Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well that’s alright, because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
Well that’s alright, because I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie
(Eminem f. Rihanna)
Last night, I decided it was time for me to clean up my office space. Those who work from home know how easily the office gathers the remnants and remains of everything related to work, life, and the rest of the house. I don’t know how it gets there; I just know it does. As I let YouTube run its own playlist, Eminem f. Rihanna came on. There it was: everything I didn’t want to hear, right at the perfect moment.
The song is technically about domestic violence, but if one embraces the underlying concept in it, it can relate to a lot of things. It can be about emotional abuse, toxic relationships, about explosive situations that literally “catch fire” and get quickly out of control. It relates to the crazy world of emotional masochism, one where people stay in toxic and destructive patterns because they just can’t walk away from them. They stay because they love the lies, the illusion, the adrenaline rush of a relationship that isn’t really there. It’s a total mind and feeling game; an intensity that builds and builds and builds, until it goes too far. How it goes “too far” isn’t really the point. The point is it, indeed, goes too far.
As I listened to the song, I started to wonder if maybe we sometimes set ourselves up. Maybe our “type” is our type, something we look to because we look for that masochistic connection, time and time again, to get a “rush.” We call it looking for love, our self-interest, our “soulmate,” our our “perfect match.” But is our “type,” which equates to a long, sorted list of specified criteria: attire, income level, age, social status, and social conduct (“bad boy,” nerd/geek, outdoorsy, etc.) all combined with specific personality traits…just an excuse for that thrill of lies we always expect, hope for, maybe even desire?
Suddenly the song, and my thoughts went to that uncomfortable place. No, I am not saying there is anything wrong with liking certain things in people or desiring certain things; I think the point is asking why do we want them. Do we want them because they are what we really want or need, or they are just stand posts of the lies we desire to hear perpetuated, over and over again, that create a fantasy of relationship?
My name is Lee Ann, and I am an emotional masochist.
That is a huge confession for me.
Like so many other, I grew up in a time when we were promised love would be the ultimate illusion. We played all sorts of games, gave all sorts of mixed messages, and hoped and thought good relationships could come out of such madness. We had a complete idea and picture of what we thought our “type” should be, love the way I’ve been lied to. I love the lies, the fake hope, the fake promises. I love the idea of the illusion; of something that appears to be real, but in actuality, either can’t be or is so out there, it won’t be.
I’m notorious for taking second best; pursuing the thing that doesn’t have a prayer because it’s just too farfetched; and taking that over the living, breathing person who might stand in front of me (or within driving distance) because they didn’t fit the right “type.” It was how I defined my entire late teens and early twenties; I thought I “knew” what I wanted. Over and over again, I kept finding my “type,” lurking under seemingly different people, with different interests and things on the surface.
I thought that so many years with a man who really proved my “type” was toxic to me would convince me to pursue something different. When push came to shove and the time was then and there, it wasn’t quite as easily as I thought it would be. My “type” popped right back up within me: looking for, and wanting the same things I wanted before.
After a long talk with my spiritual daughter, a statement was made to me that I won’t easily forget. It was like coming face-to-face with reality; one I would have rather avoided.
“Lee Ann, you are not going to make the same mistake again that you made with your husband.”
Whoa. Time for a reality check. Time to stop loving the way that anyone lies, and realize that sometimes doing something new means, well… actually doing something new.
Maybe somewhere in here I deliberately set up boundaries about distance, age, type, and interest, on purpose. Yeah, it’s not a “maybe;” it’s a definite, a reality. I knew what to pursue and how to pursue it. No matter how long it’s been or how much time goes by, it’s still like putting on a classic winter coat that fits, year after year, no matter how much other things might change.
Whether we want to admit it or not, our relationships are often complicated reflections of our lives; our inward conversations with ourselves, and our most inward being and how we feel about it. We love the way others lie to us, and we live in the illusions they often create until those illusions come crashing down, one by one, and we stand there, left to pick up the pieces. Then we hurt, and we try to move forward; but often, it is to the same things, in different forms, we found before.
Change starts when we take off our clothes, put on new ones, and try something totally different from before. We take that new challenge, do that new thing, date that new person who seems like they are totally not our “type,” and try something unknown, challenging, even scary. If it doesn’t work out, then we know that, but we don’t know it as long as we keep loving the way our lives, our “types,” and our worlds conveniently, and comfortably, lie to us. We have to stop encouraging ourselves to live, and embrace, the comfortable lies.
Not all masochism takes the form of whips, dominatrixes, leather outfits, handcuffs, and Fifty Shades of Grey-esque dominance. Some of it comes to play through ideas, words, emotional dance, and complications that bring us to the brink of wanting to burst out, explode, and take off, but instead we stay…and stay…and stay. Even if we don’t stay physically, the confines remain within our minds, causing us to look for another captor as we tell ourselves, this time it will be different.
And if we are real honest, maybe we need to admit the one we really love hear lying to us is ourselves. It’s not until we stop doing such that we can break free of the masochism that dominates; that we love how it hurts as we burn, as we embrace lie after lie that keeps us bound to a place we know is not good for us.
“Truth is beautiful, without a doubt; but so are lies.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
(c) 2021 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.