The Object of Your Attention

I feel like I’ve suddenly discovered the key to a long lasting, healthy relationship. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been listening to so much Abraham Hicks lately or if it’s just the result of becoming a healthy, more mature adult, but either way it’s as if suddenly a lightbulb has gone off in my brain and I hope to never treat my relationships the way I did in the past again. 

And here it is: do not make your partner the object of your attention. 

Meaning make yourself, your career, and your interests the focal point of your life and have your relationship be secondary. I know this sounds crazy. But all of the problems, at least for me, always exist when I’m putting too much attention on my boyfriend and the relationship. That’s when I start expecting too much and appreciating nothing and suddenly he becomes the source of all of my issues and unhappiness. 

I have severe ADD and SO MUCH excess energy. I can multitask 7 different things at once. My brain is a calendar and can categorize everything. I LOVE to be busy and have lots of things on my plate. I have a desperate need to be stimulated and challenged. Imagine what happens when I look to my partner to fulfill all of those requirements for me. 

My life is always going to have a huge compartment that needs to be filled up. I don’t like being alone for too long, I can’t stand not having upcoming events or social engagements, I go crazy if I’m not doing something creative everyday. So it becomes a constant pursuit to make sure I’m doing enough of all of those things, not only because it fulfills me on every level, but because it takes my full attention away from my boyfriend. 

The very best example of this is to look at how men treat relationships. It’s very seldom, at least in my experience, that a man over the age of 25 makes his girlfriend the center of his universe and the main priority of his life. Men have an innate desire to hunt and gather, aka work, so usually that takes the main precedence slot. The nice thing is that most men want to work hard and build a career in order to support a woman and/or a family, but they aren’t spending their days pining and overthinking over how it’s affecting the relationship directly in that moment. 

Men and women are different, I get that. Women are more emotional and tend to obsess about their lovers, (errr wait, maybe that’s just me?) and the more time we spend with them and the more energy we put into the relationship the more we want. Ammiright, ladies? We’re putting this insane amount of effort into showing them we care about them and that they have all of our attention and we get pissed if they’re not doing the same. We have this “attachment vibe” that is hard to break. 

And when things get to that bad place, people always tell you to “focus on yourself” and to “let go of the attachment” as if it’s some easy thing that we can suddenly wake up and just decide. But with time and a constant shift in the mindset, it can become more of a habit. The easiest thing to do is treat your life how you did while you were single. Not sitting around and waiting and hoping that some man will fill up your time and energy. 

We are not kept women who need to hide behind our men or become too focused on them and what’s going on in their lives. Independence is the key to growth and self-sufficiency. What happens if the relationships suddenly implodes? No one should be in a relationship constantly thinking about that, but it’s a very real outcome that would leave a dependent person in complete and utter shambles. 

I’ve been almost forced to learn how to function in this way since my boyfriend and I are currently long distance. I never would have chosen this as my current situation but, here I am, and I can either deal with it or end the relationship because of the neediness and separation anxiety. At times it gets too hard and I get to the bad place of wanting to be done with it all, but then I remember why I’ve stayed for so long and how much I love him. And once I decided it was worth it to stick it out I constantly shifted my mentality to focus on subjects that did not have anything to do with him. It has made me so much happier overall and it’s done wonders for the relationship. I’m not so focused on what he is or isn’t doing for me, how often he has texted me that day, or when he’ll be back in LA and for how long. I’ve let go of the control I so often want to have and it’s been like an orgasmic release for me mentally and emotionally. 

Before I made that shift I was in such constant despair and even broke up with him for 2 months because of it. Because of my jealousy that he was making something other than me a priority. Because he was following an impulse to further his career. Because he was doing his best to create a better future for us. What a monster. 

During my PMS week I always go back to my old ways of thinking and verbally abuse him in my head. But as long as I continue to understand that those feelings are fleeting and do my best not to express them to him, my relationship will continue to flourish. One day we will be together all the time and I will think back to when I had this space and freedom from him and miss it. 

The reason most people think that a relationship works best when the man is more in love with the woman than she is with him is because this mentality comes NATURALLY in that situation. The woman focuses on herself and her life because she doesn’t care what he thinks as much as she did with her emotionally unavailable ex-boyfriend with whom she always walked on eggshells and felt a sense of neediness and desperation.  

This is not to say that we shouldn’t put any effort into our relationships. Every relationship requires work and balance. But the most successful my relationship has ever felt was when I was being as SELFISH AS POSSIBLE. Try it and see how it works for you. It’s not about games or manipulation, it’s about the freedom and peace that comes from the perils of attachment. 

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Let Go and Let it Flow

I was at a bar with my friend Emily* the other night and we were talking about my recent breakup. For the most part I’ve been handling it pretty well, aside from some residual anger and PMS tears, and I think it really took her by surprise.

“One of two things are going to happen. I’m either going to get back together with Ben* and things are going to be different or I’m going to find someone else who is better suited for me,” I told her.

“How are you able to be so at peace with everything?” She wondered. She was mostly asking that question to help her learn how to move forward after her own heartaches.

“Honestly, Abraham Hicks has changed everything for me,” I replied.

I promptly set her up with my favorite Abraham Hicks channel on YouTube so that she could begin listening to some of her lectures. If you don’t know who Abraham Hicks is, she teaches about the law of attraction through, in a VERY simplified explanation, the same ideas as The Secret and the Buddhist religion.

Emily was confused after the first lecture she heard, but I encouraged her to keep listening. This essay is not an advertisement for her teachings and I have nothing to gain from telling other people to seek her out. I just know how miraculous the changes in my emotions and behavior have been since I started listening and making an effort to shift my perspective.

And I started to realize something. Most of the pain and disappointment in my life comes from a place of feeling out of control. Abraham, Buddhists, and probably the authors of “The Secret” (I’ve never read it), know that trying to control everything is the complete antithesis to leading a peaceful and happy life. I’m a control freak by nature and while it can make me a good leader and allow me get a lot of shit done, it also causes me so much anger, sadness, and anxiety if things don’t go how I imagined them to go.

So while I was in peak heartache mode of my relationship as it was crumbling, I was able to realize where all of the despair was coming from. I was feeling a lack of control so strong and I knew the only thing that could make me feel better was to just let go and give up. I’m using the phrase “give up” purposefully because I could’ve stayed in the relationship and let go of control. But I was too far gone. I was spinning so far out of control because of my desperate need to control.

I had to start from scratch and get rid of what was causing me to be so “out of alignment” (that is a phrase that Abraham uses frequently.) And once I let go of that need to control how the relationship was going, I felt such an intense feeling of RELIEF. I felt so much better than I had at any point in the 6 months prior.

And now I know that in the aftermath of what happened, the way to feel really bad about it is to freak out about what’s going to happen in my love life now or despair about the loss. SO many people can’t stand the uncertainty and they jump into something else, or they jump back with the ex, or they sign up for every dating app to make sure they’re desirable again, or they focus on what went wrong and how they should have done things differently. I’ve been there so many times and it’s completely useless.

I have no idea what the future will bring with Ben or with anyone. It’s not my job to know or to force it. It’s only my job to control what I can and should control, which is how I’m feeling. I choose to feel good so I’m only going to focus on what feels good. And that means letting go of the need to fill this gap. Being single again is not at all what I saw for myself and my future with Ben, but I’m making the best of it. All I can do is clean up my vibration. Good things come to those who are vibrating good things.

And after feeling so at peace about that, I started thinking about all the other areas of my life that have caused me to stress out. My career being the main one. A type A person like me can’t STAND not being able to control my own destiny through sheer hard work and determination. I’ve followed the steps and taken all kinds of action and I still am not where I want to be. But I know how much my need for control has been blocking the law of attraction from working its magic. The harder I worked at the success the more frustrated I became and the less I believed it would happen.

Anyone who is in the business of the arts knows that no matter how hard you work, sometimes you never catch that break. Some of the most talented people aren’t working today. But those same talented people might have a disbelief that they deserve success and it blocks them from attracting what they are seeking. Some people are afraid of feeling out of control once they achieve the success. There are many reasons it might not be happening for those people, but it’s absolutely necessary to know you are going to get what you are wanting and not try to control how it gets there and when.

So as that becomes the main focus in my life I’ve started feeling better and better and more encouraged than ever. I don’t need to know how or with whom I’m going to build a life with and I don’t need to know when or in what way I’m going to become successful. It’s all going to happen one way or another.

Let go and let it flow.

Having It All

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Are your parents still together? Mine are. And a lot of my friends’ parents are. Mine have been together for 38 years. Can you imagine?! I haven’t even been with someone for longer than 3 years. And the older I get the more I’m afraid that I’m going to be alone forever. Or at least not be able to find someone who I can imagine spending 38 years with. Why is this? How do my parents make love seem so easy?

Times were simpler then. People were getting married right out of college and starting families right away. So is it the kids that have kept them together? Is it the choice to keep loving the same person year after year? Or is it that their dreams and career goals just weren’t as ambitious as mine? How come they found each other so easily and have had smooth sailing ever since? Why can’t I have that? Why can’t my friends have that?

My parents are very content to spend their days with each other, have white collar careers, and raise a family. They get excited about their kids getting married or giving them grandkids. They look forward to small trips within the US and relaxing at home and doing yard work on the weekends. I guess what you could say is that my parents enjoy a simple life. I have never wanted just a simple life. The idea of that seems worse than death. So is that the trade off then for me? That I can either find love and happiness or I can live a more exciting life?

I can’t help but feel like maybe my career choice and my location have thrown a wrench into my plans for a solid, loving relationship. And because my career has caused me to think more selfishly does that mean I have to find someone who has a completely opposite career path? Because two selfish people does not a healthy relationship make. 

But I live in LA! I’m surrounded by actors, writers, directors, musicians, and creators! They are the ones I WANT to be with. We understand each other and have similar interests. We get it that the career comes first most of the time. So maybe we have harder relationships. We have to make more effort and sacrifice more than my parents did. They had 9-5 jobs. They had more time together. They never had to go on “tour” or “shoot on location”.   

In my acting class I worked on a play for a veryyyyy long time called, “Isn’t It Romantic” by Wendy Wasserstein. My teacher gave it to me because she knew that I embodied the character of Harriet Cornwall better than anyone else. Harriet is a Cambridge and Harvard educated woman living in NYC who is on the verge of turning 30 and experiencing an existential crisis. She has always put her career first and dominated in the business world but has nothing real happening in her romantic life. She has wonderful friends and a cool mom and seems so happy on the outside but is screaming for more on the inside. One day at lunch at The Four Seasons she asks her mother this question:

“Mother, do you think it’s possible to be married or living with a man, have a good relationship and children that you share equal responsibility for, and a career, and still read novels, play the piano, have women friends and swim twice a week?”

And her mother responds with, “You mean what the women’s magazines call, ‘having it all’? Harriet, that’s just your generation’s fantasy.”

IS THAT JUST MY GENERATION’S FANTASY?! Will we never be able to have it all?! This idea simply CRUSHES me. I want to. I need to. I have to. I can’t compromise in any area. But what if Harriet’s mom is right?

At the end of the play Harriet ends up “settling” for a nice man who she can make a nice life with. She gives up on the idea of waiting to find her one true love and making that relationship work and instead creates the opportunity for herself by taking the easy thing. 

I hate the word NICE. It’s so plain and stupid. If I ever meet a man who I just describe as “nice” we will never have a relationship. I can’t handle dull but easy. I want a fiery, complicated love. I want passion and excitement. And maybe that’s the problem. That kind of love distracts you from your goals. 

Did my parents settle so that they could have that “nice life”? Maybe they had bigger goals for themselves that I just don’t know about! I know they are both happy, but could it be possible that they had to sacrifice certain things in order to create a solid, loving family life?

When I told my Mom I wanted to move to LA and become an actress she said, “why don’t you just stay here in Indiana and have a family and do community theatre” as if that would be enough for me. Did she not understand my burning desire for more or did she know that I wouldn’t be 100% happy and wanted to save me from that feeling? Or is that the whole thing? Either way I am not going to be 100% happy. Maybe I should just settle now and get it over with. 

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and writer of the book “Lean In”, seems to be doing this thing we call “having it all” and is of my parents’ generation. Also see, Tina Fey. But maybe they settled too. One can never be sure. Find a man who loves you more than you love him and who is NICE and maybe a solid 6 while you’re a 10 and you can have the career you’ve always wanted!

But we all know that I’m not going to settle. I may have to continue to follow my career and push down these impatient feelings of yearning for love until it pops off and THEN follow my dreams for a relationship. Or I’ll just be exhausted trying to keep a bunch of balls in the air while pursuing all of it at once. 

Here’s to hoping that I experience the success I’m looking for soon so that I can shift my focus, because I am BEYOND ready for a real, true, amazing love. 

xx

“You throw yourself into your work with a determination that can only come from trying to find a replacement for love.” @WRDSMTH