Friday, August 13, 2010

The Liar and/or The Lover

Confession: I will read nearly every women's magazine I can get my hands on. I will even read magazines with women IN them, including but not limited to Playboy and Maxim. (Good articles.) So it should be no surprise that my mother co-signed me on for her free subscription to More, and when she and my father spent the night on our pull-out couch last night before flying out for Minnesota this morning, she left me July's O magazine. (Not, as some of you may think given some of my latest posts, "Orgasm" magazine. No, my confused flock, O as is "Oprah" magazine. Commence giggling here.)

Make fun of me all you want (insert hair-braiding, Nicholas Sparks movie-crying, Vera Bradley-loving snark here--), but when I started reading "How To Solve A Thorny Problem" by Martha Beck, I had a full-on, existential epiphany.

"'At first I thought Jack was just a rebound-dater wanting to make a conquest. But he's called every day since our first date, and he's really sweet. He remembers my favorite song, and he reads my blog-- I think we really connected.'

'Sounds like a dream come true.'

'On the other hand, he talks about his ex-girlfriend a lot, and he started hinting at sex 5 minutes after we met.'

'Bad sign. Don't let the whole "favorite song" thing fool you. He's just a player. He's thinking, Oh, yeah, I'm all that.'

'What if both things are true? Maybe he's a man-slut with a bruised ego trying to get someone in the sack, and he's a thoughtful person who really likes you?'" (All quote excerpts by Martha Beck, pg. 37, "O" magazine, July 2010.)


I've been dedicating a lot of my (single) (precious) (unpaid) (non-White Collar-watching, though sometimes I space out during commercial breaks) time to doing the flower-NOT-included equivalent of "What The Hell Happened, And Did You Play Me, Or Play Me Not?" As evidenced in this post, I've been struggling with the repercussions of being with men like Jack, and having relationships in which, when they end messily, you look back and can't tell the forest from the trees, let alone the truth from the lies. So which do you choose? Was he a womanizing dick who "didn't care" what you thought, or was he the guy who would call to talk for over an hour "just because I didn't see you today"? And what happens when both actions come from the same man? As Beck says, "...Could they truly have the ideal of angels in their hearts and the morals of goats in their pants?" Is it split-personality syndrome, or just humanity? Which do you choose to believe in when actions and words cross, double-cross, and start knitting scratchy sweaters with each other?

As Beck points out, "If you scrutinize your own life, you'll find you do plenty of things that violate the dichotomies in your mind... We're considerate, selfless, and clever (except for the times we aren't). ...Are you good or bad, fragile or tough, wise or foolish? Your worst habits [are] both destructive and helpful." (Pg. 38 & 39.) We certainly can be our own worst enemies, and many a time have I either heard or said myself something along the lines of, "I wish I knew why I did this or were this way." "But," Beck points out, "things get complicated when you get... a mix IV drip of essential fluids and poison-- when a person or situation seems to provide necessary things like love and comfort but is also the source of pain and upset." Sound familiar? I'm sure we've all lived it. I know I have, over and over to no answered avail at all.

When we find ourselves in situations or with people who nearly seem to force us to choose between one extreme or the other-- love, or hate; help, or hinder; stick, or let loose-- it can be nearly impossible to reach one conclusion because one half of the equation will always be left with with an unsatisfying remainder-- he can't be all bad if he meant what he said here, and here, and here. I can't be too throughly fucked if I've gotten this positive feedback, and this, and that. It's not going to kill you if you learn this lesson, and so on, and so on. "What makes a both-and mind-set so powerful is that it takes you beyond the two choices you thought you had. It opens up new, previously unseen possibilities and opportunities."- Beck.

SO MUCH ZEN QUALITIES. SO MUCH FORGIVENESS. HOW CAN I POSSIBLY MANAGE IT? I'M ONLY HUMAN, WITH AN INCREDIBLY GOOD MEMORY FOR EVERYTHING THAT WAS SAID AND DONE. I'm not (unfortunately) a superhero. I am not the Incredible Forgiving Woman. I am not Buddha Girl. And you're saying I'm going to have to learn how to be? For my own happiness and good? And that of others? So I stop torturing myself endlessly on the mental rack?

Sound like a whole lot of talking yourself in circles so you end up with the conclusion you want, a la Greg Behrendt of "He's Just Not That Into You" get-your-head-out-of-the-sand tough-love? I was thinking this to myself cautiously when I came across this: "...One caveat to all duel-emma relationships: If you or the other person involved can't or won't admit the whole truth-- 'Yup, I have a Dr. Jekyll side, there's also a Mr. Hyde in here,'-- the relationship will become increasingly dysfunctional."

So, does this mean I didn't have a dysfunctional relationship? Does this mean I --gasp-- had a totally normal one instead? There was a lot of admitting going on. There were a lot of big, hairy, ugly truths. But I didn't fully admit to everything. I didn't fully admit to my bad behaviors, and my feelings, and my lies. Was I the dysfunctional part? Admittance is the first step, you say? When is it too late to start admitting? "It wasn't all you; some of it was me, and you should probably know about it, because I'm sorry it made me a raging, judgmental cunt, and I don't want you to spend the rest of your life thinking I got a partial personality lobotomy while abroad"? Something along those lines might suffice?

We're supposed to accept people for all that they are-- flaws and quirks non-withstanding. We do this with our friends, and our family, and our less-than-well-behaved pets, but don't seem to extend the same lax attitudes to our romantic relationships, while completely by-passing it for ourselves in the process. So instead of asking "Which is which, and what are you, really?" should I be instead saying, "This is all that makes up you, and this is all that makes up me, and this is the shit we have to address, talk about, and deal with," once I stop pointing fingers and take a long, hard look in the Morality Mirror myself?

So. The Liar and The Lover. You, or me? One in the same, or just a hopeless case? How does one decide?


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