Archive for November, 2017

Why do we allow fear to make us hold onto things we should let go?

by David McElroy

I don’t know what I expected to find by coming here tonight.

For days now, I’ve been haunted by an unexpected image from the past — a moment, a night, an argument, a year — and I’ve come looking for it. I really don’t know why.

This was the place, but it was a time long ago. I’m on the campus of Samford University in Birmingham. We sat in my old red Volkswagen in this parking lot and talked about our relationship — our past and whether we had a future.

She was my first serious girlfriend. We dated for three years while we were in college, mostly in Tuscaloosa when we were both students at the University of Alabama. The first year and a half were very happy. We got engaged and happily planned a future together, but something happened.

I realized she wasn’t the right woman for me and this made her very confused. I don’t blame her, because I didn’t make much sense. As I pulled away from her, she tried harder and harder to pull me closer.

By the time we sat in my car that night, we were both miserable.

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No matter who you are or what you’ve done, time is your enemy

by David McElroy

When I first started picking up bits and pieces of their conversation, I thought the elderly man and woman were talking about Christmas parties.

“Martha’s is at 4 but it’s in Cullman,” the woman said. “That wouldn’t give us much time to get back for John’s at 6.”

“I know,” her husband said. “We’ll just have to leave early at Martha’s and maybe be a little late for John. Neither one of them will hold it against us.”

Then I realized they weren’t talking about social plans. They were talking about funerals.

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In a cold and disconnected world,
it’s very simple to fake happiness

by David McElroy

“You’ve certainly been happy,” the woman said. “I can always count on you to cheer me up. You seem like you haven’t got a care in the world.”

I wasn’t sure I’d heard her correctly. I was in the middle of a conversation with someone who I see a couple of times a week. She’s bright and mature enough — at least 50 years old — to have experienced a lot of life. She’s no dummy. As a restaurant owner, she deals with people constantly — and she knows me pretty well from our frequent conversations.

We had been talking about how it’s easy to tell how unhappy some people are. She chose me as the counter-example to make her point. She said I always seem especially happy.

“What makes you think you know me?!” I wanted to scream.

It was an oddly alienating moment for me Friday night when this happened. Instead of lashing out, I just asked why she thought what she did. Then I briefly told her I’m actually quite miserable lately.

She thought I was kidding, so I dropped it.

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Autumn color has finally arrived,
so here’s a video for Thanksgiving

by David McElroy

Autumn color was very late to arrive in Birmingham this year, but it’s starting to look beautiful in some places. We still have a lot of trees that are mostly green, but some are gorgeous shades of reds, golds and yellows.

On my way back to the office Wednesday afternoon, I stopped to take a few photos and a video to share with you. I wish you were here to see the beauty for yourself, but this is the best I can do.

The photo above and the video below were both taken along Alabama 150 near I-459 in the Hoover area of Birmingham.

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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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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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We're the Government — and You're Not
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