What is love

  
If the true definition of love is “our involuntary response to virtue if we are virtuous” I will strive every day to actually mean the words when I say “I love you

Love is having difficult conversations that provoke anxiety and fear. 

Love is standing tall in your convictions of truth and reason despite the waves of opposition. 

Love is asking questions of curiousity even if it makes you uncomfortable. 

Love is accepting that you were wrong in the past. 

Love is accepting another persons emotional experience with openness and honesty. 

Love is taking responsibility for all your actions. 

Love is allowing another to have inconvenient needs. 

Love is doing whatever it takes to become a better, more virtuous human being. 

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“Ill” Legal immigration; or what I like to call “moving”

This post is not my typical genre but it does have a direct and lasting affect in my life – so I will talk about it. 

It doesn’t affect me in the typical, mainstream-political-race-bating-American exceptionalism-xenophobic-vote buying-potential terrorist kind of way. No – it’s much more subtle. And by subtle, I mean not at all. 

When my wife moved to America (from Finland) in 2012 to be with the coolest guy ever, we chose the non traditional form of “immigration”. I think it was called following the law? Something like that. Anyway, the hoops that we had to jump through were oblong and smaller than a cheerio. They were literally that small. Squeezing through them was extremely difficult. Actually jumping through it was impossible. 

The dump trucks that delivered the paper work arrived months behind schedule and they just dumped them all in one big pile on our front lawn leaving large gaping tire tracks into the sunken grass. The wind had picked up and the papers scattered through the breeze like a massive blast from a confetti gun. Then came the rain…

My terrible metaphor is rediculous, but it does describe how government bureaucracies function. When competition is not allowed, there is no need to focus on customer satisfaction. 

When I hear about massive swarms of 3rd world illegal immigrants getting direct access to the government tit, I am astonished. I distinctly recall having to sign papers stating that I alone, was responsible for 100% support of my wife and she MAY NEVER take even a single slice of moldy government cheese and if she was not able to be fully supported by me, she would be on a plane back to her country of origin. Oh, and she is restricted from working in America for the first two years because…we say so. 

I’m not saying I wanted or needed any of the governments stolen money to support my wife but the double standard made an involuntary but audible dry heave sound from deep within me. 

The process to legally move my wife here was not only extremely expensive, it was also unnesassarily complicated. The language on each document was in Sanskrit and wing dings. Because I failed in those two language courses, we had a hell of a time answering what should’ve been simple, basic questions. 

The constant mistakes made by the receivers of our paper piles were simply idiotic. These people do this for a living and they were the dictionary definition of incompetent. When we finally received my wife’s first Green card – which took years to acquire, they put the wrong last name on it which meant we couldn’t acquire a matching social security card which meant no traveling back home for my wife. We complained to them about the typo And they respond with “you must pay $450.00 for a new green card.” Isn’t that lovely! After some internet searches, I quickly noticed we were not an exception to the rule. This was a problem for many applicants. 

One mistake I can understand. But it’s now 2016 and we are still waiting for her properly named Green card. We received a letter yesterday stating they wanted more proof that we are actually married. Seriously? Would a sex tape suffice? Or how about one of your little workers come down, set up some cameras in our home and make a reality TV show about how married we are because we have proven it beyond any other measure possible. 

The incentives to do the right thing are backwards in many aspects of our governing bodies. I don’t have a pull to break the law by any means but many people do. There are a lot of people who have zero moral lines or boundaries and they will do whatever they can get away with. This is even more true for people coming from the third world. 

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Laughter – Not always the best medicine!

I often hear laughter coming from individuals while they are mentioning traumatic past experiences. Whether they are talking about how they were abused as a child or how they used to shoot up drugs into inconspicuous places. A short giggle here, or a wry laugh that ends their sentence. A sentence that is not at all funny or laughable and often times my experience of the conversation is a visceral response that is raw and painful.

I do understand the laughter and where it comes from. I used to do it as well. I now believe that laughing at traumatic things in our past is harmful to us and it is also a dishonest response. I should clarify one point before going on. I am not against humor or comedic responses to life. I am actually quite the joker when it comes to laughing about life’s many situations.

There is the saying by Carol Burnett about “Comedy is tragedy plus time.” I agree with this to a degree but there is a fundamental piece missing from this particular meme. If the tragedy has not been dealt with- through self-knowledge, therapy or other means of self work, the tragedy is comedic only because the issue is still raw and too painful to deal with. Because the individual has not worked through the trauma of the past, they must giggle or laugh as a defense mechanism to cover over the true emotion under the laughter.

The laughter is also an invitation to the listener to join along in the conversation as a tale of laughable past times. Of course if the listener joins in with returning laughter, the trauma will continue to destroy and manipulate the host. I didn’t realize how selfish it is to laugh about my own unprocessed trauma. Telling others about your past traumas with laughter causes the listener to feel the emotions for you. The feelings you are covering over are being felt by the person you are talking to. If they are not feeling your hidden emotions, they are non-empathetic and you are wasting time talking to that person anyway. Maybe that is what you want. If you just want someone to join along with your misplaced laughter, that’s fine too but I can not join along with that kind of empty relationship blather.

I’m not saying that laughing at your own trauma is contemptible or horrible or anything like that. Like I mentioned above, I understand it and I used to do it myself. All I am saying is I think it is a very important topic that we should evaluate honestly and objectively. Nothing in recovery is more important than being honest with yourself. If you notice someone giggle or laugh at something traumatic or horrific, pay attention to how you both deal with that situation. Challenge yourself to talk about the laughter in the discussion and you may be amazed at how advantageous and open your conversations can become.

Laughter is not always the best medicine.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts on this topic. 🙂

Relationships, Sobriety and Love

Virtue is under the skin

Virtue is UNDER the skin

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, a post about romantic relationships should be appropriate. The majority of “love-based” relationships I have witnessed (and a great deal of my own past relationships) are based on lust, co-dependancy, lies, hedging, projection, insecurities, manipulation, bickering, and outright abuse.

All of these relationship problems can be solved on the first or second date, saving you energy, money, time, and the possible crotch-rotting disease that feels like you sat on a hot cactus. Not to mention having children with the wrong partner which is a complete catastrophe no matter how civil the split-up/divorced parents chose to be.

How can all of this be eliminated from the start?

“There was no way for me to have known he would have changed! He was so charming and funny at first. Then he started to turn into a real asshole!”

Before I continue any further, I will put forward my definition of love. There are many arguments for this definition but I wont go into too much detail on how this definition is valid.

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Love- Love is our involuntary response to virtue, if we are virtuous.

In America, the word love has been completely stripped of any real context or meaning. I hear radio broadcasters telling complete strangers who call in to the radio show “I love you.” Completely empty of any real value or meaning. In todays culture, the word “love” is thrown around as a shaky platitude. Sorry folks, the word “love” has specific and direct purpose.

Of course you can say that you “love” chocolate cake but in this context that is a completely subjective opinion. Love between a romantic couple has to have objective and rational attributes. Having utility for one another is not love. Love is love; and only if you are both virtuous. If you claim to love someone who is an obvious abuser or sadist, I would argue that loving that person is not possible. It may feel like love, but it is more like a dysfunctional parasite that needs a host for survival.

The definition of love that I mentioned above (first brought about by Ayn Rand and slightly modified by S. Molyneux), is very powerful. If you break it down syllogistically, an evil person can neither love, or be loved. To love, you must have virtuous qualities and the person you are loving, must also have virtuous qualities. Therefore, if you and your partner are virtuous, you will both INVOLUNTARILY respond to each other with love.

This definition runs into a big problem in our culture because we are taught as children that family is innately virtuous. Philosophically- or factually, family is nothing more than a conceptual category placed on a group of individuals that were accidentally placed in geographical proximity to one another. Each person in the family is responsible for his or her own virtue or lack there of.  Because of this truth, the ideology of the voluntary family; I believe is valid. I will publish another post on the voluntary family at a later time. (If you have never heard the ideology of the voluntary family, you can find many online articles by an internet search.)

We are also taught to love ones’ country which is also impossible and irrational. A country is simply an imaginary boarder drawn on a piece of paper. Lines on a map. A country is a concept in our mind that doesn’t exist in reality. In other words, the relationship between myself and my country is a relationship based on manipulation and lies.

WHAT IS VIRTUE?

Nothing that is accidental or material can be virtuous. Not families’, not religion, not countries, not beauty, not height, not intelligence (IQ), not silky-soft lustrous hair, not bedroom eyes, not a ripped six-pack, not a houseboat, not a 6-bedroom home, not a Corvette, not a lawyer, not a doctor, and definitely not a blogger.

To maintain virtue, we must have honesty. Honesty is the first prerequisite for virtue. If we have honesty, integrity to our virtues is at least a possibility.

Integrity to virtue must be the fundamental principle in all of our relationships. Having integrity to our virtues creates security which is necessary but not sufficient for love. Other virtues include:

Genuine courage

What are you full of?

What are you full of?

Empathy

Moral perceptiveness

Curiosity

Negotiation

Ability to reason

Personal growth

Emotional receptivity

Intimacy

Adherence to the non-aggression principle

Clear and open communication

Self Knowledge

There are many other virtues of course, but if some of the basics are not present in your relationships, your relationships will cause major problems and most likely end in disaster. This post is focused more towards romantic relationships. However, all voluntary, personal relationships should be put through a virtue check in the same way. Ask your closest relationship some self-knowledge questions and see how open, or closed off they become. The majority of relationships I have experienced have been a thinly sliced piece of sentimentality covering over sarcasm, angst, vane utility, exploitation, with a side of sports, weather and empty minutiae. Any time I brought up an important or meaningful topic, the uncomfortable silence and nervousness from the other person would quickly stab through me like a knife.

I believe that if there are topics of discussion that are “off-limits” in a relationship, stated explicitly or implicitly- you are headed for a failing relationship. If you are walking through a field where there are buried land-mines, eventually, you will step on one! Together, you must dig them all up. Play in an safe and open field. If you claim to “love” the person, would you allow them to run freely into a field full of exploding land-mines? What topics are “off-limits” in your relationships?

Because of our biological drive to create more humans, we often confuse our biological drives of sexual lust, for love. This is tragic. We know that (biologically) females trade their eggs for resources and males trade resources for monogamous access to the woman, allowing a continuation of the bloodline. That of course, is a very basic and shortened explanation but none-the-less, when we allow our sexual relationships to be based on our biological drives they will turn out disastrous. This is because we are basing the entire relationship on economic status, beauty, Alpha male/female characteristics, and not on virtue. I have heard people talk about the word “chemistry” or “having chemistry”. Chemistry is a bullshit word that is used in the place of lust. There is no such hocus-pokus nonsense called chemistry. There is virtue and there is vice.

When on a first or second date, asking important questions can save you from making repetitive and very common relationship mistakes. If all your previous relationships died out or ended, you know that either one of you, or both of you were not adhering to virtuous principles. If you are single now, but have dated in the past, all of your relationships were a failure. I know that is obvious but why did they fail?

This is why it is so important to find out in the beginning if your date will be at all compatible; that you can both be fueled by virtue. Ask your potential romantic partner what kind of childhood they had. If you notice they have unprocessed childhood trauma, that is a red flag. If they have been through counseling and done a bunch of self work to repair their past, then you know they have self-knowledge and are more compatible (If you are virtuous). If sexual innuendoes are constantly being thrown around or if sex is offered right up front, you know this person has a low self-esteem and thinks that sex is all they can offer the relationship. Another red flag.

I used to believe that none of these “red flags” were visible in all my past romantic relationships but now I know that is very untrue. When I look back, I can see every single one of them, screaming at me to run in the other direction. Unfortunately, I was blinded by giddy lust and counterfeited virtues. I justified all of my own vices as virtues and I avoided confrontations by not expressing my own preferences. Completely avoiding topics that I knew would be volatile. I thought thats what love was. Not understanding what love was cost me 20 years of my life, thousands of dollars, many broken hearts, health issues and drug use.

I believe by the time we are old enough for the “birds and the bee’s” talk, we already know how to place a round peg in a round hole. I wish I would have been taught about parasitical women when I was 13 or 14. I found out by allowing them to destroy years of my life.

The “sex talk” should have been something like “DO NOT mistake accidental beauty for virtue. Resist your biological drive for sex by making sure the woman you are interested in has value outside of her curves and ocean-blue eyes. Picture her as a mother having to wake up at 4 in the morning to a crying baby and a sick husband; then if you can believe she would handle that situation with love and empathy, you can go forward from there. And of course the same holds if reversing the genders.

The moral of the story is if you are not virtuous and you do not strive for honesty everyday, you will never meet a virtuous partner. You are what you attract. This is absolutely true. If any of you are saying that you cannot make absolute truth claims about anything, you just made an absolute truth claim by stating “there is no such thing as absolute truth.” Which is itself, an absolute truth claim. 🙂

This is why it is absolutely vital to hold off on dating when you first get sober. You may think you are in a good enough place to get romantically involved but you are not. They say you should wait at least a year. I would say even longer. If you have recently become sober, please get some therapy and look into your childhood objectively.

Were you spanked? yelled at? abused? did your parents divorce? family member in prison? alcoholic family member? parents using drugs? were you breast feed? were you held often? taught how to negotiate? were you put in daycare before age 5? sexual abuse? how were conflicts resolved in your home? were you always told no without an explanation? were you allowed to have preferences? were you drugged instead of reasoned with? did your parents fight often? All these things have a significant effect on brain development and are correlated to addiction. Getting answers and working through your childhood trauma; no matter how justifiable or “normal”, is absolutely necessary for future growth, sobriety and self-knowledge. You will never know who you are if you don’t understand why and were you came from.

Before you can know anything about the world, you must first know yourself. Like the great Socrates said “know thyself”

THANK YOU!

And kiitos to my rakas <3

And kiitos to my rakas

I started blogging about my addiction to heroin in May. Over the past 9 months I have met some wonderful online friends who have helped me in so many ways. Giving advise, hope, support, and love.

I plan on continuing this open journey with you all and I appreciate all of your support.

Thanks to all of you who have allowed your stories to be told in such a vulnerable and naked atmosphere. Being honest and open is what relationships are truly about.

I have enjoyed reading many of your wonderful posts. Whether funny, happy, helpful, angry, sad, depressing, joyful, engaging, silly, or thought provoking, I have enjoyed the growing journey with you all.

Here’s to 2015!

A Better Me

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There are some changes I will be making, as well as some personal goals I am setting for myself starting January 1, 2015. These are not empty resolutions that get thrown out after the second week of January. These are life changes that need to take place and continue on throughout the course of my time on earth.

Now that my life has settled into place and the unexpected tremors of early sobriety have long dissipated, I want to focus a bit more on my success and purpose as a human being. This does not mean I will stop doing what I need to do to stay sober. It just means that, on top of staying sober, I want to achieve other goals. There are also things about my life; as well as myself, that I am not okay with.

1- My weight. When my father died in October 2013, it affected my eating habits. I linked the death of my father to the foods he ate over the course of his life. Already having eating/food issues from a very young age (me), as well as very similar eating habits as my father, I started to despise eating food. As far as I knew, food killed my father and I hated it. Now, whether or not food is to blame for the death of my father; it doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that I gain back my weight. I am not bulimic or anorexic. I just get pissed off at food and a lot of food textures gross me out. Some of my issue goes back to when I was a young child. I am still trying to figure it out and I plan to see a nutritional counselor. I guess it is also possible that I have Sensory Processing Disorder. I hate soggy, gritty, slimy, chunky textures and putting any of those in my mouth sounds about as fun as sliding naked down a huge razor-blade into a pool of rubbing alcohol. Any of my readers deal with this hyper-sensitive full-body-gagging experience? Same with folding a piece of 80-grit sandpaper in on itself but I’ll save the goose-bump hypersensitive touch stories for another time. Ugh!

GOAL- I will gain the weight back to my average size. This means I need to gain 15 pounds. That may seem like a small task but…I am a small man and will have to eat a massive amount of calories.

NUTRITION

2a- Drinks. I have been drinking waaaaay too much Mt. Dew, Pepsi, Red bull, Coffee, and other sugar loaded drinks. January 1st I am done. Well, one cup of coffee a day. No other soft drinks or sugary soda crap. Gotta have the coffee jump-start! Creamer, no sugar. 🙂

2b- Candy. I eat too much damn candy. I eat candy every day. milk duds, reeces pieces, M&Ms, Red licorice… I devour that shit. Willy Wonka would be jealous of my candy cupboard. Where is all the slimy soggy candy?! I guess that would be too easy. January 1st, DONE.

3- Work-out. I have started a work-out routine but they always stop. I always do it for the wrong reasons. This time, I am starting a workout because- well, I am getting older and I don’t want to die any time soon. I have been extremely rough with this body the last 20 years and I need to show it some love. I want to be healthy, strong, agile, headache-less and alert. January 1st, it’s on.

BUSINESS

4- My wife and I both work but we have opposite schedules. She works days and I work nights. We have worked this terrible schedule long enough so we are going to fix it. We have been talking about our plan to start our own business doing something we both enjoy. We know what direction we are going to go and have worked out the base decisions. Our business plan will start taking shape objectively on January 1, 2015.

5- Aside from our personal business goal, I am also setting a completion/publish goal for my book. I haven’t had any luck with agencies and I can’t just sit on it forever. My book will be getting published in 2015. If that means self-pub, so be it.

I’m sure there are many ways I can become a better person but I know the topics I listed above are the most important to me currently. Maybe when I wipe all these out I can work on some others. I am glad I have a precise starting point. Its time to walk the walk.

Thanks for your continued support my friends! For more great reading, stop by a fellow bloggers site at http://afterthepop.me/2014/12/26/hope-for-2015/

-Dustin

Remember the eve of Christmas

ice-crystal-222274_1280

Remember the eve of Christmas,

I spent shivering, in a cell.

Detoxing off of heroin,

A cold and bitter hell.

Remember the eve of Christmas, ice-crystal-222274_1280

I spent homeless, on the street.

Poison flowing through my veins,

But my heart still beat.

Remember the eve of Christmas,

ice-crystal-222274_1280When I was all alone.

The wind blew, through my soul,

It sliced right through the bone.

Remember the eve of Christmas,

When I finally, faced my fears.

ice-crystal-222274_1280The battle came, to a bloody end,

After so many painful years.

Remember the eve of Christmas,

Dark years, have long passed by.

I’m staring at our Christmas tree,

ice-crystal-222274_1280As water fills my eye.

Remember the eve of Christmas,

When life was good, indeed.

I need not open, a single gift,

I have all I’ll ever need.

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