There isn’t one me, and that’s OK.

A post at Hearthrose’s blog got me thinking about something recently.

Although I take pride in being pretty independent and happy to be alone, like all people I try and craft myself a story which minimizes conflict, which allows me to appear more congruent, to fit into the group.

But the thing is, although I am functional, stable and happy, I am not a sane, balanced, “one story” sort of a person. I’ve done a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff has happened to me, and my refusal to adhere to one group means my outlook on life isn’t from the same vantage point as any given person I am talking to. I have been on welfare and among the elite at the Oxford and Cambridge club. I have spent time in churches and posing nude for painting and photography groups. I have been paid to write liberal essays, but I have also intentionally associated with Marxists and feminists. I have lived across countries, incomes, social boundaries… And between that and the randomly flicking light switch which is my hormonal balance, I am not sane or balanced, there is no “one story”.

I find that with the way my head works, it’s hard to reconcile many different aspects of myself. I learned from a young age that people as disjointed and random as me aren’t “real” people, that I needed to simplify myself in order to be “genuine”. Although no one person has mattered to me beyond Jon, I’ve still tried to minimize conflict by wedging myself into one story and hiding anything which didn’t quite fit.

Pregnancy has given me some time to think about this though, especially about disorders like bipolar and disorders of shallow affect. I know they’re highly heritable. But I don’t want my son to end up like my father: a bipolar alcoholic unable to reconcile all the facets of his identity into something pleasant and superficially genuine, which people might find easier to swallow. I want my son to be able to be weird and disjointed, to not commit to something unless he needs to or wants to or believes it makes sense, to not force himself into an indentity or a group without reason. I don’t want to make him think he has to find a community he can perfectly blend into and fade into the background. Because that is what happened to my father and it doesn’t work.

I don’t care any more if I’m a bit too sweary or immodest at times for the traditional spheres. Or if I’m not racy or flaunty enough for social media. Or if I’m not religious enough for small communities. Or if I’m not abrasive enough for my age group. I don’t care that I read anything from the KJ Bible to Deadman Wonderland, that I’m an anime nerd, that I can’t hate the sex industry, that I prefer to be alone most of the time, that I’m self-absorbed, that I like to do traditional tasks, that I hoard money instead of using it.

I’d rather get on with being me, doing what I must do in order to succeed at what I want, accepting the different sides of myself and not hiding them in order to fit in better or appease someone. If something needs fixing, I’ll fix it, not pretend it isn’t there to give a better impression. And if I lose a few people along the way, then they’re not part of my story, are they?

4 Things I Learned From Twitter.

Been a bit exhausted following leaving work, especially so considering I basically removed a year worth of mess from a friend’s house. People seem quite pleased about this whole “nesting instinct” thing!

But that means I’ve been able to go through my Twitter patterns of the last month or so. And here are 4 lessons to learn from Twitter.

1: Finding data matters. Research matters more.

Twitter is great for grabbing links, facts and stats. But every single one needs to be investigated. With all the fake news hysteria and mass media being as fake as fake news, it’s important to check our information not just against various sources, but against sanity itself. And if it doesn’t matter: then don’t file it as fact or fiction, file it as a random anecdote which does not matter.

2: Writing succinctly is a skill.

I’m finding my writing is clearer and more succinct from using Twitter. Forcing myself to fit long essays into 140 character shouts is expanding the vocabulary I use without making me sound like a massive nerd who uses words nobody understands.

3: Exchanging ideas is great, but you need space.

Twitter is amazing for swapping ideas, provided you can get on the same page and sum up your points. But you will always need to take some time out to process your thoughts. Most of the people I know who blog well and use Twitter have their own form of meditation where they set time aside to think through new ideas and formulate them better. Talking is wonderful, but we have to think too.

4: The wittiest, most liked stuff is also the most useless to you

Seriously, the stuff that gets the most favourites will be stuff that people agree with and are comfortable with. Being snappy and witty makes you more popular and puts you in contact with more interesting people, but don’t confuse that for personal growth, achievement, or important material. Instead, look to the things you talked about more and were recognized for less. That is where your ideas are developing, being challenged, growing solid. That is what you need to work on.

That said, I probably need to quieten my Twitter habit back down a little. Not entirely sure yet where this new activity fits into my old #NoNothingNovember challenges. What do you think?

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

How To… be better than your man.

Confused? Let me explain.

If we aim to be excellent homemakers, we are therefore aiming to improve ourselves. And in this improvement we should find that in some areas we begin to surpass our partner. After all, the breadwinner, even if they are also working on self-improvement, will be excelling in other areas. They may have been a great cook to begin with, but we aim to be an excellent cook. They have no interest in gardening or DIY but we are mastering them both. In short: in some aspects we will be better. And there is a right way to handle this. We will use budgeting as an example, as it is a personal one I have more knowledge on.

1: Acknowledge each other’s abilities.

Regardless of what your relationship dynamic, acknowledge and accept that even if you are great at budgeting, this does not make you superior as a human being. First of all, your superiority in this area does not mean they are no good at all at budgeting. And secondly, they are better in other areas which at other times may be more important.

Key here is also that they acknowledge your abilities. To say you are great at budgeting in no way takes away from the fact that they can handle their budgeting when they need to, nor does it cancel out their own abilities.

2: Acknowledge your own limitations.

Likewise, we need to accept our limitations. Just because we are better at budgeting does not make us absolute experts. There will be nuances they are more familiar with, or the situation may be one that you have not handled yet. It is impossible to know everything.

Again, your partner is likely aware of their personal limitations. They know that you have an edge in most areas and are unlikely to be being stubborn when they refuse your help. It is more likely that the nuances and your limitations concern them.

3: When a decision involves you both, talk about it first.

Regardless of how expert you are at budgeting, or whether or not your skills are superior, do not make decisions that involve them without talking about it. It is one thing to offer advice from experience or to make a final decision when it is up to you. It is another thing entirely to walk up to your partner and declare you’ve moved your life savings into a form of investment. Even if the end decision is exactly what you expected it to be: don’t assume, ask.

4: When they are struggling, offer help.

When the final decision is up to them, do not attempt to wrangle it from them or undermine them. Instead, offer your advice and let them listen to as much as they want or need to. If the decision affects you both, your partner will be willing to hear reasonable input. And if they are genuinely having a hard time, they may welcome some help. But the key is to offer, never to force.

5: Do your best, but know when to back down.

Sometimes your awareness of the specifics is not good enough to carry you through. Sometimes they are determined to make a certain decision even though you fear it. Know when it is not your place to try and control your partner and back down. If you need to, take action to safeguard yourself. But do not turn an offer of help into a “do what I say or else”.

Quite simply: don’t try and control your partner’s life just because you have more knowledge or skills in a highly specific area; but also do not let them make you act against your knowledge or best interests. Communicate, be kind, be humble.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

It isn’t wicked to be an enabler, just misdirected.

It is often too easy to see the flaws in a behaviour and not the healthy points at the root of it. Enabling is one of those behaviours where the healthy components are often overlooked.

When we call someone an enabler, we usually mean “a person who encourages or enables negative or self-destructive behaviour in another”. However the primary definition in the dictionary is not that. That part comes second. The primary definition is “a person or thing that makes something possible”. And that’s something important to bear in mind.

An enabler, at their core, is someone who wants to give someone else what they want. The enabler may enable an alcoholic by buying said alcoholic more drinks when the alcoholic’s state is too bad to get out the house. The enabler will do this because they believe it is good, as it makes the alcoholic happy. They do not want the alcoholic to suffer or do badly; if they did they would be a saboteur: “a person who engages in sabotage”, to “deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct (something)”.

The problem therefore is in what they are enabling. They are enabling a negative habit, which in the end will cause more harm than good.

And therein lies the problem. An enabler is not a wicked person. They simply need to learn that what they are enabling is a wicked thing, that temporary happiness and praise is not a sign all is well, and often they will adjust and make efforts to enable more positive traits.

Enabling, once redirected, is a marvellous and powerful thing. Housewives and the home guard enabled healthy men to go to war when it was required. Kelly Ann Conway enabled Trump to portray himself well to the media. General Curtis LeMay enabled the Berlin Airlift. Objectively, in all cases everyone involved benefitted from their enabling.

So don’t fear being an enabler. Just ask yourself if you’re doing it for the feels or for the results.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What things have you enabled in the past? In what ways have you been enabled, for better or for worse?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Men Like Capable Women.

However much we discuss the nuances of female desire, it seems almost taboo to discuss the subtleties of male desire. The assumption is that men care only about bodies, or ought to care about personality, that men should simply be happy and grateful to get a woman’s attention at all and that they are simple beings who want simple things.

I have already touched on the subject of intellect and desire before, in that humans, being brainy creatures, do desire intellect, just not in the exclusionary and simple way intellect is commonly presented.

But there is yet another nuance to male desire and intelligence which is rarely if ever addressed. As mentioned, most men do want a smart woman, even if an IQ score or a PhD isn’t what’s going to get you a declaration of undying love. And a key part of being a smart woman is to be capable. That means that whatever your IQ or education, you need to be using every ounce of brain to handle your life like an adult.

You could have an IQ of 145, three PhDs, make great money, and even be a solid 9/10 on top, but if you are constantly in debt despite your income, battling a prescription meds habit, and unable to keep your own living space at least hygienic, then you’re not going to draw anyone in for a long term deal. Quite simply, you have great genes, but you’re a shoddy partner.

Men, much like women, prefer it when the person they are dating is a capable, functional human being. Men like it when a woman is smarter and prettier, as that means better genes for their children. But the thing that persuades them to invest long-term is when a woman is an asset to their lives, not just to their offspring. The woman who can save money regardless of income, the woman who can polish up and dish out regardless of looks, the woman who can handle her paperwork and DIY and home regardless of intellect, these women get a bigger boost from their skills.

Of course, being a capable high earner with great looks and a high IQ will put you ahead of a capable low earner with worse looks and an average IQ. But the second woman will blow a less capable woman of almost any walk of life out of the water.

And besides, you needn’t even do it for your (extant or potential] partner. You can’t change your IQ, looks or luck by much. But making sure you have your life together will do wonders for your ability to enjoy it.

So ask yourself how much you can handle on your own, what you can’t handle, and why. It’s the first step towards a happier life and a happier man.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Why He Doesn’t Want To Come Home.

A phenomenon Jon and I have discussed previously, to no great conclusion, was revived by the recent idle drivel coming from the mouth of the UK’s own minor version of Bernie Sanders.

The short form of the matter is that, however much men will joke about “well, it beats being home with the gf/wife”, an increasing number of men actually act on it. They will go drinking right after work, take on overtime, or even go and do an unpleasant job for a friend or relative, relishing the time away from home. And we were stumped. But a little more discussion, insight and thought has led us to a fairly satisfactory answer: he doesn’t want to go home because he has no space there.

Humans may be social animals, but we are also private animals. As fairly reclusive introverts, Jon and I know this more than anyone. And we can see that even the most outgoing of extroverts from time to time withdraws into themselves the same way we need to do on a regular basis. Humans need time and space to think, to be quiet, to work on solo projects and to unwind. For introverts its about recharging, for extroverts it seems more about reminiscing and planning, for ambiverts its a bit of both.

And for most of our lives, we get that time and space. From around seven or eight years old, the point where we begin to see ourselves as a unit of society and socialize more sacrificially, passively and/or empathically, we are granted a right to time and space. We get to walk off on our own, have our own possessions to keep us busy away from everyone else, maybe even our own room if money and culture allow. This is Retreat with a capital R. And we need it. As we grow older, this boundary becomes more defined, even with friends and family. We learn to tell people we want some quiet time, that we’re tired, that we wanted to read a book or watch a show. And we learn that when others say similar things, they also need their space.

For some reason, though, many decide to throw this harmony out of the window when it comes to looking for a mate. My only guess is that it’s based on the same mechanism whereby people will lose weight, learn game, or even join a cult to find a partner. We simply put temporary effort into changing ourselves because we know, consciously or subconsciously, that being better means mixing our genes with better ones.

Some also temporarily give these people their personal space. They don’t have their own room any more. They don’t even have their own bed. They don’t have any space in the house where they can be left alone. They don’t have any time where it is appropriate to say “I just want to read a book right now”. Because they are convinced that they need to hand their whole lives to the other person in order for a relationship to work.

But the problem comes in with that “temporary” clause up there. Just as with spontaneous weight loss, a bit of game or joining a cult, unless your changes genuinely become a core part of you, this effort will melt away as the relationship cements. You will grow tired. You will have days where you don’t want to talk at all, or where you just want to sit down and regather your thoughts after work. You will want your time and space back. And so will your partner.

But in this sort of relationship, nobody makes the first move to letting that happen. All of a sudden, the person they loved and wanted to spend every second with becomes a chain around their ankles. They won’t shut up, they keep walking in on them gaming/reading/listening to music/indulging a hobby, they start pushing to do more things together to “relight the spark”. They both resent this constant presence and paradoxical distance.

And that is why he doesn’t want to come home. Because she is there. She is always there. It isn’t his home. There is no peace, no quiet, no time and space for him. There is no Refuge.

Of course, you needn’t spend any time apart to prevent this situation from developing. Jon and I easily spend every free minute together. He doesn’t have to go to the pub after work and I don’t need a girls’ night out to recover and get some social space. But you have to learn to be alone together sometimes. You have to be quiet, and restful, and minding your own business sometimes. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but a little peace and quiet goes a long way.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What are your observations on couples who can’t spend time together? What are the ways you and your partner meet the need for Refuge? Have you tried being alone together?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… be rational, not rationalize.

In our home we often say humans are not rational creatures, we are rationalizing creatures. That is to say, we spend more time thinking about why we do what we do, explaining and justifying our actions, as well as those of others, than we do thinking through what we are about to do and planning ahead. There is a lot of research into why this is, but it boils down to:

  • most behaviour is driven by instincts and thus most processes begin before we start thinking
  • we are often stressed, which lets instincts run wild
  • we don’t actually think of our future selves as “us”
  • we want to feel good about things we have already done
  • we want to feel good about the people “in our tribe”

This is why your average person will see chocolate cake, feel hungry, eat it distractedly, feel briefly bad about it, then excuse it and seek validation from others for the excuses, even though it is not in their long-term interests to eat the cake. Quite simply, instincts and now won out over reason and the future. It is also why depressive cycles can be so strong, why we enjoy disassociative drugs, or why people with personality disorders often feel the best about themselves.

But there are ways to improve our ability to be rational, that is, to think about our actions in general, our future, and what we do… before we do it.

1. List your instincts and their intensity.

We all have three base instincts that give rise to other instinctive behaviours. Think of which apply to you, as you might find one or two do not, and think about how easy you find it to resist them.

1: Survive.

  • eat
  • hydrate
  • sleep
  • hide from danger

2: Reproduce.

  • partner
  • have sex
  • create safety
  • locate resources

3: Find worth.

  • relax
  • work at something you enjoy
  • feel pride
  • feel belonging

So, for example, I would say my drive to eat is very strong, whereas I can resist the need to drink or sleep for a while. I would also say my drive for sex is strong, but still far weaker than my drive to partner, and that my drive to partner comes before my drive to avoid danger or feel group belonging. This means I am very centered around what I eat and around Jon, and not easily swayed by groups or fear.

2. Consider the biological reasons for your instincts.

There is a biological reason for every instinct. Those you feel intensely are probably there for two reasons:

  1. They are hardwired in almost every human.
  2. They were reinforced during your childhood.

For instance, a childhood lacking much parental security, group solidarity and physical resources has made me very prone to disordered eating and eager to attach to one person very intensely. Both are at their core instinctive, but they were reinforced later on.

Likewise, your instincts will have a purpose.

3. List your life goals and how instinct may interfere with them.

But not all instinct is good nowadays. We have an instinctive urge to get fat, because at times of scarcity, we never got too fat, just about fat enough to keep us through a famine. But today there are no famines and the instinct doesn’t work. Likewise for every instinct. Fear becomes paranoia, sexual need becomes single motherhood or multiple child benefit claims, desire for pride becomes arrogance, desire to belong becomes dependence. They can all become dysfunctional when let run wild.

4. Whenever you feel an urge, ask if it is instinct.

Now you know what they are, when you feel a pull towards something, ask yourself what instinct it could be based on. The urge to buy the latest smartphone may be a need to belong, or a need for a partner, or a need for sex. The urge to eat the chocolate cake may be a need for food, or for drink, or for safety. The urge to slap someone may be a need for belonging, or a sense of fear, or a spike of pride. Every self-destructive knee-jerk is your instincts screaming in confusion at the modern world.

5. Whenever you identify an instinctive drive, think long term.

You won’t catch every instinct, but you need to think long term as soon as you spot one. Think about your bank, or future purchases, or the group you belong to before buying the smartphone. Think about your weight, your health, or bad habit cycles before eating the cake. Think about social and legal repercussions, loss of friendship or the risk of physical harm before slapping someone. Ask yourself where your actions will take you, and whether you really want to be there.

In summary:

1: Know yourself.

2: Know your body.

3: Know your priorities.

4: Identify your problems.

5: Plan ahead.

Because it may be easier to rationalize, but it does nothing to help you better yourself.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.