Breakup Rehab: Girls, Wine, & Secrets

Breakup Rehab: Girls, Wine, & Secrets

“We are as sick as our secrets”. –AA

It’s in every yoga studio, in every eyelash extension salon, 6:30pm at the liquor store, and tucked away in the phrase, “Let’s have a girls night.” Cities like Los Angeles, Austin, Dallas, Denver, and New York all house these beautiful women who are holding onto a secret. Some of these women have some things in common and proudly belong to the division known as “Boss-ass Babes”. A group of them are top executives and a few are artists turned savvy business women who, on the surface, seem to “have it all”.

She has an Instagram account full of pictures of tropical vacations, afternoon rose wine, curated meals that some hipster dreamed up, and fashion. There’s a lot of networking and late nights that show up on her Instagram stories. And, it’s just that, it’s a story.

The door closes on the yoga studio and the heat is turned up to 109 degrees. “Andrea” has on her lululemon hot yoga shorts and a bondage inspired sports bra. Her 5’4 frame looks elongated as she stands tall in tree pose. She convinced her friend “Vanessa” to join her for this early morning class, “To burn off last night and because the teacher–Keegan–is so hot.” “It will be great and then we can get a green detox drink after!” she promises her sluggish friend.

Vanessa doesn’t make nearly as much money as Andrea does and she has had to fall back on her parents several times since her breakup had such an impact on her online clothing business. Andrea came up from the middle, got a scholarship to an Ivy-league school, and landed a top tech firm job that flies her all across the world. These two women met through mutual friends who were into fashion and they became “besties”.

As sweat runs down Vanessa’s back, she is quietly questioning her life choices while simultaneously trying to keep her focus on when to transition from one pose to another.  Half way through the class, she gives up and walks out. “Fuck this!” Andrea feels embarrassed but finishes the class, and then after she puts herself together for work, texts “Megan”: Vanessa is such a train-wreck! I can’t believe she bailed on yoga this morning!

Megan is in the middle of a meeting and shoots back a poop emoji and a LOL face. If there were a pack leader, Megan would be it. She was engaged, running a seven-figure fitness business, lives in Los Angeles but has a condo in New York that had been in the family for generations, and she defers big decisions to her spiritual guru shaman. She is sleek with perfect hair (extensions), a designer wardrobe, and a beautiful Mercedes.

These women and those like them drive commerce in the Western World. Their hearts are in a pretty good place, and despite knowing about the Law of Attraction, their minds are in turmoil. What Andrea doesn’t know about Vanessa is that Vanessa is on antidepressants she washes down with a bottle of Malbec, most nights of the week. On the nights she’s not chasing her pills with booze, she is on a date with another “rando”. And she’s chasing her booze with cheep sex. But, this isn’t the big secret because when all the girls are together–the tigers and the ringleader–they laugh and joke about dating, sex, butt-plugs, and do their best to one-up each other’s ability to be salacious.

Megan feels like she has dirt on both Andrea and Vanessa since they both complain to her about the other one. She also feels better than them because she is engaged. For Megan, life is going “according to plan”. But, she didn’t plan on her sex-life being so dry and flat. She didn’t plan on feeling envious of Vanessa’s ability to hook up and move on.

Both Megan and Vanessa think Andrea is totally put together. But, what Andrea doesn’t share is that she spends way to much money on Amazon.com around 3am in the morning because she can’t sleep; her anxiety keeps her up.

Hints of these secrets show up when they get together and “get four bottles deep”. It’s not that they are bad. It’s not that therapy hasn’t worked. It’s that in yoga class, in the eyelash salon, in the liquor store, and after “girls night”; the ache of living with broken hearts, guilt, shame and emptiness is there.

Love is packaged and sold as a drug in these circles. We binge watch shows like The Bachelor and Say Yes to the Dress. No one is keeping up with the Kardashians; although some of us are still trying to emulate them. None of us feel really great about our bodies. We all have had a version of childhood that left holes in our psychology. A handful of us drifted into the “plant medicine” world. And using catch phrases like, “I’m enough” is just enough to get us to the next day.

But, the medicine isn’t in the stack of self-help books we buy but don’t actually read. It’s circulating through podcasts but only as information. The medicine isn’t in a “mindset” coaching formula, singular church service, or twelve-step gatherings. Broken hearts and empty spaces are healed through the conversations that happen in Breakup Rehab.

It doesn’t matter what her name is–she is lost. I’ve been her. I am her. And what I know to be true is that rehabilitation brings us back home again.

Allen Ginsberg elucidates this by saying, “And while I’m here, I’ll do the work. And what is the work? To ease the pain of living–everything else is a drunken dumbshow.”

We are fallible humans that pass down the lineage of guilt to one another like it was an explanation for existence. It’s not. Life cannot be explained nor can it be lived fully with misunderstanding. Access to unconditional love and the peace that coincides with it requires a commitment few can integrate but in retrospect. Love is nothing and everything.

And it’s there, in the quiet moments, in our prayers, at all hours of the day, in our asking and in Breakup Rehab.

 

Freedom.

3 Signs You are Walking a Path with Heart

3 Signs You are Walking a Path with Heart

I’m a liar, thief, cheat, bully, and manipulator. I admit it. And as I reveal that side of me, I’ve upset a lot of people. It takes a true warrior with heart to bring shadows to light, and transform them.

In the last week I have had two people respond to my social media posts by telling me, “You should not be giving relationship advice.” The first person argued that only people with PhD’s are qualified to make money as relationship counselors. The second person responded to my Facebook Live about the instinct to murder by saying in essence, “Those who need help themselves should not be relationship counselors.”

I agitate people because I say things “you are not supposed to say.” I realize that being a Breakup Specialist and charging people for counseling might seem exploitative. “You are taking advantage of people in a vulnerable position.” People who are in pain because of loss are vulnerable. People who struggle with low self worth are vulnerable. People who are hungry are vulnerable. And a primary focus of marketing, that I didn’t invent, is “put pressure on their pain point.” However, there is strength in our vulnerability and paying for help is a very vulnerable act. Investing in help changes people let alone the conversations we have that provide non-judgmental perspective.

I also recognize that I am still healing.

I have killed off my meaningful relationships time and time again.Sometimes, destroying things makes me feel alive. Does it make me less qualified as for my position as a “healer”? Maybe. But, more than this, it challenges my commitment to be transparent, stay congruent, and speak the truth.

 

I share all of this to say, that the first sign we are on a right path or path with heart is resistance.

 

We learn disapproval of our behavior early in life through parental conditioning. This then forms into survival strategies such as suppression, compartmentalization, and projection. As we grow up alongside care-givers, abusers, and teachers we practice different versions of these strategies until they turn into our identities.

It’s important to note that when you come to a crossroads in your life where you commit to a new way of being–more open, transparent, more focused, and go against what you have known; it registers as a risk. What I’ve found to be true is deep commitment to personal growth is met with both internal and external opposition. It’s as if the laws of nature are asking, “Are you sure you want this?”

As a caveat, in the western world we are programmed to think that people who have wealth are also people of virtue. In fact, they just have access to large-scale creative expression as well as massive destruction. An example of this is the oil and gas industry. As the saying goes:

“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required,” Luke 12:48 (King James Version.)

In my life it sounds like, “You should not be doing what you are doing.” “You are dangerous.” “You are causing harm in people’s lives.” I’ve let this stop me before. I quit trusting in my own authority. And people do get hurt when we finally stop being who they have known us to be or something that doesn’t fit into the “safe” version of what we should be.

The true test isn’t in overcoming resistance, but in being persistent. Resistance only represent the end of one thing–a minor death. The true sacrifice comes when we are deliberate in our motion forward. The “can’t”, “won’t”, “shouldn’t” messages that arise both internally and externally must be met with focus and determination. It is not determination of the mind, but of the heart.

Life-force-energy congregates in this middle place. It takes energy to have your shadows exposed. Often we fail to change in the middle place and run back to what was familiar. But, if we lean into the heart, we will find the bravery to be with the transformation, and the courage to persist.

Then, there is a moment, where critical mass is reached and there is no going back. The message of the heart has found its way into the world. It may be presented as a whisper at first, but over time, with practice it becomes more consistent.

New authority is established. The journey of rebirth from a child crippled by an outgrown system gets purified through overcoming resistance, gaining life force energy by being persistent, and the heart’s full expression anchors in through consistency.

The phrase that sums this up the most is, “We are all walking each other home.” And, in my experience, it’s the ones who provide resistance that are really showing us the way to walk our path with heart. Bless the test and walk on!

 

Clarifying Mental Health

Clarifying Mental Health

Comprehending Mental Health

Is mental health a luxury?

 

What is mental health?

 

Life-coaching isn’t mental health.

Mental health is both an noun and a verb. It is also how we describe someone’s internal operating system (E-IOS). Ironically, much of mental health has to do with emotions, which are housed in the body. The field of psychology–the cross section of philosophy & biology–is where we learn how to study and treat mental health issues.

An advanced degree in the field of psychology equips an practitioner to better support individuals who have experienced rape, drug addiction, trauma, and those who suffer from mood or personality disorders. I am not a clinical mental health practitioner. 

I hold a Masters in Counseling but I am not a clinical counselor not a marriage and family therapist. I am registered as a minister of the Universal Life Church . The purpose of services rendered may prove to be therapeutic but are not intended as therapy; rather as coaching, mentorship or facilitation of personal goals.

A vision-board session with a life-coach doesn’t treat mental illness. Having a better grip on how to schedule your day can be useful to a lot of people but does not help to manage OCD behavior. I can’t say this enough–LIFE COACHING IS NOT THERAPY!

Therapists are held to a code of ethics. The most prominent being that therapists have duty to keep what is shared as confidential unless the client plans on harming themselves or someone else, which then means psychotherapists have a duty to report. We cannot have dual relationships. For instance I couldn’t have my landlord as a client. There’s a long list of ethical guidelines psychotherapists must adhere to including getting supervision. Client privileges rely on the bedrock of ethical practices.

My Bias Towards Untrained Life-Coaches

The billion dollar wellness industry has a virus inside of it. There is a fine line between providing support and reinforcing disease. “Well that’s just your story.” “Do you work.” “Go inside.” Bla bla bla. Defining your goals is a mental act and the primary focus of life coaching. But, when aspects of the field of psychology are co-opted and diluted it opens the door to exacerbate anxiety & depression through subtle layers of comparison.

Humans seek completion. We like homeostasis and when we are not in that state it is due to stress. I can’t speak for everyone but when I see “have a six-figure” coaching program—it makes me feel like shit. Specifics aside, a lot of us are nervous wrecks because of the cycle of coaching programs and self-help garble that has flooded the “wellness” space. The seeking of healing can injure seeker.

Without being too philosophical about it, it comes down to everyone staying in their lane so for the sake of validity. What needs to be treated is actually being treated.

Comparison is the thief of all joy.

 

Clinical issues: Addiction, Abuse, Anxiety & Depression

Public figure Simon Sinek talks about millennial’s addiction to their phones and has predicted a rise in suicides & depression which we are now seeing. The suicide rate is skyrocketing with a strong correlation to social media as the catalyst.

 

The issue I have with untrained life coaches is that a sparkly media campaign that talks about Law of Attraction often attracts people who are in crisis. Life coaches are not trained to help people in crisis. The code of ethics specifies that psychotherapists do not practice outside of their scope or field of expertise. Yet, life-coaches, psychics, and healers often violate this ethical code and don’t refer out to a better suited practitioner.
Granted one of the skills the we learn as psychotherapists is the power of actively listening to or clients without an agenda. Is a life-coach able to do that? Yes. But what if that client talks about raping someone, or having been raped, or the intent to harm themselves? Is a “discovery call” where coaches are trained to “focus on the pain point” going to point the client in the right direction? It’s possible. But what often happens is that the life-coach has only a few tools to address a huge systemic issue and are in over their head.

It’s not that every person with a psychology degree is equipped to work with mental health clients. We can only take our clients as far as we have been ourselves. This means that the practitioner must be invested in their own help and healing. We must continue to educate ourselves so that we can know what clients we can and cannot work with.

Mental health is dynamic and cannot be managed by the tools that life-coaches use. This being said, many mental health practitioners choose to refrain from taking a licencing exam and therefore practice counseling under the umbrella of life-coaching.

What does all of this have to do with Mental Health?

The DSM is the primary resource that catalogs mental health disorders and courses of treatment. To paraphrase, a disorder is a set of behaviors that are maladaptive. There are two types of mental health disorders—personality and mood.

Anxiety and depression are the most common mood disorders. Narcissism has gotten a lot of airtime and is the most popularized personality disorder.

Disorders like schizophrenia, where people hear voices, can sometimes result in individuals killing or harming someone else because a “voice” told them to. Individuals who get an advanced degree in psychology such as a PsyD are equipped to treat people with mood and personality disorders. Life-coaches aren’t.

As a person trained as a clinician but who also incorporates psychic information into my sessions, my consent to treat form clearly states:

I understand that the purpose of services rendered may prove to be therapeutic but are not intended as therapy; rather as coaching, mentorship or facilitation of personal goals. I understand that Rebekah holds a Masters from Naropa University but is not a Licenced Psychotherapist but rather a Breakup Specialist who focuses on relationship & addiction issues.

*I am registered as an addiction counselor in the state of California.

What I offer can be labeled counseling or consulting. However, I am not a licenced psychotherapist and operate under the title of Breakup Specialist. Many people with masters have chosen to practice like this for various reasons. People seek spiritual counsel from me and I can consult on addiction issues. 

As a client seeking help it is best to distinguish between if he or she needs emotional guidance or if they only need facilitation to achieve a specific goal. If anxiety, depression, addiction or abuse are a factor then working with a person with a Masters or PhD or PsyD in Counseling is the best choice. For a simple pep-talk, life-coaches are better suited.

A Note on the Origins of Life Coaching:

Thomas Leonard, an American financial planner, is generally acknowledged as the first person to develop coaching as a profession in the 1980s and the history of life coaching today really starts with him.

Leonard observed that his clients, though emotionally stable and hardly needing therapy, wanted more from him than just the usual tips on how to invest and safeguard their incomes.

They wanted help in their lives better and planning and achieving their goals.

( Retreaved September 22, 2018: https://www.lifecoachingprofessionally.com/history-of-life-coaching.html)

The Bottom Line of Mental Health

If people cannot afford my services I still offer a free session to make sure a person in need is resourced. I often charge students and past clients a fraction of my listed prices because it is important to me they are properly supported. It is ethically and morally important to me that I direct individuals towards the people that will best support them. What I have to offer isn’t always the best fit. 

I also wrote the book Breakup Rehab (available on Amazon.com)  to make the tools I share in my spiritually focused private practice accessible to everyone who reads (English). It is not on audio because reading this information is an important part of the therapeutic process.

The point is that therapy is good for what therapy is good for and life-coaching is good for what life-coaching is good for. Ethical practices keep clients safe. It is best to refer people to Psychology Today to find a therapist that takes insurance or best fits their needs.  At the end of the day our well-being hinges on who we learn from and making sure we have the correct mentors for our life circumstances.

Thank you & Be Set Free!

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What is Healing?

What is Healing?

Don’t be sold a river of lies. Healing is truth. 

Healing has taken on a new identity in early 21st century. We have known doctors as healers. We have known tribal medicine men as healers. We have even known nature as the great healer. But, now their are individuals who are none of these things calling themselves “healers”. In fact, there was a time that I described myself in this way because it seemed to articulate a skill set I had accumulated.

But, after years of being a counselor, I’ve learned something very important about what healing is, where it comes from, and what identifying as a healer does.

What is Healing?

The best way to understand what healing is is to understand what it is not. Much of what we learn comes through contrast. Further there are various aspects of healing just like there are different genres of music. The one thing healing has in common, no matter the genera, is that it is something that is facilitated. But, we often mistake those who facilitate healing as the source of healing. This leads us to the first thing healing is not.

  1. Healing is not unique to one person or place. Rather the belief, singular or collective, in that person or place connects a person to Source. Restoration of life-energy heals.
  2. Healing is not a method. The body can be supported in healing itself. I can be influenced. But the orchestration of healing resides at the edge of scientific understanding as much of healing remains a mystery.
  3. Healing is not a reference to being broken. Healers are people who remind us we are whole. Yet, much of what gets sold in the “healing game” perpetuates the story of being broken and incomplete coupled with the promise of perfection.
  4. Healing is not a place we arrive. Healing is dynamic in that multiple systems are working in concert that results in a vessel that can house and display maximum potential. In simple terms, chi flows through the body with ease.

In regards to the types of healers that exist in this world there are nutritionists, life-coaches, business strategists, counselors, medical doctors, spiritual mentors, medicine-men, herbalists, witches, and dulas to name a few. The continuity between the various healers is they all bring perspective to a part of our humanity that requires renewal of life-force energy.

Where does Healing Come From?

Among many titles, life-force energy has been called chi, prana, psychic energy, spirit, and love. What both Western and Eastern medicine has taught us is that LFE (Life Force Energy) can be diminished through stress or stagnate and manifest as disease. Many of us live with degrees of death our bodies. Some of us quicken our death process through the use of drugs or by reinforcing the imbalance of addiction through our maladaptive behaviors.

In my line of work as a Breakup Specialist, I see the hope of being brought back to life through relationship result in relationship death. The common advice given to a person going through a breakup up is to “Love yourself.” But, in a culture that directs us towards narcissism as a survival strategy, there can be a defining quality that turns loving oneself into denial.

This is best demonstrated in the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason.” A veneer of positivity can be placed over that which is rotting and decaying. It’s true that ashes are created from burning wood. Energy requires consumption. But, consumption without renewal results in isolation and even annihilation.

Ironically, life-force energy is renewed when we sleep, when we are still, when we observe our thoughts and feelings and come into connection with presence. We often view life-force energy as a body in motion or as taking action that results in creation. Creation comes from innovation and innovation comes from having the space to assimilate our internal and external ecosystems.

They say extroverts are renewed through being social and introverts are renewed through being alone. Life-force energy dies off in the extreme. A pulse consists of contraction and expansion. One without the other results in death. This is true of the creative process, of getting into and out of relationships, and of navigating the survival realities of existing as a human.

What is a healer?

Those of us who help optimize survival are called healers. Each healer will define himself/herself differently. Some healers treat surface issues and can manipulate the aesthetic of a circumstance. Other healers attempt to get to the root of the issue. Either way, many of us mistake healers as authorities who have dominion over our bodies, emotions, and minds. Healers can be thought of as perfect, flawless, or blameless. But, this is not the case.

Speaking only for myself, I can say, I am far from perfect or the like. I’m constantly playing with boundaries, amending values, and shifting my priorities because, like my clients, I am learning how to survive as a human.

One of the areas I see healers centering their work on is that of “Purpose.” It seems that when a mind organizes around a purpose there is a greater feeling of satisfaction. But, this can work like placebo as well in that believing having a purpose will equate in being happier.

Many healers capitalize on this notion. We focus LFE to transmute  thought into form. A healer can be a teacher in that they impart a skills set to someone, which in retrospect is labeled “purpose.” We do what we believe we are capable of or even “have” to do to survive.

In actuality, a human who is fully alive and truly resorced is limitless.

It’s been said the most potent force on the planet is a human in action. We can conceptualize limitlessness as someone who is a billionaire. They are highly resourced.

But, even billionaires require healing because there is an irony in being limitless. Healthy humans do better by being able to depend on a consistent source of support. Attachment theory calls this the “Dependency Paradox.” The more we can rely on another person the more innovative and independent we will be in our lives. The more we can trust in life.

So, a healer, is someone that provides consistent and reliable support in a way that facilitates interactions which augment the flow of LFE. We bring people back to life.

Who Needs Healing?

There is a paradox the is central to the person seeking healing–it’s already inside of them. No story better represents our journey of healing than that of the Wizard of Oz. We need to walk our yellow brick road. Since we are all doing this, there is nothing special about it. But, instinctually we all want to fit in and stand out at the same time to different degrees. The times we want to stand out but are ignored creates a riff that can make us feel like the cowardly lion. The times we want to fit in but are rejected can shut us down so we feel like the tin-man. And when we neither fit in or stand out we can feel like the mindless scarecrow.

Yet, somehow, those parts of us band together undergo a life-journey filled with various characters. The responsibility of those seeking healing is to allow it. It’s not just important to be loved but to also let love in. Healers remind us how to do this. Those being healed remember. Simply, there are those who remind and those who remember.

Those needing healing can be struggling with addiction, disease, mental disorders, or spiritual possessions. The inability to create, maintain, and have healthy relationships is at the heart of everyone’s need for healing. I’m no exception. Hurt people hurt people. But, hurt people stop hurting others and start healing when they are connected to truth.

How do we Heal?

People can main-line Self-Help like crack cocaine. Self-help is largely fractured but just as there are many roads to Mecca, so to area there many avenues to truth. Truth is offensive to many of us. It’s not very sexy in that it’s unadulterated . Truth does have a freeing quality to it because it restores life.

We heal when we realize we are not alone. It only takes one positive person in our lives to make us feel healthy and effective. We heal when we feel like we have something to contribute. And the truth is we all do. A hug is a contribution. A breath. A smile. An idea. A life lived as art changes us all. The most impactful art is raw and true. It is channeled in someway through the body that turned thought into form.

Healing comes from getting out of our own way; our justifications, explanations and expectations. We revisit truth time and time again through our interactions. We find what truth is not and then discover what it is. We visit strategies for survival that bring us closer to truth. We dance between the boundaries of being limitless and creating boundaries in order to be the most expressed version of ourselves.

Truth gives life.

We all have a trauma story as part of our human experience. It’s odd that we think we will go unscathed in life and just how shocked we all are when injury–emotional or otherwise–occurs. Healers have been directed to treat the “wound”. I invite us all to ask, “What is the wound?” “Why must we treat it?”

The man who rapes, maims, kills, or is the source of destruction still breathes the same air that the most pious man breathes. Both men have can be caged by their minds. So, what makes one man act like an animal and another behave as a saint? Is it the wound? Or is it that one man has been renewed through the transformation of his mind?

We all have been assigned an animal that exists below our necks–our body. That body is animated with LFE and directed through impulse. Impulse can come from either instinct or inspiration. The delineating factor between the two is the individuals associated with the wound.

A healer draws truth out of the shadows, which, then gives the person receiving the healing the chance to evolve instinct into inspiration.

Each of us will require healing at the dawn of transitions in our lives such as divorce, breakup, disease, career change, becoming parents, as well as being forgiven for our sins. Bow to the guru within. Allow the healing in. Be human.

 

For assistance on your journey book your free introduction session now:

 

 

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Why being Single Feels like S**t

Why being Single Feels like S**t

 

Being married doesn’t make you more legit than being single anywhere else in the world besides government.

The ceremony of a white dress,exchanging vows, and family gathered around will endure as a capstone in the evolution of our lives. However, some of us who have not yet had the experience of getting and being married feel like we are failing at life.

I’m going to out myself on this one and say that having made it to 38 years old without children, student loan debt, or a husband feels like both an accomplishment and like a failure. I’m like a virgin in the dating market, but I’ve been touched many, many times. Yet, no one has ever stuck around long enough to take the long walk down the aisle.

And I know I’m not alone. In fact, I’m guessing that there are a few other relationship therapists out there giving advice to couples about how to have a healthy relationship who have also never been married. We teach what we need to learn; each with our unique perspective.

So, to the point of married people getting tax breaks and access in hospitals, legislation is slow moving and oftentimes antiquated. Thanks to “The Gays” some structures have changed when it comes to permissions partners are given. But, I’m not a lawmaker and I don’t know much about that world. But, what I do know is the often devastating impact mental isolation can have on individuals who buy into the notion that they are less-than because they are single.

Don’t get me wrong, being single is isolating. The lone-wolves of this world have found a way to diminish feelings of discomfort by being hyper-independent. And as a recovering lone-wolf I will say, the hurt is still there.

Sleeping alone is great when it’s a rare occasion. But, when a whole decade goes by of sporadically sharing a bed with quasi-boyfriends and poor excuses for a lay, you just want to lay down and die. Eating out because it’s easier than cooking for yourself can be parlayed into the whimsical hobbie of being a “Foodie”. But, when you can’t work of the extra pounds or pay off the credit card bill from always going out as not just a source of sustenance but to curb loneliness, it can feel like living in an abyss. Interacting with artificial intelligence on dating sights to try to match you with someone with actual intelligence can make masturbation seem like the only smart thing to do.

There a lot of things we can do to distract ourselves from the terror “Dying alone.” Some people even beat death to the punch and become nihilists, goths, or republicans. Even democrats band together to try and make meaning of this life. But, government and political parties aside, what is it about being single that feel like shit?

Let’s just take a moment and have a collective sigh around the fact that even though there are good things about being single, it still feels like shit. I don’t want to be single. I want to have a partner that helps me grow our dreams. I want to give up the hunt for sex and just have sex with the person I like a lot. I want to go do things with someone who I trust and who makes me laugh. And while all directions point to self-love and being the person you want to be with, I have spent years cultivating better versions with me only to end up with me. It feels like shit.

You know why? Because every day we wake up to a rejecting world that delivers the message, you are special but not that special. Just think about the name of the industry that has supplanted organized religion as the bastion of salvation–self-help. It is organized around entropy. We are trained to reject ourselves and save ourselves at the same time.

We need relationships and we need to know, in a world of 8-billion people, how to have a successful and sustainable life-long relationship with a partner. In my years on this earth, I have learned a simple truth: When you ask for an outcome you get a process first. For the majority of inhabitants on this earth participating in a peaceful and healthy relationship is possible. But, it won’t happen for everyone in the same decade, at the same stage of life, contingent on the same socioeconomic status or geographic placement.

Some people will find the love of their life at 50 after three divorces and recovering from a drug addiction. Other people will get married out of high-school and die together never knowing what sex with another human felt like. A lot of us will have two or three significant relationships but spend most of our life being single. Those of us with pets may find that relationship more gratifying than with humans. Then there are the deviants whose function on this earth is to murder, rape, and terrorize. There are all different dimensions of relationship ranging from the emotionally sound to the pathologically mentally ill.

The mechanics of relationship most often displayed on in our culture are a mix of mental disorders and sensationalized drama. “Cut a bitch” is an actual phrase people use to express themselves when they feel their needs are going unmet.

There will be a level of life we settle in at and occupy for the majority of our lives. We can continue to change and grow if doing so is a priority. The only advice I can give to anyone is to take care of what is in front of you. If you reach a point in your life where you feel unsatisfied or even just disgusted by how things have been, then invest your time into making thing how you wish them to be. But, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. It won’t get you anywhere but upset, angry, and depressed.

Being single and being married both have their moments of bliss. But, if you compare one to the other both can feel like shit. So, as the saying goes, “Comparison is the thief of all joy.” Assess where you are, examine the choices that got you there, and if you want something different then find the person or system that can help create that for you by education on how. Learning soothes the ache of comparison and that’s legit!

Choose a Partner not a Project

Choose a Partner not a Project

Codependent.

Emotionally Unavailable.

Toxic.

These and other labels are often used as descriptors for relationships we engage in where one person is more attached than the other, one person is fixated on fixing the other, and one person feels a deep sense of remorse when the relationship ends while the other person remains unmoved. In fact, these type of relationships seem like they are a dime a dozen–easy to come by but difficult to let go of.

Why is this the case?

It’s because many of us equate intensity with love. In our stupor we choose people who are projects and not partners. What is the difference between the two? The process.

So, what is a partner?

No matter how spectacular they were or how horrible they seem, our parents are not our partners. They were our initial care givers. And here is where all of us mess up. We think that a partner is someone who will take care of us. Nope. A partner is someone who can fully support themselves, be emotionally articulate, and in addition to running their life can also include you in it as well.

A partner is someone you can depend upon who communicates clearly. They work with you in a way that improves both of your lives. In fact, partnership is an active state that both parties in the relationship contribute to. Each person has a vested interest in the other person’s well being. This often means non-interference in one another’s lives as a deep trust has been fostered between the two. Each person is an invitation to the other into expanded awareness.

While it’s true that a partner can demonstrate caring by performing remedial tasks such as laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, and generating a steady income, that is not where his or her worth lies. When basic needs are attended to it does promote stability. But, the real treasure of having a partner is in the growth it inspires.

When we get married or join our lives with someone who is a partner, we often trade how we were raised for who we want to be in this lifetime. We are able to be reborn inside the relationship time and time again because we can trust that growth promotes the well-being of the couple. This brings us to the second huge mistake we all make when trying to “find” our partner.

We think, “I can’t be needy.”

The denial of our needs is the very thing that turns companionship into a competition. Denial of needs fosters anxiety that shows up as urgency.

When you find a partner it will feel peaceful. The urgency of “figuring it out” or “locking it down” will be replaced with a time of discovery. However, in the mad dash for resources and to come out ahead, we often approach relationships like a race. The less “needy” we pretend to be is supposed to promote efficiency. But it does the opposite. It actually complicates things.

When urgency is applied to partnership it becomes a project. In fact, most people default to their childhood upbringing as a measure of their potential mate. Project relationships begin with empty promises. A lot of them begin in the online dating market & we package ourselves as something we are not.

We price ourselves like items at a grocery store. Isle one–whores. Isle two–playboys. Isle three–intellectuals. Isle four–romantics. Isle five–pragmatists. Isle six–spiritually evolved. It’s a marketplace predicated on lies.

The primary lie is that “If I get a partner, it will make my life better.” And by “better” we mean more certain. In fact, studies have shown that only 15% of of the population is truly invested in personal growth. So, that means, for the other 85% relationships are where they go to die and fight about it on the way to their grave.

Women are often faulted with wanting to change their men. However, it could be said that men wanting women to be simple is also a gross amendment. People who get into project relationships come with a list of fixed needs and a fanciful idea of what a relationship is supposed to supply. It has plenty of sex to satisfy at least one person in the party. It has enough joy and happiness to last a lifetime. It takes little effort and should “just feel easy.” And above all else, each person will “just know they found the one.”

These and other rhetorical fallacies lead to a battle for power. The toilet seat being left up isn’t about the toilet seat–it is about “disrespect”. Dinner not being cooked is not about dinner–it is about not being seen. Lack of sex isn’t about lack of sex–it’s that pleasure has become a burden. Coming home from work on time isn’t about coming home from on work on time–it is about trusting in the fidelity of the relationship. Getting tested for STI’s isn’t just about the health of the body—it is about loyalty. But, in a relationship that is a project, people don’t talk about the underlying issues.

Women become bitches and men become distant. Or men become possessive assholes and women become manipulative seducers. Each person just picks away at surface issues. “Why are you wearing that?” “You are getting fat.” “How much money do you make?” Since what is being felt isn’t being spoken both people in the relationship are totally unsatisfied. Some people deal with this by jumping from one short term fling to the next. Others grit it out over twenty years until “the kids are grown” and then get divorced. Both parties become jaded with no escape from their insatiable lust. It’s hell on earth.

So how do you pick a partner and not a project?

In a word–Aliveness.

Anyone or anything that sucks your energy is a fucking waste of time. I can’t be any more clear than this. If you are spending more than five minutes wondering “Why didn’t he text?” If you are on the phone with your girlfriends saying things like, “If he would just do this one thing, then things would be great.” If your mind is on overdrive on “how to fix this” then you are not with a partner. The marker of partnership is clear and open communication from day-fucking-one!

You say what you mean and mean what you say. You are responsive to one another. You check in and fill each other in on your day. You give each other space to be individuals. You grow together through your diversity. And you actively let go of the past.

A project relationship is like dating the walking dead. We all have fetishes and dating emotional zombies might be one of yours. But, if you want to knock that shit off and actually inhabit your life, you must be invested in your personal growth. You must be willing to give all you are to your relationships: your calling, your career, your passions, your sex life, your love life, your spiritual practice, and to your partnership. This requires expanding beyond the edges of “how life should be.”

So, if you feel more alive, expansive, supported, and awake in a relationship chances are it is a partnership. But, if you feel drained, confused, angry, or frustrated chances are you picked a project. The choice is yours.