October 12, 2021

Relationship Fails & the Art of Accepting our “F*cked-Up-Ness.”


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The end of another short-lived relationship. 

I’m still not really sure where I stand on any of it. I have a relative who bestows the sort of sympathy most people reserve for the infirmed or incarcerated after each of my affairs ends. That always gets me kind of heated. 

Would I, in fact, have been better off not becoming obsessively infatuated with a mysterious woman? 

Right now, I can’t say for sure. I did write a half dozen beautiful songs in the process. I also wrote some pretty good articles. There were other obvious benefits, as well. I will remain reticent on that topic. (You can use your imagination.)

To be as candid as I can be: I’ll be stepping up my therapy game. This last thing spun me out a little worse than usual. It makes the idea of drinking—after 11 years of sobriety—seem like a viable option. I know myself well enough to understand that that just means I don’t want to feel what I’m feeling. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed since using “the nuclear option;” my brain still thinks it knows how to make the pain stop. My heart knows it’s a lie. It only makes things worse. 

There really isn’t too much difference between my constant chasing after love and sex now and what I was doing throughout my 20s and 30s. Yes, the chances of losing jobs or dying are lessened quite a bit, but the behavior is exact. The thing is, I am not entirely ready to change everything about myself right now. 

I was just reading a journal entry from David Sedaris’s new collection called Carnival of Snackery, where he got really annoyed with someone spraypainting “mine” onto a storefront in Notting Hill. Even though the lawbreaker tried to make it seem as though he was protesting “the man,” Sedaris saw it as an ego thing. He just wanted the pleasure of seeing his own graffiti every time he walked down that street: 

“There is any number of people who might walk down that same block and see their names on a movie poster, on a book in the window of Waterstone’s, and feel that same thrill. But they worked and studied for years, while all he did was buy a can of black paint and stay up till 1 a.m.”

That is when I had an important epiphany. I generally play down my accomplishment of signing with a literary agent in New York and ultimately signing a deal for my first book. But make no mistake: I did not luck into it. It required an obsessive amount of effort and determination for that to happen. The number of times that I was told by people in the book business that my idea would never sell would’ve caused 9 out of 10 people to give up. 

Although this part of my character has proven to be my undoing with regard to relationships, it has afforded me that same thrill Sedaris was talking about: I can walk into any Barnes & Noble and see my book on the shelf. I see it in the public libraries, as well. 

Unfortunately, I have not learned to compartmentalize that trait. It comes with me everywhere I go. 

Of course, this does not mean that I am necessarily going to stop trying to gain a little more stability in my love life. (As I said, I will be doubling the amount of therapy I usually do.) In the meantime, I am going to make peace with the side of myself that keeps steering me into the ditch. It has its purpose. 

Hearted by

The whole premise of my first book was to show people in early recovery how to use their street-scrappy skills for something other than getting over everyone and scoring drugs in the face of impossible odds. I used those skills to learn a trade that quadrupled my income and, later on, to sign a book deal. 

The last stage of grief is acceptance, and this morning as I get ready to go play a gig, that’s where I am. I imagine I will revisit all of the other stages as I go from song to song later this afternoon. I’ve never bought into the idea that grief is a linear process. 

But this morning, I’ll take the acceptance. 

Why not?

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