Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Why I want to marry an Alcoholic

In Skool today we had to write a discussion post on "What are YOUR non-negotiables? What are you not willing to budge on when looking for a mate?" And I wrote a post but it was too long and so I thought, hells, let's blog and put it out there. Expand the thing. So, here you go:

I’m pretty flexible. There are quite a few things I’d be willing to compromise on and aren’t deal-breakers. Like race, income level, profession, religion, what the heck you look like, even man vs woman. There are things I’d like in a person, being Spanish speaking would be a bonus, or a writer. I think being with me would require an open mind and a really good sense of humor and a lot of patience. Probably mostly patience, I'm really not good at this, yet, and have no experience. I actually made a list about 6 months ago, which is dangerous, because if you do that, it’s likely your person will show up. It was a long list.

But there is one thing I’m pretty sure is non-negotiable.

I want an alcoholic.

I know. Not something many people consider an asset when looking for a mate. More specifically, I want an alcoholic in recovery. Because that’s what I am and it’s such a huge part of who I am, and it’s not a part that’s going to go away. 

I don’t want to come off sounding like the poster child for AA, but the program works for me. It’s shaped who I am, how I react to the world, and how I try to get along in the world. Mind you there's AA and there's AA and there are meetings and oh dear god there are meetings and not in a good way. If anyone reading this hasn't had a good experience with AA, I'm sorry for that, all I can suggest is try another meeting, find your people. I can promise you: They're there. Also, if you have another way, more power to you, go for it, and fly free. Recovery is unique to every person. This is about me.

We had a part of our lecture where our  Professor talked Projection Dances. Let me give you the short version: Three ways people fuck up relationships. Pursuer/Distancer, Over-functioning/Under-functioning, Submissive/Dominant (don't EVEN go there, or do if you must but keep it to a giggle) I think most people at various times can mess up their relationships, but if I might brag a little: We alcoholics are AWESOME at it.

But she also talked about Transforming Dances. Meaning you can change how you go about things with others. Self focus rather than other focus, naming the pattern, survey the emotional field, what is the fear. I thought listening that, hey, this is right out of AA. It’s what we do every day. Clean up our side of the street and don’t worry about if the other person is right or wrong (Step 9) and going thru naming all the resentments and look for patterns (Step 4) identify ways you control fear by controlling people around you (Step 5) Naming your fears, practicing the opposite (Step 6 and 7 right there) Then the section wound up suggesting with the Serenity Prayer, which AA’s say ALL THE FREAKING TIME. 

There’s a lot more to it, but you get the idea. Being with someone who understands that spirituality (not religion) is the basis of who we are is the most important thing. Someone in the program, in recovery, would get that. My primary purpose is indeed spiritual growth, and I can’t have all the other things I love and value in life if I don’t have that first. I want that in another person.

I think too that having another person in recovery around would be handy as well, for those times I get seriously wrong and off the rails. They wouldn't have to ask, "What the heck is wrong with her?" It's likely they'd know. It's also likely they wouldn't take it personally, but gently (or not so gently) suggest I call my Sponsor or get myself to a meeting.

It’s hard much of the time, and it sucks much of the time, this being alcoholic. And I can tell you for a fact that a person who has had to quit drinking has been through a battle. A person in recovery knows about that battle. And is willing to look at themselves, be honest about themselves, and to be honest with another person. Or at least they are willing (key word there) to wake up every morning and try.

That’s why I want an alcoholic. The kind in recovery.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Love and Marriage: A Historical Fairy Tale

Listen closely, dears and I will tell you some things about long ago, that you may not have known. First off, in the olden days, and by olden I mean really olden, men and women did not marry for love. Nope. It wasn’t all Cave man drags women away, but we’ve all heard how the men would hunt, and the poor women would stay home and do pretty much nothing because of the kids.

Nice theory, but not exactly true. First off there was a lot of foraging to be done, and the women did most of that. In fact, women with kids did every bit as much as the women without. Men did too. It was way more important to figure out how to get veggies and grains and eggs than it was to hunt the wooly mammoth. We may have been mislead, those of us who read Clan of the Cave Bear. When they did go our hunting meat, everyone helped.

I am possibly late to the party here but Stephanie Coontz is a fantastic writer. She also appeared on the Colbert Report, which makes her a rock star in my book. (Of course I’ll link, she was awesome.) I like the way she writes. She’s entertaining, and has a lot of good points. Her book, “Marriage, A History” was selected as one of the best books of 2005, by the Washington Post, and contrary to most books one is forced to read in college, a wonderful read.

I’ve only read the first two chapters so far, as we’re getting it online in bits and pieces, but I’ve ordered the thing. She may be my new favorite author.

Did you know that for most of history it was inconceivable that men and women would choose their own mates? Or that marriage would be based on something so silly, fragile and fleeting and irrational as love? Of course you did, you’re a well read bunch.

We learn as well that in 12th century France Andreas Capellanus wrote that “Marriage is no real excuse for not loving” only he wasn’t talking about inside of marriage, he meant adultery. Coontz also tells us that as late as the 18th century a French essayist wrote that any man who was in love with his wife was a man so dull no one else could love him.

She talks about Pepys too, earning more of my esteem. I’ve read bits and pieces of Pepys (the man who wrote down everything) , Pepys married for love, only sadly, it ended badly and he wrote, after a night out at a musical concert that it “did stir my soul so it made him sick, just as I have been formally in love with my wife” Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, I think it means he came to his senses thinking how on earth could I have been so stupid to marry for something like love!?! He later disinherited his nephew for doing the same. Good ‘ol Pepys.

Historically, love was often seen as something that might come after marriage, but certainly not a good reason to marry. There were more important things going on like land, money, dowry, and parents (read: men) were thought to have a better idea of who youths should marry.

We in these modern times think that marriage should be based on love, soul mates, commitment, passion and so on and so forth. But this, my friends, is kind of a radical new idea. At least historically speaking.

Tell me some stories, what of love, what of marriage, I know you know history, and so, speak to me of strange and wonderful things, tales of adventure, and answer the question:

Does love have any place in marriage? Are we better off now that in those olden days?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Found Myself in an Attachment Style

Here's the thing about this class that I didn't expect: I didn't expect to like it. I mean, I didn't think I would hate it, but I didn't expect that it would be as fun as it's turning out to be. Or as useful. In this weeks lesson I listened to the lectures, and read the applicable bits in the textbook but I approached the material with a rather Ho-hum, more psycho-stuff, one must needs learn it for Skool but it's hardly, you know, something one might use in real life.

Surprise. I enjoyed both Sternberg and Lee's love theories, but what got me was the third part of the lecture, and THIS we want to talk about here. I'll keep it simple, it is simple. And, as I mentioned, useful.

If you've had any Psych, you've seen THE STRANGE BABY. Ok, that's maybe not exactly what it's called. At any rate it's a video that talks about the different attachment styles kids have, and what all goes with them: Secure, Insecure/Ambivalent and Insecure/Avoidant. I've seen it in three classes now and have yet to get excited. But here's this:

Adults have attachment styles too. Yup, sure do. There's a lot to be said about how they're related to one's child attachment style, but for today's class, I think we'll just lay there out there and you can see where you fall. Or stand. I saw myself. Totally, and completely, and it went a long way towards explaining a lot of things, about me, and intimacy, or the lack thereof.

Adult attachment styles represent sets of expectations and beliefs about relationships, to quote our lecture. They tend to be stable, but here's this: They Can Change.

1. Secure. This is the good one. These people find it easy to become emotionally close, they're comfortable around other people, and being dependent on them. Or vis versa. They don't worry about being alone. They don't worry about others acceptance. In fact, they don't worry about much of anything, and waft around in a state of bliss (maybe I made that last bit up) They have a positive view of self, a high self esteem and a positive view of others. They have a good sense of self, and of how they are in their relationships. Nice, eh?

2. Insecure anxious/preoccupied. Competitive, emotionally intense, think this person is literally waiting by the phone for you to call, they will find someone, they are not at all happy being alone without a close relationship. They seek high levels of intimacy, and need approval and validation from their partners. The want attention and lots of it.  Lots of public displays of affection, and are seriously afraid the other person is going to leave them.. They get overly dependent of others for happiness, and tend towards clingy. They want really badly to get intimate, but find sometimes that others aren't so quick to be intimate with them. Negative view of self, these ones. But a positive view of others. They might have a constant litany going on that tells them: I am not worthy of love, or of anyone's love, I'm not good enough so I'd better find someone and keep them.

3. Insecure dismissive/avoidant. These darlings are quite comfortable without a close attachment. They'll often deny even the need for intamacy. Being independent is first and foremost important to these people, they don't depend on anyone but themselves. They need to be self-sufficient. In everything. Loners, truly, but they claim to be happy that way. Less intimacy is fine with them, they don't want people to be dependent on them, for anything. Takes them a while to say I love you, if they ever do. They'll push you away before you push them, head's off any chance of rejection by distancing. They don't trust other are going to treat them right, so they don't have too great an opinion of them. They do have a nice opinion of themselves though. They'd like to date but aren't going to let themselves be vulnerable.

4. Insecure Fearful/Avoidant. These souls have a pretty mixed bag of feelings. They tend to think pretty low of themselves, and low of others. They desire to be intimate, but are really afraid of being hurt. They suppress their feelings. They have a lot of the same qualities as the anxious/preoccupied folks, but without the belief that either they or anyone else is much good. They're scared.

There you have it. Now, the good news is, if you're seeing yourself in one of these is that they can change. You have to work at it though. I'm going to paraphrase the lecture here because my teacher put it very beautifully:

Change the pattern:

Accept that change is a process.
Share your authentic self and the journey you're on.
Purposefully do something different.
Talk about where you've been.
And where you are going.

Act. On. Purpose.

Own where you've been.
Ditch "My parents screwed me up, or this is just where I am"
Confront that.
Look at yourself and see what you do.
And ask: What can I do about it?
And take a different action.

I see myself in #3. It has a name for my Style of intimacy (who knew I had one??) Insecure dismissive/avoidant. I see myself a lot. And clearly. Like, hello, this isn't book-learning, these are real things and facts. That was ME! (she say with a great deal of surprise! Who knew!?) And seeing now, and clearly, I can take some steps, and not sure I've said this before, but I'd like to. I want to move towards a secure attachment.

Has anyone else done this? Worked through it and gotten to secure? What helped? Do you see yourself here? Talk to me?


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Lee's Love Shack

Hello All! Today, in the Baffling World of Intimacy I'd like to talk about Lee's Love Shack. It's actually called Lee's Love Style, not Shack, but the whole thing has such a 1970's feel about it, I'm rolling with it. In fact, it was in 1973 when Canadian psychologist John Alan Lee wrote his famous book "Colors of Love: An Exploration of the Ways of Loving" It's out of print now, but we still learn about Lee, and his Love Style's in Skool. His book originally looked like this:

Which either excites you and has you saying, Hell's Yes, Lee, I'm in, or sends you running. Stick with me, it's actually kind of cool, despite the cover. Lee had the idea that there were three primary Love Style's and three Secondary. Which could them be combined into, hold you hats, NINE tertiary love styles, or combo styles as I like to call them. You can pull up a chart of Lee's Love Style's and read about them, and what they mean HERE. It will open in a new window, so you can refer to it.

There's even a test you can do, to find out your Love Style. There's quite a few online, but here's the one I took in class, HERE. It's 50 True/False questions. At the end you tally up your number, it goes to page two the tally box, so don't miss it, and you find out where you fall on the Wheel of Love. If you want to take the test before you read my own results, go ahead and do so. It's cooler than you think, and you might learn more than you think. We've been facetious about Lee and his Love Wheel here, but Lee had some ideas going on.

Lee looked at the individual, and not the relationship. He looked at over 4000 people and gave them each a 30 item questionnaire about love. He found these six styles and one is not better than the other, they're just different. It makes a person think, these six styles. The styles also present themselves differently in men and women. Research looks at the fact the women tend to be higher in Storge (pronounced STORE-GAY) and Pragma, and men higher in Ludic. Women being higher in friendship and practicality, and men in game playing. I know, we're back at the olden days hunter gatherer here, but how does this play out in todays world, maybe looking at it from a women and gender studies perspective? Research has also been conducted on the social desirability of these love styles.

Both men AND women found Mania the least desirable. The differences were men found Eros and Ludus to be the most desirable, and those associated with Agape as negative. Women, on the other hand, found Agape to be very attractive and Ludus and Eros to be the least attractive. Which makes sense if you think about stereotypes of Ludus men being being strong,  or "Players" while Ludus women are seen as "Sluts". Think about the idea that women who Agape are seen as being selfless and giving, while Agape men are seen as weak and submissive. How much do the traditional men's and women's roles play out in love styles? Like, men with a Ludus style tend to be happier in their work, while women, less so.

What does all of this mean to me? Well, here's my scores. Refer to your handy chart to read about each style.

Storge: 6
Eros: 5
Agape: 4
Pragma: 2
Ludus: 2
Mania: 0

If we look at the descriptions, it seems I am (and one wonders, if what I am looking for in a partner) is love that grows slowly out of friendship and is based more on similar interests and commitment, rather than passion AND "love at first sight" based on chemistry and a strong physical and/or emotional attraction. Of course.

Where do you fall in Lee's Love Shack, and what are your thoughts on the matter?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Adventure Begins

"I feel like in an interview situation, it's a kind of intimacy that I can understand and handle- versus real life, where I'm much more of a bumbler and have a hard time" Ira Glass

That's me there, The Fabulous Lorraine. Mostly called Quiche. These days the simple, formal version is popping up more and more and I'm hearing "Lorraine" too. Which seems odd. But so does finding myself at Skool, as I like to call it. I thought I'd be a writer's assistant for the rest of my life, but life has a way of being surprising, hence the title: Adventures in Healthy Couple Relationships. 

It's not my first time blogging, and in fact, I'm laughing because in 2013 I stopped a blog I'd been doing since 2005, and people have been trying to get me to start it up again ever since. I've been declaring no, I write other things now, and anyway, Blogger is done. See how life surprises? 

A few things about this course had me a little worried. I'm not part of a "couple". I'm not in a "relationship". I'd be hard pressed to know how to even go about it, or to say if I'd rather be with a man or a women. Working for my writer was 24/7, for 20 years, and didn't leave a lot of time for anything else. Time got away from me a little. And new as this HDFS field is to me, I'm seeing, in every class, that one looks at oneself. I don't know how to be in love, or part of a couple, or intimate with another person.

I don't have that knowledge, caring, interdependence, mutuality, trust, and commitment going on with that one special person. And I'm not at all sure I ever have. This course, and looking at myself could be a huge can of worms. Or an Adventure.

I'm betting on Adventure. Hence my title. 

Our text suggests, in Chapter 1, page 4, paragraph 2 that "There is a human need to belong in close relationships, and if the need is not met, a variety of problems follows" I suspect the writer is correct. Mr. Miller also suggests being alone for long periods of time is very stressful. Again, possibly, though I'm not entirely sure. I've been alone now, here in my house, for four years, and I am not tired of it. Yet. Maybe curious about what having another person around would be like. I've got all these cats, but I think a person would be different. I mean, of course they would be, but would be gains be worth what you'd lose, is all I'm wondering. 

I wonder if there are different ways of getting that need to belong met? I always thought if you had something where you were committed, and caring that would be enough. Roller Derby was like that, a whole team of women who were like sisters. Some you liked, some you didn't, but they were all family. If you don't have a biological family, you create one from the people around you, to satisfy that need. But can you get along with out being part of a couple? Being on stage, playing music, is intimate. I've actually said that playing music for people was way cooler and closer and fun and yup, more intimate than sex could ever possibly be. (right so far) Writing is intimate. You and your readers here, getting close. I've lots of friends, and whenever I do feel the need to have someone around, they seem to be there. I adore them. I do spend time wondering though. And I wonder: What would it be like to fall in love and be with someone. And perhaps more importantly, how does a person go about doing it?

What was it Professor said in the first lecture? Epistemology, the study of knowledge, how we know what we know? And we're studying the Epistemology of Intimacy here? I like that. I know nothing about this, and I get to spend the next 8 weeks finding out. Which, to possibly state the obvious, could be rather helpful for me. I also like the bit in the lecture about being as embedded in relationships as fish are in water. Like it or not. 

And no, fish likely don't think about water swimming around, but it it's true. There they are.