The Four Disagreements, With my apologies to Miquel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements
- Make your partner live up to your rules. Come up with the expectations for your partner, the way they should act or express themselves or not express themselves. But don’t worry about explaining these rules or even understanding these yourself (these rules are for them, not you). Do your best to enforce these rules.
- Fight as if your life depended on it. When you disagree, fully express whatever hateful things come to mind. Don’t censure yourself because every dispute is life or death. Better to kill the emotional bond between you than to lose the argument. If you start to lose, switch topics and confuse them. Bring up as much stuff as you can from the past. Don’t let up. Escalate over trivial differences.
- Become a master of negative interpretation. Attach meanings to the things your partners does that prove they are selfish or clueless. Do your best to make interpretations showing you do not value or trust them. Keep them on the defensive. Make it clear that you won’t be misled by their explanations. Collect mean-spirited ideas about them and create a very detailed story about their personal flaws, so that you can entertain friends and family.
- Don’t ever forget an offense. Your partner may be growing or learning, but don’t focus on their progress; instead, bring up the failures and weaknesses they have demonstrated in the past. Chronicle their mistakes. Go as far back as you can. Focus on their flaws and on your pain, because this ensures they remember that everything is all about you. If you work at this hard enough, you should be able to make them feel completely miserable and prove that you are an innocent victim.
Physician (Don’t) Heal Thyself
There is an old AA saying that alcoholics are “ego maniacs with low self-esteem.” The “ego-maniac” aspect makes every attempt to avoid feeling the low-self-esteem; often what is underneath is a combination of shame and guilt and grief.
One way the avoidance commonly shows up is when an Addict is deciding they know best and can take care of themselves.
An example of this comes readily to mind. In a residential chemical dependency program, a patient–who was also a physician–had leg soreness. When he pulled up his pant leg at one point in a group session, he had a tourniquet tied so tightly that his leg was dark purple.
Of course, this brilliant man wasn’t being smart. Since there is nursing staff available 24 hours per day in this center, patients are better off talking with nurses before tying a strip of cloth around a muscle injury and cutting off circulation, even if the patient is a licensed doctor and unused to capitulating to nurses.
It is a huge red flag to be so self-contained. The fact that this man was treating himself so ineptly was likely a sign that he was still mentally foggy. But deciding (without consulting anyone) is always a powerful warning, because it is evidence that you are still doing things “your way.” As they say, “your way” got you to insanity. In all things, especially when managing Pain, we are better off tying a tourniquet around our diseased ego and learning to acknowledge distress openly and finding ways to manage it effectively.
Addict or not-addict, all of us have hidden our Pain or treated injuries in our own inept way, which has led us to do harm. Is it time to be more open to your partner?
A Message to Men—Give Yourself
Try this. Pack up all of yourself and journey over to the woman you love, commit to following her, wherever she might lead. This adventure might take a moment or weeks or hours, and there may be some danger.
If you have not been steady with your devotion then be prepared for wild animals to growl in the forest. A few will come down the path, and, if she has been feeling hurt, expect her to tell you a story or sing a song that will contain great horror, and pain, and suffering, and longing and, eventually, rebirth. Or she may not use words. She will act it out or dance away.
Follow. This is an ancient ritual. A spiritual quest.
When she stops, and even if she still has her back to you, then you are to unpack your gifts: your presence, your undivided attention, your creative skill, your unconditional love, the wisdom that you have fought for, the depth beneath the surface. This is your gift.
What you have to give…allow her to unwrap it at her leisure and often. Leave it in her safekeeping.
The clueless need to understand that you go to your beloved not for something you might obtain, but to give yourself to her.
So We Are Not Blind
It is not always easy to See what is in front of our noses or in our heart. Our history may have done much to leave us sightless.
I recall a woman in treatment who was employed full time in a darkened lab. She worked skillfully with high-tech machines to look into the brain and body tissues. Her career was to look deeply. In some irony, she adamantly refused to look at her own body in a mirror.
She would weep in sessions but couldn’t say why she was so distraught or name what she was feeling.
She had sex with her husband every five years or so, but only with the lights off.
Her husband berated her continually, but she didn’t see this as a problem because she was blind, though her eyes worked perfectly, probably 20/20 vision.
This had nothing to do with light rays transformed by the retina into electrical signals transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve. It had to do with a lack of Joy. She had been severely abused and had had too few experiences of resonating with another, with herself, with the world. She existed outside her senses. She lived outside her life. This is tragic.
Be grateful if you still can experience Joy, and be open and vulnerable because you may then still have the capacity to See.
when my love comes to see me it’s/ just a little like music e.e.cummings
Another Message for Men @ The Other Man
The woman you love will know 2 men. One man will see imperfections. This man is often good at math, and will count up resentments, and multiply by disappointments. He may love her (and may be miserable because he has failed to win her), but he is honestly more afraid or angry, which is not Love.
The other man will see her Beauty and Truth, not just her skin and body and sensual movements but the incredibly complex way she is.
She is the lovely girl sometimes, the sassy teenager, the wise woman, the sensual lover, the nurturer, the one who hurts but carries on.
This other man will not be intimidated into thinking that her perfection is impossible, though the world will tell him he is living in a fantasy. He will know she is perfect, complete, finished (though ever growing), an exquisite gift from God, though she will challenge him.
This stunning creature will tell him of her flaws, as she worries of them (which means she trusts him). She will say her feet are somehow not quite right. Her hips are maybe too shapely. She might have gained some weight. But he will just laugh and say, “Come here.”
Be this other man.
Take her in your arms and when she tugs on your back or digs her fingernails into your skin, then you can open her. She is a treasure, magic, a kind of shape shifter.
She will challenge you…to see if you are worthy of loving her. If she dances off, will you turn away or follow her? Will you leave her? Ever?
She wants you to stay unwavering. If you think you have some better place to be in life then by her side, then you need to become this other man.
Playing for Connection-an assignment
Scientists who study rodents know rats will enthusiastically tumble on each other in merriment. They actually laugh, unless cat hair shows up in their cage. It doesn’t even take an actual cat. Just some tangle of feline fur is enough to drive them into an instinctual shutdown.
Rats will isolate when there is danger, become constricted in their movements, frozen in fear and reactive.
We will do that too.
And so we need to feel safe to enter into open expressions of Joy.
Try this as a game for playing with connection.
Find a place to relax with your beloved. Put on some music if you like.
Find comfortable chairs that face each other, chairs that allow for you to stay alert, where you can sit up and lean closer as needed.
Talk about a shared memory, though you do not have to stick with being historically accurate. You are encouraged to interweave fantasies, as long as the focus is on recalling Joy, loving moments, sexiness.
One person goes first.
For the partner who is listening, your role is to help draw-out the experience. The most important rule is No Criticism or Skepticism. This rule can never be violated or you will become like the cat hair that sobers up laughing rats.
The listener might ask:
- What images about this memory do you recall?
- What sensations did you experience?
- What emotions did you feel?
- Where did you experience this moment in your body? How did you experience this in your stomach, chest, head, shoulders?
- What positive attributes did this bring out in you?
When the partner stops, ask for more. Is there more to this?
After the partner says they are done with the story, it is the listener’s turn to play this game, adding to the story in any way that recalls Joy, Love and sexiness.
Romance—This palette is not about balance
Romance is about mixing and exploring all the possibilities together, but the clueless can hear that as “balance,” and think love needs to be balanced against all the other areas of life.
Of course, this is a reasonable position. You throw balls in the air, and sometimes you have too many airborne.
Doesn’t that explain why relationships fail, because there are too many distractions to juggle? Just too many other responsibilities?
You have a job. You have other roles to fulfill. Things to learn. People you are obligated to. You have to keep the yard mowed, and the house tidy. The dog has to get walked.
But loving someone intimately is not about managing a variety of activities, and adhering to a notion of balance. It is about passion and priority.
It would be balanced perhaps to compare your beloved to others and be fair in your comparison. It would be balanced to let her know that you come in contact with other women all day long and some are more this or that than she is, and some are less this or that; and so you are seeing her with clarity and objectivity.
And, if you doing these things, you are clearly clueless.
Cling to her in a way that is wild and unreasonable.
When you start off in the morning, throwing the balls up to begin your day, be prepared to drop all the other spheres when they interfere with your love or when your beloved calls you, unless dropping something will directly lead to tissue damage (such as, if you are a window washer dangling from a high-rise and need both hands to avoid a perilous fall).
When your beloved calls you, how do you respond? Be ruthlessly honest.
By the way you talk to her, does she know that she is the most beautiful, most talented, most incredible woman in the world?
If so, then you are unbalanced, irrational, crazy, but you are also clearly Seeing her in a spirit of Joy, and you may have just found the energy, the secret, the purpose to human life.