Most people don’t have someone to be their inner voice, someone who will tell them unflinchingly what they might not want to hear. We’ve all learned the horror of making the mistake of saying what needs to be said. Very few of us embrace and welcome loving criticism. Because most of us have blind spots that grow over time. Love, X
Category Archives: Relationships
Personal Post, So Be Advised
I’m the opposite of private across the board. I have a blog and a TikTok. I also write things for others because I don’t know how to turn off the spigot that runs in my mind.
One of the things that drive me bonkers is the misconception that people have about me. No one can call me a hypocrite because I always say it first. Whether it was having an emotional affair while I was married, having herpes, or admitting how susceptible I am to the alcoholism problem that infects many in my family. As you can see, I don’t keep those things private. A couple of people have been shocked that they’ve seen me with a cigarette. It’s about the stupidest thing for me to do, even though I foolishly use it as a substitute for anxiety treatments. I’d rather people know who I am, even if those things are hard to say openly.
I try to be as transparent as possible. A few months ago, I realized how idiotic I was being by getting away from that. Secrets infect a person worse than a virus. Because you can’t be open and yourself if you’re protecting a version of yourself.
But one of the vortexes I got stuck in is the privacy versus secrecy issue that plagues many lives and relationships. If you have a partner, don’t keep things in your life or on your phone that would be hurtful to the people you love. That it’s wrong to do or say anything that you wouldn’t want your partner ever to see or hear literally goes without saying. If you’ve gotten away from that? It’s never too late to wake up and be grateful that you found someone who loves you.
It’s important not to get weighed down by your past because everyone can renew at any point in their life. It doesn’t erase the past. I’m still accountable for those mistakes.
Recently, I was accused of being controlling. If wanting the best for someone is controlling, I’m definitely guilty. I worked hard to be the person I should be. At the same time, history and imagery beyond my control infected my head. So, I have to pay for my mistakes again.
I slept about an hour last night. I can do quite well on five a night. Because of that, I let my coworkers down by calling in this morning and failing to go to work. I love my job for many reasons and don’t want to lose it. It’s been a sustaining thread in my life for 18 years.
I’m 56. All I want is to be loved and have someone in my corner. We can both know each other’s demons, shake our heads at our idiocy, and move on. If you go to my TikTok and read through the innumerable videos I’ve made, you will get the idea that I do have a grasp of what makes people happy with themselves and their relationships. That ideal infects me. I’ve also helped several people in a counseling group. I tell them what I did wrong openly and share all the things I’ve learned in therapy. Obviously, I still don’t practice them well. Anyone who knows me can see it. At some point soon, I’m going to give Al-Anon a try because I need it.
But above and behind all this? Secrecy is the worst. And now, you’ve learned more things about me that you wouldn’t expect to see on social media.
I included a picture of me that Erika took before I performed the marriage of my deceased wife’s niece. It was one of the happiest days I’ve had in my life, even though one moment filled my eyes with tears and reminded me of the people I’ve lost. I had people I loved around me on Saturday. Trusting me to fumble performing the wedding, but also sharing their special day with me.
By a series of coincidences, I’m officiating a wedding today. The niece of my wife, who died in 2007, asked me to perform her wedding. I put off getting ordained until shortly before my cousin Jimmy died ten years ago. Though I didn’t do his wedding, I was beyond grateful that he married Alissa before cancer got him. To see him suffering but also making such a loving gesture before he died made my heart swell with peace and love. As for today, I’m not the least bit nervous about it. No matter what unexpected things might happen (and they always do), the truth of weddings is that they only require five seconds of activity to be legal. That people jump and take the risk of marriage is an awesome thing. It is just a piece of paper that doesn’t amplify the commitment between them. But it is still the fundamental way to tell the world that you intend to be with your forever person, whether it’s like my cousin Jimmy who died a month afterward. Or my wife, who died a month short of eleven years with me. It’s impossible to know how much time lies ahead of us. We all get embroiled in the million things that occupy and fill our days. Behind it all, if we are lucky, is the one person who loves us and looks at us like the last french fry in the bottom of the bag. If you are lucky enough to have that one person who is always in your corner, even while they roll their eyes at you, almost nothing in life can derail you. Planes fall out of the sky, tornadoes rip through our homes, and people leave us unexpectedly. Don’t forget to look at the person you’re with and silently say thanks. Even if you’re listening to them slurp coffee from the cup or watching them leave their darned cup on the sink. We do all the things that fill our lives and sometimes forget that invisible things like love are by far the only ‘things’ that matter.
The Exclusion Observation
I know this one is obvious.
I can’t tell you how often I hear about other people engaging in it.
I’ve known for most of my adult life how damaging this can be to people. Even if they don’t say so. They are waiting for you to understand. Most people might not until they’ve experienced it themselves. Or until someone they love communicates the hurt it engenders.
In Sickness and Health (A Caveat)
“In sickness and health” is a beautiful standard. It reminds us that life isn’t easy.
I’ll leave it to someone whose opinion I cherish to briefly sum up one of the caveats that eluded me: “A cancer diagnosis falls under “in sickness and in health.” Choosing obesity does not.”
It’s also true for alcoholism or anything that is behavior-driven. Overcoming any of these problems is a lot of work. Of course it is!
This doesn’t imply that some people don’t have physical or emotional struggles that make it harder. I’m not discussing the outliers. I’m talking about most of us, the ones who fall into drinking and slowly drive our loved ones mad with concern and consequences. Or those who gain weight and instead of honestly addressing the issue, learn to accommodate the effects of their choices. Their partners might be the most loving people in the world. They might encourage, they might support, and they might also quietly watch the person they love lose sight of their health. But the partner with the behavioral issue is making the decision for both partners.
I’m reluctant to talk about weight for a lot of reasons, one of which is that it impacted me personally, both as the person guilty of it and then the person attempting to get my partner to see that the consequences of choosing to let it get worse were damaging our quality of life on multiple levels. The other thing that makes me hesitant is that we have such a huge taboo against openly and honestly talking about weight. It’s a global problem.
Love is a feeling. It is also action. And reciprocal and mutual action when it affects your partner. When the consequences of your choices rob both of you of the enjoyment of life and each other, it’s no shame for your partner to ask you to do something different. They wouldn’t ask if they didn’t love you.
I only equate alcoholism and obesity because of the complexities of both behaviors. They both require a realization on the part of the person affected by them. And both bring consequences to both partners attempting to lead a good, healthy life.
It shouldn’t be taboo to talk about either one. And if anger results from either conversation, you have a bigger problem. But the anger also acknowledges the severity of the underlying conversation.
A Gift Passed On
Marsha, I sent you Grandpa’s shaving cup and razor for several reasons. Like so many touchstones, it’s just a cup and a razor. But it’s also personal and practical, something to connect me to a past that I romanticize with abandon. If Heaven had to be chosen from moments on this Earth, I might very well choose a summer in the early 70s with Grandma and Grandpa. Being poor wasn’t something I thought about then. It taught me that all the possessions in the world can’t replace the feeling of being loved, even if in a way that isn’t soft and fuzzy.
Bonnie trusted me with the shaving kit a few years ago. I wouldn’t have sent it to you a few years ago. You weren’t ready. And I know my saying so won’t hurt your feelings or open old wounds. I didn’t send it to you because it holds no value for me. As one of the last remaining sentimental things I own, the opposite is true. Everything is temporary, even the people and things we cherish. I don’t love the cup less than I once did. But I also don’t want to hoard and clutch something closely that might touch you in the same way it did me.
Each time I picked up, it was easier for me to flash back 50 years and almost smell Grandpa’s aftershave. He was a simple man, at least by the time I came around. Nostalgia sometimes cripples me when I get into memory mode, trying to recapture details or moments. But even if I don’t get the details right, nothing can rob me of the feeling I had when I was around him. Whether we were watching Kung Fu on the little black and white tv, sitting on the porch swing daring the yellow jackets to approach, or while I was splayed out on the floor with my play pretties while he watched baseball…I didn’t appreciate until I was much older that while Grandpa was no hugger, he gave me more affection than my parents did for the first part of my life. He didn’t raise his voice to me, nor his hands. If I needed to learn that a razor blade was sharp, he’d gruffly tell me to be careful – but didn’t tell me not to touch it. He let me swing an ax that was beyond my capability, bought me nails to drive needlessly into everything in sight, and handed me a sliver of his cannonball chewing tobacco, letting me decide whether I liked it. He poured me coffee when I was four, let me stand beside him when the tornado weather approached and told me to stand still so that we could watch for an unseen animal in the cotton fields. He taught me that four-legged animals were rarely as dangerous as those of us walking around on two. He tried to tell me stories of the war, of riding the trains like a hobo, and many others; Grandma would shout at him to stop. I remember hardly any of those stories, but I can still feel the Monroe County sun on our legs and smell the creosote of the porch steps baking.
I am hoping the feeble power of words that I possess can give you a glimpse of how much it meant for me for Bonnie to send me Grandpa’s shaving kit. The cup is a mercurial, mystical object. It looks like an ordinary thing. But that’s the magic of memory, love, and longing. We imprint onto things that remind of us of the people we loved and who loved us.
May it serve you well or in moments where you get distracted by life’s events that aren’t really important. Or when you feel yourself tempted by old habits. Grandpa was afflicted with many of the same torments that made your life difficult. But he ended up toward the end of his life living a simple, uncomplicated life devoid of the temptations that discolored his adult life. That’s something to be appreciated. If you end up with nothing, yet have a life with even a single person who loves you, it’s a good life.
Reversal of Logic
This one was a shared story and it was more interesting and detailed than what I included in the TikTok below.
If you think about the fact that somewhere right now, there’s someone who is starving for what you can give, it can be both unnerving and comforting. Finding that person in the haystack is the obstacle. As difficult as it is, I know the only way to find that person is to wear your heart and thoughts on your sleeve. But that’s not what we do. We play it safe right down the middle, mostly believing that’s the best way. At that point, many of us are stuck in that role. As contradictory as it sounds, you do have to come across authentically. It’s that position of trust in yourself and in others that helps you find what you’re looking for and need.
Karma is not real. Any close observer to the universe and human behavior can see that. It’s probably a good thing for all of us. On the other hand, it would be an ideal world in which we suffered the consequences and paid the price immediately for wrong choices. It would make us be deliberate and probably much more caring about how our words and actions affect other people. Equally true is that it would be a beautiful world if we all communicated honestly, even if such honesty were difficult to get used to. Imagine how much time and energy it would save us. It would push people to learn healthy behaviors instead of learning how to conceal who they really are or what’s going on in their heads. Sunlight never hurt anyone and it’s the basis for all life on Earth. A feeble metaphor on my part, but one I imagine many people will be nodding in agreement with.