Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Becoming Your Parents - an ode to me?

A quick update on me and my situation.

I've been dating Umma for the last few months (Umma means mom, by the way, not older sister. She claims she said Nuna that first night in the club. Whatever.) She's a great girl and I like her a lot, and I'm still enjoying sex with her which is uncommon for me this late in the game. It could be because we can only see each other on weekends, so the lack of being together all the time keeps things fresh, or it could be for any other number of reasons.

I'm not dating her exclusively, however (much to her chagrin), which brings me to the reason for writing today and the topic I want to explore a bit.

I was talking with my mom on Skype, and found myself completely uninterested in what she had to say - I was browsing facebook while she talked and basically ignoring her. This happens almost every time she talks to me, about almost any topic. Then my dad, while I'm interested in talking to him, very rarely has anything to say that isn't unasked for advice and I find myself not wanting to hear that either (the difference, I think, is my dad now strives to find topics other than advice on which to speak, while my mom still does the same things that bore/annoy me).

It isn't that I don't love or appreciate them, far from it, I'm just having trouble with them as of the last year or so. Perhaps because I'm moving on and becoming my own man. But I digress.

Looking at their relationship, my dad barely even fakes patience with my mom anymore if she tries to get in on one of our conversations. He gets a look in his eye like "Oh gawd.." and then proceeds with an "anyway" once my mom finishes her say. Their relationship is, in short, everything I don't want in my life.

In my experience in the world and almost everything I do, my strongest motivator for self improvement or in changing or shaping the direction of my life has been to see models of what I hate in other people or their behavior, as well as having powerfully painful experiences.

I really like Umma, but there are a few factors that keep me from involving myself in an exclusive relationship with her. In high school, a friend of mine had the most codependent, needy, insecure, explosive and unhealthy relationship with a girl that I could ever imagine. In it I discovered some of my many rules by which I govern my life - never apologize for something over which you have no control, as an example. I held such ire for the relationship that I molded ways to shape my life and future relationships that would never allow me to enter into such an awful, and as I saw it soul destroying situation. To this day I have not had anything near to that level of chaos.

Another factor was my break up with my first girlfriend. Using my newly acquired rules and model for everything I hated in my friend's relationship, I molded my first relationship into something more desirable. We never fought, rarely argued, never -until the end - had any "emotional talks" which my friends were constantly mired in and hated (the talks being the girl complaining about how the man doesn't care enough and needs to do more, or bitching about trivial things). But as I drew toward the end, I realized I needed more.

Emotionally I wanted nobody else but my girlfriend, but sexually I wanted everybody but her. I could not be in a relationship with her any longer and not cheat or make her miserable with my constant icy lack of desire for her. I broke up with her, and it was the single most emotionally painful experience of my life. Since then, I have not had a breakup of that magnitude, and often times the girl and I just drift or go different ways in life, and come back to find there is still some spark for each other, some piece we can still play with if we desire.

The final factor is my parents. In asking my dad why he chose my mom to marry, one valentines day a couple of years ago, among many words carefully chosen to disguise meaning and bland acceptance, I remember these in particular, "One day, you'll find a woman with...enough of the values and qualities that you appreciate." I couldn't believe it. He had actually said 'enough.' My father, veteran of an over 30 year marriage, had just confessed to settling instead of striving for what he really wanted.

The result of that kind of attitude? As much as I love and respect him, and as far as he has come in life (wealthy, occupationally successful, viewed as successful in family for having a seemingly stable marriage and three children, big house, a few cars, etc.) if I gauge his success by happiness, he has failed. His life consists of going to a job he hates, facing again each Monday like he's going into a battle he never wanted to be part of, coming home in the evening, having dinner, maybe watching a movie rental or some TV, then going to sleep and doing it all over again. He spends the large amounts of money he makes on home improvement projects. New furniture, a remodeled staircase and fireplace, etc. and only gets pleasure from those when other people admire them or notice they've changed (gone in a year when every friend has seen it and new people don't always comment).

His greatest happiness, outside of his pride for his children which I see glow more strongly in him and am thankful for, is going to some family owned land out in the mountains and being in nature. Hiking, fishing, hunting, etc. The problem? He can't share it with my mother because she gets bored out there. As she ages and continues to eat body destroying food (a sin I'm guilty of as well) and dogmatically holding to the idea that pilates is superior to HIT as exercise, her body degrades and as basically falling apart. She constantly has knee and joint pain so any sort of demanding outdoor physical activity, demanding beyond walking a short distance, causes her pain. She enjoys theater and dancing (though I wonder how much dancing she could do in her state) and things of that nature. She and my dad are complete opposites, interest wise.

And yet, people always say, "As much as you try not to, you're going to be like your parents." Perhaps repeated patterns like that of my parents' relationship are what is thought of when the phrase "sins of the father" is used.

I think that's a crock of shit, in my case. Of course I'm like everybody in saying "I'm not going to make that mistake! durp dee durp dee dee!" but I'm the only person, the ONLY person who I've grown up with and met (other than through some mutual area like the PUA community which has a number of guys like me) in my travels through life who has changed his behavior and reshaped his life when I've come into contact with things that come close to destroying me or that I despise.

When it comes to marriage, I avoid it like the plague while more and more of my friends get married or engaged. Everytime I bring this up with people who talk of marriage, if they're older it's always the same response, "You're just young, you'll get to an age where you're ready to settle down, blah blah blah." I'm 23 and I hear this from 25 year olds, as if being 20-30 out of a hopefully 70-90 year life (18 or more of which spent in the shelter of your parents) is enough to experience and drink in all that life has to offer.

As a side note, the most recent of those seasoned life livers (25 years old) left Korea to get married and has now broken up with her then-fiancée.

I need also to take myself down a notch. The predominant purpose of my philosophy and guiding principles in my life has been the avoidance of pain, but very few of my major decisions have been in the pursuit of pleasure.

From this point forward, I have a new life goal and guiding principle.

My goal is to continually ramp up my effort to make decisions that are based on the pursuit of pleasure, and not the avoidance of pain.

Of course I'll still recognize that the avoidance of pain has brought me a long way, and there are decisions that ought to be made in that way, but the goal stands.

It is vague for now, but I'll tweak it.


Dream said...

Excellent post.

4 No Bell Truths said...

Hi Dasani, just wondering, are you Desi by any chance?

As far as, " I couldn't believe it. He had actually said 'enough.' My father, veteran of an over 30 year marriage, had just confessed to settling instead of striving for what he really wanted."

This is what EVERYBODY does.


Because we all want an ideal and the ideal person does not exist.

Someone who shares most of your core values is a rare find and when you find her or him, go for it!

That's what your Dad did, what your Mom did, and its what you will do to, because its what everyone does.

Unless you stay single your entire life, which is always an option, but most people don't want to.

Dasani said...

@4 No Bell Truths

No, I'm not Desi - though I tend to find ladies of that kind to be exceedingly attractive.

What difference does it make that it's what everybody does?

Everybody is wrong.

The purpose of this post was my own movement AWAY from what everybody else does, my recognition of the evidence in my life that demonstrates I won't fall into the same traps

Somebody who shares most, or even "enough" of my core values isn't enough for marriage. If there were even a shred of hope that such a person who shares every value of mine exists, it would be a great sin to get married to anybody but that person.

However, I probably wouldn't marry that person. Why? Because they would understand, to the same degree that I do, how anachronistic marriage is. They wouldn't want marriage, they'd only want to be with me, as I would with them

There isn't a single good reason to get married that isn't outweighed by ten better reasons not to.

This is not a decision to "die alone" as most people tend to condemn it. Proximity or legal connection to another person is by no means a good measure of company, and being physically alone or without a relationship is no measure of loneliness.

What my dad and mom did was put an artificial time stamp on their marriagability, and further, they made getting married a primary value that must be accomplished in any way, regardless of quality. I'm sure it was fine for a few years, but it's not worth what they do every day now.

Being single doesn't mean alone or without love. I've been single since high school and I've been with a number of women (there's a post here with approximate stats, you seem to be reading them), and had at least one solid relationship each year.

4 No Bell Truths said...

"Being single doesn't mean alone or without love. I've been single since high school and I've been with a number of women (there's a post here with approximate stats, you seem to be reading them), and had at least one solid relationship each year."

Yes but you've not been living for that long! You're not even 30.

There's a change that comes with middle age, and then when you're old you really wish for some daily comfort and care.

That requires LTR, if not marriage.

But then some people like monks are happy being without either their entire lives. Of course there are monks and nuns from a wide variety of religions who leave that life too.

4 No Bell Truths said...

It amazes that a child could not want to be like their parents. In my culture we look up to and admire our parents and actually aspire to be LIKE THEM in our middle age.

If your parents have managed to stay married and love each other, raise healthy and happy children, and support themselves and their family through honest means then that is indeed something to aspire for.

Your parents have done nothing to warrent shame or pity.

You should be proud of them and only wish to be as stable and content as they are at their age.

I'm not saying to carve out your own niche or that you must get married or have kids. Even I may opt out of marriage, which in my culture is almost unheard of and definetly looked down upon, HOWEVER I just can't get on board with how Western people do not look up to their parents as good examples.

Dasani said...

Would you look up to your parents if they were thieves, or murderers? There are reasons to admire people, and there are reasons not to.

I admire my dad's strength in becoming truly good at his choice of work. He's been honored for it many times, and I wish he would share more of that part of his life with me. I do not admire his choice insofar as getting married to a woman who is "enough".

Please don't make the mistake of seeing this one facet of my relationship with my parents as a view to the whole.

I do not aspire to be like anyone just because I'm supposed to. Culture be damned, at the end of the day, you're an individual who is fully capable of making his own choices.

If you admire your parents, and they have things you desire for yourself, then wonderful - you're truly blessed with such close role models.

4 No Bell Truths said...

"I do not admire his choice insofar as getting married to a woman who is "enough".

Wow. So you don't think your father is lucky to have a woman as awesome as your mom?

Or don't you think your mom is awesome?

And your thief and murderer analogy shows what you think about stable families.

You obviously don't see the value in stable families and appear not be appreciative that your parents gave you a safe, healthy and happy life.

Dasani said...

I do not think my mother is awesome by virtue of her being my mother. Family members can be great and they can be terrible, they do not acquire automatic value and worth because we're related.

That says nothing of my opinion of her, which is not the subject of this blog, this post nor this discussion.

Stable by what standard? Stable for whom?

To be locked in a marriage devoid of love and joy for the "sake of your children" does not sound stable to me. To be with a woman who you love and desire to be with, and to have children with her (regardless of marriage or not) - children that you cherish and do all in your power to instill with right minds (by your standard) and right action - that sounds stable to me.

Having a wife and children does not necessarily mean stable, it only appears stable.

You miss the point of my arguments and this post entirely, read it again if you wish to continue this discussion.

I watched a documentary called "Born into Brothels" about children of prostitutes in India. Some of the children were given the chance by the film maker to leave their families behind and go to school, and not follow in their parents' footsteps and become destitute burnt out prostitutes. The children either chose to emulate their parents and stay with that life, or were forbidden by their parents to choose another life of their own.

Cultural differences or not, the point of the murderer and thief analogy is to illustrate that there are activities, occupations and qualities that are not enviable.

You seem, from your convictions, to have come from a "stable" family. Do you think the prostitute mothers of those children do not also consider their house and home stable? Do you think they also want to be admired and emulated by their children? I wouldn't doubt the answer to be anything other than "yes" to both questions, and I must reiterate that I am grateful that my standards are my own, and not arbitrarily accepted from my parents (who disapprove of a number of my standards and choices).

4 No Bell Truths said...

The feeling of being "in love" is a temporary chemical/hormonal process in the brain. That is why family building must be based on something solid and not fleeting "feelings".

People who think family building must be dependent on a chemical rush have no business having kids ever and should get themselves medically sterilized and spend the rest of their lives knocking themselves out chasing "feelings".

Dasani said...

Your flinging of insults tells me that something I've said has hit you. I'd urge you to examine what it is that resonates or makes you feel resistant. Or perhaps you have no answer yet and it frustrates you.

That's OK. Examine it, figure it out, and we can continue the discussion another time.