According to folks in recovery, if we’re about to run straight into the arms of our next fix we should H.A.L.T.; as in stop and think about it for a second. Common sense, right? Instead of drinking, snorting, cutting, starving, shopping, smoking, sexting, eating, beating or getting into yet another disastrous relationship, we should ask ourselves: Hey, is it possible that I’m just Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired and this appetite for destruction could be cured with a sandwich, a hug, a shrink and a nap? Probably. But I think we can all agree, sandwiches, hugs, therapy and naps are hard to come by, especially lately. If I hug you, will I die? Where’s the hand sanitizer? Therapy costs how much? Oh, you’re out of sandwiches cause all the staff are sick? Cool. I’ll just chug some Lysol.
Recently, while deciding to eat, sleep, journal and keep my epidermis intact, I was thinking about why love is so hard. Why do so many of us find ourselves cycling through all too familiar patterns of pain? Why do we end up Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired again and again, despite our seemingly best efforts to learn our lessons and get it right?
I have fantastic news. It’s because we’re Horny, Anxious, Love-Starved and Traumatized. Yep. We sell our divine inheritance for crappy camp stew and really cheap lies because the human experience pales in comparison to paradise and we get really sick of waiting for heaven on earth so we’re like, …gimme that cupcake!
Esau and Jacob were twins. Jacob’s insecurity started in the womb. He was so worried his brother was gonna be born first, he grabbed at his heels in the birth canal and then proceeded to manipulatively claw at him all their lives until he finally tricked the hairy idiot into giving up his birthright. And Esau did it because he was a workaholic who, after exhausting himself one day, begged his brother for some beans. Jacob was all about intermittent fasting and had been cooking for the sole purpose of catching his brother off guard during a moment of fallible, human weakness. Sure hairy brother. I’ll give you a bowl of beans… if you give me our fathers fortune. Did I mention they’re extra fancy, magic beans? How bout it?
Esau was born with a scarlet letter on him. He was oblivious to the ways of the world and much more interested in the ways of the wild. It wasn’t until after his brother had betrayed him that he realized what that fated meal actual cost.
Whether you think the Bible is historical, allegorical, neither or both, the story made me think about vulnerability. Why is it that most of life seems to be spent hurting or healing? Are half of us born entitled and insecure and the rest of us just born hungry, albeit humble idiots? Either way, we’ve been hurting and healing in an endless spiral sine the beginning of time. How do we stop the train and finally get off? I mean, Jesus.
I had an ah-ha moment during a recent workout. The reason we allow ourselves to get tricked is pretty simple; we’re horny, anxious, love-starved and traumatized. In fairness, it’s pretty rough to go through life without compassion, empathy, emotional support, validation, basic safety, money, housing or patient, present, nurturing guidance; aka neglect and systemic oppression; completely minimized, ignored, overlooked and devastating childhood traumas. Other traumas are equally hurtful but as a society we still fail to really acknowledge the magnitude of the impact. Oh that stuff happened when I was kid. I should be over it by now. Where are your boot straps? Nope. The first twenty years of our lives lay the neurobiological tracks that determine our thoughts, feelings and behaviors until we go to therapy and reconstruct our polyvagal highway. Bummer, right?
In addition to all the ways our childhoods derailed our otherwise awesome futures, we’ve been programmed into believing that because we’ve suffered, or deprived ourselves as part of performing our morality to an invisible audience of mostly fanatical, hyper-religious (and equally screwed up) critics, the love we’re owed is bound to show up in the next scene. Hallmark, Disney and Netflix rom-coms aren’t doing us any favors.
There have been billions of articles written about things like narcissistic abuse, toxic partners, borderlines, sociopaths, addicts, lions and tigers and bears oh my. We become obsessively focused on everything wrong with their behavior while overlooking our own unmet needs which manifest as giant, invisible signs to Tinder Swindlers that read: I will basically say, do and believe whatever you want in exchange for some love bombs which turn out to be crumbs; the kind where you have to lick your fingers and press them into the bottom of the bag to scoop out tiny mounds of flavored dust while trying not to utterly hate and destroy ourselves.
And that’s how we stop the train. Not by hating ourselves, but by loving ourselves back into be-ing from the deepest well of compassion we didn’t know was there until we trip over it one night during mercury in retrograde when our tears have blinded us so completely there’s nothing left to do but allow ourselves to be consumed by absolute terror, or surrender to love and fall in.
Our life is our story to live and learn from. Rather than expecting to obsessively research the best choices, the absolute right thing to do in every possible situation, at some point we encounter permission to throw our arms around the unpredictable chaos, put ourselves out of misery and be who we’ve always been. ~