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.

love-588409_1920

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”

My Wife Stopped Breathing

The past couple weeks have been rough. Wait, no- I have been rough on myself the last couple of weeks. There, that sounds better. Wait, nooo- not better, just more truthful.

I was locked and loaded at the first of January to reach towards some new goals. War paint, tactical gear, and high-powered ammunition; all ready to set a blazing path of absolute rambo-style badassary through these puny underpowered and unarmed goals. And then…..

And then my wife stopped breathing. I know right?! That’s what I said! How could she be so selfish and stop breathing at a time like this?

After I realized “oh shit! she really can’t breathe!” I washed off my face paint, threw my night-vision goggles on the bedroom floor (it’s really hard to drive with them on), and I rushed her to the Emergency Room.

Come to find out, she had an unpronounceable virus in her vocal chords that became so inflamed that when she coughed, it would close off her airway. Her asthma was pretty pissed off as well. She was given some breathing treatments and a kettle full of various medications.

She is still getting over the sickness but she is doing much better. She also has her voice back. That is unfortunate for me because when she wakes up and reads this, I may be next in line for the Emergency Room.

All jokes aside, I don’t want to sound scornful or unsympathetic that my wife became ill. At the time, it was horrifying. The only thing that mattered to me was taking care of my wife. She is everything to me. She is my entire world. Without her I would live in a world of darkness and seeing her gasping; struggling for even the smallest drop of air, completely stopped my world from turning.

My silly little goals to become healthier, stronger, or just to become a better person will always be there waiting for me. (Was that an excellent way to make procrastination sound tender and inviting?) Anyway, my point is my wife needed me. I wanted to use my energy to help her through that nasty sickness because that’s what life is really about. Being there for each other when we need it most. The times when it is hardest for them to laugh or smile are the times we need to dig deep, and throw a big shovel-full of love right on top of them.

Despite the small deviation to “A Better Me”, I was not able to quit sugar cold turkey, but that is hardly a surprise. I have cut it back drastically. I have drunk 3- 12oz sodas in 11 days and I have been able to cut back on candy as well. I think I have eaten 3 pieces maybe 4 since Jan 1. One of those pieces was a piece of Finnish candy that tasted like overused engine oil with a hint of black licorice. I have also gained 2.5 pounds. That’s not a whole lot by that snippet of measurement but if I continue to gain a pound a week, I will weigh 692 pounds by the year 2025. Not bad Dustin…not bad!