Viva Las Vegas

As I sit here in the living room of my mother and I’s hotel suite, I notice a feeling of desperation creeping up on me. I want attention. I want to be noticed. I want to be more than just another person sitting awake on a Monday night. I’m in Las Vegas: land of inhibition-less sinful pleasure and yet I cannot go and throw caution to the wind. I want to put in the work and practice the patience required to feel good intrinsically rather than enjoy short-lived externally-sourced pleasures.

I could go find someone to give me the attention I crave. It wouldn’t be difficult. I could easily be validated sexually, emotionally or any way I desire to be

…but in the morning I would wake up still feeling desperate for something of substance something pure and something that doesn’t vary with the waves of people coming in and out of the rotating door that has been my life up until now.

I want lasting peace and I’m willing to feel discomfort right now to get it. So, after eating some coconut and a protein bar (random scraps from the week’s purchases), I’m going to head to sleep. Tomorrow is a new day and I’m making strides to make it brighter than today and blinding compared to yesterday.

Goodnight.

In Vegas Today

The Convention

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Gum

Tonight, I’m sitting here with my kitchen cleaned, homework finished, pets fed, dinner eaten, chewing gum. It’s my tenth piece in two hours. Two and a half hours ago I finished my dinner and began feeling the urge to binge.

Upon some reflecting and staring at my list of reasons NOT to binge plastered on the refrigerator, I realized that I wanted to binge because I felt I had failed and I felt lonely. Failure and loneliness seem to be my top two triggers for emotional eating.

What have I failed at you may ask? Well, I failed at another relationship that hadn’t even truly begun yet. A relationship that never was and a relationship that never will be.

How does our mind create experiences, hopes, dreams and aspirations so vivid that the loss of those possibilities causes us to mourn as if we truly lost someone dear to us? It was real to me. We would have been perfect. Everything would have worked in harmony. We would have moved back to the Midwest to be somewhere with seasons to celebrate the white winters with our two little girls and two little boys. I would have nagged him for being too impatient and he would have brushed it off with a joke that was bound to make me laugh and forget all about my complaint.

My life would have been full and complete just the way I’ve always pictured it.

It’s not real. It never happened. It’s not real. It never happened. I keep repeating to myself.

How can you lose something that was never yours? How can you lose something that never was?

And yet I grieve. I spend my time clinging and grasping to false realities and figments of my imagination and as they inevitably fade like the clouds to leave an empty unsatisfactory reality I struggle with.

Food can’t fill the imaginary void in my soul that used to be filled with fantasies disguised as precognition. It never was. It never would have been. It never will be.

So I chew my twelfth piece of gum to the sound of the washing machine waiting for the night to engulf the day, digest its challenges and bring me a fresh tomorrow with new precognition that is bound to pan out exactly the way I imagine.

The Cloth Monkey

maslow-pyramid
In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, physiology(food, water and originally sex) was on the bottom on the pyramid. It was believed that until we meet our basic animalistic physiological needs, we cannot nor do we have the drive to fulfill other needs (i.e. Safety, Love and Belonging, Esteem and Self-Actualization respectively). However, the argument of whether sex is a basic physiological need is debated among psychologists. Is it the sex itself and its promise for reproduction of the species, or the need for physical connection with other human beings?

Harry Frederick Harlow, an American psychologist, hypothesized in the twentieth century that contact comfort was extremely value to developing children. He had a wire monkey with food source and a cloth monkey with no food. The baby Rhesus monkeys spent a clear majority of their time clinging to the cloth monkey and the bare minimum amount of time feeding on the wire monkey. So, they met their physiological need for food and immediately afterwards found safety, comfort and belonging in the cloth mother.

Harlow's Wire vs. Cloth Mother

Freud believed that if we were not allowed to develop through the Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latency and Genital periods properly and encouragingly, that we would have corresponding issues as adults. For example, someone that did not get their oral needs met as an infant, may have an eating disorder or smoking addition as an adult.
So, what is it about sex that made Maslow believe it to be a basic physiological need?

As an Evolutionary Psychologist myself, I’ve always believed sex to be a need because of reproductive drives that are innately within us as a species. I’ve believed it to be a major motivator for many of our choices. However, I find myself questioning it now.

Maybe our sexual urges are merely an extension of our need for contact comfort, safety, love and belonging. Maybe it contributes to of all three of Maslow’s first three tiers rather than only the first.

The next time you feel uncomfortable or down, try hugging someone just a few moments longer and notice your body’s emotional response. Notice how you feel before and after. There is a sense of calmness, belonging and safety that occurs after prolonged physical contact of any kind with another human being.

My hypothesis is this: Nymphomania or high sex drive comes from a place that longs for physical contact to satisfy the needs of safety, love and belonging.
Furthermore, I think that regularly having physical contact with other human beings can decrease sexual desire in individuals seeking validation from sexual activities.

As someone with an extremely high sex drive that has chosen to remove sex from my life temporarily, I am going to experiment with this on myself and maybe do some interviews with others that share my struggle. We shall see what comes of it!

As a good friend told me yesterday, “Look at your problem through the eyes of a child to discover what the true source of the problem is.”

So that’s just what I’ll do.

Penelope

Francesco Primaticcio 002.jpg
Once upon a time there was a wife of a great explorer. As her husband left on a great voyage, she promised to wait for him. Years went by and soon the people of the town started to believe him to be dead. They urged her to remarry. The wife didn’t want to remarry. So, she promised the people of the town that she would consider a husband as soon as she finished a shroud she was sewing. All day long she would sew and all night long she would undo the sewing from that day. It had been twenty years since the husband had left and eventually the town caught on and she was asked to make a decision. The wife reluctantly agreed to an archery competition for her hand in marriage.

At the competition, a strange man in tattered clothing defeated all the others. Solemn and disappointed, the wife went to meet her new husband-to-be. The man was angry with her, scolding her for betraying her husband. The woman felt defensive and racked with guilt. Suddenly, the man unraveled his clothing and reviewed that he was her long-lost husband back from his voyage.

The man was King Odysseus and the woman, his wife, Penelope.

For me, this story is the perfect example of true love and patience. We could focus on the inequality of women and men during this time period but it’s really not what’s important. What’s important is that Penelope didn’t want to marry someone else and purposefully waited for the right man. The man that was worthy of her and the man that she wanted to belong with.

Patience is something that does not come easily for many. We would rather enjoy the immediate gratification than wait patiently for something better to come along. It is even harder to be patient when we are waiting for something that may or may not come along at all.

But what is supposed to set us apart from children is our increasingly developed prefrontal cortexes. We should be able to hold out for something better to come along rather than settling for what is currently available.

As a millennial, I feel that patience is becoming more and more scarce and that the existence and development of technology and social networking has made us a world of discontentment and impatience. This leads to unhappiness and suffering.

So, as the sun comes up this morning, I want to choose to be a Penelope. I want to choose to wait for the things that are worth waiting for rather than hopping from mediocre choice to mediocre choice. I am planting the seed of lasting gratification and I’m willing to wait twenty years to obtain it.

Image from: By Francesco Primaticcio – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, Link

Impermanence

Nothing lasts. The only thing that’s constant in life is change. Our bodies change, our opinions change, our tastes in food, our favorite songs, our jobs, families, friends, everything changes.

Some changes are harder to accept than others. Evolution of relationships, for example, can be hard to accept. So what happens when a relationship has evolved to a point that it is no longer beneficial to one or both parties?

I have made a check-list today of things to go over when trying to assess whether a relationship just needs to be reassessed or whether it needs to be left.

  1. Are you being tolerant of the other person’s differences?
  2. Are you supporting the other person?
  3. Have you been open and honest with the other person about your feelings?
    1. If so, did they respond well or poorly?
  4. Is being around this person regularly hindering your spiritual, moral or intuitive progress in some way?
  5. Do you think the person is going to be able to be a good relationship-match (i.e. friend, significant other, family, etc.) for you at some point in the near future?
  6. Is being in a relationship with this person causing you or them suffering?

After asking these questions, if you feel that the relationship issues are a direct result of something you’re doing, then first remedy those things and see how the other person reacts. If you feel as though you’ve just both chosen different paths and there is no way to remedy the situation then the last thing I would ask is…

Are you willing to let go of the possibility that the relationship could end up working again in the future?

I assessed FIVE relationships today (names below were changed to protect anonymity). This is how it went…

Relationship 1: I have been very tolerant of Bob’s differences but I haven’t been the most supportive because supporting Bob is causing me suffering. I have been open and honest and he responded well. Being around him is not hindering my spiritual progress and I believe he could be a good friend in the future. As a result, I’ve decided to continue being open and honest and making my boundaries more clear with Bob to prevent my suffering as a result of my support.

Relationship 2: I haven’t been very tolerant of Suzie’s differences and as a result have not been very supportive of her. I have been open and honest but she did not respond well. Being around her occasionally hinders my spiritual progress and causes me suffering. I’m not sure if I could be her friend in the future. As a result, I’ve decided to attempt to be more tolerant and supportive of Suzie and see if she reacts differently to my actions.

I did the same with Relationships 3-5 as well. I found that only two of the five relationships were worth giving up. Most of the time, we should take the time to really assess why we’re isolating ourselves from others because many times we have more of an impact on the problems than we initially believe.

Family is the most difficult as many times we are not willing to burn those bridges in hopes that the relationship will eventually be healthier at some point in the future. Sometimes, we can let go and come back later on when we have a different view of them or they have a different view of us based on regular life experiences and lessons.

Regardless we should treat others and ourselves with loving kindness and friendship because it makes everyone involved feel better. Let love flow freely between you and others but set healthy boundaries with those than hinder your ability to love freely and kindly.

XX Judgement

What is judgement?

I grew up believing it was a dirty word. Between my two homes (one orthodox-based and one atheist), the word was condemned for different reasons but condemned both the same and both hypocritically.

We all judge. Whether judgement is morally right would be a decision between you and your chosen deity. We judge whether milk is bad, if it’s too hot to leave the dog outside, if our pants fit well, or if our friend appears upset. The judgement that carries the negative connotation is the judgement that comes with condemnation.

Today, I found myself judging. However, as many times I do, I found myself judging myself to the extent that it caused me suffering and anguish.

Like many, I struggle with addiction but my drug of choice is binge eating. I ate so much food the last two nights that it caused me abdominal pain both nights and into the mornings. My suffering had nothing to do with the future aesthetic consequences (although they don’t help the situation). It had to do with my feelings of complete and utter loss of control and the feeling of guilt that accompanies gluttony to that degree.

So, I went about my morning with my head hung low. I made my coffee and I did my daily Tarot reading (three cards: challenge, situation and outcome). The card that appeared in the outcome position was the card of Judgement.

In Tarot, the Judgement card does not carry the same meaning. The card of judgement, indicates a state of rebirth, assessment, healing, salvation, leaving mistakes behind you, making amends and beginning anew. It indicates that you may have outgrown a new path and need to decide to move on to something new. Furthermore, the Judgement card falls in the Fool’s journey after a period of enlightenment and illumination (The Sun) and before success and completion (The World).

We judge. We judge that a choice is no longer optimal. We judge that our current path will not lead to happiness. We judge that we have made mistakes or that other people no longer meet our needs.

After judgement is what matters. What we do with our judgement is what affects our lives, happiness and sense of self-worth.

I chose to overindulge. It happened because of many factors/triggers of which are not currently relevant. Today, I can use that information and be reborn or I can continue the same path. The choice is mine to make.