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Relationships: No one knows anything, not even you.

The topic bringing me out of blog hibernation is the one I end up talking about most with just about everyone…even strangers. (A taxi driver said I have a “trustworthy face.”)  It’s relationships. I have been married for 7 years, together something like 10 (I’m not one of those people who remembers dates well and/or I didn’t care much about keeping a calendar or a job in my 20’s.) I did not have a ton of relationships before my husband, but enough. Keep in mind I’m not your guru. So, here’s my not-so-expert advice on love, break-ups and more. Questions? Leave ’em in the comments.

Finding “the one:” I personally believe that this term is a bit pervasive. I am not sure everyone has a single “other” out there just waiting for them. Maybe we all have multiple “ones” who become present at times in our lives when we have lessons we need to learn from that particular relationship. If you’ve ever discovered an all-important piece of yourself during a now past relationship, this may speak to you. This doesn’t mean you can’t spend the rest of your life with one person, just that maybe you went through a few very important, not-at-all-waste-of-time relationships before doing so. Chew on that.  

If you do believe in “the one,” know this: You have to let yourself meet new people somehow. Get fixed up. Go online. Say yes to a date, give that one person a chance already, whatever. That is step one. Then, know this about the one: This person is not your type. Might be your type immediately before changing overnight. Might have bad hair. May not make enough money. Might forget to compliment you. Might over compliment you. Might seem pushy. Might seem weak. May have a tattoo of Ralph Wiggum (actually, awesome!) Might be too smart or not smart enough. Do you see where I’m going with this? If you do not take some REAL TIME out of your busy facebooking/texting/talking about yourself schedule and get to know this fool you have NO idea what the hell you’re talking about. You don’t know someone from a first impression. Not even from a first date. Not from what your co-worker/bff/Grandma told you about them. You can be with someone for YEARS and never really know them. Read that sentence twice. Unless you’re a psychic, give love a chance before you claim it “isn’t right” and waltz back onto e-harmony. I don’t care how many relationships you’ve been in or dates you’ve been on (or for the love of Gawd, how many damn relationship-help books you’ve read) you do NOT know everything, and can’t even trust yourself until you’ve put some time in. Length of time is up to you…but tell me 2 weeks and I’ll laugh in your face. If you feel like you have some weird self-imposed deadline and two weeks is “too long to waste on anyone,” you’re betting on miracles and really only making this harder on yourself. Good luck getting to work in this traffic on your unicorn tomorrow too.

When it isn’t right: If you’re ever feeling unsafe or in danger. EVER. Any physical or emotional abuse is unacceptable 100% of the time. If this is a grey area for you, you’re not damaged, you just need to seek help. Whatever has happened in your life to make you feel like you are not worthy of better or that this behavior is normal has led you to this. There is a healthier option and you deserve it. If you’re the abuser, you also need help. You’re not ready to be with anyone. Another shocker? It’s not right if either the sex or the conversation is not working. They both have to, sorry. They can have their challenges or quiet times and still be “working,” but if you feel like you can’t stand the sound of his/her voice but can jump into bed without a care in the world, it’s just not gonna last (and vice versa.) If your core beliefs do not match up. What does that mean? Oh, you know. You worship mother earth and he wants to cut down the rain forest. She believes in monogamy and you’re doing everything in your power to make her feel like a prude for not wanting weekly three-somes. You have to attend his or her church and believe everything they believe, or don’t believe. If you want to change more things about them then you’re willing to admit.  IF YOU’RE CHANGING FOR THEM. It’s cool to want to learn new things from a relationship, like suddenly becoming a basketball fan and getting excited about your first live game. But, ever leave a relationship and later realize you never have the urge to watch basketball again ever ever ever? You don’t need to mold yourself to every single relationship. Ever dye your hair blonde and grow it out because they love women with long blonde hair and later look back on pictures of yourself feeling like you don’t even know that person? On the flip side, some adjustments are welcome (try watching his/her fave movie, did you have fun? ok cool. NO? you tried. try something else…) but changes in too many of your likes/dislikes or core beliefs are just making you less of who you are and therefore the relationship is less as well. Relationships take two whole people. We don’t complete each other. We hold each others hands.

Maintaining a relationship: Hooray, you are with someone. Now, cut the crap. It’s nothing like the movies, and the folks who say it is for them haven’t switched over to horror flick – or worse, silent film –  yet. (Or they care so much about being judged they can’t be honest. Sad.) Relationships are work, marriage makes the work legal. The paycheck is every day you wake up and either look at this person snoring and say, “Oh yea, I’m still in this” or just get excited to see them when they swing by with stale chinese food and a movie you’ve seen 7 times. There are DEFINITELY amazing, mind-blowing, crazy romantic times that would make any blockbuster rom-com jealous, but this is not an always thing. Imagine sharing space, thoughts, money or time with ANYONE for years on end. It’s not all gonna be glitter and spring time. The term “honeymoon period” should probably exist for you, though, at some point. If you’ve never had that, for example: all fighting and make-up sex from day 1…maybe this is not a relationship worth maintaining. You should feel at some point your heart is bursting, and then later that you can comfortably leave the bathroom door open when you pee. You’re welcome.

Break-ups: First things first, don’t reinvent yourself every time a relationship ends. So many people are extreme in this sense. They either think it was more the other person not being a good fit, or that something is wrong with themselves. You may not even know you do this. Signs point to a sudden urge for physical changes  that can be as simple as a haircut or as dramatic as going from goth to prep. Signs also include thinking you suddenly need your Doctorate degree, you should get rid of your pet snake, quit your job or move across the country. In the first few months after a break-up, try to avoid any of these things. Be yourself by yourself in this critical time. If you’re not in love with what you see when you are alone with yourself after some time, that should be investigated. Talk to someone. Consider that your feelings may be hurt but ultimately you like yourself. If not, dig into that. Discover what’s behind that before you pack your bags or buy that 6 month class called “Cooking with Ghee.” When this is said and done, think about what this relationship taught you. I guarantee you found out one new thing you now know you want, or don’t want, out of love or existence. You’re winning now, no matter how much it still hurts.  You also do not have to explain your break-up to anyone. It’s your business only if you want it to be.  As far as hope for the future, this part is tricky. You may doubt it will ever work out with anyone ever again. Let me be the first to tell you, you are wrong. Unless you’re not quite human, another human will be a fit. We’re made to experience love. The only person who can guarantee you never find love again is you.

The ultimate truth: You have to know who you are, what you want, and also be ready to accept that these things too can change. It’s the paradox of it all. It’s a balance that can seem impossible. Sometimes you grow apart.  Couples find themselves wondering if they should make it work or walk away. Like everything else, don’t take this lightly. Trust your gut when you can, your therapist when you can’t. It’s not usually helpful to gather opinions from everyone you know. It may feel comforting to do so, but ultimately your own heart and brain will come together to decide what’s next for you. If this has been a good relationship and you still care for this person, really put the time in before making any firm decisions. Maybe you imagined a future with someone that you no longer want for yourself (or them.) Maybe you’ve become such a new person your beliefs and habits no longer compliment each other or bring sadness, guilt or pain into the relationship. Perhaps it was never right and you’ve only just started admitting that to yourself. Love is a comforting and dangerous thing in this way. Whether right or wrong, be honest as much as possible with yourself and your partner and you’ll both find your way.

TIPS:

  • Don’t cheat. Reality: your excuses come off as pathetic. I’m not saying that you don’t have a ton of valid excuses in your mind, I’m just saying that you look like an idiot explaining them…especially if your actions have hurt a decent person. (If your excuse is that they cheated first, say that out loud to hear how dumb it sounds first before running that by anyone else. I’m just trying to help you here.) Consider this before you cheat: Do you not have an ounce of respect for your partner to bring up issues in the relationship that may make you want to stray before you let yourself be woo’d by the shiny new thing that seems much better? I say “seems better” because remember, we don’t know anyone completely, so good luck. Do you think the person you’ve cheated on is too weak to hear the bad things you have to say, or even to hear that you want to sleep with someone else, and you’re too afraid to hurt them? That is an excuse made by the weak. You are the one lacking courage and bravery. You’re afraid. Don’t lie to yourself and say you’re protecting them. Your reasons for cheating could include being too drunk and not realizing it was going too far, forming a bond so close with someone else that you didn’t think that was still possible for you after all this time, feeling the “spark” you felt at 19 all over again, believing you’re smarter/better/hotter than your partner and this new person is the match for you, falling out of love with your partner, your partner does not treat you well or even hurts you, and lastly…boredom. The thing is, none of those excuses are actually OK! Really! I’m not saying you are the devil and not worthy of forgiveness, sometimes a mistake is a mistake. I won’t even judge your partner for forgiving you. Your relationship is your business and I don’t know what’s in their heart anymore than the next gal. I don’t even hold my friends to these high of standards because I know it all sounds easier said than done. But please just stop pretending your cheating is justified. Everyone has seen what cheating does to the person being cheated on (and sometimes the KIDS), and only after months or years of hurting (or reconciliation because you finally TALKED and have gotten to the real problem) can some folks, not all, say you actually did them a favor. Cheated before? Don’t feel like I just beat you up, just think about what made you do it. The wrong relationship is a reason just as much as being young and naive or selfishness is. Just know that if you want to continue cheating in all of your relationships, maybe you don’t need a relationship. Maybe it’s not who you are or you are not sure who you are. Again, investigate. Always investigate.
  • Little things matter. That goes for everything from taking the trash out to compliments to shutting up and listening.
  • Ask for what you need. Know when you need something or just want something. I need and want ice cream a lot.
  • Be wrong sometimes and ADMIT IT. My husband will laugh in my face when he reads this one.
  • Prioritize fun and peacefulness with equal vigor. Enjoy couch time as much as vacationing in Belize.
  • Make some, not all, decisions together. Talk things through with your partner, that’s what’s great about having someone there. Really consider their input. You chose this person for a reason.
  • Apologize. 
  • Know that you often don’t know anything, and no one else does either. Including me.
  • Share this blog with those who need it. 

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There is Something That I Have to Tell You

It is something that I don’t like to talk about.

If you know me in person you know I prefer fun, happy topics. I love irony. I like to make you laugh. I’m a musical comedian, for goodness sakes. We’re calling Dog Opera a “comedy” by Constance Congdon because it is very, very funny, but there is also a touch of drama and some very heartbreaking, poignant moments. It’s a dramedy, if you will. There is, however, something else you should know.

Aside from telling the story of a gay male and his straight best friend and their separate failed dating lives in NYC, Dog Opera also tackles the AIDS epidemic. ‘Congdon wrote this play to reflect the time when AIDS was considered the plague, a death sentence, an utterly terrifying shock to our world. We have come a long way, but spreading awareness and educating people is still a top priority, right here in our country. I still find Dog Opera’s message to be strong, relevant, and timely.

Personally, it hits close to home for me…and this is what I have to tell you. This is one of the (secret?) reasons I am pouring my blood sweat and tears into Producing and Starring in this production. Why keep secrets, though? You know I am nothing but honest in this blog, so here goes.

I lost my Uncle Kurt to AIDS on July 7th, 1987. Right smack dab in the middle of the crisis, when there was no treatment. He was my Mothers’ youngest brother and he passed at the ripe age of 21. I was just a small, blonde-ish 7 year old girl, happy and full of energy and he was cool and fun and loved me, so, so much. He was also incredibly handsome, see?

He looks a LOT like my Grandmother, and she was (and perhaps never really got over being) devastated.  No one really knew what to say to my brother and I to explain what he passed from, we were so young, it was still so new and everything was confusing. My Grandmother could barely speak the words herself. The family told us it was cancer, later on when I hit my “wise” pre-teen years my Mother explained to us that it was AIDS. I had began to learn what cancer was and wanted to know what kind he had, wanted to know specifics, like teens do. It was a difficult topic of conversation in my family, to say the least. I remember her sitting my brother and I on the couch in the living room and having this conversation. I remember the sun coming through the windows. I remember all of this so clearly, a bright picture in my mind. I’ve never told my Mother how much I appreciated her telling me the truth. My Mother has always been a crafty person and loved her brother with all her heart. She has one of the original squares in the AIDS Quilt. Here is a photo of her square for my Uncle Kurt:

Do you see the “We Love You?” The music notes are there because he was a masterful pianist. I wish I had a clip of his music to share with you here. It was so beautiful. I am sure there is not a day that goes by that my Mother or Grandparents don’t think of him. My last memories of him are oddly vivid. I hope it’s OK if I share them with you. This is harder than I thought it would be. Bear with me.

In his remaining days, my Grandparents chose to care for my Uncle at home. He rested in a room they made “his room” in the downstairs of their house, because he could not go up the stairs. I imagine he was home because there is nothing the hospitals could do anyway, and they wanted to be close to him. The last time I saw him, my Mother took me over to the door to his room because he wanted to see me and I wanted to see my Uncle. We opened the door slowly and I poked my little blonde-ish head in. He was laying flat on his back, and he was incredibly thin and fraile. He lifted his head a bit and smiled at me, told me it was OK to come in. I painfully remember the skin lesions all over his body. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen those, but you don’t forget them. The way he looked was so shockingly different from how he looked when he was healthy that it scared my 7 year old self. I went to him but I was too afraid to hug him.

Many years later, I laid awake in bed one night thinking about him and could not sleep. I ran down the stairs and bawled my eyes out to my parents about how I “never got to say good bye” and feeling bad that I didn’t hug him when I had the chance. They told me that it was OK, that he always knew I loved him and I was just a little girl. That night, he came to me in a dream. He was smiling, healthy, happy. We embraced. Message delivered.

Now my 30-something self is doing a play that also deals with the topic of AIDS, and that is obviously no accident. I’ve told everyone how I wanted to produce and star in this play because it is funny, the role is so right for me, the characters are so great, I love the playwright…etc, etc. But the truth that you now know is that it’s much more than that. This play is a journey for me, in a very special way.

We have a very limited run November 1st – 4th at The Little Times Square Theatre in NYC. I hope you’ll support this production and come see it, now that you know everything…the last step is to join in on the experience with me, my co-producer/co-star Jason and our dazzling cast & crew. I hope you will.

Click Here for Tickets or Call (212) 868-4444 and press 1 to purchase by phone.

For AIDS info, awareness days, and more click here.

Comments welcome.

8 Things That Are Just Fine With Me

I am giving myself permission to live the life I want to live. Take a look at my list of things that are just fine in my not-a-guru humble opinion, and feel free to add to it in the comments below.

1 – It’s just fine if you don’t leave the house or even get dressed on your day off. Order chicken tikka masala for dinner and watch The Amanda’s on the Style Network. (Ya know, or something like that…*clears throat*) It’s just fine that you won’t see or talk to anyone… except maybe baby-speak to your cat.

2 – It’s just fine if you send everyone to voicemail on your cell phone. You’re awkward on the phone. You never know how to hang up. You get butterflies in your stomach and pace back and forth in your apartment the whole time you’re on a call. It’s just fine. Don’t do this for obvious emergencies, your boss, or when your Grandfather calls though, those are rare and important occasions where it might not be fine.

3 – It’s just fine to be selfish if you admit it and learn from it. “I’m not hanging out with you because I’m all about myself right now. I will be a better person when this phase is over.” Deal. Fine with me! Text me when you’re coming back to brunch.

4 – It’s just fine not to commit to things that make you feel nervous or unhappy. You hate horror movies but everyone is going Friday night? You hate doing shots but the bartender gave you two free ones? Everyone is taking their kid to the new Mommy & Me Bikram class and you’d rather shave your head? Just say no, it’s fine. There is only so much time in life and you don’t have to spend it doing things you don’t like.

5 – It’s just fine to try new things and fail after telling everyone all about them. I’M GOING TO PAINT MURALS! I’M TAKING UP FLAMENCO DANCING! I’M MAKING MY OWN TOOTHPASTE NOW! Whatever it is, try it and share it with your groupies. It’s OK to be excited about something even if it doesn’t work out. If anyone gives you a hard time about it, first, question whether or not they’re truly a good friend, and second, remind them that you try new things and that makes you an adventurous person. “Top that!” – Teen Witch, 1989

6 – It’s just fine to care a lot about your money and be thrifty and careful with it. I’m a little bit cheap too, I admit that. However, I’m currently really proud of myself for getting close to paying off some long-standing large debts, little by little. I think it’s just fine if I check my bank accounts constantly to remind myself of my progress. Go me!

7 – It’s just fine if you are sometimes not the…uh…nicest person. Snarky Facebook comment? Bitchy comment to your unsuspecting partner/soul mate/one-night-stand over morning coffee? It happens. Just apologize and move on.  Pretending you weren’t mean or rude is…well, not as fine.

8 – It’s just fine if you grow up and realize you have some forgiving to do. Either for yourself, your family or friends and people in your past. You can do it. It’s never too late to let go of the thoughts and memories that no longer serve you on your path to awesome. “Relax, relate, release!” – A Different World

Now tell me, what is just fine according to YOU? Comment below!

Exciting News!

It’s time to share some exciting news. I am occasionally a Guest Blogger around the interwebs and my favorite place to do that is over on the highly inspirational internet “happy place,” The Whirling Blog.

The exciting news is that TWB was just named #1 on Spa Week’s list of “10 People and Blogs You Should Be Following Now.” Top of the list is a great spot to be in and I’m honored to be a part of it all. Click on the links below to see how I whirled…

  • My first entry for TWB is right here. (Spoiler alert: It’s about ridiculous thoughts in our own heads and what to do about ’em.)
 
  • Click here for my 2nd contribution…(Spoiler alert: There is a picture of chocolate…and permission to eat it.)
 
  • Last but certainly not least, click here for the interview my musical comedy partner and I did for the blog! 
 

Please enjoy yourself over there but do come back here and leave a comment. I’d absolutely love to hear what you think! 

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Let’s Start Talking About It

Sometimes everything is just not ok. You’re going through something tough, have been recently hurt or disappointed, or just feel angry or alone. However, you don’t want to seem ungrateful for the good things in your life, it’s not all doom and gloom. Maybe you’ve got a stellar best friend, a steady paycheck or a pint of your favorite ice cream in the freezer.  Maybe you had enough cash for a new shirt and you were complimented by a stranger. You may have so many things, big and small, to be utterly grateful for that you can’t count them all on your fingers and toes, but still have just as many reasons to feel down. To worry. To be upset. To find yourself depressed.

Up’s and down’s. That’s life, right? Or, is it? The life that I often see around me tends to be wildly exaggerated one way or the other. Folks are either spewing sunshine like they’ve never seen a grey cloud or crying out for help to heal the pain. Everything in the middle seems to get lost or kept quiet. It’s hard to be subtle with our feelings, so when you’re in between the good and the bad, maybe you just don’t know what to say or who to say it to. You might not want to worry your family, trouble your friends or spend that extra hour with your therapist. Maybe you’re just like me.

So, here’s what I’m doing about it.

I’m telling you, yes you, right now: I am not always ok. I’m not abundantly happy right at this exact moment. My list of things to be grateful for is growing by the minute – and you’d never guess anything was wrong by my Facebook and Twitter feeds. But at the same time, I’ve got my reasons to be sad. No reason is too big or too small here. I’m telling you like this because this is the iamnotyourguru blog, where imperfection is celebrated and honesty is everything.

I am now inviting you to tell me. You can be anonymous, or not, and say anything you want about what is bringing you down or what you’d like to change. It can be anything, and I’ll respond. Why? Because you’re going to be helping me too. You’ll be showing me that I am not alone, and that it’s courageous, not crazy, to set up a blog dedicated to complaining and airing your worries. A blog entry where it’s ok to vent, to not be strong, to not share your light. A blog that is not about how wonderful life can be if we allow love in or find gratitude. I, for one, am full of love and gratitude enough already, but I still cry sometimes.

There it is. I hope you’re with me. 

Photo Credit Unknown

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