Tag Archives: Marriage & Other Commitments

Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down

My friend Sean Cranbury shared an article on Facebook earlier, and a comment debate ensued. Here’s my takeaway.


In my youth, I was a huge U2 fan. For a long time, my listening trifecta were Joshua Tree, Rattle & Hum, and Achtung Baby. That was my “era” of U2.

One song I played a lot back then was “Acrobat.” Something about it spoke to me, because I knew I was an angry person. I was angry then, I’m still a brand of angry now.

And you can swallow or you can spit
You can throw it up, or choke on it
And you can dream, so dream out loud
You know that your time is coming round
So don’t let the bastards grind you down.

I wanted to live a life where the bastards didn’t grind me down, but I also wanted to be of those who shouted at the wind to evoke change.

Somewhere in the middle of it all, it did grind me down. I lost my soul for a while. I was angry about everything. I was the trodden. I was the one looking for the crumbs of hope and choking on any I dared to swallow.

I’m 41 now. I’m tired of being angry. I’ve learned something along the way — nothing will ever be perfect. Nothing will ever make us all happy. Whatever victories lift me up are the same that leave others crestfallen.

We live in an imperfect world. That’s just the way it goes. There are no flawless heroes. No perfect souls we can hold up as an example to all.

But every now and then, we have a great day. Like when marriage equality was finally doled out by the Supreme Court in the USA. That was a fine, glorious day.

Then someone turns around and says “But we need more! There are injustices left! Don’t stop! Don’t breathe! Keep going! Fight, fight, fight!”

Here’s the thing, though.

In the United States, more than half of the states still have being gay as a fireable offense. Show up to work gay and you can be fired for it. Really. “Sorry, Bob, we’re in a no rainbow zone here. Pack your knives and go.”

And yet, in plenty of those states, gays lined up for the opportunity to put their love on display and get married on the least-subtle day EVER to be married in gay history. Some said, well, the strange thing is, I can get married today but on Monday I could be fired for celebrating a right given to me over the weekend by SCOTUS.

But still they married. Why?

Because Monday would be a new battle. This weekend? It was for joy. It was for celebrating. It was for saying that in one brief moment we all had a little more love, equality, and hope in our lives.

Those moments — they’re truly rare. That instant of glorious togetherness, where we don’t have to sing “We shall overcome,” because we overcame. In my life, there are a handful. Berlin Wall toppling. The Quiet Revolution in Egypt. Obama’s Inauguration.

I’m 41 and I’m struggling to remember more moments of true joy, laced with the feeling that comes from witnessing change in the making. The good change.

If you don’t stop to enjoy the feeling of victory, then what is it that sustains you? It’s certainly not hope for a better day, because you just had one and you didn’t savour it. No, what sustains you is anger and frustration.

I can’t hate like that. I can’t be angry all the time.

Love wins.

Love wins.

Choosing your moments

Do you know what I did on the night that thousands died on September 11th, 2001?

After a day spent in horror and fear and lost in the coverage on TV, I went for a bike ride. I wanted to find a moment in time somewhere that reminded me what life was like before planes crashed into two buildings that morning and killed so many.

Remember that first night? We knew over 50,000 people worked there. We didn’t know how many were killed. I’d thought over 10,000, easy.

But I went cycling. I found some kids playing in the street. I stood there and watched them battling out over street hockey supremacy, laughing and giggling and shouting and disputing each others’ goals.

For just a moment, I was in a world that hadn’t changed beyond recognition. I was terrified of the loss of innocence we’d had as a continent just hours before. I guess, like me, these children’s parents were trying to make sense of that loss and death and hate, and they’d not yet spoken to their kids about it. I’m grateful they took a pause because that laughter helped me sleep that night and for many thereafter.

Whatever else the terrorists took that day, they didn’t take my hope that we’d one day move past it.

For one brief, beautiful time, this happened. Did you enjoy it? Or did it pass you by because you were too busy worrying about Monday?

For one brief, beautiful time, this happened. Did you enjoy it? Or did it pass you by because you were too busy worrying about Monday?

All this and so much more

The world is filled at once with unending beauty and undeniable evil. We hate, we love. We contain multitudes.

I guarantee you: On every good day you ever have, there are horrors happening elsewhere. Not just bad things, true horrors. They happen daily. This is humanity, for good or ill. It’s nature, too. Animals eat their young. They kill the weak. We are not so different. We are nature too.

Moments. That’s all life is. Snippets joined together. Vignettes.

The good times, they won’t last. Your righteous rage does you much wrong if it robs you of the ability to find joy and celebrate the small victories that punctuate our banal and fleeting lives.

I, for one, would rather have my world and my values cobbled together by those who can see great moments when they come, not those who brush aside victory because the world is not yet perfect.

All I want from the world I live in is more good than bad. I want leaders who call out injustices but jump to ring the bell of victory the loudest when the good wins pour in.

Tomorrow is Monday. We will have stories of those fired for embracing their love. We will have a new fight. But this weekend, I chose love. I chose gratitude. I chose to sleep in with the warm fuzziness of knowing there was one less injustice in the world this weekend.

And tomorrow, my rage will rise in support of those who show us that there is a new day to fight for. Either way, I won’t let the bastards grind me down.

Gay Rights: Right Now

Last week, President Barack Obama finally came around and endorsed gay marriage. It’s now a platform on the national stage, which I never would have seen happening 10 years ago.

It was 14 years ago that Matthew Shepard was found beaten to death on a lonely stretch of fence in Laramie, Wyoming. I will never forget that story, or learning of it.

On a long-view perspective of who we’ve been as a people, and for how many centuries, I’m proud of how far we’ve come in such a short time. Here we are, gay marriage as a platform in the 2012 American elections. Wow.

But as someone living in the moment, looking around, I know that every day some act against some gay someplace keeps the scales of justice tilted, and no matter how far along we are, when the laws keep saying They Are Not Really Equal, then the haters keep having reason to believe they’re in the right, that gays are different.

And they’re not. Gays who want to marry are just more people who want security, love, companionship, romance, and a ring on the finger. Gender shouldn’t matter.

It’s not about religion, because religion isn’t supposed to be a part of the constitution. What you believe, you have every right to believe, but it’s not something to govern a multicultural nation under.

There’s a reason church and state were separated in the birth of the United States. After all, America was formed by people who largely left their home to avoid persecution for practicing their faiths. The last thing they wanted was for the country to be ruled by anyone’s religions, since they knew on a personal level how individual such beliefs were.

So, if religion can’t be a part of the argument, and God gave everyone free will, and the constitution declares all people are equal, then it seems to me the answer’s pretty simple: Gay marriage is a question between consenting adults, and a matter for a tax attorney. Wake up and smell the new millennium.

For me, it’s simple. I believe opposing LGBT rights isn’t just denying the right to marry, it’s endorsing hate.

By disallowing equality, we are suggesting that LGBT persons are lesser-thans, that they don’t deserve protection, fairness, kindness, or a life lived unharassed.

And nothing could be further from the truth.

If God disapproves of gay marriage, then let him sort that out in the afterlife, that’s his job, not yours. Here on Earth, let people use the free will Christians so loudly proclaim was God’s first gift to man.

The hypocrisy sickens me.

Can we just evolve now?

The Great Divide: When Relationships Falter

I read one of my reader’s blogs this weekend and found myself thinking about it afterwards. Now, there’s two takes on this posting of his, and this is the first of them. The other I need to write, and it’ll probably be shorter. Since this posting, he’s had awesome sex with the wife and things are looking more promising. (Again, two words: Cock ring.)

He said the following:

Lately my wife has a new habit of staying up as late as I do. She falls asleep early often, but it is on the couch, refusing to go to bed until I do, which is funny since we all know nothing is going happen there. If she goes to bed, she wants me to use the computer from the bedroom. It’s like she’s making sure I have no life to myself, that everything about me must belong to her.

I am married, not owned.

The last line really hit me. No, he’s not the first to say it, but it’s a powerful statement any time it’s spoken. We are not possessions. We are not commodities. We need air, space, trust, and faith. We cannot consciously be shown on a constant basis that we are not trusted, or not only will the fabric of the relationship shred, but so will our self-esteem.

When self-esteem goes, so does any hope of a genuine relationship. It’s a vicious fucking cycle, and one that’s often created out of the insecurities of one lover not trusting the other. Often, it’s simply communication issues, which I’ll talk about next time.

That previously mentioned distrust can be valid. Very. Infidelity isn’t some urban legend that wives whisper about around the water cooler, in daunted tones like they’re talking about the relationship equivalent of Boo Radley; it’s a pressing concern for many relationships, and something both parties need to work very, very hard to avoid.

Creating an atmosphere of distrust when you have no proof, when it’s just you being insecure or having a bad time of it, is dangerous. You’re creating a bell-jar effect for your relationship. Meaning, you’re conjuring a sense of psychic disconnection from your lover by forcing them to be guarded, defensive, or even secretive.

In talking about the article in question, my loverman and I were discussing how, technically, Haaaaa’s blogging manner is an act of defiance and untrustworthiness simply because he’s airing the dirty laundry without seeming to be working on it with his wife, but that’s arguable, considering that she doesn’t seem to be talking, and just pointing fingers. I commented that I felt he was doing the lesser of all evils; he either blogged about his anger and disconnection in a way to get to the bottom of it or would find some commonality with others out in the world, or would instead find himself an outlet or Band-aid out in the world, via an inappropriate relationship with a woman, or some other negative stopgap.

Let’s say this loud and clear: You do not own title on your lover. You simply have lease on a part of their lives, whether you’re married or not. It is always, always, always in your best interest that your lover maintain some of their privacy and “me” time.

Clichés are true for a reason; the law of averages states that, more often than not, that is the truth in that given situation. Such as, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” The more you see a lover, the more chance you’re running out of time for yourself. The less time you have for yourself, the more the likelihood that your thoughts are getting drowned out in your mind.

You may want to be with your lover every day, but it’s just not entirely healthy. Time alone needs to be had, not just by you, but by them. Men, in particular, need that time alone. Manhood is a fragile thing, and when men get too embroiled in their women, they can lose touch with part of themselves. It may not be an immediately pressing issue, but it will eventually become a problem for both people in the relationship. Women need to be more possessive about their alone time, too, because it’s far too easy to find “self”-worth through a relationship – also a very detrimental thing, and something all too common with chicks.

Personally, alone time is absolutely essential to who I am. I can do without a social life, but I cannot, WILL not, do without time alone. To do so would be to destroy who and what I am. To do so would mean you’d get no fodder to read.

Marriages, I presume, eventually have phases where things get a little crowded. We’re told that, because it’s a marriage, it’s a “partnership” and everything is co-owned and shared, etc. In the end, though, it can’t be. I’ve quoted Grandma Death from Donnie Darko before, and I’ll do it again now: “In the end, every living creature dies alone.”

Between now and your death, make certain that the person who finds their way into that pine box is a reflection of the person you’ve always been. Keep your passions, keep your loves, and allow your lover the time to maintain their own. Healthy people make for healthy relationships.

Each partner must be able to indulge in passions and enjoyments on their own, or soon, they will lose some of their sense of selves, and while the relationship may continue to seem decent in an average kind of way, it’s not going to be same as it once was. Ever. Instead, the relationship becomes a tug-of-war, or worse, routine. Never, ever settle for the routine, and tug-of-wars aren’t worth the energy expended on them.

We can easily forget about the things that make us tick. Face it, life is designed to distract us from unhappiness. Not thrilled with life? The new Audi will solve that problem. Things getting too difficult? The airline has a 2-for-1 deal on flights. Insecurities getting you down? Bedhead’s got great hold in their hair products, and they smell nice, too!

When we’re unhappy in relationships, in life, we fill the gaps with things, with television, with sleep, with food. We do everything we can but face the problem itself, fearing that the cure is worse than the illness – which is often anything but true. Talk to your lover. Trust them. Give them space. Go listen to Sting’s “If You Love Somebody (Set Them Free)” and remind yourself that the song’s just echoing an eternal truth. Love comes back to you. And if it doesn’t, it was never yours to begin with. Again, clichés are true for a reason.

Why it takes so long to leave an unfulfilling relationship is that we can sometimes forget what it was like to be single, and we forget the sense of fulfillment we can take from ourselves. It’s scary, the notion of being alone versus being unhappy and together. The devil you know, etc. Relationships have a way of falsely making us feel whole – until the relationship’s flaws begin to become evident and we remember that, once upon a world, we were a different person with different needs and somewhere, somehow, who we were began to murkily assimilate with who our lovers were, with the lines dissipating in the dark of it all.

We are not possessions. We are flawed, imperfect beings who sometimes need the space to remember ourselves, for our lovers’ sakes. But, mostly, for our own.

Sigh.

It’s Monday morning, and a thought occurs to me. I need to get laid. I’m really frustrated at this topic of marriage that I’ve been on for the last couple of days. It’s been a Pandora’s Box of sorts for me. I had no idea my parent’s divorce bothered me this much. Honestly, I just had no clue that all these years later, it was an issue. I think we do this to ourselves sometimes, just shut the box, and walk away. You know, save ourselves mentally/emotionally.

I’ll be doing some thinking on this myself, but for myself. I always thought I was happy they split, but I never saw the connection between a few things that happened then, and some feelings I have about the world now. I won’t be discussing it anymore for awhile, but that’s just how it goes. Ultimately, a good thing to be aware of, no doubt. I pride myself on being hyperaware of myself emotionally, being able to get a grip and self-analyse, but whew, once in a while a shock rolls along and this is that. There’s probably some dead-mom issues rolled up in it, hence why I’ve been getting kind of militant on the topic.

I’m not too crazy about acting militant, either, so.

However, the real world beckons, in far too many ways. Right now, I’m staring down the barrel of another couple weeks of work without reprieve. I may cancel something this coming weekend if my sanity continues to deteriorate, but I live the kind of life right now where work comes in droves, or not at all, and the notion of “time management” is as ironic as it is impossible. It’s time to end this shit and get back into the 9-5 for mental stability and, hey, maybe even a social life! But obviously one doesn’t snap fingers and see a presto-chango-better life result. That said, finding work has never been that hard for me, just a matter of whether the job I want is out there. Fact is, I know I’ll have a job I like before summer rolls around — and that’s all that matters. Summertime Steff needs stability and lotsa cash in her pockets.

I’ll probably post something tomorrow about a conversation I’ll be having with a doc about getting an IUD. I’ve been on the pill for a few months now, having quit it a few years back when it was doing strange things to me, and I’ve been unhappy with it ever since. In fact, I went completely nuts when estrogen sent me into la-la-land back in October, and I’m longing to be back to my old self. Granted, it’s been a lot better since October, when I switched to low-dose Alesse, but I have to confess: my sensitive regions aren’t as sensitive as they used to be. It’s wrong to lose sensitivity on the vagina or any other place. What fun is masturbation? Anyhow, I’ll report on the conversation and maybe share some enlightenment for those considering the same move. The pill sucks, man. Jesus.