Tag Archives: Advice

Valentine’s Day: All My Thoughts

390242855_a107ca92ceValentine’s day looms and I’ve deftly avoided the topic by not posting new stuff lately. Brilliant!

But I guess it’s time for my annual rant against the Big Machine and the perpetuation of the belief that, hey, if it’s love, it’s worth going broke for.

I know men buy gifts because they feel obligated. I know women usually like receiving the gifts. I just wish both sides of this equation would get over the bullshit and just accept it’s not really doing a lot of good for either of them.

Relationships die because either people change or they just don’t want to work on the relationship anymore. Not because a diamond ring wasn’t forthcoming soon enough. Continue reading

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Steff’s Easy-Start Guide to Changing Your Life: Part Two

I began this series last month, here’s part one. It’s pretty unstructured, but the early part of the series is focusing on the head game, because without the head game down, you’ll have no success. It’s all in the head game.

The most important thing you need to do if you want to effect serious change in your life is stop bullshitting yourself. No more excuses. Get it done.

What, you want to wait until everything’s perfect and momentum is good, the clouds are gone and the humidity is stable? Right. Come back here to Planet Earth, where rarely do you ever get what you want when you want it, even in restaurants where you’re paying for precisely that.

That’s why you gotta take what you want. Fuck happenstance and trials and tribulations. Shit happens, always will happen. That’s how life unfolds. I’m down 60 pounds this year, even though the last four months have been consumed with bouts of insomnia, several illnesses, debilitating back injuries, cockroaches infesting my home, and even overtime for the last three weeks steady while rehabbing my back injury, and yet I’ve lost 25 pounds in that time. Continue reading

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Steff’s Easy-Start Guide to Changing Your Life: Part One

So, a Twitterer made the comment that, with the holidays almost here, the annual malaise of reflection and regret would soon be upon him. And I thought, “Wow, this is gonna be the first time ever I sit down at the end of a year and go, “Holy fuck. I accomplished THAT?””

16 months ago, I acknowledged a few things to myself. I hated my job, hated who I had become, hated the way I treated my friends, hated the negativity I was constantly caught in, and hated my body. I was initially overcome with despondency. With so much to work on, where in the fuck would I start?

The trouble with being an unhappy person, or at the very least unhappy with your life, is precisely that: Where in the fuck do you start? Continue reading

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Broken: Hearts, Minds, Vows, and Man

One of the things that’s simultaneously good and bad about this gig is that people tell me things from time to time they wouldn’t even tell their shrink.

Just the other day one such letter arrived in my in-box. As is sometimes my habit, I entered into a knee-jerk response and was about to tear the woman apart. Something made me stop and think, and instead of writing something savage, I sent her an email back. Her last question in her initial email was, “Am I a white trash whore?”

My response then was, in so many words, no, but you’re a liar and a cheat. I do stand by that, but with a massive, monumental, intergalactic caveat.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Due to the fact that there’s so incredibly much riding on her admission to me, I’m taking great liberties to change a good deal of the particulars that could identify who this poor goddamned woman is, because her life is filled with enough shit right now and I’ve no business adding to the pile by doing anything that could in any way come back to haunt her.

Here’s the gist of what you need to know.

  • She’s a mother.
  • She’s been married a decade-plus.
  • She’s in her mid-30s.
  • She’s been madly in love with her husband for all the years of their marriage, and still loves him, but things have changed.
  • He suffered a life-changing stroke of great severity that has rendered him child-like and frail. His mental capacity is nothing of its former self and his personality has been completely reformatted. Physically, he needs constant help. Sexually, he functions, but there’s no attraction left for her.
  • She’s been having an affair with a close friend of the family, in which the sex is incredible. Unfortunately, both she and he are married, and neither have the intention of abandoning said spouses.

That’s it, in a nutshell, that’s what a volley of eight emails has yielded to me.

Like most women under great strain, she’s perceived by others to be an incredible trouper. Strong, coping, able, yada, fucking yada.

The truth is, she’s coming apart at the seams. She hates herself for her betrayal of the husband she loved with all her heart, the husband she stayed with even though she learned he had cheated on her. She despises herself for loving sex with this other man. She’s angry about the loss of her love and best friend and the passion that came with. She doesn’t feel she’s able to speak to anyone about it. My guess is, she’s drowning in this life of woe she’s found herself enveloped by.

And my heart goes out to her.

Yes, she’s lying to her husband. Yes, she’s a cheating ho. But ask yourself: What would you do?

I know a lot of people would judge her for cheating on a guy who’s been sent into this horrible new reality by this unfortunate eruption of blood in his brain, but what about her? She’s still among the living. All of a sudden, she’s expected to give up everything that defines her life to provide 24/7 care for a man who can’t care for himself. She’s young, in her sexual peak, and what’s more, she needs an outlet for all the things gone wrong.

When my mother died seven years ago this week, I turned to books on grieving. I went through all the topics on mourning, everything from poetry to prose to essays, and I distilled from it a great deal of information on what to do to get through it all. The thing was, they said “mourning” and “grieving” are misunderstood. They’re not just necessary in times of death; they’re necessary in times of great change and loss of any kind.

For all intents and purposes, this woman’s husband died. When those blood vessels ruptured and filled his head with pools of blood, the soul of him just faded away. He’s but a shell these days, though he lives and breathes and walks and fills the space of their home with a friendly face and eyes that once mirrored the love she showed him.

With every moment in every day, she’s confronted by the struggle of caring for him, of helping him, of getting him through to the next day. Then there are the kids. And the doctors and medical procedures. Then there are the quiet moments. The moments in which she should be able to have the time to think of herself and her needs and the things she ought to do with her life… but that she can’t. Because every waking moment is spent caring for others and forgetting herself in the process, and when she’s not caring for them or coping, she’s formulating plans for keeping that circle rolling. In a life like that, there is no “down time.”

I believe one of the most important things for women (in particular) to do is to remember the them they’re forgetting, and to consciously make themselves more important in their scheme of things. But how does she do this? How is it possible?

I lived with my mother when she was dying of cancer. Any time I thought there was something important for me to do for myself, I consciously remembered that she came first. I couldn’t do that for myself; what about Mom? But then I was let off the hook. She died. My heart shattered to a million pieces, and one day I began to Krazy Glue myself back together. It took time, it took work, it took a conscious remembering that it was her that died, and not me.

This reader has none of that time, none of those options, and as far as I can tell, no Krazy Glue.

What’s the point of all this, of her letter, of this posting? I’m not really sure there is one. There’s no easy answer, no pat solution. It’s broken heart upon broken heart, and no matter what she decides, she’s in for a constant world of hurt because that’s her new reality. She can continue being sexually satiated by her lover, and lie to the man she loved but whose lights are no longer shining, or she can do the moral thing and give up the sexual release in order to do “the right” thing and continue caring for that shell of a man.

Either way, she’s in for a hard life.

So I say, whatever gets you by, sister.

The thing she needs to watch out for, sadly, is the fucking obtuse people out there who think morality trumps reality; those who just don’t get that some kinds of adversity just aren’t the kinds you can put your chin down to and barrel on through. Some kinds stop you up inside and make you hurt six ways to Sunday with no relief in sight, and this is that kind.

She could walk on him. Leave him hanging, and therefore no longer be unfaithful, but then what happens to him? Broken brain, broken body, plus broken heart?

Or she stays with him and gets her pipes cleaned by her new plumber man from time to time, and enjoys the illusion of affection and love, such as she once had with her husband?

I really don’t know. It’s quite possibly the original lesser-of-evils dilemma, and I’ve had some sad moments thinking of what her existence must be like.

I feel badly that she feels so alone, as I know I refuse to be the voice in the night that listens at all hours and says everything’s gonna be all right, baby, ‘cos I don’t even have a voice like that for me right now, so how do I provide it for others?

She’s not alone, though. She sees a therapist, but she’s too afraid of feeling like a failure and a liar in confessing her recent moral choices to him. I say she must. If there’s any one thing I do know, it’s that. She absolutely must confess to him, because he’s not a fucking idiot. He’ll understand, and he might even provide her with the closest form of absolution she’ll ever receive.

This is hard, baby. Harder than hard. It’s diamond-hard. Confess. Take a load off. Print off these emails we’ve exchanged, and this posting, and drop them off at your shrink’s a few days ahead of the appointment with a note saying, “These are a conversation I’ve had with a complete stranger. We need to talk. We really need to talk.” At least it’ll let you know the issue’s finally getting confronted, but it’ll let you sit back while he plays the ball that’s now in his court.

I wish I had a magical Band-aid for you, but all I’ve got is empathy. You do what you got to in order to get through. You may feel like shit and you may feel like a liar and a cheat and trash, but you’ve got my admiration. You’re doing what’s got to get done, and if it so happens that you’re a little human along the way, well… that’s just the way it goes.

But what do you think, readers?

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Revisiting: “You Can Make Me Come, But…”

I’ve not been in my right mind this week, literally. So, I’m about to do something I don’t often do, which is to qualify and revisit an opinion piece; the one I posted in response to an anonymous question yesterday.

I’m human and flawed at the best of times, but this week I’ve been plagued with migraines, sleeplessness, and a few other symptoms as a result of an acute sinus infection. I’m beginning to get well, thank god, but it’s made me irritable, angry, unpleasant, and really, really bleak for the last few days, and I think it’s been showing a little too readily in some of my writing, and in this piece in particular.

First off, I’m not doing a 180 here, okay? The reader asked if I thought she was a hypocrite for doing everything but sex. No, not for that reason. I think honesty’s the most important facet of any relationship – be it with a parent, lover, friend…honesty’s EVERYTHING.

If you’re not sleeping with someone because you’re nervous, because you think you want to wait, or whatever your flavour is, then be honest. Say that sex is a really, really huge step for you, and you make no promises, and you may even wait until marriage, but that you really don’t know what your sexual future holds for now, and they can’t have any expectations of it, no matter how much you might be enjoying playing with them as you head down the road together. And if it’s confusing for them, tell them it’s far more confusing for you, because you know that’s the truth.

Don’t take the easy way out, don’t choose some simple pat answer like, “I’m waiting until marriage,” when you know deep down inside that’s not what it’s about.

Besides, you’re selling a lot of guys short. No, they may well not wait until marriage, because marriage is a huge, huge thing, but they might wait one hell of a long time for you, and you’re not giving them that opportunity to honestly consider what it is they would or wouldn’t do for you.

It’s such a hard topic, that of when sex is the right move to make. I have no qualms with abstinence until marriage, but whatever the reasons you’re choosing not to have sex, you need to be honest about them. You need to be honest about every aspect of your life, and I truly believe that.

Honesty shouldn’t be some lost virtue, or something we pull out when it’s convenient to us. It’s hard to be honest about our fears and our emotions, and sometimes being honest about them leads to hard places and difficult roads to travel because it can be so damned confusing to admit what lies behind our poker faces, but the cliché of it being the best policy is true for a reason.

It’s only through that honesty with each other that we can face challenges and adversities. If you’re being dishonest, even about something that’s “kind of” true, like waiting for the right person, you’re setting the groundwork for yourself to tell little white lies when it makes things a little easier for you to process.

I disagree with that to the very core of who I am.

Did I handle the question well? No. I’ve been in a really dark place this week and I’ve not been comfortable facing it. I’ve been dealing with things somewhat passive-aggressively, it turns out, and while I have reasoning for it, it doesn’t really excuse it.

And while you have reasoning for stretching the truth, it never excuses it, either. These are the simple truisms behind living a good life, and you are trying to choose how you want to live. Don’t commit one transgression to stave off another. Clearly, by asking the question as you did, you’re already somewhat uncomfortable with how you’re handling the situation, so maybe it’s time to reconsider.

As for abstinence – feeling guilty about it, questioning it… Abstinence is a hard, hard road to choose. You’ll have weak moments. You’ll feel pressured. You’ll feel like you’re alone in a big, sexy world. And if abstinence is really important to you, then you need to be strong and hold your position. Don’t compromise just because of all those pressures out there in that big, scary world. Do it when it’s right for you, because it’s not something you’ll ever get a chance to revisit.

Personally, I thought I waited for the right guy. In the end, we stayed together too long because I didn’t want to admit he wasn’t the right one after all. You need to be aware that waiting for rightness doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve made the right choice, and it may still go wrong, and you may eventually realize you made a mistake, and if/when that should happen, you can’t hold it against yourself. The majority of our relationships are bound to end, and many of those will end badly, and that’s why they say that all is fair in love and war; because sometimes love is war. Sometimes it’s wrong. So, if you’re holding out, be realistic, and know that your intentions are what counts, not the end result of your actions… if that makes any sense.

Anyhow. I wanted to edit that piece as soon as I posted it, but my mindset had gone to a darker place and I couldn’t conjure the genuine sentiment I needed to do the job right. I hope I have now. For whatever it’s worth, sorry it was harsh. I still agree with some of what I said, but I wish I’d said it better.

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Q & A: “You Can Make Me Come, But We Can’t Fuck”

I was sent the following question in a comment this morning, and yes, they were right, it is an interesting topic to write about. Time’s not on my side today, so this is a quick take on the question… a question that could unleash some interesting discussion, and I hope it does.

I decided that I want to wait until marriage to have sex, but I’m still a chronic masturbator and ok with doing stuff with guys that doesn’t involve penis-in-vagina sex. I guess I just don’t really trust anyone enough to go “all the way” with them. Do you think I’m a hypocrite?

You want the short answer? Yep, I do think you’re a hypocrite, more or less. Thanks for putting words in my mouth.

There is nothing that makes me snicker more than religious types (which I don’t know if you are one or not) who tell me they’re abstaining from sex until marriage, but that they’ve done nearly everything except things involving penetration.

It’s the same reason why Bill Clinton was lambasted for claiming he “did not have sexual relations with that woman!” I mean, come on. You’ll get them off, they’ll get you off, but when it comes to insertion, you’re gonna play the morality card? What the fuck is that?

Oral sex, manually-induced orgasms, it’s all intimacy, and it’s all banned off primetime TV, all right? It ain’t for the kiddies and the after-school special, y’know?

If you’re not comfortable having sex for one reason or another, fine, but be honest about why you’re not. Don’t claim you’re some sanctimonious person waiting for the right person or whatever. Admit that you’re scared. Admit you have trust issues (which you have done here).

It’s all right be to scared, but don’t cover it up with some vow of chastity. Don’t run from the situation just because you haven’t got the sack to ante up and face it. I think it’s dishonest to be chronically masturbating, allowing men to get you off, trading favours, but then claiming you’re “abstaining” from sex. Why? What’s the point? You’re already doing all the intimate things a person can do. You’re already investing in carnal pleasures. You’re already sinning in the eyes of most religions.

It’s the sexual equivalent of someone being issued a restraining order for not going within 100 metres of X person/place, and instead of just staying the fuck away, they stand day in and day out at a distance of 101 metres, toying with the allowed limits. How is that possibly honouring the spirit of the situation? It’s not. It’s a crock, is what it is.

I could be all nice and say, “Oh, I understand the ambivalence of not having sex,” and all that, but honestly, you’re already feeling guilty and like you’re breaking some code, or else YOU wouldn’t have asked if you’re being a hypocrite. If you have to ask, then you are. Pretty simple.

If you were abstaining from sex and not letting men finger you, not masturbating, not exploring oral, then you would not be a hypocrite.

But, you, honey, are a hypocrite, any way you slice it. I’m sorry if the truth hurts, but it is what it is.

You’re scared of intimacy, you’re hoping like hell you’re being Just Good Enough to be virtuous, and you know, deep down inside, that you wish you could be fucked silly, but you don’t have the courage or the backbone to go there, because you’re scared that once you give them what they’re really wanting, that they’ll walk right on out on you.

And maybe, just maybe, they will. And maybe, just maybe, those fears are valid.

When it comes to morality, religion doesn’t tend to offer shades of grey. Things are sins, or they are not, and you don’t get to have the decoder ring to decide just how much of one particular action equates a sin. It doesn’t work that way. So, if you’re toying with it anyhow, why not just fucking buy the full-meal deal and get on with it? You’ve not started to go up in flames with the fires of Hell licking all around you yet, so what are you so scared of?

Again, I don’t know if religion plays a part in your decision, so the “you” in regards to anything religious is rhetorical, not specifically YOU.

I just wish people were more honest about their actions, and this duplicitous “well, you can get me off, but you can’t come inside of me” behaviour is symptomatic of all the hypocrisy that surrounds us. I grow tired of it, that’s all.

(Feeling that I may have sounded a little harsh in this post, I decided to revisit it, as I know there are some “virgins” out there who are trepidatious about their sexuality, and I don’t want to add too much fuel to that fire. Check out my second take here.)

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