Building Healthy Relationships Was Never Something I Coulda Envisioned…
Not in a million fuckin years. Especially my parents that I’d been estranged from at such a young age, but building healthy relationships got progressively worse as I got older. By the time I was a teenager my dating life was about as unhealthy as it got, and I didn’t know what the problem was for so long, and without knowing the problem, shit just seems goddam impossible.
It all started when I was a kid. I was diagnosed with a mild form of Tourettes Syndrome and my parents freaked out like there was something wrong with me. Well, there must be if my parents are scared, I mean, they are never wrong, right? My mom is an adult and adults are never wrong. Parents are perfect. That went through my four year-old brain as I sat in front of neurologist after neurologist and shrink after shrink trying to diagnose what in the fuck was wrong with me, or rather, how to fix what we were working with.
I went to school and hid the tics as best as I could. They’re barely visible now, but they used to be bad. Well, not bad. I mean, I’ve seen some shit that’s bad, and it ain’t me… luckily. All those comedy skits you see about Tourettes btw, most of them are totally wrong. Most people don’t have bad versions of it, in fact, it comes out as OCD mostly. But anyway, back then in elementary school, I hid my tics to the best of my ability so nobody would think I was broken like my parents did. Of course now as an adult I realize they were just fuckin worried… but who knows shit like that when you’re young, right?
I started stealing candy from 7-11 when I was in fifth grade and only hangin out in the projects with kids from lower income brackets than my family. I always felt guilty that my dad was a doctor. I wish I was poor like everyone else. Then I could complain, but with all that I have, I’m not allowed to complain. I’m not allowed to have problems. Everything is easy and I’m a pussy. Nothing is hard for me. So I have to act like I’m perfect, but I’m not. Everything felt hard. So I started settin shit on fire and being mean to kids that threatened me. That lasted till sixth grade. By then I had no healthy relationships in my life except for my friend Wayne and Kevin, who I just found on Facebook not too long ago. We used to steal cigarettes and lighters together and now Kevin is like a finance guy. Huh. Anyway…
A Healthy Relationship Gone Bad…
After elementary school, in sixth grade, when I went to middle school, both Wayne and Kevin had moved away. I had no friends and the tics were pretty much unseeable, but I was already too used to trying to be invisible to ever come back to life. I was called a faggot and pussy and punched and told I smelled bad even though I did all the things everyone else did, like shower and brush my teeth. So by the time the girls declared I was handsome and wanted to go out with me in eighth grade, I was starving for attention. So starved that I became a lunatic, jealous and possessive, because I was so damn scared I might lose the friends and status I had attained. I walked on eggshells more than ever. When Chelsea broke up with me (the girl that made me “popular”), I knew I had to do major shit to keep the spotlight. At that point, relationships were nothing but currency, and I needed more riches.
I found a new girlfriend and treated her like shit the way everyone else treated me like shit. That made things easier but soon she realized I was a possessive crazy person and left me. I began kissing as many girls as I could at middle school parties and getting as sexual as possible before ninth grade. By the time high school came, I hadn’t said a word to my mom or dad in years. I had no friends, but I was the popular kid in school. But that wasn’t enough. I didn’t want friends anymore. Fuck friends. They suck. I didn’t wanna build a healthy relationship with anyone. So I found drugs and did as many of those as possible. I took 53 hits of ecstasy when I was fourteen and eventually got suspended from high school mid-ninth grade and kicked outa my parents house. Then started a long line of rehabs and institutions where everything only got worse. More girls, less substance.
Too Late for Building Healthy Relationships…
By the time I got sober when I was 27 my life was in shambles. Not only did I give up on building a healthy relationship with my parents, with lovers, and with friends, but also geographic locations, business partners, teachers, and most of all, myself. I hated everyone and everything… but mostly because I didn’t think I had anything to offer anyone. What’s the point in trying to become something I’m not? I’m garbage, and I found that out when I was four. Nothing has changed since then. Just keep acquiring currency until you die. That was my brain.
I was a blistering alcoholic trying to get clean with no one around me to support me except one person: Marni. A girl I went to middle school with. Eventually I found other support groups, but at the time, all I had was her, and so I immediately picked up smoking cigarettes cause I needed another vice. I began writing my first book about my experience ending up in America’s most notorious juvenile institution. It’s called The Drifter Chronicles, and during the writing process, I realized there was more to me than just being a piece of rubbish. I know this because my UCLA-extension professor in LA was my editor, and he read my first draft and told me he needed a noose after reading it.
“Make yourself who you actually are. You’re a goddam pussy in the book. In real life you’re exciting and iconoclastic. Be fucking you.” He told me that.
So I took a long look at myself and realized I had always been very goal-driven. I always wanted to get out of loserdom, and I did. I wanted the girls, so I became as popular as I could. I wanted to die a legend, so I did the most extreme adventures I could find so my life story was interesting enough to call it quits when the time came. Maybe I should start to respect myself a bit more?
Healthy Relationship Tips I Shoulda Taken A Wayyy Long Time Ago…
Then I began to get into healthier relationships, the ones where I don’t wake up wondering who I fucked and how I got there. I saw people actually liked me even without the drugs and alcohol and life as a drug dealer. I was even producing plays and concerts in my last years of drinking to make sure people needed me. Now with all that gone, people still had a little bit of interest in me, but not much.
I started doing the things I thought were cool and slowly I began to appreciate who I was, and people followed suit. I now had a group of people that maybe weren’t my bestest of friends, but they liked me and I liked them. I was beginning to form a life without all that junk I used to cling on to so tightly. By the time I had a few years sober I had a business and a girlfriend that I didn’t treat like trash. I got back into writing that book I started when I got sober and got ready to publish it.
I told my dad I loved him and my mom that I understood our past was of my own making. I had gotten into some vicious fights with them, and I told them exactly what those fights were and that I remembered them and that I was sorry. I told them I wanted to build a healthy relationship with them and began slowly, day by day, calling them and saying “I love you” before I hung up the phone.
I moved back to New York to be closer to them when I had about 6 years sober. Before that I had been living in Los Angeles: as far away as I coulda possibly have been. I now have dinner with them on most Sundays. I’m only an hour and half away from them so it’s just the right distance. I met a girl that is now my fiance and when we fight, instead of being mean, I try to actually say how I’m feeling, even if I’m feeling like a fuckin dick, I just say it rather than be it.
With all these other things came many hobbies and I learned digital marketing. Without any schooling I’m now the head digital marketing manager at a decent-sized company. I have freelance clients that ask me for help. I have friends in my community and people aren’t scared of me anymore. I’m just a regular shmo.
When I took the time to try to understand why all the unhealthy relationships came into my life, I was able to work on the part of myself that triggered it all. The moral of the story is: building healthy relationships starts with a healthy relationship with myself, and a way to continuously grow that relationship with myself. The more I’ve communicated with myself, the more I’ve been able to help me become the person I’ve always dreamt of being. Now that all that has come true, healthy relationships come easily, and naturally.
And I’m no shrink or whatever, but here are some healthy relationship tips that def helped me…
- Identify the unhealthy themes and the problems they cause
- Which relationships are they present in (probably all of em)
- What is the underlying feeling before the unhealthy shit starts happening
- When did that feeling first begin (maybe when you were young?)
- What would be the opposite of that feeling and what accomplishment might give you that feeling
- Do that shit ASAP
- and never focus on anyone else before yourself.
If that shit helps, use it.
And if you wanna read about some unhealthy relationships, those are sometimes fun too, you can do that here.