This one is for Richard, my friend who passed away in February this year, right before the entire world lost its mind. You left just in time. I hope you are riding a bike up there, like the one you won in that contest and had to give away, and that you are sculpting beautiful things, and shaking your head and pronouncing the Michegas (Yiddish word for crazy) that has befallen all of us down here who languish beneath your twinkling starlight. I love you dearly.
Crazy Town is a hot topic of late. It came up in the amazing podcast I was invited to be a part of last week. If you missed it check it out here. It’s called The Village Confidential and it will entertain you and engage your clever mind. It’s “juicy”! Ernest, Brad, Christine and I touched on boundaries and jealousy —a lot of the stuff that makes us feel unglued in our dating and relationship scenarios. I shared a story of a lovely woman, and trust me she is a woman of strength and character who has helped so many she is for sure getting a statue in her honour any old day now, who lost her shit for a while. What did she do? Well she created a fake profile to tempt the man she was seeing into cheating on her, with ‘her’. But not just her, her with a flourish. Unicorn her. Her with a direct line into his wants, desires and idiosyncrasies.
Entrapment! The men cried. Bro-codes were passed around secret tables, improved, revised. Motions were passed and sworn in with dark rites and rituals. Women snapped zee’s No he didn’t! because we are just so tired of hearing about all the wild accidents that land penises in vaginas with zero culpability on the part of the penis #oopsytripped. And it’s not that they are wrong, sigh, BUT I am here to chime in and say that it just didn’t matter by the time dude agreed to bed ‘fake her’ because by that point ‘real her’ had already blown it. He just showed up and played the part she had written for him. I mean we all like to believe our beloved is starry eyed for us and would “just say no” in any circumstance. But it wasn’t just that she created a new and improved version of herself that was the problem – a fantasy, a perfect storm with an ingredient that real life was never going to repeat for him and therefore the test failed – it was that In order to “test” the relationship she had to divest emotionally first. She broke trust. She decided not to share her fear or vulnerability or ask for what she was needing; reassurance or honest conversation. I mean I’ve got to give her credit because she went all in with this sabotage. She didn’t half ass it. And she lets me tell the story. She could shoulda woulda said “Hey I am scared” and given him the opportunity to reassure her, or share his own fears, or grow together, and maybe that would have moved them toward the relationship he would have chosen over the imaginary Unicorn.
The truth is we really are all crazy waiting to happen.
The vulnerability that is required by love is like crossing a bridge naked with spotlights on our squishy bits and secretly having it broadcast on national television all the while waking up the ogres that live beneath. Well that is discouraging Erin, you’re telling me. I don’t like the sound of that! But hear me out. My point is that we can’t outsmart our vulnerability. We can’t have the trust fall without the fall. We have to choose the possibility of the other person meeting us at Love Town or at the top of the Empire State Building in order to get our “happy ending”. We risk that they won’t show up, but we can’t get there if we stay home. And our scared inner child is going to scream and kick and yell a lot of “you can’t make me” once in a while on this trip.
It’s scary because it hurts when we aren’t chosen. It’s scary to fall. And for some of us it’s extra scary because that child has been through the emotional equivalent of a thousand rejections by parents or caregivers, which amplifies all of the hurt and the need.
The CRAZY happens when we let this toddler who is having a meltdown make the decisions for us.
That is how we end up with the fake profile, or talking him into dating another woman in case he might have been interested in her so we don’t look a fool, or how we wind up with a second girlfriend who is now going to blow up our reputation just in case the first one was going to leave us for that younger hotter guy, or waiting for him outside the pub because he doesn’t want to talk to us because we picked a fight about his work when we were really upset about feeling excluded, or accusing her of putting her kids before our kids, or inventing a 1001 scenarios that are terrifying and then sending a quick Dear Jane because you know, someone somewhere once upon a time got played, used, cheated on or taken for a buck.
The inner child panics, we react. Or worse we play THE GAME. This is our inner child dressed up in a leather jacket with an upturned collar trying to out-cool the other kids. Don’t let ‘em know you are interested or see you sweat, play it cool or play the field. It’s offense instead of defense, but the best offense ever is only going to get you a longer, shittier game. Someone has to lose, which means that everyone loses. It will NEVER and I repeat NEVER get you fulfillment because you will never feel safe or real in your depth of feeling for another human being or in your capacity to receive love.
The only way to love, and I don’t just mean romantic love, but yes it all plays out here friend, is to cross the naked bridge. Someday, somehow we got to face the music, we have to look Shrek in the face; the fear that we are green and ugly and not enough, and just say no. Or I love you you green bad bitch you. And we will face it over and over again, through love and life until we learn THIS ONE THING.
Now, if your scared child has been through more than their fair share of shit, the Ogres are going to be greener and the pit of hell under the bridge is going to look deeper. You may need some support healing old wounds before it’s even fair to approach the bridge.
But one way or another you’re going to have to get real.
There will always be the chance that someone you love will stop holding out their arms and you will hit the ground. Even when you have been doing it daily for twenty years.
But if you hurt first, if you come out swinging, you only guarantee hurt. You lock that shit down. And you shut out the room for love, safety, growth, openness, intimacy, joy.
Which means the practical answer in all of this is to:
- Allow your child to be scared and love them through it. Don’t leave them alone with Amityville Horror playing in the background.
- Have honest communication with your beloved. When you share without judgment or attack, which sounds a lot like I feel things or I am trying to solve things that are not your fault please help me, you invite them to dismiss the Ogre with you. You invite them into your safe space and allow for support, rather than driving a wedge between you, or causing a conflict. Be fucking REAL. For the love of all things good and beautiful the flowers the sun and the puppies, don’t play games. They don’t give you power. Power over is not power, it’s a form of powerlessness. It doesn’t work. Never. Ever. EVER! We don’t want to keep someone we love guessing, or someone who loves us guessing. No one gains, we all lose. We do not avoid discomfort. We create it.
- Choose love. And remember that it is always a choice. Don’t trick yourself into believing otherwise. Be forthcoming. Choose to show up and share with your partner. Choose bravery over cowardice. Choose trust. Choose compassion. Choose joy. Choose your beloved. Choose yourself. You are worthy of them. Make choices that reflect that.
Part of the crazy factor is that LOVE IS BLIND. We cannot see straight when we are the ones who are vulnerable. Not even the most level headed of us. It cannot be done. All can be coming up roses, and we will see things that aren’t there. All can be headed to hell in a hand-basket and we will be smelling roses. It’s the nature of the game. We cannot solve this alone. We need to team up, be allies. Throw your partner a rope if they are dangling from the vulnerability bridge by a pinky. Don’t step on it with your boot for Pete’s sake.
On flip side of crazy, we all have the potential for CRAZYMAKING. Crazymaking happens in conjunction with a little thing we in the counselling world like to call “emotional avoidance”. For some of us it is super duper scary to feel our feelings, let alone talk about them, and we would rather be doused in gasoline and run through a forest fire being chased by a grizzly than actually share an insecurity or ask for something we need. Better to hide and then call her a bitch for not getting the psychic message that something was freaking us the fuck out and light the whole thing on fire #closecallIwasmeanttobealone.
Crazymaking (by which I am referring to the lesser version and not the behaviour of the full fledged mentally ill) happens when we don’t want to deal and so we leave the other person to guess, to wait, to feel like they are the ones who are the problem because they are doubting us, even though we are causing them doubt with our behaviour.
The human brain wants to solve equations, and when it is missing a variable, it will try out all 5743 permutations and combinations of the equation available, and then start again. And while we are NICE people and we don’t want to cause human pain and suffering, THIS my friends is an acute form suffering wielded by our avoidance.
It is why we need to share. And not ghost. And not deflect. No matter how hard it feels for us to put on our big kid pants, and how much life is grinding us down, we can sit with our beloved or our date and say “here is the problem” rather than let them lose their goddamned mind to the missing variable.
Tell them you found them attractive but then they didn’t want kids and tried to make it into a casual relationship and that killed the attraction for you so they stop looking so sad when you walk past them at the bar.
Tell them you don’t feel romantic feelings for them, preferably before they think you are exclusive.
Tell them that you are scared they are going to leave you for that younger one, not because you are a crazy creep but because you are crazy for them. They want you to be crazy for them. They do not really want you to be indifferent.
And let me share with you friends that if you are the one obsessing because you are short a variable this does not mean you are crazy, even if you actually considered that she didn’t call you back because she was a secret agent called away to a mission in Uganda. It means you have been made crazy. Ghosting does this. Lack of closure does this. Emotional avoidance does this. It’s not your fault and you’re probably going to need some holy intervention to get over it.
Regardless of just how batshit you have become, regardless of whether it is caused by their immaturity or your history or a perfect storm of all the fuckery, your crazy is safe with me. I will help you over the bridge. Preferably call me before it’s your ‘one call’ from jail, and we’ll laugh and cry our way to sanity, you sexy unicorn version of the already sexy fabulous you.
— Love Erin
P.S. You’ve been asking me how to get your friends and loved ones the help I’ve been able to give you. We can do that. Contact me and we’ll talk details.
P.P.S. One of the kindest things you can do for me is to share my writing. If you enjoyed today’s Monday Musing and know someone else who would please forward it to a friend.