Episode 47: Ru (last name withheld)
Paul’s friend Ru stops by to talk about the deep-rooted fear she has of men abandoning her. From her absentee Air Force dad to her broken poet boyfriend living in a storage shelter, she reveals the painful choices she has made to try to get men to stay – sleeping with Gene Simmons and chasing Tommy Lee – and the humiliation by peers that almost killed her. We talk about the damage of labeling girls as “sluts”. Plus some great listener suveys, especially one about not knowing what constitues sex abuse. How can you not listen to an episode involving Gene Simmons and Albert Einstein?
Paul: Welcome to Episode Forty-Seven with my guest Ru. I'm Paul Gilmartin, this is The Mental Illness Happy Hour an hour of honesty about all the battles in our heads from medically diagnosed conditions to every day compulsive negative thinking, feelings of dissatisfaction, disconnection, inadequacy and that vague sinking feeling that the world is passing us by. You give us an hour, we'll give you a hot ladle of awkward and icky. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical counseling or advice. Think of it less as a doctors office and more as a waiting room that hopefully doesn't suck. Before we get to the interview with my friend Ru I want to give you a little bit of information. The website for the show is mentalpod.com. Go check it out. Don't make me tell you all the stuff you can do there. Like taking the survey. Posting in the forum. Buying a t-shirt. Donating. Supporting the show. Don't make me list those. What else did I want to tell you. We're in the process of redesigning the website. We're going to have some new fun stuff coming up hopefully in the next month. Why don't I just talk about it when it actually comes up.
You know what would be cool is for you guys to email me guests that I've had on that you would like to hear come on again. That would be cool, because I have a couple in mind that I'm definitely going to have back on but I'd also like to get some feedback from you guys. My twitter name is mentalpod. You can also skype me at mentalpod. Ok, before we get to the interview with my friend Ru as I've said – I've withheld her last name because she would prefer that I do that. She's a teacher and I think she just kind of wants to keep a low profile.
This is a survey response from a guy named Bunker. We have two surveys on the website, we have the Shame and Secrets survey and then the basic survey and this is from the basic survey. His name is Bunker, he's in his thirties. He ingests quite a bit of drugs and alcohol. He writes, “Though I've been sober from drinking for the past couple of weeks, I smoke pot to help me sleep;” He was raised in an environment that was totally chaotic. Has he ever been through therapy? No. He says, “I've never been a person who thought it was BS or anything. The main reason I haven't is because of money and the fact that I am bipolar and usually seek help when I am coming out of depression and not when I'm actually dealing with it.” Do you take any medications? “Again as a bipolar person it's hard to tell whether it is the drugs that are working or if it is just part of the cycle. I think they work but it's hard to stay on a regiment when I'm off the pills and I don't know what regular is. The middle seems to scare me the most.” I think there's a lot of people who can relate to that especially the part about not having the money. As far as sharing his feelings with anyone on a regular basis he says, “No I tried to but I stopped.” He's ok with how much money he makes. Although I think he would enjoy having a little bit more so he could pay for medication on a regular basis. But what am I, his accountant? His primary emotions that he experiences is lonely, and blah/empty/vaguely unsatisfied. I can't relate to that at all. How often do you think these thoughts? His primary thought is “I don't matter.” Again, cannot relate to that at all. How often do you engage in these activities? His primary activity is self-obsession. What does he feel ashamed of? He writes, “my failed attempts at relationships. Having never really witnessed a healthy relationship growing up I sometimes fall into mistaking someone being nice to me as someone who would be interested in me. Then feeling ashamed that I messed up whatever change I had to just hang out with that person.” And then finally the question, if there is a God what are some of the things you would say to God? He writes, “Really? You can do whatever you want? And all you did was create a speck of dirt in the middle of nowhere filled with people who have no idea what you are and all you give us are convoluted manuscripts created in convoluted ways as proof of your existence and we're supposed to believe in you or suffer the consequences. Well played you twisted bastard. Then hope that complement at the end would get me on his good side.”
Paul: I'm here with my friend Ru who I've known for about I guess about two years. We are in the same support group and it, I'm really happy that you are willing to come on the podcast because you're somebody who I just find to be really open and vulnerable and honest and whenever you talk about what's going on with you I get something out of it. So thank you for being here.
Ru: Thank you for asking me. It's nice to feel like somebody's interested in my story. I don't find it that interesting anymore.
Paul: Now you know while your story, we were talking before we started rolling, you know, you were saying, my story's not dramatic. You don't have these things of great abuse and deprivation. But to me it doesn't have to, you don't have to have those things to feel fucked up or broken or stuck or empty, whatever. And in many ways I think the perfect guest is somebody who doesn't have those things because I think so many people feel that something is missing in their lives or they're not doing something right or they're not where they should be. And they feel like, I'm just a loser for feeling that way because I don't have anything that caused that. And I don't think you have to. I think the feelings are what need to be looked at and examined.
Ru: I'm glad you mentioned that. First of all while I said I don't anything traumatic in my story I wouldn't suggest that I don't have anything dramatic in my story. And they're two totally different outcomes. It is interesting because when I look at some of the consequences of my actions or the direction that my life has taken I used to think 'gosh I've had every opportunity provided for me. My parents are still together.' Nothing catastrophic happen. But I'm not where I want to be and I've had really difficult time with things in my interactions with other people.
Paul: So tell the listener about yourself. Where are you from, where were you raised what was that kind of environment like etc.
Ru: I was born overseas but I was raised for all intensive purposes kind of back and forth between Europe and the United States to American parents. I'm the product of my father's second family. So my father was married, he is much older than my mother. He was married before and had three children from that marriage. And he lost his mother, his wife and then his son n the span of two years. He met my mother during his grief process and she happened to get pregnant. So my parents are still together. They're much more like roommates I think than, I never grew up in a home where I felt a lot of romantic love between the two of them. But there was a great deal of compatibility. They made sense for one another.
Paul: So not a lot of arguing or fighting.
Ru: No, never.
Paul: That's great. Did you get the -
Ru: Never. Well I don't think that's necessarily indicative of a more healthy relationship.
Paul: That's true. Good point.
Ru: There could be a great deal of apathy.
Paul: Did you - was there affection though it wasn't romantic or sexual?
Ru: To me. But not, with them. Even now I kind of look at them awkwardly at Christmas when he kind of has to kiss her on the cheek or you know - I saw a great deal of love between them really at the crux of their relationship when he was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago. And then I saw a side of them that I've never seen in my forty years on this planet.
Ru: Yeah. But you know it's got to take cancer -
Paul: Did he pass away?
Ru: No he's in remission.
Paul: He's in remission.
Ru: He's fine. He's ninety-three years old.
Paul: Are you kidding me?
Ru: I am not kidding you. He's adorable. They're awesome. But the point is that I grew up in this family where my parents didn't seem to have this great love for each other and I didn't even know that I thought about it. I was a little kid.
Paul: It's your normal.
Ru: It's my normal, right. I used to kind of ask them - I wanted them to make out more. Like I would go over to friend's houses and I would see a lot of affection or on tv the couples in the sitcoms would hold hands or things like that. And I would always ask them to do that and they would awkwardly decline.
Paul: I've never seen my parents, well it's impossible now my dad's dead, but never saw them hold hands, never saw a spontaneous kiss, never saw any type of affection. So I get that.
Ru: Ok. I will tell you what I did get though was that I definitely felt from a very young age - second best. Like my mother and I were the second round at this family thing.
Ru: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. Because what happened was when I was young, my father – in grief out of losing his son, his son died the month that I was born. His adult son of cystic fibrosis. I came a long and he was fifty three and he was retiring and he just kind of went off and traveled a lot. And you know -
Paul: What did he do for a living?
Ru: Retired air force colonel. So...
Paul: Ok. So that's why you moved around a lot.
Ru: Uh hm. So... Yes, I mean yes and no. They wanted me to get a good education. My parents were well traveled, very cultured, very educated people.
Paul: What countries did you live in?
Ru: I was born in England. And we lived in Germany and most of my family is in Italy. But I mean we traveled all of western Europe, northern Africa. They took me to every castle, church and museum in the northern hemisphere.
Paul: And do you feel grateful for that?
Ru: Oh of course. Of course. I mean, yes because it made me smarter, but I got to tell you -
Paul: Did you appreciate -
Ru: There were so many other things that I now recognize going back that were missing in my house that you know maybe would have -
Paul: Balanced it.
Ru: Yeah, maybe would have helped my opportunities more than -
Paul: Can you named some of the things that you wished you kind of experienced in childhood that you didn't?
- Ru: I wished he was there. I can really tell you that it must have made an impact on me because obviously this memory is so vivid for me. I remember my dad leaving a lot on trips. And he would go like space available. So he'd just go to the airport and wait out a space on a military flight. To go anywhere. I mean, me was just going to see the world.
Paul: Oh, this wasn't for business. This was just -
Ru: Oh no he was retired from like the year I was born he retired.
Paul: Really. Oh.....
Ru: So this traveling was him grieving, him – you know I can finally do this, I've always been kind of locked down to a family. But he had a working wife, my mom was a nurse, and a kid at home. And he'd go off -
Paul: You were the only kid from his second marriage.
Ru: Right. And he was gone easily, easily three months, six months a year. Three months at the short end.
Paul: By his own choice.
Ru: Sometimes the trips were three months long. And I remember throwing myself at him. I mean you've heard this before. Throwing myself at him and screaming, complete terror temper tantrum: “Please don't go.” And he's holding his suitcase - “I'm going to come back, I'm going to come back.” For years. For years. That pattern lasted well into my teens.
Ru: Uh hm. And you know, my poor mom. Left to, as a working mother, kind of left to cope and it's only now in retrospect that I can go back and figure out what that dynamic must have been like. How much resentment she must have had. I interviewed him once about his life and he said, I said, “so what was the deal with all that traveling? You had a little kid?” And he said: “Well I always knew I was going to come home and fulfill my obligation to you and your mother.” He just -
Paul: He didn't see -
Ru: He did not see it. I jokingly call him the potato. He's like this little lumpy guy on a couch. And he's got eyes but he doesn't see anything. He doesn't get it. He doesn't make the connection. It's interesting because all of his children, my sisters from the other marriage, we're all addicts on some level. Whether or it be substances, relationships or whatever. And he often just talks about that as if it's a phenomenon that's separate from him. “Wow isn't that crazy, you know, what's wrong with you kids.” And I'm like – you're the common denominator man. So, you know?
Paul: Yeah. Is it that generation that just didn't get that? Didn't understand that 'cause they didn't get it. I think that must be what it is but -
Ru: Absolutely. I mean, feelings are a luxury.
Paul: And I have to tell you, your parents can even be there physically and not be there - my dad was there physically but just was not present. Which in some ways is even more hurtful because then it's like you're so close to having the potential relationship with me that I want you to have but it must be me. I must not be good enough. But let's -
Ru: And it's right there under your nose.
Paul: Right, right. But I want to talk about your situation. So, obviously that embedded some type of core message in you. That, what do you think? I'm not good enough, I'm not interesting...
Ru: I don't matter.
Paul: I don't matter.
Ru: I really, the work that I'm doing now, the core belief that I have as I walk through the world especially as an unmarried person without children, I just don't matter.
Paul: Do you mind me asking how old you are?
Paul: So at what age did you begin to feel that you were left out of this relationship thing. Because I've heard you share, I'm not putting words in your mouth, I've heard you share about this before.
Ru: Well I think at first what happened was that I became an over achiever. I became a really productive, attention seeking little kid So what I got, or what I was at least acting out was if I'm smart enough, if I get good enough grades and I had parents who definitely validated - you earn love. So they really lavished me with praise when I was getting good grades and I was in school plays. I was a very very smart child. So, you know talented and gifted program. I just became a hyper vigilant, little A-type, clean room, don't get in trouble. You know, I'm going to be a rock star. I was in all of these programs, just almost annoyingly perfect really. I laugh now, I was such a nerdy little kid. But it was all about validation.
Paul: I have to be this.
Ru: Yeah. And of course it's a sense of self-esteem for a little kid. But a performer definitely. I liked the attention.
Paul: It was your coping mechanism.
Ru: Uh huh. Absolutely. People paid attention to you when you did that. And my parents did. And that got, that was rewarding. Well I guess you ask when I realized I was struggling with relationships or acting out with relationships, and that would be the first time I tried to have them. Thirteen? Ok, to give you an indication I had my first boyfriend, I think, like my first real “I love you, you love me” monogamous relationship at twenty-three and by that time I think I had already slept with eighty men.
Ru: So there's a big contradiction there.
Ru: And that's not the way that I wanted it. I just didn't know how to -
Paul: When you were sleeping with men were you sleeping with them because you wanted the validation that “they want me.” Or were you sleeping with them because they wanted to sleep with you and you wanted to please them? Or some other reason. Or did you just enjoy it?
Ru: No, no, no, no. I think on a superficial level maybe I could say that you enjoy the attention. But no, I didn't enjoy the intimacy or the physicality of any of that. No, I just really wanted somebody to stick around. And I just didn't know how to do it any other way. I mean I would look around at these teenager girls who were dating and think how the hell did they get a boyfriend? Like how did they do this thing? I was in fantasy from the time I was eight to the day before yesterday.
Paul: Talk about that. Talk about fantasy.
Ru: You know there's a difference between fantasizing about a rock star, or about a movie star in that 'oh wouldn't it be lovely' way and really escaping from reality. From my inability to connect to boys my age. I really believed, I can joke about this, I really believed that Tommy Lee was going to take me to my prom. And I spent, and I know we can giggle about it but it's almost painful for me to conjure up that memory. Because I remember being in high school and just going I fucking hate these people. And if this guy if I can get to him, he's going to show up and we're going to walk in together and we're going to rub it into everybody's face. Huge fantasies about weddings and being a rock star and -
Paul: When you say you actually believed that he was going to take you to prom what, how did you think that was going to unfold? Or did you just leap in your mind to him walking you into prom.
Ru: No because I spent a fair amount of time chasing. You know, chasing him, writing him. I was a groupie. That didn't hurt.
Paul: Ok. Did you ever meet him?
Ru: Oh yeah.
Paul: Did you have sex with him?
Ru: I did not.
Paul: Did you fool around with him?
Ru: (laughing) No.
Paul: Did you try to have sex with him?
Ru: (laughing) No.
Paul: I need more details about this 'cause it's like -
Ru: No I did have sex with another rock star who's actually well known for having sex.
Paul: You want to say who it was?
Ru: Sure I'll tell you. Gene Simmons.
Paul: Oh yeah?
Ru: But that makes me like one in three women in Los Angeles who have had sex with Gene Simmons. So - We have a support group just for that.
Paul: Did you feel like you were close to getting him to go to prom with you? I know that it was a fantasy and it was unrealistic. But I want to know the degree to which it was a fantasy -
Ru: I wasn't delusional. You know what I mean? It wasn't about me being insane. Or attaching myself to somebody I didn't know. It was, this will make it all better. If I could have this person, and if people could see and then they would have to like me because I'd be on the arm of a rock star and blah blah blah. You know, I mean, I grew up listening to their music but it was like any other kid with a crush. I didn't have dreams about marrying him. I didn't have dreams that we were going to be best friends. He was going to take me away from all this. From having my name written on the bathroom room walls. And little girls beating me up after school and a lot a lot of bullying.
Paul: Talk about that. What was involved in that, your name being written about, what would they write?
Ru: Well when you're what I guess people would perceive... first of all I'm co-dependent. So I'm a people pleaser. So depending on who I'm with, what group I'm with as an adolescent I'm playing all the gossip games and doing all of the manipulating things that other kids do. But kids also prey on the weak and they can see that I'm -
Paul: They sense desperation.
Ru: Absolutely. And I was completely desperate. I had a manifesto with my best friend when I was like twelve about how we were going to get popular. All the things we were going to – I mean a full on - I wish I still had it. Twenty pages of rules and how would strategies. And it clearly didn't work. And then also, when you're attractive to men because you're a people pleaser and co-dependent and then they take advantage of that, that earns you a reputation as a thirteen, fourteen year old very very quickly.
Paul: At what age did you being sleeping?
Ru: I slept with somebody for the first time when I was thirteen years old. I hadn't even menstruated yet.
Ru: I told him, it's so funny, I told him I really just – wow It's interesting that I'm going to talk about it. I really wanted to see what all the hype was about. We live in this culture that talks about sex all the time and gives no information to young people. And everything is so sexualized. And I was like ok what's going on? I had no sexual experience. And it was, on a physical level it was almost ineffective. Like nothing, it wasn't -but I call it my first time. And I lied and told him that I was older than I was. And I lied and told him that I was on birth control. And just told a whole host of stories to get it over with.
Paul: And the experience was un-pleasurable? Just -
Ru: Well I mean, I don't know how graphic to be but you know him trying to penetrate a virgin was literally like beating your head up against a wall. Nothing was going to happen. But I still count it as my first.
Paul: How old was he?
Ru: I think eighteen. I don't know. I didn't even know him.
Paul: And after that happened, what do you remember thinking or feeling about yourself and the experience. Was there any kind of shame or regret? Did it make you want to have sex again, or did it make you not to have sex again.
Ru: I don't really remember. I definitely, I know that I wasn't in shame.
Paul: You had a manifesto to write. You had shit to do.
Ru: Right. I had popularity to get. Ok?
Paul: You can't write down laying down.
Ru: The problem is that when you're thirteen you can't, you can't share these stories with anyone.
Paul: Yeah. That's a good point.
Ru: Nobody can be trusted when you're an adolescent.
Paul: And especially a girl. A guy would share that with all his friends.
Ru: Of course.
Paul: But a girl -
Ru: Well you know it's part of our definition of masculinity is to you know, sexual conquest. And It's the opposite of our definition of femininity. Yeah so, you know I got a reputation. I shared it with someone and the next thing you know – and that reputation lasted, that reputation lasted for about four years. My parents actually moved me out of the country. I was in Europe at the time. Moved me back to America because they were so worried. Because I, you know I just kept trying to get male attention. I just kept acting out. I just kept getting beaten up and hearing about it. And then eventually I just stopped going to school. And once I was at the place where I was getting expelled, suspended and then ultimately expelled, they had grave concerns about, you know, our kids going to lose her life and never get it back if we don't rescue her.
Paul: So Europe in terms of adolescence certainly doesn't have a different opinion on sex.
Ru: I wasn't in a European school system. I was in an American and International school system.
Paul: Oh ok.
Ru: So, I don't know what -
Paul: I would imagine it's the same.
Ru: I don't think it's any different. But I think, man, I think that American kids are, they're cruel. Thank god, I say this all the time, thank god there was no technology.
Paul: Oh my god.
Ru: Thank god that the farthest a reputation could follow me was a building. I mean it couldn't, there was no way of spreading it. There were no cellphones. There was no sexting. There was no facebook.
Paul: And it didn't live forever.
Ru: It didn't live forever.
Paul: Yeah. I say that often that I'm so glad I escaped my adolescence without digital media.
Ru: Me too.
Paul: Cause I would have been obsessed with it, it would have never have been enough, and I would have done things that were desperate and embarrassing and there for a long time.
Ru: I think I would have killed myself.
Ru: Yeah to be really honest with you. It was that hard. It was that hard. I'm a teacher now and the work that I do, I am vitriolic, I am militant about – I talk a lot about bullying. And the way we use our words to impact other people. I don't think I would have survived it. It was just too much.
Paul: Well I'm glad you survived.
Ru: Thanks. Yeah, me too right? But, it's hard. It's hard to know that any kid has to go through that, for choices. It's sometimes I hear young people and they use the word, and they use words like slut or something like that and I think you have no idea.
Paul: Or fagot, or gay....
Ru: Yeah. Sure. But particularly in terms of how I relate, of course the bulling but in terms of how I relate just this notion that if a girl is sexual, she's a slut. And you have no idea why she's acting out in that way. I really believe that most young people aren't getting a lot of sexual pleasure out of it. They just don't know how to relate. They don't know how to get attention, approval, validation, they're probably not getting it at home. And today, in whatever this is that we're doing, somebody likes me.
Ru: And I'll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. So.
Paul: You know I think when you boil down all the stuff that we do for attention or money or whatever they're just really variations on 'I want to be loved.'
Ru: There is a direct relationship between absentee fathers or distant fathers and female promiscuity. A direct connection. We're going to look for it somewhere.
Paul: I totally believe that.
Ru: And it's also your primary template for – my dad leaving - that story I told you earlier about throwing myself at his legs and all of that, that became the template for how I understood interaction with men. So throw yourself at somebody who doesn't want you as they're walking away and then beg them to stay and do everything you can to get them to turn around and come back in the door. That is a metaphor for every relationship I've had as an adult.
Paul: And the men sense that desperation -
Ru: I can imagine.
Paul: And it is not, a turn on in the long run. They might get a little jolt or a hit out of it, and it may make them feel powerful. But ultimately I don't think they're going to respect or want to be intimate with somebody that is infused with that kind of desperation constantly.
Ru: Well yeah. And I think also first of all, healthy men would run a mile away from, you know, you've just got it, like you said, coming out of your pours and stamped on your forehead. And I think even toxic men who are drawn to it - people get that it's not about them. That this is like - you could put any face over any one of the people I've dated. They were all the same. It didn't matter who they were. It was just 'leaving person, please come stay.' There weren’t like objective criteria about someone who made sense for me, or I liked them because they're so funny. No, it was just this notion of if you get people to stay that means you're worth something. Right? If you can convince people to love you then you're loveable.
Paul: Was it more of a turn on when you would get a guy to turn around? Or you would get a boyfriend who wasn't really present. Was the unhealed part of you, was it being turned on by the unavailable?
Ru: Well it triggers the original childhood trauma. Right? So, I often say when people will say to me: 'Why don't I like, there are so many people who are interested me. I don't like them. Why don't I like them.' And I'm like, well tell me about your upbringing. Because if this is what you grew up with, somebody who is distant, then somebody who is present isn't going to trigger the original childhood wound. And then somebody who likes you and is next to you and available for you isn't going to heal the original childhood wound. That three year old girl throwing herself at dad, she gets somehow fixed when the adult me gets a relationship. Does that make sense?
Ru: It puts closure on the dad who didn't stay. All of that.
Paul: I think few things are as exciting to us as when the unhealed part of us gets triggered. It is so powerful.
Ru: Oh my god. So intense. It's crazy. It's a full physiological thing.
Paul: It is.
Ru: But no when you say is it exciting, no. It's, I don't know if you say the f-word on your podcast, but it's flipping exhausting. Because then you have to keep -
Paul: You can say fucking.
Ru: I can say fucking? Ok. I love the word fucking. I love it more just as a filler now rather than what we're actually talking about. It's exhausting because then you have to keep them. Right? So, it's not just about getting somebody's attention, you said a boyfriend - Do you know how much work it is to be a co-dependent desperate person and have to keep somebody -
Paul: And a perfectionist.
Ru: Oh my god. Like (heavy breath) Ok....it's like
Paul: You start the tap dance, you don't -
Ru: Yeah totally! You're on the emotional treadmill all the time. On the stair master to nowhere.
Paul: Is it because you think if I blow this one thing they're out the door.
Ru: Oh if I let up, if I let up they're leaving.
Paul: It's got to be perfect, this presentation.
Ru: And you know dating for me was, oh my god, it such a production.
Paul: Describe the battles in your head.
Ru: Oh, taking people on vacation and lavish gifts and 'surprise! I rented a limo we're going to - !' I never thought ok, I can just rest on my laurels and just be a girl who's in sweats watching a movie. If they went out then I had to go out. If they made plans without me then I had to go find something to do. Everything just revolved around the person I was with. Friends were second best to a guy, always.
Paul: So did you date a lot of narcissists?
Ru: I just dated a lot. Of – fill in the blank. Did I date a lot of tall people? Yes. Narcissists? Yes. Addicts? Yes. All of it. There were so many people that just came through the doors.
Paul: Was there a particular time that really rang your bell?
Ru: I always dated down. I always dated, this is going to sound ego-maniacal, but I always dated people who didn't really have their shit together. And then resent them of course for not having their shit together. But the notion that I could meet somebody who was professional, or responsible or even have money, that was so far beyond me. Those people aren't going to like me. But this guy who's living in a storage facility, you know what I mean, he's a really talented poet. He'll be great.
Paul: He'll need me. Did you think that's it? Or part of it?
Ru: Yeah. I really guess just thought it was all I'm going to get. This is it. This is what you're worth.
Paul: At what age did you seek help for - ? Or did you realize, I'm not like other people in this regard.
Ru: It wasn't till my thirties. I was in a relationship that was really really toxic. I mean that started having consequences beyond those that I saw around me. I lost a job -
Paul: Can you get into more details about this.
Ru: I was with a depressed alcoholic. And you know a favorite thing to do was to sit up and drink wine and bond and it was this great Romeo and Juliet, like nobody ever knew me like that and probably never will because it was gross how much I was divulging to him. It was just so enmeshed, and it was so creepy. It was a like a bad movie with a dark version of Drew Barrymore. It was just a really enmeshed, creepy, co-dependent, toxic, relationship.
Paul: So there wasn't really true intimacy. It was more kind of a needy desperate intimacy?
Ru: Sure, on my end. With somebody who was giving me the 'oh I'm really broken, and I don't know how to do relationships, and I'll love you the best that I can but I've got a black soul....'
Paul: Oh my god. Like a bad movie.
Ru: I'm not making this up. I know. And he tried to commit suicide and was nearly successful.
Paul: He was nearly successful.
Ru: Uh hmm. And I just... I just, I couldn't leave. I just couldn't leave.
Ru: Because I didn't have the tools.
Paul: But what was the thought in your head? 'He needs me? I need him?'
Ru: I mean this is where it sounds like a bad - but I love him....
Paul: Because you thought that's what love is. You confused – is it fair to say neediness with love?
Ru: I mean to this day I really .....There was so much drama and it was so intense all the time and there was something - You know I had a friend say, 'It's really poetic the two of you.' It is. It's the tragedy of great literature. But it's a tragedy what we're all watching. You're going down with the ship. This thing is not long for the lasting.
Paul: What happened when he tried to kill himself?
Ru: Well he tried to kill himself and I tried to -
Paul: But how did you react?
Ru: I just remember thinking like, if you loved me enough I could have saved you. Like why, I'm right here. Why am I not enough to save you from yourself? I do everything. I was actually floored. I was so surprised. Now in retrospect, I'm like why would that be a shocker. But -
Paul: And plus you're assuming that it's all about you.
Paul: His suicide is -
Ru: Of course. I'm the girlfriend, of course it's all about me. I'm responsible if he survives, I'm responsible if he doesn't.
Paul: And that's the thing about co-dependency too that people don't realize is there's kind of an inherent narcissism and egoism in that. Yeah you're a people pleaser and you're tap dancing to get their love. But you think you're that powerful.
Ru: I heard a definition of narcissism the other day that finally made that word make sense for me. A colleague said, she looked it up and it said: “a feeling of extreme self-importance coupled with self-loathing.” I was like – Oh my god! Because I always thought I'm not narcissistic, I don't even like myself. I might be at the center of my universe but it's all very critical. But that's exactly what it is. So, you think you're a big piece of shit and you think you're the only piece of shit and your piece of shit-ness is what is making people act the way they do. So anyway I got into therapy about the time of that relationship and he suggested meetings for co-dependency. I read a lot of books on co-dependency. And I identified, I was like, oh yeah this is totally me. Adult child of alcoholics, whatever it was. I have all those patterns. But what do you do with that information? Like this kind of stuff is so deeply rooted it's not like 'I read a book and then I changed.'
Paul: Right. That's the other thing. So few people can read a book and change their life if it's a deep core issue. I would venture to say nobody can really just – that's not going to -
Ru: Right. That's why I think self-help books are great for diagnosis. A great way to read and go ohhhh....
Paul: Now I need to get help.
Ru: Page 87? That's me. But you have to do something with that. Therapy and the reading and all of that was great for me to make connections and go - Ok this is daddy shit. Ok, my friends who are in dramatic relationships, they did this when they were fifteen. But I'm an adult. I'm thirty-two and my boyfriend's off his rocker. And I'm going down with this ship and nobody's talking to me right now. And I'm that crazy chick.
Paul: I might as well still have a locker.
Ru: Uh huh. Uh huh. Yeah right? And like neoprene clothing. It's so eighties, really. So I just - I knew at that time. There was no defending it. There was no rationalizing my way out of it. You're fucked up. I was losing jobs. I was losing friends. There was no way – people were having those heart to heart, intervention – You know you go out to coffee and people would look at you and go 'Sweetie, we need to talk. We're really worried about you.' And that was just happening all the time.
Paul: Thank god you had friends that were honest with you.
Ru: Uh huh. Uh huh. Yeah that's humbling. Even now a decade later I'm like, oh they watched me do that stuff.
Paul: But that's what true, to me, true friends are the ones that love you even when they've seen you at your worst.
Ru: Well some had to walk away. I mean some people just had to do the: 'Kiddo you're on your own. I love you to pieces I'm not going to watch this.' Or, 'you don't know how to be a friend to me because you're so involved in this relationship and it's such a priority to you. You forgot my birthday. You over commit and then you flake.' You know whatever it was. I just didn't, you know Paul it's not that I didn't know how to be a girlfriend or a friend I didn't know how to be in the world. I didn't have any priorities that were mine that existed outside of a relationship with other people. Nothing that was my own.
Paul: It was your drug.
Ru: Yeah. Yeah. So -
Paul: Where am I going to get the next hit?
Ru: Uh hmm. And I would have done anything, I don't know if you can relate or, I would have done anything not to be alone. That, being in a bad relationship - And I had had relationships before that were somewhat healthy. So I do look at this and go, wow there was a progression there. But anything was better than being by yourself.
Paul: So, you hit a point where you realize – this is a pattern, this is a problem. Then what do you do?
Ru: Well I left him, you know, in the circumstances by which I left weren't anything remarkable. He cheated and I basically was so mortified because everybody knew, that I knew - I can't go back. Not because I have any standards. Not because I actually find this behavior that disturbing, in spite of the fact that he had had a year long affair and blah, blah, blah. But my friends will, I'm no longer, I can't justify this one. People will not talk to me.
Paul: Were you faithful in the relationships that you had?
Ru: I've been faithful to every person I've ever been with. I've never cheated. Never emotionally, never physically, never been inappropriate at all. Flirting at a dance club maybe. I'm myopic in my obsession with people. There's no room for anybody else. Cheating? I'm trying to keep this one working.
Paul: I'm trying to fix this person.
Ru: Do you know how time consuming that is?
Paul: I don't have time to fix you!
Ru: Totally. Totally. It's just never been an issue.
Paul: So you broke with him and then what?
Ru: And then I did THAT. That relationship. That unavailable guy thing to varying degrees for another five years.
Paul: And were you getting help during this period? Or just doing it and realizing that you shouldn't be doing it.
Ru: Yeah I mean, I'm a really bright person and I'm really self-aware but - you know, it's like if you're an alcoholic, you know, everybody in the country knows that there's AA. I hear about it. And we get that there's something out there. What do you do if you're like - I'm the person who can't stop picking up the phone. I'm the girl who - we don't have a name for it. We don't – We don't - Maybe in urban people talk about it. But for the most part you just look like- 'oh they're the psycho chick. They're the crazy girl. This girl just won't take no for an answer. Or isn't she pathetic she's dating that loser. So yeah you know there's something wrong but what do you do with that? What do you do. I also didn't have any friends who were on any kind of growth plan. Who were either spiritual or seeking help for anything that looked like what I was doing. Does that make sense?
Ru: So I'm looking around me and I'm like, 'well shit all my friends are getting married. All my friends are normal.'
Paul: Which just makes you feel even worse.
Ru: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Paul: 'Cause that's the other thing that the person who has that big unhealed part in them is they're constantly comparing themselves to everybody around them. Never taking into account that yeah that person's in a relationship but they may be fucking miserable. They may be on the verge of suicide. But you assume they've got it all going on. They're happy and that's going to be a marriage that's going to last forever. Those two people are in love. Whatever. You compare and contrast.
Ru: Absolutely. But the reality was that my friends were getting married for the first time. They were happy. I can't tell you the number of weddings I went to in a seven year span. I remember sitting with a girlfriend at one wedding and bawling my head off. I had to go to the bathroom I was crying so hard. And realizing I am never going to get, I am never going to have what this girl has. This girl who just walked down the aisle. I don't know how to do it. I don't know how to find somebody who's normal. I don't feel normal. I don't know how to connect to people on a normal level. Everything is drama. Everything is intensity. I don't know how to go to a yoga class by myself for crying out loud. I don't know how to keep a plan that doesn't involve a guy. I don't know to stop looking for a dude. I was like, I'm never going to get this. Come on I'm not that far off base. That was ten years ago and I'm still not there. There is something reasonable to - I would look around at the people around me and see them coupling and compare myself.
Paul: But in that time you sought help.
Ru: Uh hmm.
Paul: And you began to see some of these patterns. And what were some of the insights that you began to glean once you started getting help.
Ru: Yeah I got help that moved beyond therapy and moved beyond books. 'Co-Dependent no more.' I moved beyond that. And I realized that this is, for me, this is brain wiring. This abandonment stuff happened when I was so young that it became the way that my brain responds to things. And it's no different than - I feel pain, I want a donut. I feel pain, I want a drink. When I feel pain I want people.
Paul: Men and women. Just friendship?
Ru: Friendship was my primary addiction. My first, it's funny you ask this, my first addictive relationship was my best friend when I was fourteen and we were in a toxic, enmeshed purely platonic relationship for twenty-five years. That was, she was my primary addiction. She came along before I had men.
Paul: And are you guys friends no more?
Ru: No. I severed the ties with her as a result of doing the kind of work I'm doing now.
Paul: What were the insights that made you realize you had to sever the relationship, and how did you do that?
Ru: It didn't make me feel good. And we didn't know how to be without each other. And we were mean to each other and judgey with one another. We were no different than a married couple. We talked for hours every day on the phone. We gave every detail of our day run by the other person. We used to think that was so cute. We're so 'Sex in the City.' It's not. It's really toxic. When I'm spending four hours telling her about a conversation with someone that lasted four minutes. And then she's giving me an hours worth of feedback about all the things I did right and wrong. It just - and I'm doing the same.
Paul: That sounds so draining.
Ru: Yeah. But to us it was why we were best-friends. Cause' she's co-dependent too. It was like, the two of us against the world. Actually we're not against anything and nobody's against us.
Paul: Would it be fair to say you were kind of co-signing each other's bullshit?
Ru: Absolutely. Absolutely. And nobody else, what I get now is that nobody is my judger/jailer. And she was for me. Yeah, addictive relationships, co-dependent relationships, enmeshed relationships don't have to be romantic ones. They can be familiar and they can be with our friends, or our co-workers. It doesn't have to be about lust or something like that to have that level of toxicity. And in my case, like I said it was this decades long friendship. And one day I just went, this isn't normal. These patterns - what we were doing was taking childhood patterns of interacting you know we met when we were so young – childhood patterns of drama and gossip and dependency way into adult hood. Because we learned how to act when we were fourteen so even if you get older chronologically you're still acting like fucking juveniles.
Paul: I wonder if because it just struck me that the two things that the romantic relationships and the platonic relationship with your friend have in common is that there is a validation hit. That it seems would make them exciting. And you're talking about our friend being mean to you, to me that strikes me that that's also similar with the guy that's unavailable in that if that person treats me like shit some times when they do validate me it makes the stakes that much bigger and much bigger of a reward. Because I feel like, well that person wouldn't bullshit me. Cause they, so this has to be true validation 'cause this person was just cutting me down yesterday so if they're praising me today, that's a huge, that's a trophy fish.
Ru: I do remember thinking that I really mattered to her. You know we used to call each other sisters. She was the sister I didn't have. She lived with my parents and I when I was a teenager. They were her legal guardians.
Paul: Oh wow.
Ru: So what you were just saying about the hit. She would go for long periods of time and not talk to me. She would break up with me. She would just get mad and one day my phone wouldn't ring. And it wouldn't ring for weeks. And all of the patterns I have with men. I would call her and call her and call her. I would call and say 'I'm so sorry, I don't know what I've done. But please call me back.' Like I'm already apologizing just to get her attention again. And at some point she would like concede and my phone would ring. And sometimes it was two weeks and sometimes it was eight months. Oh my god when she came back it was like 'oh thank god.' Just like a lover. I just thought she was the bees knees. And around her I mattered. And when she left, life just got more boring and I had to be alone and deal with my demons.
Paul: Talk about that.
Ru: I hate being alone. I'm much better at it now. Now that I have support. But I remember living alone, I lived alone for ten years and I will be living alone again this month, my roommate's moving out. But I lived alone for ten years and I would walk in the house and instantly, and this was like before cellphones or at least I didn't have one. I think the rest of the world did, but I didn't. And I would get out my address book and start calling. Like start at the A's and start calling people. 'What are you doing tonight? What are you doing? Do you want to go out to eat? Do you want to meet for a drink?' And if nobody wanted to go out, I would just sit on the phone all night. And I would sit outside and smoke cigarettes and drink wine and talk from the time I got home from work you know six, eight o'clock, until it was time to go to bed.
Ru: Yeah. And my neighbors would say 'oh you're so popular you're always on the phone.' And now I think that had nothing to do with being liked. It was - I do not how to sit in this space. I would feel a physical panic when I would walk into my apartment.
Ru: Like what the fuck am I supposed to do here? Just sit and watch tv?
Paul: Describe what it feels like when you're alone. When it's bad.
Ru: It was boring. I didn't know how to fill up the time. I didn't want to feel feelings of you know, like this restlessness of - what am I supposed to do?
Paul: That itch.
Ru: Yeah. I would just kind of walk around. I lived in a two bed room apartment at the time. Now I own a huge house, there's only so much cleaning you can do. I didn't know how to sit with myself. The only thing that would fix it was people. So get on the phone and start calling people, find something to do with people. I didn't have any hobbies or interests of my own. My hobby was relationships. Without one of those, it's not like I would come home and paint or read a book. I just -what? Hobby? I'm still not a hobby person just so you know.
Paul: You feel like doing a fear off?
Ru: Oh yeah.
Paul: Let's do it.
Ru: Do I have to have my list? Do you have a list?
Paul: I have a listener list. Because I have listed so many of my fears on previous podcasts. I'm kind of, I'm not done but the well's a little dry. So, I'll start. This is the end of a listeners list, her name was Anne. And she had so many good fears that she I think has lasted for three episodes of just downing one guest after another.
Ru: Wow. Thanks Anne.
Paul: Yeah she's -
Ru: I'm seeing that list across the table from me right now and I'm thinking, Ok. Anne and I are partners in crime. I don't feel so bad.
Paul: I'll start with Anne's. “I'm afraid that my husband secretly hates our family even though he seems really happy and that I'll come home to a Dear Jane letter.”
Ru: My turn? I'm afraid that because I don't want kids I'm going to be left out of my social circle.
Paul: “I'm afraid that I will develop a medical condition in which I seem to be dead but am in fact still alive and end up totally aware during my autopsy or cremation or burial.” She's good.
Ru: Wow. I'm afraid that I am going to look like a leopard in the next ten years from having lain in the sun.
Paul: I'm afraid that because I am the morning parent who hurries to ready myself and my son for our days and drops off at daycare while my husband is the afternoon parent who picks up from daycare and gets afternoon playtime at home, that my son will be association decide that daddy is fun and mommy is a cold heartless bitch.”
Ru: I'm afraid of getting that hair do that older women have that's really thin and kind of, it's like a shell and it doesn't - I'm afraid that when I get older I have to do that.
Paul: It almost looks like a hive for lazy bees.
Ru: And hence the name the beehive, right? I'm afraid I'm going to by default end up with one of those.
Paul: That's a good one, I like that one. You have finished off Anne. And now I'm going to a listener Tom. Tom says, oh and I've read his fears on a previous episode but he's got a new batch. “Even though I understand that my father was hurting as much as I was when my mother died, I will never be able to make up for the lost time I spent being angry at him for finding a new wife so soon after her death.” Interesting that that one came up during your episode. I have all these little shots from the universe sometimes.
Ru: A little serendipity there. I'm afraid that because my father is so much older than my mother and I'm the only child from that relationship that I'm somehow going to have to be responsible for my mother's happiness once he's gone.
Paul: That's a deep one. Tom says, “I'm afraid I will accidentally kill myself and my friends and family will think that I did it intentionally.” That's a good one.
Ru: I'm afraid of getting old and being invisible.
Paul: “I'm afraid I missed out on finding my soul mate while pursuing someone that will never be more to me than a friend.” I'm sure you can't relate to that one. That one was probably like a punch in the stomach.
Ru: Yeah. Wow. That's painful. I really identify with Tom right now. But I can't take his fears cause this is a fear off and you've distracted me.
Paul: We can always pause during the fear off if you want to talk.
Ru: No I mean, I'm going through a period right now in my recovery where I'm having a lot of grief for the way that I spent my life. And not regret but real sadness and grief for a little kid who was so fucked up that she spent her teenage years sleeping around, and her twenties and thirties attaching herself to people who didn't really like her and didn't want to know her and then only in my mid to late thirties did I find an answer. And it's not like this stuff happens over night. I'm really glad that I don't want children or I would be freaking the fuck out right now about the fact that I'm forty one and un-married and a lot things are done for me. Ok so I'm afraid of not being a viable, no, a valuable commodity in a dating market.
Paul: Tom says, “I'm afraid my employer will see that I'm counseling for depression and anxiety on the health insurance paperwork and they will hold it against me for promotion and raises.”
Ru: I'm afraid that I'm always going to make the same money that I am now.
Paul: “I'm afraid I have permanently damaged friendships because I want more from them emotionally.” Oh my god.
Ru: I'm afraid of getting overweight. I'm afraid of getting heavy as I get older.
Paul: “I'm afraid I won't be able to make it to the bathroom to hide at work the next time I start crying over depression and it will negatively affect my relationships with my co-workers.” That one breaks my heart.
Ru: I'm still busy as a co-dependent thinking about how I told you I was afraid of getting fat and you as a man didn't say 'you're not getting fat honey don't worry about it.'
Paul: I've said before on the fear off we don't stop to say, because it would take forever. Because ninety-nine percent of our fears are unfounded and the fear off would take forever if I stopped to tell people that.
Ru: All right maybe you could just give me some non-verbal symbol....
Paul: How about if I wink at you and point like I'm holding a gun.
Ru: I'm afraid that I don't really know what I'm doing most of the time.
Paul: Tom says “I'm afraid I will be diagnosed with diabetes and die a terrible death because I won't be able to inject myself with a needle.”
Ru: Yeah I'm afraid of, I really am afraid of in a weird way of paralysis and not being able to kill myself. You know being in a wheelchair or something like that, quadriplegic, and having to rely the kindness of strangers who won't have the guts to do that for me.
Paul: Yeah. Yeah. I think everybody thinks about -
Ru: Oh really? You're going to take my fear now? Now it's everybody's fear? I thought that was my own specially unique fear. Keep going.
Paul: You have defeated Tom's, but don't get cocky because 'cause was his second batch of fears. But I do have to say you're fucking good. You are good. And she's Miles Davis-ing it. She doesn't have any of these written down. And they’re coming out like darts. This is from Christian. “I'm afraid that as pressures continue to mount on my time and attention that I won't be able to handle it emotionally, and I'll either check out or have a break down.”
Ru: I'm afraid that I'm never going to quit smoking.
Paul: “I'm afraid that no one I love will be able to depend on me.”
Ru: I'm afraid of wearing Depends when I'm older.
Paul: Ditto. “I'm afraid the people I need the most will never be able to trust me to be there for them.”
Ru: I'm afraid that I'm never really going to get to know God or a higher power.
Paul: “I'm afraid that I'll never be financially safe and that there will never be enough that I can do to protect myself or the next inevitable shit storm happens.”
Ru: I'm afraid that I'm not going to change.
Paul: “I'm afraid that I'll never have the relationship I want with my father and that it'll never feel comfortable with telling me what's bothering him.”
Ru: I'm afraid of change.
Paul: “I'm afraid that my family think I don't love them because we disagree about so much or that my refusal to talk about some things will feel like a rejection to them.”
Ru: I'm afraid that my family thinks I'm a lesbian.
Paul: Let's talk about that for a second. Why do you think that is, just because you're not married?
Ru: I'm the only person, blue collar family, big big family on both sides, I mean I'm an only child but.... There's this theory, it's called social comparison theory, right? You look around you and feel normal if the people around you are doing what you're doing. So when I'm here in LA and I'm with some of my friends who are professionals and some, and we're all kind of - we all drive like a Honda Civic or a Toyota Corolla, I'm like, ok. I'm normal. I'm doing it. I've got a degree and I do this. And I make sense with my group of friends. Some have kids, some don't. Most are single, many aren't. And then I go home and everybody is fucking married and they've been married since they were twenty-two and they're on their second marriage at twenty-seven, and kids and step-kids. And I'm just like, oh my god. I totally do not relate to these people. And I never have. And I go home and they're like 'So how you doing .....' Everybody's awkward around me. They don't know what to talk about. They're not professionals. And I don't mean to sound elite, but they don't want to talk about my job. It doesn't interest them.
Paul: They want to talk about their kids.
Ru: Yeah. They don't want to talk about - I travel the world, that doesn't - most of them haven't left the state. I have a lot of cousins who have never been on a plane. So I'm like, well we just don't have anything in common. But it's funny, because I don't judge them because I understand what they're doing is normal. But I'm like the anomaly, I mean I ask my mom sometimes does it bum you out that you don't have a grand kid to talk about? Cause that's what everybody's doing. That's what seventy year old women do. They talk about their grand kids. She's like, 'no it's fine.' I don't think she really does care. But I do get the sense that she's running out of stories to tell about me backpacking through Nepal or something like - Nobody gives a shit.
Paul: By daughter was backing alone through Nepal.
Ru: Yeah. Because she doesn't have a husband. Very well educated my daughter.
Paul: “I'm afraid that my peers have surpassed me and that I have been left behind as they start families and careers. “ Oh my god.
Ru: See I don't make this stuff up.
Ru: I'm afraid of looking really stupid when I'm trying to partake in cultural events like looking at modern art or some film noire.
Paul: I totally get that. I totally get that. Every time I walk through a museum, instead of going 'wow this is so awesome,' I usually think: I don't get that, that bores me, where's a bench.
Ru: Does everybody else get it?
Ru: That conversation they're having...
Paul: Here's a fear of mine. That my memory is going to keep getting worse and worse and that this show is going to go down hill because of it and that eventually no one will listen to this show or practically no one will listen to this show because it will be just be sad. And that is a true genuine fear of mine that I have frequently. Was it your turn or my turn? Oh my god, my memory...
Ru: Well it can be your turn because they're not even your fears. They're Tom's fears. Are we on Tom? Is it Tom's fears?
Paul: Yep. No, this is Christian. Tom was the last one that you crushed. “I'm afraid that I will never be comfortable showing people how much I love them.”
Ru: I'm afraid that I'm going to get tired of trying to take the high road and I'm going to settle for someone just to get love.
Paul: That's a deep one.
Ru: That's a real one. This shit's hard.
Paul: It is. But don't you feel like with the work you've done on yourself in the couple of years that no matter what happens you're going to be more comfortable being alone? Do you feel like your more comfortable being alone?
Ru: I'm absolutely more comfortable being alone. But when I get into – on any given Thursday I'm like 'yeah I'm fine coming home from work and being alone.' On any Saturday night 'ok you don't have plans tonight.' I try to fill up my weekends and then give myself the week to just do what I need to do. But when I start getting into, is this what April is going to look like? And is this what August is going to look like? And am I going to be alone for all of 2012? And then this whole flipping decade? And then next thing - when I start getting into big picture never and always and all of that, the fear that encroaches upon me is enough to make me pick up the phone and call an ex and say, let's just get hitched. It doesn't matter that you don't have anywhere to live. Come on over. Because I'm too scared that what I want isn't out there. I get overwhelmed by that.
Paul: Decisions made based on future fears almost never are good. Almost never. And yet it's the most natural feeling thing for us to do. Because it gives us an instant false comfort in the moment. Oh ok. I'm doing this now. I'm out of that future fear. When in reality the thing to do, at least what helps me, is to mediate. Or do something that brings me back into the present moment and out of the future. Instead of scrambling and doing desperate things to try to make your future better, be a friend with the present moment. Get out of the future. Stop future tripping. Very few people are experiencing something bad because they didn't plan enough in the past for what's happening now. I think that most of the problems that people have is because they're not welcoming and accepting things they can't control in the present moment.
Ru: Well said.
Paul: And it seems like when we do that, the future has a way of working out. That's been my experience and the experience of a lot of other people. If you just keep constantly make friends with the present moment no matter how awful or awkward or bad it seems it's going to make the future, when we greet it with that energy of acceptance and compassion and understanding and vulnerability and just talk about it, things just, that nightmare doesn't come true.
Ru: Right. That's not today. That's not today. I don't have to worry about that today. I don't have to take care of that today. When the time comes. Those kind of messages. I was just talking to someone the other day about the difference between impulsivity and spontaneity. And that impulsivity for me is very fear based. I have to call this person, I have to call them back. I have to take this job. I have to leave. It's always this kind of - I usually regret those decisions. And they’re usually born out of - I'm afraid of the consequence if I don't. So that's impulsivity for me. Spontaneity is like oy based. It's, hey let's go to magic Mountain! Let's be crazy and spontaneous and go put on costumes at a thrift store and take funny pictures. There's no fear in that. So the two things often look the same or get called, the reaction gets called the same thing. The question is what was your motive?
Paul: Wow. That's great. That is a great way of saying that. And I couldn't agree more. I usually know that I'm acting out of ego or fear if when I'm thinking about making a decision there's a sense of extreme urgency.
Paul: And that's usually coming from some place of fear.
Ru: This thing has to happen and it has to happen now. There is no four hours from now. Can't wait.
Paul: And deep down I think that's why a belief that there's some type of harmony or energy or power in the in the universe that connects us all, if I truly believe that and act as if there is that I can get through those moments doing the right thing. Being patient, not acting out of fear. But if I believe that it's just a big ball of chaos and every man is out for himself and we're not connected. Then I'm going to choose that and act out of that fear. And that's when people – I get emails sometimes from listeners that say 'you talk about spirituality, what exactly are you talking about.' That's kind of at the heart of it, is that belief that there is some type of order sophisticated order in the universe. You know, Einstein said that anybody who looks at the cosmos and all the stuff that he looked at, he said cannot help but come away from it seeing that there is some kind of deep harmony and purpose in that. And that to him is the belief that there is something higher out there. I'll find out what the exact quote is.
Ru: I like that. I fear that I'm not doing this interview right.
Paul: I'm going to stop you and tell you that you're completely wrong there.
Ru: Great. Now I fear your judgment.
Paul: Back to Christian. “I have a fear that my sexuality is something that is burdensome to myself and others and it isn't something I'll ever see as positive to share.”
Ru: I do have fears that are more intimate in nature. While I don't identify with that one specifically as I kind of, you know as a forty plus year old women come into my own, I definitely think, especially as I'm starting to get out there and date again and all of that - what if they don't like sex? What if they're not good at it?
Paul: Again, future tripping.
Ru: Absolutely. Well because the way that I date now is so drastically different. Now I go and I have multiple dates and the naked part doesn't happen for awhile because I'm trying to get to know people. Whereas before, I got naked and then got to know them afterward and then if I didn't like them then you'd have to extract yourself from all of this. It wasn't dating. It was reverse dating. I don't know what we call it. But so, yeah I definitely have this fear of what if I like some one and we're not good together, we're not compatible or they think I'm just a freak show. I don't know.
Paul: Christian says “I'm afraid that I'm delusion about the way I look.”
Ru: I'm afraid I'm not delusional enough about the way I look.
Paul: “I'm afraid that I've peaked young.”
Ru: I'm afraid that from here on out it's kind of downhill. That life becomes more mundane and more monotonous. And that the great adventures and you know the times of real highs, that weren't necessarily drug induced or something like that. That those are done. And that I'm going to die on a couch with a VCR. I suppose it won't be a VCR. Whatever the technology du jour is.
Paul: “I'm afraid that the people I work with have no idea what my talents are and that they'll never be able to evaluate the value of my contributions.”
Ru: I'm afraid that technology is going to leave me behind.
Paul: “I'm afraid that my body is going to deteriorate early and I'll never be able to get it back.”
Ru: “I''m afraid that my dad is going to die and never see me walk down the aisle.
Paul: That's a deep one. That's a deep one.
Paul: And this is Christian's final one so if you can come up with one more after this you will have crushed two skulls today. Three if you count the tail end of Anne's. Christian writes, “I'm afraid that my brother or another close friend that are severely depressed will kill themselves and I will both miss them and be saddled with guilt that I didn't do more.
Ru: I'm afraid of never getting the lesson. And being exactly where I am today for always. That the growth is so minute or that it doesn't actually show up in my life that where I am today, or where I feel on my darkest days is where I'm always going to be.
Paul: Well you have defeated three listeners with your fears. And you improvised them all.
Ru: Somehow I don't feel like that's an accomplishment. (laughing) Like I don't want your fucking trophy, ok? Whoo. Shake it off, shake it off.
Paul: I think it's a great note to end on. And regarding the last thing that you just said, I think that is maybe one of the most unfounded fears I've heard because in the two years that I've known you, you strike me as someone who gets it. Who gets the lessons. From the things that you say and the things that you walk through the way, and the fear that you endure, I just think the way you live your life is a great example. None of us do it perfectly. But the thing that I love about you is that you're fear that you’re not doing it perfectly and you just keep forging ahead anyway. And you always come up with little insights here and there that obviously help you but help me when I hear you say it.
Ru: Well thank you friend.
Paul: So I'm glad you're in my life.
Ru: The more that I work on my own problems, the less involved and invested I am in everybody else's stuff. Fixing other people no longer interests me. It just doesn't.
Paul: And you can listen to them without fixing them. You can be there and say 'I love you and hey what's going on with you.'
Ru: Sorry to hear you're struggling. I got nothing.
Paul: 'I'm there for you, I love you. I'm rooting for you.' I say that a lot now. I'll just say - ' hey man I'm rooting for you.' And I am.
Ru: So if I hear that does that it mean it's just a cliché? It's like your stock line cause you've kind of told me now....
Paul: It means I got nothing.
Ru: I'll go, damn it Paul you told you say that to everyone...
Paul: Ru I want to thank you so much for being my guest.
Ru: Thanks for having me and thanks for being my friend and a real support for me.
Paul: Absolutely right back at you. Thanks.
Paul: Hope you guys enjoyed that interview. I certainly enjoyed doing it. Before I take it out with what I think is a really interesting survey response from a listener, I just want to remind you a couple different ways to support the show. Pay Pal donation. Amazon search link. Buying a t-shirt. Those are all available on the website. You can support us non-financially by going to Itunes and giving us a good rating and writing something nice about us. I knew there was something else I wanted to mention before I said this but I don't remember what it is. I'll probably remember after I do this. This is part of the Shame and Secrets Survey. And the woman who took this calls herself Criminey. She's in her thirties. She's straight and writes “and into pain.” She was raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. Have you ever been the victim of sexual abuse? “some stuff happened but I don't know if it counts as sexual abuse.” And then she writes: “My mom threatened to leave my dad after he got under the covers with me in my bed and tried to cuddle with me just after I hit puberty. My mom always told me not to sleep with my underwear on so pretty much all the skin under my ribs was exposed under the blanket as my nightgown had ridden up. He kept trying to get in closer and I kept wiggling away. I honestly am not sure if anything weird going on, but he got pissed off at my squeamishness at the situation and popped me one. I had a hand print welt on my ass. He would make comments about men staring at me and things like that. I don't like to think that there was anything creepy going on but I know my parents didn't have a sex life for many many years.” I would say yes there was something creepy going on. I'm not an expert but anybody who just head me read that got a creeped out feeling. And that is often the thing that fucks us up the most is that thing that we categorize in that gray area. And we go over it and over it and over it in our minds. And I encourage you to go get some type of help or counseling. To talk about this because it can really fuck with you. I had the same, though different circumstances I had that same feeling of something, I didn't know if it was abuse or not and I was eventually able to say - yeah that older guy in my neighborhood molested me. So there's my two cents on that. To the question of, and I'm not sure why your mom would always tell not to sleep with your underwear on. Maybe it's a female thing that I don't understand. Might have something to do with a breeze. I don't know. What are you deepest and darkest thoughts. Not things you would act on but things you are ashamed to admit you think about. She writes: ”I constantly second guess the things I say to people. I hate myself so much of the time. I vacillate between feeling superior to other people and completely inferior. I look at people with good relationships and don't understand why I can't have one that means something and lasts more than a few years. When people are being inefficient I hate them with every fiber of my being. People blocking the sidewalk. Piddling and making small talk when there's a line. I get these flashes of doing violent things to them. I like to think about being completely degraded sexually. Forced by a significant other to perform sexually on multiple men. It's one of the only ways I can get off when I'm alone.” What are your deepest darkest secrets, things you have done or things that have happened to you. She writes: “When I was in Junior high I got a reputation for being a slut though I was totally virginal. One kid threw a quarter at me and asked how far he could get on a quarter. It hit me on the head. Kids were chanting my name with the word 'masturbate.' It seems that everyone was calling me a slut. When the teachers found out about it one said, 'Well if it isn't true why is everybody saying it.'” Oh that fucking pisses me off. “My dad was really mean to me and my brother. He used to sing songs saying we were dumb until we cried. Seriously sadistic. I can't imagine doing that to a kid. He yelled at us at lot. If our mom was out of town he'd sometimes hit us. Though we were only spanked a little as small children there was always an implicit threat of violence. I developed an alcohol problem later in life and said terrible things to so many people. I slept with men and didn't even remember it happening. For a long time I dated people who would do and say horrible things about me in the relatively small city where I grew up, in the even smaller scene I was in. Some guys I knew got up on stage and sang a song about me wanting it up the ass in front of hundreds of people and I found out about it later. One of the guys was mad at me when I wouldn't fuck him anymore. I remember looking around my college class while all that was going on and thinking, I'm the only one in here who's done that. I'm a disgusting pervert.” I don't think you're a disgusting pervert. I think you're a person who has experienced a lot of pain in your life and has just found ways to cope. And that's what we do when we're not taught good ways to cope we just cope however we can. I don't think you're a disgusting pervert. Do these secrets and thoughts generate any particular feelings toward yourself? She writes: “I can't stop thinking of myself as stupid no matter what I do or what happens. Even small things I say that I don't even imagine anyone remembers if I think about them objectively are things that I torture myself with so frequently that I feel trapped by my self loathing. I don't feel so weird about sex stuff anymore but I don't talk about it much, if at all.” Man this one breaks my heart. And I certainly don't want to go out on a down note but I felt like between Ru's interview and this survey respondent, Criminey, I felt they were kind of meant to go together because there's just a lot of shame we direct at women and young girls in our society. And I have been as guilty as anybody of being the perpetrator of that. I'm sad to say that it probably took me till I was about forty years old to even realize the damage that I'd done. But I kind of feel like maybe now I know a little bit more, I should say something. I promised you guys before I was going to find out what that Albert Einstein quote was on spirituality and that is - he said: “The scientists' religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.” Well I hope you guys enjoyed this episode or at least got something out of it. I think I did. And if you're out there and you're feeling stuck I hope this last hour and twenty minutes shows you that you are absolutely not alone and there is hope. Thanks for listening.