You can’t buy yourself to happiness

Once upon a time, there was a gentleman who tried to buy his ticket into nirvana. He thought that if he owned the right things and carefully curated his home, that he would finally be worthy enough to be loved; by others and himself.

While this seemed to work for some time, and the distraction of obsessing over possessions provided an outlet to stifle self-loathing;

Reality started to settle in when his then partner continued failing to want to spend time with him outside a rigorous schedule. There was never a night in which he felt as if his partner truly wanted to be there, as they never quite slept; even after the new memory foam bed, another specialized mattress topper, toiletries, even special toilet paper.

Frustrations continued to mount when he continued to invest his resources into things. His office would become their art studio. An expensive clay wheel was purchased and installed in the garage.

At the peak, a car was purchased for his partner, hundreds of hours were spent meticulously refurbishing it from the wheels upwards. All resemblances of his personal hobbies were vacant. It was as if every living breath was spent in the pursuit of vulnerability and acceptance by his partner.

Then it all came tumbling down.

 


It’s important to remember, but only so much as to learn not to err again. I find myself in a much different situation in July 2018. I’ve found a true partner, someone who speaks my love languages. Someone who can communicate and be vulnerable. Better yet, someone whom I can naturally communicate my love languages to and be heard.

I no longer feel desperate to be seen, Sufficient Quality Time wants to be spent with each other. We sleep well together with our feet touching, our arms wrapped around each other. Yet, we know when to take time to ourselves.

Intimacy is easy, in all sense of the word. There is no expectation upon each other. It’s fluid, natural. Physical touch is important to us and something that we need to feel loved.

Love isn’t happenstance where you stumble across someone who is magical who suddenly meets your needs, and you theirs. It’s hard work and a daily commitment.

Love is being okay with being alone and not becoming codependant upon the first person that just so happens to glance your way. Finding someone right can take much time and there’s a real chance that you’ll never find someone.

But it also involves learning how to be vulnerable if you choose to begin a relationship with someone, with the thought of it could eventually not work out. Sticking around with someone who wants to invest while knowing you won’t put in the effort on your part is a dick move.

Regardless, it’s important to know why you are seeking someone and hold yourself accountable if you are seeking a relationship for the wrong reasons. Being single may not give you a distraction from needing to deal with yourself and your issues, but you’ll save inflicting this pain upon someone else.

Long story short, never force or dilute yourself into seeing something that isn’t there. Run. If the pain is too great due to the inequality of your investment, too bad. Take it in stride and be more mindful next time.

But of course, I’m a much different person than I was then. I’m pretty sure it didn’t matter who I was with, as I was seeking relationships from a perspective of codependancy, fueled by unresolved issues from childhood abandonment and abuse. I shall always be a work in progress.


Again, where are the lessons here?

  • I could say that I learned not curate yourself and your possessions, hobbies around the pursuit of acceptance of others, and especially love. If people don’t like who you are, fuck them. Seriously, write them off, burn those bridges. The only person you should be attempting to gain acceptance of is yourself (and believe me, it’s hard).

Once you’ve learned to love oneself, the attraction from others will naturally follow. They’ll think, “Holy shit, who is this person who has a spine and can live for themselves? I want this person in my life”. Just be wary of vampires. They’ll be dumping their narcissism and self-loathing onto you to carry for them in a heartbeat.

  • I could say that I learned that you should give ample space for someone new that you are dating to put in their own effort; in assessing if they speak your love languages. Steamrolling ahead and building a life around someone, instead of with someone is possibly the worst error one can make in dating. The more invested you are with someone, the harder it is to leave when you realize that they aren’t worth your time. I keep coming back to this article.

When we get hung up on what we feel that we’ve invested and we hang around to get a return on investment (ROI), it’s time to ask ourselves: Why do I need for my partner to feel bad so that I can get what I want?

We’ve Got To Stop Trying To Recoup Our Sunk Costs In Our Relationships

  • I could say that I learned that copious consumption will never lead to happiness. Anything that you buy has a hidden cost of ownership in using, maintaining that thing. If something doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it. Stuff is noise and confusion. It paralyzes you and loads you with decision fatigue.

I’ve gotten rid of, sold, gave away, trashed just about everything from my past life, and there was a metric ton of it.

It’s going to be scary as fuck. Once you get rid of the things that try to give you an identity, the things that advertising and society tells you that you need to be successful, you will be left with this core being. When the bullshit of noise and confusion is absent, and your soul becomes light enough to surface, it’s going to be painful.

Who you really are bubbles up to the surface and you have mental space for internal dialogue. Things that you’ve suppressed and run from for so long is going to rear its ugly head. Embrace it, love it, cry with it, follow it into the depths of hell. This is your inner child and if you never take them by the hand and embrace them for their flaws, you’ll never quite love yourself.

  • I could say that I learned how to say no. The key to finding someone who is worth the vulnerability that a real relationship entails is being self-sufficient in loving oneself, and them of themselves. Every time that you meet someone, every time that you let someone in and invest, you must keep in mind that in any relationship that you don’t need them to exist and eventually will be happy again once they are gone, alone, with yourself.

This is not to be confused with a lack of vulnerability. The song Sam Smith – Too Good At Goodbyes can go fuck itself wholesale. You have to be vulnerable, you have to be okay with investment.

If you can’t look at what a relationship entails and see that there’s a very real possibility of drowning for some time, maybe years afterward if something were to happen to them, then you have no responsibility of being in a relationship.

Or at least, this is where I’m at and need to be satisfied with a relationship. Your needs may differ. To some people, a lack of vulnerability and deep connection is attractive to them. I’ll never understand it, but to each their own.

  • I could say that I learned to accept that I can’t save anyone but myself. Things could always be different. While there certainly is beauty and art in this world, there is an equal share of pain and suffering. To those whom you are most vulnerable, you may choose to invest time and resources to help equip them to deal with their own demons. There is a fine line between attempting to help someone curate their own tools and enabling them to continue to fail.

Above all else, you should never go so far as to cripple your own happiness and resources over a sustained period of time. You can’t save anyone and no one will ever change unless they want to for themselves.

Again, and this is so important for the empaths out there, you must learn how to reel in your liabilities when your efforts no longer have a meaningful impact. Not only must you become comfortable with knowing that some people need to hit rock bottom to effect real change (I’ve been there), but some will never change and are destined to fail, a “bad life” and there’s nothing you can do about it, other than getting sucked right down there with them, if you allow yourself.

  • I’ve learned that most people are shallow, and while it isn’t their fault due to how society programs the masses to keep the capitalist gears turning, you have to realize that a vast majority of people aren’t worth your time, as someone who has a self-identity.

A step above mindless consumerism is groupthink. Granted, there’s more likely that you’ll run into others who are “woke” such as yourself, it’s important not to confuse someone who has self-identity with someone who subscribes to groupthink (angry twitter hashtag storms and protests notwithstanding).

…But even then, I believe that there’s fluidity there. Every person will fall into the spectrum of somewhere in-between. There simply isn’t enough time and mental capacity to be absolutely genuine and original in all that we do (evolution programs us to conserve energy to survive). There are some distinct advantages to groupthink and teamwork, the capacity and creativity of the whole to effect wider change often leads to a more powerful and complex outcome than one could possibly hope to achieve on their own.

Hmm. I suppose then what I’ve learned is to be mindful of your inner voice and not lose it on a sea of other voices. Maybe what I’ve learned is that you should take breaks and media fast (meaning, sit alone without external stimuli to hear your inner voice, meditation is awesome for this) then reassess if how you are conducting yourself, who and what you are associating yourself with is true to what you actually want. It’s easy to get swept away in bullshit and lose your perspective in today’s overstimulated society.

  • In short, I’ve learned that it’s okay to do what other people are doing, but to be mindful not to drown out your inner voice. Stop and reassess often.

 

  • I’ve learned that sometimes you are going to make mistakes, sometimes many over a long period of time. You are going to hurt people, not meet expectations, show narcissistic personaliaty traits,  destroy people’s trust in you, be less than genuine, manipulate to get what you think you deserve, sometimes even suffer mental health issues. Yes, your actions are dick moves, they are selfish, unempathetic, destructive. People will call you out on it, even attack you for it.

Some will make more or fewer mistakes than others. I’ve done my fair share of them. The key differentiator is to accept that you make mistakes, learn from them, and let them go. You will never quite be as sane or balanced as you’d like, nor will others. The only thing that will solidify you being a “bad person” is never being open to introspection and change.

  • I’ve learned that people are going to despise you, hate you, speak out against you, attempt to mame you, call you nasty names and steal your lunch. Sometimes, even the people closest to you will lash out and become someone else. You’ll learn that your perceptions of others were very incorrect.

Compounding all of this, I’d say that the more genuine you become, the more life will try to knock you off balance. Unfortunately, this is a part of life. It can be argued that one of humanity’s core instincts is to destroy what we find foreign. We can, of course, strive to be better, and some do.

No one will ever quite understand, or love you the way that you can. There will always be some sense of isolation and being alone. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you can begin to build genuine connections with others, and yourself.


External resources

What Is Minimalism?

My Story

The Five Love Languages

The Book of Life – My most used resource as someone who enjoys reading.

The School of Live – An excellent resource for those who prefer video content.


Sidenote:

I write for myself as I often go back and read my own work over, and over again. I find the act of writing to help me process and ground myself. I just so happen to share my work in the public space.

You must keep in mind that I may be wrong. Take what you can use and leave the rest. Make your own decisions.

Writing in a public space is scary. I’ve always had the thought that anything that you share can be used against you. On the other hand, my life will someday end and if I keep everything to myself I’ll have nothing to show for it. In short, fuck it.

Zipline

My first time on a Zipline. Sweaty palms, increased heart rate. You aren’t quite sure what to expect. You double check your safety harness, you clip on and think to yourself, “What the hell am I doing?”.

The first few seconds are euphoric, everything slows down. You then begin to build speed,  faster and faster; you hit critical mass, you spin and terror begins to take foot. Out of control.

You hit the buffer to stop, a sudden jerk. You swing like a pendulum and quickly gain your footing. The first breath feels like the first in eternity, yet the ride is finished as quickly as it began.

Love sometimes feels like standing on a cliff. You and your partner are on opposite sides of a canyon, with the water below of untold depths. If you jump in alone, you drown. If your partner jumps in alone, they drown.

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Yet, here I am again on the cliffside.

Or maybe it’s about finding someone that you don’t have to jump off cliffs for.

Change

It’s crazy to think of how much has changed this year.

Anxiety

Anxiety has pretty much been moot. I’ve traveled for five hours today and got a few hundred miles in. Sure, there were a few tense moments on the interstate hauling the RV around, but nothing major. I can’t believe how far I’ve come, even from last winter.

Social

I continue to build genuine connections with others based on who I honestly am. I’m no longer trying to appease people and morph myself into what is wanted from me. This has led to being rejected and rejecting social relationships. Saying no is a new thing for me and is very empowering.

I am left with deeper connections with those whom I bond with. I’ve had some game nights, cookouts, Mario Kart and bonfires with people who I care about. It’s nurturing for the soul.

Romantic Relationships

I’m right where I want to be. I’ve done much healing and find myself in a loving partnership with someone who speaks much of the same love languages. To love and feel loved is rather effortless for us. We are very much Quality Time and Acts of Service people, which is perfect for us.

We both fall on the INFJ spectrum and have a genderfluid relationship. Communication is excellent, conflict resolution is on par. I’m happily monogamous and find that we have both of our needs met. Nothing feels forced, and we maintain our agency.

Independence, personal social relationships, personal goals are essential to us. While we spend much time together, I feel as if we do an excellent job at encouraging each other to work towards our priorities, even if it doesn’t directly involve the other partner.

We are mindful that we are introverts and encourage each other to take time alone to decompress, but not so much that we have to create some absurd schedule. I’m looking forward to getting some traveling in with them this summer!

Feminism

I’ve reapproached this social community/headspace carefully and have decided to label myself as someone who supports feminism. I feel as if I have a greater understanding of the core ethos and found a sect of the community that shares much of the same values.

I’m finding myself becoming friends with some from the trans community, some from the body positivity movement. It’s been interesting keeping an open mind and acknowledging that each person has their methods of expression.

I’m finding that there’s a spectrum and I find myself more easily aligned with the queer community in whole. So far it seems that the focus is more on love and acceptance, instead of hate and power. To each their own, eh?

Ethics

I’ve come to terms that I’ve handled my previous relationship rather poorly and have forgiven myself. I tried to force something that just wasn’t working from the start; we were too different. I invested so much, so soon and went off the deep end. By the time I discovered that it was toxic, felt alone and miserable, I felt trapped due to sunk costs. Baggage Reclaim has an excellent article on this.

There’s a staggering difference between attachment and love. co-dependency and healthy independence. I was fresh out of a five-year relationship; I never lived alone. I was terrified. I clung to the first person who was available, as I always did so I wouldn’t be alone.

Something inside of me shattered around the beginning of the year. I became so intensely irritated of this bastard cycle I found myself in. Changing myself to appease people, feeling desperate for connection so I wouldn’t be alone. I’ve been doing this for so long, and it’s no wonder, I didn’t have normative family structure growing up.

Hurting people sucks. Especially those whom you considered friends or once thought you were in love with. On the one hand, I’m a victim of circumstance, on the other I’m responsible for my actions. I’ve swiftly cut ties with anyone whom I believed that I associated with under pretenses, this people pleasing person who changed himself to be liked.

You never quite knew who I was, I didn’t know either. I’ve always had the best intentions and did the best that I could.

What I found to have the most positive impact on my self-worth is having rules and boundaries for myself that I hold myself accountable to. How you handle social relationships, finances, all of it. Try it out! It’s incredible how much you add to your self-love when you are respecting yourself.

Travel

Since Flordia, I’ve been in and out of the state and have accrued many thousands of miles and hours. I find myself increasingly comfortable traveling. I may have a trip coming up in May to fly to Dallas to lead some training. Nervous? Yes, of course. However, I do find myself excited!

I’m no longer in Lafayette as of today. Lafayette was always the place that people in Frankfort went to hang out. I was born there; I once lived a block away from that hospital. My grandfather died there.

Finally.

Family

By golly, my daughter is growing up fast! Ugh, she’ll be 10 this year. I’m finding that technology is having a rather drastic impact on raising children these days. I find myself continually battling screen-time and setting boundaries for her. YouTube alone has brought so much new culture to the masses.

9 pm bedtime? Expect to hear of the latest “3 am, a challenge” that was posted on YouTube. A quick trip to the store? There’s a 24-hour challenge to discuss.

I got her a phone to take home with her to more easily keep in touch. This led to much fighting between kiddo and mother on screentime and distraction when she is already struggling in school. Sigh.

I always thought when I was growing up that I’d never have much “back in my day” moments. With cell phones and technology continuing to rapidly infest our lives, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Whatever happened to the “get off the internet, I need to use the phone” days? Now it’s all social media, Musically, hashtags and media. I can’t imagine what things will be like in a short few years.

Spirituality

I visited a psychic last weekend and found the experience to be rather interesting. I’ve previously had a perception that such an experience would be hokey snake oil. I’m finding myself more open to my spirituality in all forms and approached the experience with an open mind.

My objective assessment of the experience is that I believe that such an experience can be enlightening and helpful. My analytic mind goes to work and wants to put metrics around leading questions, perception management, and generalization.

On the other, I felt as if I had some genuine spiritual connection. One thing stood out to me; it was the way religion was explained, there are many ways to god, to enlightenment.

My partner performed a tarot card reading with me early on in our relationship. I found her method of approach interesting. We meditated for a bit, focused on channeling our energies. She led by writing her perceptions, what her guides were saying to her. Cards followed, in which her writing put them into context.

I found the experience to be healing and very enjoyable. I felt like we bonded and reached a deeper connection. I came to peace with specific experiences in the past, gained introspection as to why certain things happened, and things to look forward to in the future.

I think that when dealing with mysticism, there is always an element of interpretation. I think it’s lovely that such tools can be used to gain more in-depth introspection into ourselves. I remain open to the continued exploration into this side of myself, of course with an element of objectivity.

Overall

I find myself growing in love with myself, others, and my partner. It’s been painful, but I can say that I’m more independent. Anxiety continues to be a moot issue. Finally, I’m so incredibly excited to continue putting in the effort towards my goals!