Monday, July 20, 2009

The thing about low self esteem...

Dear Brooke,

I heard about your blog and upcoming website and I thought I'd give it a try. Funny, we're both in the 'counseling' biz, but unfortunately, often times what I preach isn't always what I practice!

I'm a gay Latino dude in San Francisco. I was in an 8 year relationship but after a long grueling 8 years we decided to split/separate/divorce/get the hell out of each other's site because it wasn't working. I noticed patterns of abuse developing over the years but spent a lot of hours in therapy either ignoring or just suppressing what I really wanted, which was to find a guy that was as cool as me, but not so intense and definitely not an alcoholic.

So I've taken a year hiatus since my last relationship to be with myself. I've enjoyed it, but lately as I think most human creatures do, wanted to find some company. I found another cool gay Latino dude in Southern California, where I used to live and decided hey, why not give it a shot!?

So, I planned a weekend to go to visit my new "bu" and we laughed, we cried, we talked, we ate, we ate some more and then we drank too much. It was great to talk politics, life, culture, literature- up until we got kicked out of two bars because of his obnoxious behavior. He literally turned into some psycho demon from planet Smirnoff! He threw a drink at the doorman, telling him to “f*#k off” and totally ignored me until we returned to his house. Despite the night and in the midst of his begging, I decided to forget the night and just say “hey, we all have a bad night!”

The next night, he drank too much again, and got kicked out of restaurant.....yeah, a restaurant, my favorite one in Southern California, for the same behavior. I think that time he actually spit his drink on someone. At his house, I confronted his issues with liquor and being upset he became defensive and started insulting me about things that really made little to no sense. Something about my grammar? Before I knew it he kicked me out of his apartment, while throwing my bag/clothes and whatever out the door! I tried to go back, but he threatened me!

SO I hurried to grab all my stuff and called my ex boyfriend to seek shelter/refuge/some one to calm me down. I left in desperation, and with so much sadness disappointment. SO my question is how do you get over the disappointment and the hope that this person ever change? I hate the saying 'love takes time' but what else can I do? Should I even do anything? I feel like I'm getting too old for this. I guess I need some validation for not putting up with BS and ending the enabling.........

Bipolar disaster lover.

Oh my darling dearest Bipolar-disaster-lover,

Here’s the deal. First of all, you are officially validated for “no longer putting up with BS and giving up the enabling”. That being said, let’s talk about patterns.

We all have patterns. In love-in life-in everything in between. Some patterns are fabulous and work well for us…and some don’t. Our patterns in love stick around until we either give up and settle, get so hurt we wake up and change, or reach out and ask for help because we feel in our gut that something is just not right. You are stuck in a pattern of being with people who are not healthy (this guy…not healthy) so I’m glad you asked for some guidance…but just because you’re asking, doesn’t mean it’s going be easy to hear the answer.

My first question is: do you really want to change? Do you really want a better, healthier, more mature relationship? Because you say it well and you say it proud, but the truth is you, honey child, are just saying it. I know love, I know. But it’s true. It sounds good, it sounds noble, it sounds healthy…but it’s just talk. Let me explain…

One of my favorite questions to ask in therapy is “Has it traveled through your neck?” This means, you’re thinking good thoughts in your head, you are definitely smart enough to really understand that you want to find a good healthy partner who doesn’t have an alcohol problem and isn’t abusive to your personhood. But these amazing ideas, these perfect understandings are stuck in that head of yours… they haven’t traveled through your neck; they haven’t touched your heart. You are intellectualizing love, you are thinking, not feeling. But there is a reason for that…low self-esteem. Same reason you “ignored” and “suppressed” in therapy in the past. Your heart doesn’t think it deserves these good juicy thoughts.

So imagine this… there is this gorgeous ball of gold goodness in your heart but it’s surrounded by yuck. It’s caked with past hurt, family ick, and experiences you would rather forget. There is literally a film of low self-esteem covering up your inner gold! The low self-esteem does everything in its power to make sure that “I want and deserve a good healthy fabulous person to share my life with” never gets through to your heart. It’s like the ideas are one side of a magnet and the self esteem is the other… they just can’t get close… one keeps the other away.

A challenge from me to you… or maybe, a gift: Work on building your self esteem. This is going to take a ton of work and commitment. Chip away at that gunk on your heart and reveal that inner ball of gorgeous gold that you and every other human has inside. You are a smart, strong, proud Latino man who anyone would be lucky to be with…so start acting like it! Have you ever seen an extremely confident person allow themselves to be treated the way you got treated last weekend? Um, I don’t think so. Do you deserve a delicious fantastic human being as a partner? Of course you do. Are you a delicious fantastic human being? Of course you are… if you want to be. If you choose to be. So choose.

The thing about low self esteem is that when it’s loud and present, and we aren’t truly madly deeply ready to work on it, we unconsciously seek out partners who will help us out in keeping our self esteem exactly where it is. Low. If we’re not ready to change, we’re not going to find someone who will push us. We like to be comfortable. Period.

Patterns are hard to break. It’s uncomfortable! As soon as you’re ready though, as soon as you believe you are lovable and truly deserve happiness you will find someone who is kind, smart, funny and who doesn’t abuse substances or people. Then you will most likely feel a little… bored. Where’s the drama? Where are the games and the making me feel like crap? But hold tight… that’s just growing pains… your patterns are changing. Congratulations.

Love love love,



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