Unhappily Ever After

Relationships can be fickle things, the product of fickle people with uneducated and unrealistic ideas trying to merge their understanding of life with another person’s.

By the time you’re in your 20s you’ve probably learned to keep your guard up in pretty much every relationship you’re in, platonic or romantic. Knowing that every single relationship takes continual effort doesn’t ensure that the effort will be returned, or that the one day you’re just too tired or too overwhelmed to put forth that effort won’t be the day the other person is also too tired or too overwhelmed to be patient and understanding of your momentary showing of your humanity and flaws. It could stir up their own insecurities and in a split second words that can never be taken back escape from lips that don’t even understand why they’re saying them.

Decades long friendships have ended over simple misunderstandings. Marriages ruined over momentary slips in judgement made during weak moments filled with hurt feelings and (mis)notions of being unappreciated. Even professional relationships are terminated because the effort seems too great to expend anymore.

Every single person I know has watched in quiet (or loud indignity) as one of their relationships has burned up in flames. Many times they had no idea why things were suddenly over. Lack of communication, the bane of all relationships. With each ruined relationship the questioning of all your others becomes greater. Mistrust grows. The ability to ever feel safe in any relationship dwindles.

The whole idea of happily ever after is a complete myth. Books, television and movies lead the masses on a fool’s errand, searching for perfect family dynamics, friends forever and a Prince or Princess charming to sweep them off their feet. No one likes to talk about our ineptitude, our learning curves and our aptitude for self-destructive behavior. Psychology should be a mandatory class starting in 4th grade and being a continual requirement until graduation at least. Educate the population on their own motivations so they can learn to identify the basis for their actions and hopefully over time do better in general.

Happily ever after may be a myth but I’d hate to live in a world that only offers unhappily ever after.

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The Boy Who Cried Bitch

“The best defense is a good offense.”

How many times in your life do you hear that phrase? How many different ways do you think it’s interpreted?

For many children who grow up feeling insecure that motto becomes their entire way of interacting with anyone close enough to hurt them. By the time they’re an adult they have absolutely no idea how to communicate with others in a positive and easy manner. They are so ingrained to always point out other’s flaws (to distract from their own) that most people find it extremely unpleasant to have more than a short conversation with them. They have 5 minute shelf-lives to put it another way. This causes their insecurities to increase and they go on the offense even more, a vicious cycle that leaves everyone involved unhappy.

There once was a boy who always had to shout the loudest, have the last word and be the best at everything. For this little boy there was only one way to do everything, and it was always the way he did it. Everyone else was wrong unless they agreed with him. If he was the loudest and the best, if he was always helping others (even if they didn’t want his help) and giving his last dollar to anyone who would take it than he could feel like he was loved, feel secure.

Some people preyed on his generous nature and others dealt with the frustrations of his adamant personality. No one taught him what it was to love unselfishly. No one ever told him, or got him to believe, that he was worth being loved even if he wasn’t always right. He grew up in a whirlwind of dysfunctional friendships and (un-returned) loyalty to family members. By the time the young boy became an adult he knew no other way to live than to always be on the offense.

Eventually, as most people do, he found someone to marry. He had managed to hide many of his insecurities and had convinced himself he could trust his future wife, of course some things he had simply lied about entirely. As the wedding date got closer his insecurities started to grow and some of his lies were uncovered. Nevertheless they both proceeded to say their “I do’s” and the man assured himself he had nothing to fear from the woman who now shared his name. He underestimated the depth of the lessons taught to the young boy, he thought love would be enough to chase away his demons.

He opened up and shared his fears, his desires and his dreams. She embraced them all with kind acceptance and for some reason the man found himself confused and afraid that another person would treat him in such a positive manner, especially when in doing so she was limiting herself. He knew that he was flawed and that most people would laugh at him, or turn away, he knew that he didn’t deserve her. He began to mistrust his wife, not realizing it was only his inner fear that whispered such doubts to him.

He began to grow distant and avoided spending time with his wife. When they did interact he found himself pointing out all her flaws and trying to start fights. He would find a way to prove she couldn’t possibly actually accept him. He would prove she didn’t really love him. He would prove his inner fear correct, that he didn’t deserve to be happy. Problem was, she refused to give up on him and refused to leave. He grew even more aggressive in his attempts to push her away. He became condescending. He would purposely do things to piss her off. When his attempts were met with love and understanding it only served to enrage him. He couldn’t understand her actions and his fear began to do more than whisper at him.

After years of letting his insecurities rule his thoughts he had convinced himself he wasn’t happy and then convinced himself he was only unhappy because his wife wouldn’t agree with him on everything, she wouldn’t jump just because he told her to, therefore she couldn’t be trusted. She also refused to play along when he threw his tantrums, she refused to accept his condescending attitude and she refused to stop loving him. He decided he needed to convince other people that his wife was as imperfect and stubbornly offensive as he’d convinced himself she was in order to push away from her.

He complained to his friends that she was a bitch. He would tell his family that his wife didn’t want to interact with them and she was the reason he didn’t come around as much. He kept saying it until he thought everyone believed him and then he planned to go back and tell his wife that everyone thought she was a bitch too. He thought for sure that would break her. He knew only how to live a life of insecurities and had no idea just how strong a person who didn’t deal with those demons could be. He had no idea that unselfish love cannot be destroyed, only rejected.

When he looked his wife in the eye and told her everyone thought she was an unfriendly, cold bitch the last thing he’d expected her to do was laugh at him. Laughter was exactly the response he got, however. She saw through his lies as easily as through a clean pane of window glass. She knew his friends liked her and she knew his family loved her, as well as her friends and family. “The only person who thinks I’m a bitch is you” she told him. “You are so scared to be vulnerable that you push away or avoid anyone that is willing to love you in a positive manner. You are only comfortable when you feel like you’re in control and only trust that the people who use you and give nothing back in return are your friends. You don’t know or understand what unselfish love is and if you do than you certainly don’t believe you deserve it and as such reject anyone willing to give it to you.” For once the man had no response to fire back.

He had cried bitch and no one was willing to come help rescue his inner demons. If they weren’t strong enough love would get them and he would be left with nothing but the harsh light of truth flooding into every part of his mind. He now had a choice, stand and fight with his demons or let them die and step on into a new chapter of his life.

Outwardly Expressing Inner Dissatisfaction

Have you ever come across a person who makes everything more complicated than it needs to be? Have you pondered how such a simple concept can escape them? Do you sit there, frustrated that people like that are unnecessarily making your life more difficult because they can’t be bothered to work out a process for themselves, but not knowing why they do what they do? I see it all the time.

There are certain people in life who are deeply unsatisfied with an aspect of their life, let’s say their job. They can only complain for so long before people tell them to shut up or find a new job. When they no longer feel that they can vent about the tedious tasks or revamped processes then they must find a way to validate their right to complain again. They must invent a new reason to be unhappy that can’t be blamed on their lack of work ethic. This starts the subconscious act of finding ways to make simple tasks way more complicated than they need to be. They nitpick any tiny flaw in another person as creating heavy additional burdens on their own workflow. They act confused about the tiniest of process improvement changes. Their finger begins to point at everyone else. The excuses begin to flow like rain from their mouth. What no one seems to realize, or want to say, is that this is all just the person’s way of outwardly expressing their inner dissatisfaction with their current situation. It usually doesn’t solve any problems, sadly, only creates frustration for all involved.

I always want to just pull them aside and tell them that I see through the facade, but that never ends well. Someday I hope to find a solution to this. Perhaps at some future time I will be able to create the perfect sentence to diffuse the inner turmoil of others that lashes out at me, that would be a great day indeed. Until then I will just have to settle for knowing the reason why and feel helpless to stop it.

Shelf Life

I admit I have been reminiscing a bit lately, contemplating the similarities between past and present relationships and trying to pinpoint a pattern so I could calculate my “shelf life” with people. I always start out so strong, when I haven’t invested yet and have no issues taking the lead, saying what is on my mind and making all the decisions. People seem to really like that girl. Problem is, once I respect someone I feel it is only fair to give them an opportunity to voice their opinions and weigh in on decisions. I strive to compromise and make sure they feel valued and that seems to be when my stock plummets. Maybe it is easier to let someone else make the decisions and be the one with the hobbies and interests that you can just follow with them instead of finding your own. Perhaps there is comfort in knowing you simply have to follow someone else through their life, letting them lead, letting them be the responsible party. I know often I’d rather let the other person decide because I feel like then I can’t possibly disappoint them by choosing wrong. It is less stressful to be adaptable and give up control then to make all the choices but constantly worry that you will drive them away because you are weird or boring. It is entirely possible that I drove people away in the past simply by appearing to bait and switch my nature regarding being a leader or follower. I now suspect that over the years I have usually attracted people who were looking to follow and then disappointed them by asking them to lead months/years down the road causing them to lose interest in me. I worry I am making that same mistake with husband right now. I am confused and unsure of how to proceed.

The Rest of the “Profiles”

Below are the rest of the made up profiles I created years ago to describe people I often meet. This is meant to be humorous, but most of them are funny because they were/are true.

Deep-seated super insecure unfixables

The absolute worst thing about a deepseated superinsecure unfixable person is that often times they are some of the nicest, most thoughtful/respectful people you will ever encounter which is why it’s so disappointing that they are also some of the hardest ppl to get close to. Their insecurities & anxiety create, often impenetrable  walls that keep you from ever really becoming a part of their life, which is just frustrating for the people who want to befriend them. However, not all DSSIU’s are great, some are just plain selfish needy assholes whose insecurities cause them to lash out at others just trying to help them. These DSSIU’s constantly change their mind about what they want, torn between their desire to be loved & their fear of being left. This causes a lot of self-destructive behavior which ruins most relationships they feel have the potential to hurt them. They justify backstabbing/cheating by rationalizing they have/would eventually have been screwed over so they might as well be the ones doing the screwing. Depression/anxiety/bi-polarism is present in many DSSIUs & 99% of the time you can’t help them out of their self-destructive cycle. The best way to deal w/them is to not get attached & if it’s too late for that just realize they need unconditional love & a lot of patience but don’t hold your breath on them changing any time soon.

Overly enthusiastics

Overly enthusiastic people often inspire in others a deep urge to punch them in the face. They talk incessantly, often over-explaining even the simplest of things, to the utter annoyance of anyone unlucky enough to be within earshot. They constantly sport a large fake-looking grin on their faces & can often be heard laughing at all the “funny” things they say. They love to point out other people’s mistakes but will then quickly add in some sort of compliment or encouraging remark to (soften the blow) justify to themselves that they weren’t being an asshole. The most annoying aspect of the O.E. is that their continual contradictions & overall fakeness make it very difficult to know where you stand with them. The best way to deal with an O.E. is to never take their opinion seriously & avoid talking to them unless absolutely necessary  Also let them know that you don’t care about their opinion & you have no interest in talking to them. This ensures that you will, of course, be spoken badly about (then complimented) behind your back but since you don’t care what the O.E. thinks it’s a small price to pay to keep them out of your hair.

Narcissist

Ah the narcissist, they always make me giggle. There are actually many types of narcissists, some annoying, others amusing, but you know for sure that you are dealing with one when you come across the over-inflated sense of self worth. I’ll go over 4 different sub-types.
Snobs
The snobby narcissist are very concerned with appearance, both theirs and yours, and a lack on your part to be seen wearing the correct clothing labels, or driving the right car, results in shunning (if you’re lucky) or worse….having to hear them bitch to you about how un-cool you are. They themselves expect nothing but the best of both material goods, food, and company, though their opinion of good company usually is attributed to how well known a person is and not their actual quality as a person. Their favorite pastime is to tell you all the reasons that they themselves are so awesome & why you should be impressed with/adore them. The best way to deal with this type of narcissist is to tell them that you don’t give a shit what they think & if applicable remind them that not everyone has a rich daddy to buy them things or are willing to prostitute themselves for designer shoes. If that doesn’t shut them up just make plans with them then don’t show up, that annoys them and usually results in their public assertation that they “are not speaking to you!”….thus you win!
Brooding musicians/artists
These narcissists also love to go on about how awesome they are….and how creative/talented/well known/insert something great about them here. In fact you could literally spend hours trying to get a word in edgewise but unless it was about them good luck getting them to pay attention. Not only will they talk on and on about themselves and their work, they always feel compelled to show you as well. So you have to hear them play their instruments, or show you their painting/photographs/sculptures/insert artwork of choice here. The worst is when they write the poems….oh god seriously….no one wants to hear your emo poems, but no matter how much you protest you always end up hearing the fucking lameass emo poems. Best way to deal with them…avoid them, or finally just grab them by the face, put a hand over their mouth, say “SHHHHHHHHH, no one cares” & when they go to speak, just repeat it, then never make plans with them again. They’ll never learn if no one doesn’t take the time to tell them that just because they painted a picture of a vase of flowers bleeding over a dead bunny doesn’t mean they are anymore talented than the average student at MCAD. I’m not advocating people not giving credit to talented people, it’s ok to tell people when they produce something of quality…but for fucks sake I’m not going to constantly feed an over-inflated ego.
One-uppers
These annoying bitches always have to add something to the damn conversation…if you won a $100 on a scratchoff, they won $200, if you got an unfair speeding ticket, they got unfairly beat by cops…you had a baby, they had twins, or some horrible experience with a baby. Point is, god forbid you get a chance to share something that happened to you (be it good or bad) without these jerks having to immediately chime in with their own story. Best way to deal with them…tell them to just shut the fuck up for a second. Shame their asses into giving you your 5 fucking minutes. If they have a relevant story that’s fine, but no one needs to know about some stupid thing that happened to them 10 years ago that has the smallest of ties to something that just happened to you. If you need advice, you’ll ask for it, otherwise let them know you don’t need their input.
Drama-dumpers
Everyone knows at least one of these types of people, they never call you or hang out unless something horrible happens to them. Then if you’re stupid enough to answer the phone or agree to see them, you find yourself the oratory recipient of months of stupid bullshit drama that you could give 2 shits about. They don’t have time to hear about you & your problems, but you sure as shit had to hear about their co-worker’s marital problems/cheating escapades and the time this one guy at their apartment building flashed them. They never admit to being a selfish conversation hog either, you could call them out on it and they’d put forth the minimalist of efforts to hear about your new job/significant other/pet/car/house/insert something that isn’t b.s. drama gossip here, but by the next unfortunate conversation it’s back to them dumping their drama on you and fleeing. Best way to deal with them…block their number & avoid them at the bar/grocery store/Target. If you get backed into a corner just put your fingers in your ear and hum the most annoying tune you can think of & when they finally notice and stomp off in an offended huff then you can do a victory dance!

Pessimists

Now no one goes around wearing rose-colored glasses, not even the overly enthusiastic, but there are some people so negative that their mere presence can ruin the cheeriest of moods. These pessimists always feel the need to point out how half-empty the glass is or how futile a situation may be. They never have a positive thing to tell anyone, more content to brood on the negative aspects, and can only be counted on to spread anti-goodwill wherever they go. At first it’s easy to brush off their comments, but after awhile their pessimism starts to eat away at you. These negative assholes are like a virus, continually wearing down your defenses until you are as miserable as they are. If you call them out on their lame-ass negativity they just get defensive and spout out more negativity. The best way to deal with them is to go on the counter-attack. For every negative thing they say, say two positive things. Eventually they will run out of negative things to say and will shut up, or walk away, either way you win.

Lazy bastards

Another delightful type of person in great abundance is the ever frustrating lazy bastard. L.B.s are always willing to hang out if you come to them, or come pick them up. They love activities that utilize the couch, and minimalize hard work. If you need someone to hang out with, they’re there for you, if you need someone to help you move, they’re “unfortunately” too busy. L.B.s don’t like having jobs, and switch employers often. If the smallest little obstacle surfaces at their job L.B.s would often rather quit than put forth more than the barest of efforts. As a result most L.B.s don’t have a lot of money to go out and socialize with. They are, however, very good at persuading others to pay for them with the promise that they will “pay them back real soon” which never happens because in order to do that they’d have to keep a job. L.B.s don’t believe in multitasking, so if they are in college, they can’t work because “it’s too hard to concentrate on studying and working a job” so they will take out unnecessary student loans to cover expenses they could easily have avoided with a little extra effort. They have no concept of how to handle money and spend it unwisely, depending on others for their economic survival. L.B.s are often brought up by other L.B.s and then when they have their own offspring, which they always do considering being responsible and practicing safe sex habits is usually too much effort for an L.B., the cycle just continues anew. The best way to handle an L.B. is to never ever give them any help…ever! No money, no enabling of laziness, no acceptance of excuses on why they suck so much. Just refuse to allow them to take advantage of you just because they can’t be bothered with helping themselves. If you suspect your significant other or child is an L.B. take immediate action. Don’t allow them access to your funds or anything of value. If they get an allowance cut it off and tell them they need to get a job, if they’re too young make them mow the yard or other people’s yards to earn money. Repetition about the value of a work ethic while they sleep can often provide excellent subliminal influence. If you are in love with an L.B. you obviously have horrible judgement of character or you lack the confidence and intelligence to demand more out of a partner. You should break up with them immediately or if you’re too much of a pansy to do that, you should give them a deadline to shape up. If they really love you they’ll make the effort, if they don’t just accept the fact they’re only in it for the perks & kick their lazy asses to the curb. By allowing someone else to be an L.B. you just perpetuate the problem, instead be a part of the solution & together we can eradicate laziness from our society.

Pseudo intellectuals

Ever met someone who at first seemed to know about so many different topics it was like a breath of fresh air in comparison to the usual boring assholes & their usual inane babbling. Then a day/week/month/year later you realize the awful truth, they aren’t really a smart & fascinating individual, you have just fallen victim to a pseudo intellect. P.I.s can fool some people all the time & all people some of the time but they can’t fool all people all of the time because eventually they will screw up & let some incriminating remark out & then their cover is blown. Common P.I. tactics are learning a small amount of information about a wide array of topics & then casually throwing bits of said info into conversation in a manner which deceptively implies they are very knowledgeable  If pressed for more info they suddenly have a million things to do & can’t possibly continue the conversation. They often contradict themselves while speaking/writing, unknowingly of course, which can alert you to their P.I. tendencies. I’m not against pple learning about many different things & I don’t expect pple to know everything about everything, but don’t pretend to be smarter than you are, it’s insulting and implies insecurity on your part. That’s the worst thing about a P.I. that they are deceptive & someone willing to deceive others for such a trivial reason makes me sad. Actually the absolute worst thing about P.I.s is when they manage to charm their way into the spot of a true intellectual. There’s nothing more insulting to a person of quality than being usurped by a P.I. It can be hard to spot a P.I. but a bit of gentle probing usually uncovers their true nature. If they seem too witty/charming & knowledgeable they probably are so start asking questions before you become enamored by them. A truly intelligent person is happy to go in-depth & share their knowledge & if they don’t know the answer they will readily admit it. The best way to deal with a P.I. is to be smarter than they are & demand only a true intellectual.

The Bigger Picture

Over the past week I have been contemplating the role of human nature in how we interact with others and behave. I have struggled with the internal debate over the reason some of us struggle against the urge to be selfish to survive. I allowed myself to doubt that my path of integrity was the correct path and look at the situation from a different perspective. I have come to the conclusion that the human instinct to be selfish to survive will allow that person to survive far better than someone who values others. However, if the survival of our species is our goal, then we would need to evolve and overcome the selfish part of our nature to populate.

I think that the optimal course would be to maintain the ability to make hard choices and be willing to use the selfish nature when the situation calls for it. While we live in relative peace, with a society intact, one must be able to overcome the insecurities and fear that feed the base natures that would destroy our relationships with others.

Simply put, being selfish will keep you alive, but overcoming it is how we ensure new generations life.

Evolutionary Psychology

At the base of human nature is the need to survive. The need to do what needs to be done in order to obtain what is necessary for continued existence. This survival instinct is also what forces people at gunpoint to comply with the demands of their antagonist. Throughout our history there were (and still are) people, entire civilizations even, that had zero qualms about killing others to take what wasn’t theirs just so they could continue to survive. In times of war we kill the “enemy” and take the spoils when victorious. At the core of our nature we would push down an old woman or a child and take their food if it meant we would live another day.
If we are selfish by nature, selfish to survive, then why did we, as a society, develop morals?
The scholars will say we developed morals as a way to build trust when we realized we were safer from our predators and nature when we band together. We had to establish rules that prevented us from turning on each other and allowed family units to form. However, that selfish nature still lingers. As we struggled to suppress it we had to find an outlet. We took that need to defend what is ours at all costs and turned it into a reason to fight anyone that wasn’t in our tribe, anyone who was different. Over the course of human history there have been people who have tried to rise above this nature, have tried to reject it and hoped for a society that thought of others before themselves. The problem is that very few people can overcome nature. Therein lies my quandary.
Right now there is a trend back towards our human nature of selfishness. Many people are out for themselves, taking what isn’t theirs and not caring a bit about how their actions negatively impact others as long as they can get ahead. I think this is happening because on a subconscious level we know there is a threat to our way of life and we naturally want to ensure our own survival. I have been taken advantage of over and over again by selfish people yet I still refuse to “stoop to their level” and that knowledge that I won’t lie, cheat or steal to get ahead is something I take pride in. The issue is, however, that if that ability to be selfish is what ensures our ability to survive, does it mean that I would be the first to die when shit hits the fan? The traits that make me disdain others may actually be the traits that are necessary. Perhaps my way of thinking has been completely wrong and highlights a destructive aspect of society. Who can say what is and isn’t the correct way to live?
If the goal is to survive, is it evolution to move past the selfish nature and find ways to survive without having to hurt others or is it a trait that has been bred into us as a way to more easily take down the weak?