Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Addicted to Love? A Valentine for the Other Single Folks

This Valentines' weekend, though I know I should not should not should NOT contact my ex b-f right now, when I'm feeling vulnerable, and yes, struggling a bit with being alone in a world seemingly full of lovers, I am pondering how I ever got so mixed up about A Crazy Little Thing Called Love.  I've come to the conclusion that I can blame much of it on all the crazy little songs about love.

Listen to popular music.  I mean, really listen.  To the lyrics we often sing along to, without paying attention, but which sink deep down into our subconscious, and confuse the issue when we try to actually have a relationship.

 A lot of them aren't about love at all, of course, but about sex.  Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love?

From Sura Nualpradid at

Your heart sweats, your body shakes
Another kiss is what it takes

You can't sleep, you can't eat
There's no doubt, you're in deep
Your throat is tight, you can't breathe
Another kiss is all you need
Songs tell us (Love is Like A) Heatwave, or brings Fever (when you kiss me, fever when you hold me tight...)  Don't these all make it sound like another side effect of "love" calls for a major dose of penicillin and a formal notice from the Center for Disease Control to all one's previous partners?

This one was a favorite...  and then I paid better attention to the lyrics.

Now that we've grown up it seems
You just keep ignoring me.
I'll find you anywhere you go,
I'll follow you high and low.
You can't escape this love of mine anytime.
Well, I'll sneak up behind you,
Be careful where I find you.
Apple peaches pumpkin pie,
Soon your love will be all mine.
Then I'm gonna take you home,
Marry you so you won't roam.
This sweet, bubbly little ditty is about finding one's childhood love, and whether she's now interested in a love relationship or not, stalking her until she gives in, and then trapping her via marriage.  Ain't that just sooo cute!  Not!  Then there's the stalker's classic, The Police's Every Breath You Take which is really, really creepy if you sit down and listen to it.

Come on, What's Love Got To Do with that?

But there are plenty of songs about people in healthy relationships... aren't there? 
I know you wanna leave me,
but I refuse to let you go
If I have to beg and plead for your sympathy,
I don't mind coz' you mean that much to me
Ain't too proud to beg, sweet darlin
Please don't leave me girl, don't you go
Ain't to proud to plead, baby, baby
Please don't leave me, girl, don't you go
Okay, we've got some serious self-esteem and boundary issues going on in the Temptations' Ain't Too Proud to Beg, but...  yeeeah.  How many, many songs and movies, teach us that if we simply hang in there, patiently dogging the object of our affections, s/he will eventually become exhausted fending us off, give in, and love us back?

From CakeWrecks - "for the Co-dependent"
"When your boyfriend starts crying, you'll know it's only because
he's so happy."
Modern stuff isn't that bad, right?  Those were the Dark Ages, romantically speaking; since then men and women have learned to treat each other better!  How about some Matchbox 20?

I wanna push you around, well I will, I will
I wanna push you down, well I will, I will
I wanna take you for granted, I wanna take you for granted
Well I will

For those who loved an OCPDr (aka, a control freak) Linkin Park's Numb pretty much tells the tale of how exhausting it feels to be pressured by someone you love to be "what you want me to be," to be constantly criticized for making mistakes:
I'm tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless lost under the surface
Don't know what you're expecting of me
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes
(Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow)
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
(Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow)

I've become so numb I can't feel you there
Become so tired so much more aware
I'm becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

Can't you see that you're smothering me
Holding too tightly afraid to lose control
Cause everything that you thought I would be
Has fallen apart right in front of you
(Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow)
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
(Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow)
And every second I waste is more than I can take
Like some people use prayer to tell God what He should be doing (the Slacker!) there are many angry songs lecturing the other party on exactly how he or she totally screwed things up.  Take the whining about the house being dark and pots being cold in Santana's Evil Ways, because the woman actually has friends and outside interests, instead of being chained to the stove, cooking dinner for her man.  The nerve!  (I love that song, actually, great guitar solo; I've simply rewritten the lyrics in my head so when I hear it I'm less tempted to strangle the nearest male with my suddenly superfluous bra strap.)

There are very few songs about a mature, healthy love relationship.  I've never heard a song celebrating that messy front row seat, watching one's wife push a baby's ginormous head out of her vagina.  Probably because the fathers are a) passed out cold; b) manfully suppressing the urge to hurl chunks, or c) thanking God on their knees they will never, ever have to do this themselves.  In any event, the thought of whipping out a guitar and working out some chords  right then - not happening.   

The nitty gritty of everyday life and familiarity with one's partner, for the most part, gets left out of love songs.  Female songwriters don't write about the way their hubby of umpteen years gets more proficient at the butt trumpet every day.
The Comfortable Phase
from The Eight Phases of Dating from The Oatmeal

Although there is Brad Paisley's generous offer to check his girlfriend for Ticks.  Now there's romance for ya!

Love songs are mostly yearning songs (because the not-yet-well-known object of one's affection is still pure, perfect, and embodies everything one could ever hope to find,) or "player" songs, or we've-broken-up-but-I-still-miss-you, even if I am out partying and hitting on other women, like Smokey Robinson's The Tracks of My Tears.  Or bitter, don't-let-the-doorknob-hit-you-in-the-ass-on-your-way-out break-up songs (my current personal favorites) like Fleetwood Mac's Go Your Own Way, or Dokken's Just Walk Away

I'm not saying loving relationships aren't out there - and beautiful songs about them.

This is what love should be about, IMO.  Perfect love casts out fear.  Love makes you stronger, more confident.  Makes you feel alive and aware of the environment around you, like the children playing outside (though I still think the children in masks theme was a bit weird.)   Love makes you feel more connected, not just to your lover, but to yourself, to Heaven and the Divine, to joy.  Whatever happened in her life after this, during this time Belinda radiated joy.  I felt like I could almost scoop it off her in cupfuls.

from Karen's Whimsy
This, of course, is the bait, the reason we all get lured in, the glorious way we feel upon falling in love.  Just because in most cases, it dims a bit, or even vanishes altogether, doesn't mean it wasn't real and amazing while it lasted.  (Sorry, I tried being cynical - at heart I'm a sappy romantic after all!)

I did fall in love with my exb-f, and I did feel like this, in the beginning.  I'm truly sorry it didn't last, sorry that his OCPD, Mr. Hyde-ish behaviors emerged with such a vengeance that in the end, I felt more Numb.  I'm not foolish enough to go back, in the vain hope that this time, the story will have a different ending.

But I don't regret having those feelings, not for a moment, and I look forward, someday, to feeling them again with somebody who does not have a mental disorder.  And in the meantime... I'll just have to be good to my girlfriend.

Have you ever felt confused by the messages about
dysfunctional love in pop music?
What's your favorite love (or break-up) song?