Charming and the princess in popular culture. There is strong evidence to suggest that many women, for example, raised on Disney stories and fairy tales still yearn to be treated like a princess – adored, elevated, protected, honored by a strong and beautiful man. No where in Prince Charming’s resume does it require him to be emotionally available, or in touch with his feminine side.

There is a significant dichotomy at play in the dominant female heterosexual culture. Women confess all the time that they are looking for both traits in their man – strength and vulnerability. There is something attractive about a guy who strong and self-contained (if you don’t believe me wait until my upcoming article on How to Pick Up Vulnerable Twenty-somethings). A man who is powerful has long been an aphrodisiac. Most men of my generation were raised to emulate such guys – Eastwood, Arnold, Pitt, Stallone. Today many woman also are attracted to a man who can cry, is sensitive, and can even pretend to be a glittery vampire and lie beside you all night not asking for anything, only staring at you sleep. It is a tall order.

It is no wonder then that men are experiencing an identity crisis like never before in history. A generation often raised by females, guys today are not sure how to behave. We are still supposed to have muscles, though we now shave everywhere. We are supposed to have both masculine and feminine characteristics (not my contention but it seems that way to the average construction worker). Our fathers did not help around the house (though mine did), did not share their feelings, did not watch Househunters International. In fact, our predecessors didn’t do much around the house at all. My grandfather came home from work everyday and proceeded to drink himself sleepy. For all I know he may not have had actual feelings about things, it never came up. We had dress codes and opinions, not feelings. For thousands of years men knew who they were and what was expected of them. Women weren’t happy but we really didn’t seem to notice and if they did complain it was because we thought it was “their time of month”. It was easy to be a man, in peace time.

It’s hard to be a guy, really. I had the amazing opportunity to be a single parent for most of my children’s young lives so I learned the hard way that I can actually cook, do dishes, read and do homework with the kids, go to parent-teacher night, and talk about feelings. I am almost certain that I would not have learned those lessons if I hadn’t been forced to.

There is no training for men. We have had difficulty looking to male role models from our past. We have not been able to talk about our struggles until recently and now we have no idea how. Men are emotionally immature but in our defense we have had little practice. Recently I was out for drinks with my eldest son and a few close friends when I made the mistake of saying something to the effect that it’s cool that we can get together and talk about deep issues. My son turned to me and said, “Dad, we don’t talk about this crap when you aren’t here!” It’s true. Social protocol has dictated, for literally thousands of years, that we do the exact opposite. Men who gush are weak. Effeminate men or even those in touch with their feelings were ridiculed.

So please be patient with us. We are undergoing a cultural and anthropological shift that is unparalleled in history.
Most of us still are trying to figure out what a clitoris is.

Casual Friday – I Had A Dream

The Real Canadian Superstore adjacent to South...Have you ever tried to phone the Real Canadian Superstore? Let me save you some time. They are not in the phone book under the white pages, neither are they under any of the ordinary denominations in the yellow pages. That’s power. They don’t even need to let you get in touch with them. They know you’ll still come shop there. That arrogance is amazing. So after I finally found a number under pharmacy, I asked when they are open. The nameless automaton on the other end of the phone only said, “the regular hours”. Regular hours. The guy just knows I already know when they are open. And the sick part was, I did. That’s power. That’s arrogance.

They could care less if you like them. They have you and they know it. I despise that attitude. I hate the idea that someone has control over me. I want to believe I am in charge of my own destiny – that my decisions, not some power monger, determine my life. Of course on the same hand I like to play the victim so I have someone to blame when those decisions don’t turn out. I want to control my life – but I don’t want to be blamed for it. I also need to believe that I matter. With their cattle lines and impersonal service Superstore reminds me every week that I do not.

At the time of this writing I have been living with a decision I made some time ago to step out of the limelight. Since adolescence I have been a showman, craving the spotlight, performing for the crowds. Obviously I would have never admitted such a thing so overtly before, I spoke in altruistic platitudes about using a certain temperament or gifting or opportunity. Looking back it amounts to virtually the same thing.I have, from youngest years, believed I would be significant. There was always this carrot of notoriety just outside my grasp. I spoke yesterday of desperately trying to fit it. So much of what motivated me stemmed from this insane need to be ‘someone’. So much of my personality was wrapped up in this subtle egoism. That is not to say that I do not struggle anymore with obscurity. Every time I sit down at this computer to write I question my motivations. I can feel that snake coiling just beneath the surface, even now. Stepping away from full-time public speaking has been the best and most frustrating journey I have ever been on. I would contend that I have learned more about myself and my world in this time than in any other period of my life.I have found obscurity.Perhaps it is more accurate to say that I have finally admitted to myself that I am ordinary and unimportant by almost every societal barometer that matters in prevalent society. It’s ok, you don’t have to encourage me, I’m fine.

This has been good for me. It reminds me of those lines from one of my favorite ‘B’ movies, The Replacements, when Keanu Reeves, a replacement quarterback is confronted by the spoiled and arrogant star quarterback of the pro team who he has just replaced:
Eddie Martel: This doesn’t change anything Falco! I’m still an All-Pro quarterback with two Superbowl rings. You’ll never be anything more than a replacement player.
Shane Falco: Yeah. Yeah, I can live with that.

We all need to come to grips with who we are, not who we pretend to be. It’s tempting to spend your life chasing after something only to find out that when you get it, it really wasn’t what you needed after all.

Close to his death Martin Luther King preached his famous sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct”. As usual, he said it better than I ever could…

Martin-Luther-King-Jr-9365086-2-402“Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize. That isn’t important.Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards. That’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to love somebody. I want you to say the day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. Yes, if you want to say that I was a ‘drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. That I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say.”

Imagine Me Naked

Some time ago I was cleaning up at the little club I used to run, in preparation for the evening’s events. I had been sweating, washing floors and hauling furniture. I usually bring a change of clothing. But not that day.

No one had come in for over an hour. I figured I was safe. With this in mind, behind the bar I proceeded to drop my pants in order to change into clean clothes. At that precise moment a lady walked in and asked for a latte.

Never before have I felt so close to the bar. In fact, we became one as I sought to prepare the latte without letting on that I was wearing no pants. Socks, shoes, shirt, but no pockets.

It reminds me of this bit by Seinfeld:
“Why is it so difficult and uncomfortable to be naked? It’s because when you have clothes on, you can always make those little adjustments that people love to do. Hitching, straightening, adjusting. You know, you feel like you’re getting it together. But when you’re naked, it’s so final. You’re just, ‘well this is it, there’s nothing else I can do.”
That’s why I like to wear a belt when I’m naked. It gives me something. I’d like to get pockets to hang off the belt. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate? To be naked and still be able to put your hands in your pockets. I think that would really help a lot…”

It may shock you to know that I have been in counselling. Maybe not. I once had a counsellor tell me I needed to stand in front of the mirror naked for one minute each day in order to get more comfortable with ‘me’. I told this to someone and they went “eeeew”… which did not help much.

So with all this rolling around in my noodle I continued to grind the beans, praying all the while that I would not have to move. So of course the lady blandly asked where the sugar was, it being at right angles to where I was hiding. I reluctantly told her and proceeded to push my torso inside the small floor fridge as she walked to the condiments.

As she left the club I followed her behind the bar, keeping my beautiful barrier between us until she naively walked out.

Imagine me naked. Ok, don’t. No one should have to see that. Most of us, myself included, are not in love with our naked selves. I tease my wife that she “secretly dresses me with her eyes”. One of my best friends, Jordon Cooper, says I have a “face for radio”. I am no longer as insecure about my looks as I once was, but can still testify that for most of us, physical appearance has a significant role in determining our self-esteem. My wife once pointed out to me that I was squinting while looking in the mirror at our bedroom sinks. I had no idea I was doing this but apparently was squinting in such a pronounced fashion that Annette thought my eyes were closed – a subconscious reaction to a psychological malady. Body image is a life-long issue for most of us.

A few years ago, again while naked, I had an epiphany. I realized in the shower one day that I had been berating myself all my life and was unwilling to move forward, heal, and stop the body dysmorphia. Like so many of us I wasn’t thinking about my body because I was overly proud or seeking to show it off, I was in fact transfixed on the negatives and unwilling to let the embarrassment go.

It has taken me far to long to realize that this is just a shell and no matter how hard I try or how much I whine I am only going to get older, saggier, less flexible, and probably balder. There is little, short of surgery, that I can do to arrest the passing of time.

A shell. Maybe  a fat shell or a ridiculously thin shell, a hairy or bald shell, a saggy shell or a beautiful one, does it really matter? Isn’t it time that we stop letting plastic, Photoshopped, insecure skeletons or fake vampires with no nipples dictate how we feel about ourselves? It doesn’t really matter what you look like if you are healthy and can learn to like yourself. For some reason my wife thinks I am good-looking and that needs to be enough for me.

Even if she didn’t, I’m tired of jumping through hoops for a shell.

 

Weekend Musings – There Are Victims And Then There Are Victims

“A benchmark of emotional management and responsibility is the realization that our past can no longer be blamed for our actions in the present.“
Doc Childe and Howard Martin

Every day I work with people who are victims, real or imagined. They grew up in a bad home, someone has rejected them, the white man has dragged them down, people have taken advantage of them, they have been abused, raped, abandoned, the list is endless. There is no shortage of people to blame.

Usually the client or person I am talking to has legitimate issues. They are dealing with things that most people can barely imagine. They are trying, the best they know how, to find some anchor in a life that has been beyond their control. Many patients I have spoken with have gone through horror stories and are endeavouring to move forward. They are the reason I get up in the morning and go to work excited. They are my heroes.

Others are looking for something to pin their pain on. They cannot see any personal responsibility, they will not own their own complicity. They sit and we talk and it is always someone else’s fault. Often they have legitimate complaints but they wear their victimization like a crown and filter everything through with a pre-disposed diagnosis. This week I met with a young man who told me that the reason he could not pass in school was because generations ago people oppressed him. I reminded him that he was not in fact alive a couple hundred years ago and though he has had to suffer historic abuse and that has undoubtedly profoundly affected his life, perhaps the reasons he is failing in school have more to do with the fact that he is skipping and spending his considerable income on crack. He called me a bigot.

I come from generations of alcoholics and the pragmatically poor. My dad was an orphan whose father fell from a skyscraper during his last week of work before going to a new job. His mother died when he was 12. He completed grade 9 in school. He had no social safety net, no social worker looking out for him, no strong family to provide for him, no one to blame. So he didn’t.

Years later my father would stand before the Governor General of Canada and receive the military equivalent of the Order of Canada, our highest civilian honor. He had, in fact, finally finished his high school equivalency in his forties. He had worked his butt off to make something of a shunted life. He is my son’s hero. Wednesday he will be our guest blogger.

Every now and again I will have occasion to feel sorry for myself. Maybe things aren’t going smoothly or my friends have nicer houses or boats. Sometimes I wish I had a family with money and a house on a lake. But then I remember how fortunate I am to come from a heritage that simply would not give up.

As i sit here writing this it just hit me, I have never heard my dad complain about his lot in life. Ever.
Wow.

“People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives.”
J. Michael Straczynski

 

Casual Friday: Does Anybody Out There Know Who I Am?

English: Cover of Undead Fishtank album, for u...

Tony Campolo tells a story in one of his books about something that happened after World War II. There were more than 200 Frenchmen who returned to Paris suffering from amnesia. They had been in prison camps and were so psychologically devastated by their ordeal that they had lost the conscious awareness of who they were.

In most cases, their identities were quickly established, but after all that was done, there were still 32 men whose identities couldn’t be verified. The doctors who were treating them were convinced that their chances for recovery were slim unless they were connected with former friends and relatives and restored to their once-familiar settings.

Someone had an idea to help. They published photographs of the men on the front page of newspapers throughout the country, and gave a date and time when anyone having information about any of these amnesia victims could come to the Paris Opera House. Well, on the appointed day, a crowd gathered to view these war veterans who didn’t know who they were. In a dramatic moment, the first of the amnesia victims walked onto the stage of the darkened opera house, stood alone in the spotlight, and slowly turned completely around. Before the hushed audience, in a halting voice, he said to the crowd, “Does anybody out there know who I am?”

It is a profound question.

I mentioned on this blog that recently I had a Grand Mal seizure at work. Fortunately I work at a doctor’s office and two of the best doctors I have ever met were on the scene within seconds. At least that is what I was told. I don’t remember any of it. Apparently I also became physically violent at one point as well, although I wasn’t there to see it.

It is a scary thing to wake up on a gurney and not know what is happening. It is very similar to waking up from an operation with that foggy pseudo-understanding that something has happened and you should know what that is. You understand, on some level, that you shouldn’t be in an ambulance – it’s a work day. It gradually dawns on you that you don’t know where you are or for that matter, who you are.

I could not remember where I lived.

It is a bizarre thing to realize you do not know who you are.

Many of us spend our entire lives trying to find out who we are. We jump through hoops and do things hoping to be loved, only to find out that we have lost a sense of ourselves. We grew up believing we were going to be rock stars and multi-millionaires, at the very least healthy, wealthy and wise, but we aren’t, and we may not get there anytime soon. It is easy to build your identity on the wrong things, trying to impress the wrong people for the wrong reasons. It is no wonder than that so many of us have come to the conclusion that the real world is boring and life has little meaning unless we find it from within.

The older I get the more I realize that life does not hand you meaning, you have to grab it for yourself. The paltry drive to acquire more money and status is so entirely meaningless yet enticing. How many rock stars and celebrities have to kill themselves or end up in rehab before we as a people stop spending our lives wishing for something that does not heal our souls?

So who are you? As Billy Crystal says in the immortal Princess Bride, “Hey! Hello in there! Hey! What’s so important? Whatcha got here, that’s worth living for?”

 

Lies We Tell Ourselves #3 – He Is Perfect For Me. It Was Meant To Be!

Meant for Each OtherIt was written in the stars. He saw her from across the room and as their eyes met; he knew she was the only one for him, forever.

Doesn’t young romantic love make you want to puke?

In my Relationship Group there is always that one couple who tell us that they knew their relationship was ‘meant to be’, and that when they met they knew it was true love. This other person is the ‘one and only’.

Popular culture and movies are replete with references to the idea that your love was ‘meant to be.’ Just look at all the romantic comedies that are out there. You know the ones, the movies where Matthew McConaughey takes off his shirt. The movies about a young professional, trying to make it in the big city and she meets a guy who stumbles into her on the street. He’s annoying and you think she is going to marry the rich, stuck up guy but at the last moment he shows up at her wedding with flowers, just before she says, “I do.” As they rush out of the church you know that their love was meant to be. After all, when you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. When you wish upon a star your dreams come true!

Nope.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in lust at first sight. I do not, however, buy into the idea that your special relationship was written in the stars. So why is this such a big deal? Why would anyone waste their time arguing about true love?

In counseling we call this a cognitive distortion. These are the distorted truths we tell ourselves in order to cope. So why is this belief a distortion?

Fast forward ten or twenty years and the wife is in counseling. She is frustrated because her marriage is not turning out the way it was ‘meant to be’. Prince Charming has turned out to be a dud, her sex life is routine and obligatory and every conversation they have seems to end in a fight. Where is the romance? Where is the passion?

Real relationships rarely turn out the way they do on television. Every relationship, no matter how steamy it started out, lessens in romantic intensity the longer you are together. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this. Hopefully your respect and trust in that other person will continue to grow and your romantic life will be fulfilling and enjoyable for both partners. I like to call this the real world.

In the land of media induced make-believe , however, romance is intense. You kiss like you are trying to rub your lips all over their face. His mere touch sends you into spasms of pre-orgasmic delight. For the rest of your life you are going to live with your soul mate and even though over half of relationships split up, yours is going to go the distance. Why? Because it was meant to be.

Most of us have grown up with this perception of true love. We believe that one day, some day, we will meet that perfect someone and they will feed our every dream. We will surely live ‘happily ever after’. Unfortunately this is often not the case. I often meet women (and men) who complain that their partner is not willing to do whatever it takes to make the relationship work. Now that they have a solid relationship it’s as if they quit trying and go on to the next adventure. When the relationship is struggling they refuse to go for counseling; they refuse to be embarrassed. Let me let you in on something; if your spouse is not willing to go to counseling to work on your marriage then that relationship is doomed. The same goes for living together.

Living with someone in a romantic relationship is extremely challenging and demands a ridiculous amount of hard work. No couple magically just gets along without putting in the effort, especially in heterosexual relationships. Men and women are practically different species and it requires a profound commitment to go the distance together. Believing this distortion sets people up for disappointment. That lady sitting in my office grew up to believe that she would meet Prince Charming. She imagined that her relationship would be special, incredible, unique and wonderful. As a young girl she didn’t dream of a guy who farts, picks his nose and scratches his crotch. While they were newly dating (and lying to each other) neither partner thought they would someday be yelling at this person of their dreams. The Princess Bride didn’t mention PMS or bad breath or grouchy husbands.

Time and again I run across people, often a female, who feel a deep sense of grief and disappointment about how their life is turning out. By the age of forty or forty-five they begin to ask themselves, “Is this as good as it gets?” This is in part because they dreamed of a fantasy that was not, could not, be real. Their unrealistic expectations have contributed to their frustration. The myth of ‘happily ever after’ sold them a myth that no partner, no matter how amazing, could hope to live up to.

A successful relationship is a ton of work by two very flawed people who are committed to lower their expectations and dedicate themselves, in spite of their partner’s glaring faults, to going on a journey together. Anything less is probably not going to make it.

The Lies We Tell Ourselves – ‘Everything Happens For A Reason’

How It Shakes Out – All this suffering is part of a cosmic divine plan.

Why I Hate It –  For some reason almost everyone seems to believe this bizarre statement. We say to hurting families at funerals that this must be part of a bigger plan. This cliche is often used when someone gets a terminal illness or when bad things happen to good people.

Please stop. It isn’t helping.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. A friend and I were called to Kevin’s house, no one had heard from him for days. As we entered his house I knew what had happened, I could smell it. Death has its own fragrance. We found Kevin sitting alone, in front of his television, dead from an overdose called ‘speedballing‘. Another wasted life.

I spoke at his funeral a few days later. I remember too well my half-baked attempt to make sense of something that should never have been. I will also never forget the lady who came to me after the funeral and accused me of “putting a negative spin” on the situation. She concluded with, “I know this will change a lot of lives and you should have spoken of that.”

I host a group for people who have lost loved ones and are struggling to cope. They are broken and confused, damaged goods. Inevitably in the group someone will share how, at the funeral of their child, an aunt or a well-meaning pastor came to them and said, “I guess God needed another child in heaven.”

The God they believe in must be a bastard. Apparently they believe that God needed another pre-adolescent to fill the roles so he killed yours. In counseling we call this a ‘cognitive distortion’. We also call it asinine.

Only slightly less damaging is the statement, ‘everything happens for a reason’. People who believe this think it is a very loose translation of a bible verse, “all things work together for good”. It’s not, and any decent theologian will tell you the bible verse does not mean that everything works to promote what you think is good.

Daniel Wallace explains – You’ve heard it thousands of times: “Don’t worry; everything will work out just fine.” It’s the eternal optimism that is born not in the crucible of reality but in the wishful thinking of the American dream, of Hollywood make-believe, or of a nave Pollyanna outlook. All of us know it isn’t completely true—we know of children who were cut down by cancer or drunk drivers, of drug addicts who came from good homes, of family men who lost their jobs, of soldiers who returned from battle with one less limb. We know of countless tragedies and needless suffering, yet we repeat the myth to our children without blinking an eye: “Don’t worry; everything will work out just fine.”

The fact remains that most people in my part of the globe still believe this to be an important truth. The painful truth is, however, that the grieving widow given this advice often wonders how such a tragedy could possibly be a good thing. As a result many who suffer wonder if this situation is somehow the will of God, or it is because they are not spiritual enough. They become confused, hurt, and often shunted in their grieving process.

This phase is indeed problematic on several levels. The speaker gives the impression that they believe that he or she has some inside track to the motivation of God or Karma or whatever mystical unseen hand is in control of our universe. They are saying that there is a power that decided that there was a good reason to inflict their newborn with cancer or have a woman raped. There must be some reason why some sixty million people perished in World War 2 including millions upon millions of innocents. Apparently we are supposed to learn a lesson which required 2.5% of the world’s population to die and over 6 million Jews, 2.5 million Poles and countless others to be murdered.

And given the existence of this holy force, which acts on our behalf, who am I to question why a child was molested or my friend Duke died of lung cancer at nineteen.

Even if you cannot see the fairy tale ending then your pain was part of a greater plan that helped someone else, surely? Don’t be upset that you were paralyzed by a drunk driver, think about the lesson you’ve taught others about drinking and driving!

As a person of faith I am not suggesting that all pain and suffering is pointless, or that nothing good can come out of a good situation, but the belief that everything happens for a reason is not only untrue, it is also a naive and potentially damaging way to look at life. Kevin’s death was a tragedy and I realize more and more that it is not necessary to rationalize or justify. Stuff happens. Bad things do happen to good people. Sometimes the rich do get richer and the poor do get poorer. Sometimes life isn’t fair (another lie we want to believe). Sometimes addicts die, in spite of our best efforts. I no longer blame God for things I cannot accept without a fairytale ending.

It’s only when we open our eyes and accept life on life’s terms that healing and hope begins. Pretending we are not angry, or frustrated, or confused, only keeps us sick and makes us bitter. No more lies.

Lowering Your Expectations

Do you want to be happy in life and with your relationships? Lower your expectations!

Most of us grow up believing we are going to be rich, or famous, or at least happy. It seems, however, that the real world rarely lives up to our expectations.

Jerry Seinfeld (character)I love how Jerry Seinfeld sums up the problem with the real world: “The bad thing about television is that everybody you see on television is doing something better than what you’re doing. Did you ever see anybody on TV like just sliding off the front of the sofa with potato chip crumbs on their face? Some people have a little too much fun on television: the soda commercial people – where do they summon this enthusiasm? Have you seen them? 

“We have soda, we have soda, we have soda”, jumping, laughing, flying through the air – it’s a can of soda. Have you ever been standing there and you’re watching TV and you’re drinking the exact same product that they’re advertising right there on TV, and it’s like, you know, they’re spiking volleyballs, jetskiing, girls in bikinis and I’m standing there – “Maybe I’m putting too much ice in mine?”

Though many people in the addictions field don’t speak about boredom and the real world, it remains one of the main reasons recovering addicts relapse. They have lived in a world of adventure and the real world moves very slow. In short, it’s boring. The typical day used to start with cravings and emotionalism, they would spend time looking for a means to buy drugs, go to the deal, do the deal, take the drugs, zone out for a period of time, come down, clean up, and go to bed. Compare that to the heroine addict who goes on a Methadone program. He or she gets up, goes to the pharmacy, gets a Dixie cup of methadone, drinks it… now what? It’s 8:30 in the morning and your schedule is done.

Believe what you want about substance use, it does fill up your day. Most recovering addicts complain that ‘normie land’ is boring, slow, and generally a let-down.

Let’s be honest, they are right. The real world is not like it is on television. Your job, no matter what that is, is usually a series of days you will probably not remember. That new car is exciting for a week or two then it’ just a car. Even relationships get stale after a while.

I’m trying to lower my expectations.

I was ADHD before it was cool. The world seemed to move at a snail’s pace. Even now, as a full grown adult I find most days are just… ok. It is tempting to become despondent and self-medicate, or give up, or get bitter. It is also tempting to feel that life is unfair, that things haven’t turned out the way they were supposed to in my childhood fairytale. I can rail and cry and take all the Cipralex I want, things may not turn into Game Of Thrones. There may be no more dragons to slay or maidens to rescue and somehow, some way, I need to learn to be ok with that.

I have come to believe that, at least for me, maturity and wisdom has something to do with learning to be content in spite of my outside world. I have seen firsthand how, when I lower the emotional impact of my expectations of my partner, my children, my work, and my world, that I am able to be more at peace. I am trying to get to that point in my marriage, for example, where I have no expectations of my wife. If she shows up I’m happy. She is crazy enough to love me and want to share life with me so what else can I ask? I’m not there yet but I have noticed that, as I endeavor to change my way of thinking, it is making a difference in my life.

Cognitive Therapy teaches us to realize that changing our mind may be better than trying to change our actions. If we can do this then our actions become more authentic and flow out of who we are, not how we feel. Change your mind and your ass will follow. As I begin to shift my focus from my unreasonable demands, as I learn to take care of myself before pushing my agenda on others, as I take the time to develop an attitude of gratitude and as Covey said, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood”; than slowly my world begins to change.

“Life is a journey not a destination”, they say. It is never too late to transform your life, if you are willing to put in the work.

Prince Charming?

Orlando Bloom as Legolas in Peter Jackson's li...I grew up watching Disney cartoons, believing in ‘make believe’ and dreaming about fighting dragons, slaying bad guys, and getting the beautiful princess. There was something inside of me as a child that longed to be special, that longed for knights and battles and glory. As Gene Hackman said in The Replacements – “wounds heal, chicks dig scars, and glory lasts forever.”

Recently I have been doing a great deal of marriage counseling. I have come to realize that men and women are very different, so different in fact that it’s like they speak two different languages. They also come to the relationship with very different expectations. Though I am hesitant to state that I know someone else’s motivations, there is a lingering dream that keeps resurfacing in my counseling. Many women I counsel eventually admit that they grew up with the same fantasies and long to be treated like a princess – adored, supported, protected and treated as beautiful , intelligent and willing to hack off a limb if she needs to.  And what guy doesn’t want to be praised, thought of as a mighty warrior who can slay the dragon, and have great hair doing it?

But is this reasonable? Let’s talk about it.

Unfortunately in the real world it seems that reality rarely meets our childhood expectations and many of us end up in relationships with few fairy tale endings.

So is there any truth to this princess thing?

With few exceptions most women I talk to can identify with at least some of the myth. Who does not want to be treated like a princess (in the best sense of the word)? Princesses are honored, they are royalty. People stop and stare when they walk by. Men fawn all over them for attention. So many heterosexual men do not seem to understand that when they cannot show their spouse that she is special, and that he can be trusted and has her back; that this strikes at the core of what many woman are looking for in a partner.

There seems to be almost a primal reason why many women are attracted to affluent men, or men with nice possessions. They may believe on some level that this individual can treat a woman the way she inherently wants to be treated. Most women, when pressed, will admit they think security is an important value.

So what’s the deal with Prince Charming?

Many men, on the other hand, want to be the hero. Men over thirty come from a world of masculine competition. We were raised on movies starring Clint Eastwood (before he went crazy at the Republican National Convention), Arnold and Sly, Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. We all wanted to be Hard to Kill. Many men are not, nor will they ever be, metro-sexual. When they watch Lord of the Rings they do not think Legolas is a real man (well technically… he’s an elf). The hero of 13th Warrior is not Antonio Banderas, it’s Buliwyf. In a man’s world you are constantly measured  by other males based on your capacity to take care of yourself. We have thousands of years of hunter/gatherer machismo to get over, and apparently not all of us have been able to make it over the wall yet.

It may be for this reason that men subconsciously respond so poorly to criticism by their women. If my wife diminishes my character it affects me on every level and something deep inside me feels like I’m a child again, being chastised by my mother. It attacks the essence of what it means for me to be a man. Women who understand this and are willing to ‘butter up’ their man are used to getting their way far more than females who use condemnation to coerce.

But is this fair? Fairness has little to do with it, it’s simply a reality for many men.

I find it interesting that the myth of machismo continues to thrive so blatantly in popular culture. Most stereotypes that have been bashed by the media eventually lose their popularity and are scorned by movies and culture. Take, for example, the idea of the submissive, ‘meet you at the door with your slippers’ depiction of the housewife. This once popular role has almost ceased to exist in popular culture except among the fringe and a few fundamentalist Christians I know. Popular culture has led the way in relegating this stereotype to the realm of the absurd. So why, then, does the macho, unfeeling, remorseless, beer drinking, emotionally unavailable male still enjoy such popularity?

There is an interesting phenomenon going on among women in my part of the village. Some are complaining that they are frustrated by their relationships with men who are emotionally needy, whiny, almost ‘too’ in touch with their feelings. Is it possible that a few women out there still want a knight in shining armor to be the hero he so desperately wants to be?

So what can we do about it?

If you are struggling with your relationship, don’t give up without a fight. Any relationship can be restored if both partners are willing to put the needs of the other person first. Unfortunately, however, many couples have so much ‘water under the bridge’ that they cannot talk about anything without it becoming heated. If it’s not too bad, fight for it. If it is, and you aren’t ready to leave yet, maybe you should consider having a professional help you through the jungle of emotion and hurt.

And oh ya, if you do get a counselor, get a counselor that doesn’t suck! (I can help you with that).