Archive for November, 2017

What good is another’s secret crush
if a heart isn’t ready to accept love?

by David McElroy

Thanksgiving has taken on an entirely different meaning for me lately. Three years ago, I was in the midst of intense love — something I thought was going to last for a lifetime. And then it was over in a flash, leaving me bewildered and hurt.

Each time Thanksgiving week rolls around now, it brings a bittersweet swirl of intense feelings — a remembrance of sweet love mixed with the bitter pain of loss. I’m not sure which feeling is stronger, but every bit of it is powerfully intense.

I was lost in my thoughts as I left the office for lunch today. Since it’s two days before Thanksgiving, few people are on campus, so the lobby was empty and silent as I walked through.

As I was about to step out of the building, I realized someone else was approaching from the other side of the lobby, so I absent-mindedly held the door as this woman approached. Then I noticed it was someone I hadn’t seen lately.

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Our greatest apparent strengths frequently lead to our downfall

by David McElroy

Why is it that the seeds of some people’s destruction are found in their greatest strength?

I’ve been wrestling with this question for a long time now. As I’ve gone through a low part of my life for the past four or five years, I was under the impression this had been a very recent thought for me. But last week, I found a note from myself dated April 11, 2008. It simply read, “Seeds of destruction? Why is it that the seeds of some people’s destruction are found in their greatest strength?”

I don’t remember having this thought back then and I have no idea what prompted it, but it struck me strongly enough to write it down. Almost 10 years later, it seems as though I had half of an insight back then — and maybe I finally have the other half of it today.

For most of my life, I’ve been fascinated with personality and how it affects different people’s actions, but I think I’ve had something backward for all these years. In fact, I suspect most of our personality systems have something fundamentally wrong. We focus on our apparent strengths in order to allow us to “outrun this humanity” inside — the messy parts we are so ashamed of.

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Walls built to protect our heart keep others from giving us what we need

by David McElroy

I hadn’t seen Amy for months and she seemed excited to see me.

“I finally figured it out,” she called to me as soon as I approached her table. “There was nothing wrong with him. I was just scared because he loved me so much. I was afraid he might abandon me if I didn’t run away first.”

Anyone who heard us in the restaurant tonight would have assumed we knew each other well to be sharing such a discussion, but we’re just “pizza buddies.” We both like the same place and we sometimes talk since we both tend to come alone.

Amy is in her mid 20s. She’s in graduate school. She’s smart, funny and quirky. She’s also quite attractive. One of the things we’ve talked about most, though, is our mutual need to find love that will stay. The last couple of times I had seen her, we had talked almost exclusively about her confusing relationship with a man from England.

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Giving up politics left me flat broke; it’s time to earn some money again

by David McElroy

Those of you who have been with me since this site started more than seven years ago know that I used to work in politics. I made a lot of money as a successful political consultant years ago, but my conscience eventually forced me to get out — for reasons I’ve explained before.

For the last five or six years, I’ve been trying to figure out what’s next for me — and it’s been a serious financial struggle. I had done well in the past as a newspaper editor and publisher, but newspapers are dying. Politics was now out for me, too. So what made sense? I knew some things I wanted in the long term, but I haven’t had any idea how to get there. Now it’s time to let you know what I’ve settled on — for those who are interested.

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Flawed bricks can build our lives, because perfection never arrives

by David McElroy

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with the need to be perfect.

I didn’t always call it that, though. Others accused me of being a perfectionist and I was honestly confused by the label. My life was anything but perfect, so how could anyone accuse me of that?

Eventually, I came to understand that my life was horribly imperfect — in an unhealthy way — because I felt such guilt about not being perfect. I allowed major chunks of my life to become wrecks simply because I was so afraid of not being perfect that something in me went in the opposite direction. If I couldn’t be perfect at something, I didn’t do it. The perverse inner logic seemed to be that if I didn’t even try, I hadn’t failed. I simply hadn’t cared enough to try.

I understand now where that guilt about being imperfect came from, but that’s not my concern here. I’m more interested in something I’ve seen in myself lately — some indications that maybe I’m starting to get past this lifelong struggle.

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Sexual abuse of powerless rampant; denying its serious harm is obscene

by David McElroy

She was a young college student. He was a lawyer who worked in the office of the state attorney general in Montgomery, Ala. They met at a college-related function and he immediately started showering her with attention.

Although she was very attractive, she wasn’t accustomed to this kind of attention from a man in the “adult world,” especially someone with his sort of position and power. She was flattered to have someone like that notice her and think she was worth taking seriously.

He asked her on a date and ended up taking her to his apartment. Very soon, he was trying to sexually force himself on her. It wasn’t just a request. He was physically trying to take her clothes off against her will. She realized that this important man was trying to rape her.

She was able to escape that night and find another way home.

Afterward, she felt shame and humiliation. She didn’t tell a soul, because it felt shameful that such a thing could happen to her and she couldn’t imagine trying to make someone believe her word against the word of such an “important man.”

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Pop culture creates overgrown kids in adult bodies who won’t grow up

by David McElroy

It was late at night when I got the emailed threat about five years ago. A suicidal friend sent me a dramatic picture — an obvious cry for help — with a knife poised against her wrist. She lives hundreds of miles away, so there was little that I could do to help, but I wondered where her husband was.

After I sent a reply trying to talk her into ending the threat — at least for that night — she sent back a sarcastic reply to my attempt to help her deal with this existential crisis.

“It’s not your job,” she wrote. “It’s the man-child’s who’s off playing computer games.”

I knew this was a continuing issue in her marriage. Her husband — about 30 years old — spent pretty much all of his non-work time playing computer games. As a result, they had fallen into living parallel lives. Although he knew she was depressed and suicidal, he chose to live in a fantasy world with gaming buddies instead of in the real world he had chosen for himself.

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Opinions without facts and reason leave us open to belief in nonsense

by David McElroy

I was getting frustrated with the interview Sunday afternoon, but I wanted to keep things civil and polite.

I was a guest on an Internet radio show and I’d been brought in for a political discussion about Donald Trump. One of the hosts is a woman who lives in England and isn’t fond of Trump. The other host is a man in Ohio who’s a big Trump supporter.

As we got started, I first tried to find out why the man supports Trump, so I asked him to outline what he likes about Trump’s performance as president so far. It seemed like a reasonable place to start, but things went downhill from there.

The man has a lot of opinions, but when I tried to narrow down why he believed those things, he frequently had to admit that he didn’t know the facts about the subjects. He was opposed to “illegal immigration,” for instance — and insisted he wasn’t opposed to immigration overall — but he finally admitted he didn’t have any idea how U.S. laws determine who’s allowed to immigrate legally.

On subject after subject today, most modern Americans have opinions which are not based on any reality. This man had firm opinions, but his opinions weighed his mind down so much that facts weren’t necessary. He hadn’t thought through the things he believed — and it seemed to surprise him to have someone pointing this out.

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Why can we sabotage ourselves?
Are addictions disease or coping?

by David McElroy

It happened again this week. Like a never-ending nightmare, I made the same horrible choice I’ve made before — with the same results.

For most people, the idea that eating could be an addiction sounds silly. For those who have experienced the patterns I have, though, it’s something that can feel both inexplicable and inevitable.

It wasn’t until I had a political friend who was a recovering alcoholic that I realized the patterns I go through with food are very similar to what any addict experiences. That shocked me at the time and it’s led me to think and read quite a bit about it over the years. The knowledge and insight haven’t stopped me from doing things, though — more often than I’d like to admit — that I know are unhealthy for me.

It’s never about the food. It’s always about the feelings that the food can mask.

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Roy Moore just the latest in the long line of politicians who want control

by David McElroy

Alabama Republican Roy Moore is the latest poster boy for political evil and hypocrisy. I agree that he’s evil. I agree that he’s a hypocrite. But at the core, he’s no different from any other politician who seeks the power to control other people.

I wasn’t really surprised when news came out Thursday that Moore is being accused of sexually pursuing teen girls when he was a county attorney in his early 30s. The youngest of the women to come forward so far says she was 14 and he was 32 when he took her to his home for clandestine meetings — where he gave her wine and undressed her until she asked him to take her home.

The mental and moral gyrations of the Republicans still defending Moore today are far more disturbing than the actual charges from the past. Some say it’s not that bad since only one of the girls was younger than the state age of consent, which is 16. One Republican elected official compared the situation to Joseph and Mary, the parents of Jesus, because Mary was a teen and Joseph was an older adult. There are plenty of other excuses from Moore’s supporters. (For the record, I find the women’s account of their interaction with Moore credible and troubling.)

So why was I not surprised at the charges?

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

Contact David

David likes email, but can’t reply to every message. I get a surprisingly large number of requests for relationship advice — seriously — but I rarely have the time to respond. (Sorry.) Besides, with my own romantic track record, maybe my advice isn’t worth taking. I’d like to find a wife one of these days, so maybe I should add an “application.”

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