James Altucher on radical honesty (plus my thoughts)

An interesting podcast titled “Ask Altucher Ep 81 What Are You Reading Right Now”:

The portion I share for purposes here occurs beyond the 10:00 mark. Radical honesty. Hmmmm… I have ALL SORTS of thoughts on that topic. And I dug where James was coming from there, as someone who’s shared more than I ought to on too many occasions. Yup. The idea of being radically honest with oneself I can get behind, but James is right about putting the burden over onto someone else, particularly the ones we love. Mea culpa there.

Living and learning is a tough process. Heaps of thoughts on the topic of cheating (from all angles) have played on my mind for years. One of these days I’m going to start writing about it on here, in a general way, intended to break it down in terms of how my observations from all angles have shaped my thinking over time, particularly after I became the one who cheated. Painful either way you slice it. James is right in that I had a problem. My former partner’s inability to comprehend my needs back then despite me communicating them to him still was fundamentally MY PROBLEM. And I didn’t handle it right. Didn’t handle it the way I would’ve wanted someone to treat me, already knowing what it feels like to be cheated on by various partners in the past, AND having worked as an escort throughout my 20s catering to a male clientele, plenty of who didn’t have permission from their partners and some of who chose to share rather openly about some of that (thoughts, feelings, regrets, bragging, health conditions, life changes, whatever). So I know a thing or two about cheating. Or at least I’ve been processing a whole lot of thoughts about it for a long time that feel worth sharing with others at some point.

Maybe as part of my own healing and “owning it” process as well. Without identifying others in the telling, keeping with discretion promises made to former clients.

But boy, did I ever fuck up when a few days after the fact I decided it was best to admit to my former companion outright, without him suspecting a thing yet, that I had slept with someone else. I regret that. Wasn’t his problem and yet I made it his. I should’ve just left, preferably before stepping out. Didn’t cheat on partners in the past, but then I hadn’t tried being in a long-term monogamous relationship with anyone since my ex-husband a decade prior. That’s not making excuses, just trying to understand what happened here. And I know one thing that was in my mind back when I made that choice — plenty of my clients made it look easy and provided alluring rationale that I decided to embrace. This was the wrong decision for me. Apparently I am not like some of them, because this all wound up fucking with my head and creating a worse and worse and worse situation between myself and my partner that continued unraveling for the next 3 years. Why we stayed in that situation that long is just ludicrous. Supposedly for love. But then I think it just transitioned to something lower…pity? (Or was he just using me after that? I’ll never know.) Because I struggled in living with that regret, which caused further problems in the prolonged aftermath. And for that I am still very sorry.

A lot happened these last 4 years, extending beyond that relationship. It’s been a rough spell. And I did not handle it the way I wish I had. This damaged my own respect for myself because I betrayed someone I cared about. And he didn’t deserve that. Didn’t want to walk away and leave him, but couldn’t be content with our situation at that time. So I should’ve walked away anyway, because he didn’t deserve that. And we made a promise upfront. Which I broke. And then I told on myself directly to him. This has been a shameful period in my life, to say the least.

That was three years ago, and it all finally entirely imploded this past Easter. Been such a long spell for both of us leading up to that. And I was wrong on a lot of levels. He should’ve let me go after that as well. But we were attached to one another. The more I tried to fix it though, the worse it all got. I made a serious mess of a situation that never should’ve gone that far. This I do understand and won’t ever forget. Never want to feel this way again. This is just putting oneself and their love through hell, and I don’t know how other people do it without remorse. Totally fucked me up, broke his heart, and for what?? Wasn’t an affair, was just sex. An old lifestyle dying hard during difficult times. Couldn’t manage to cope with monogamy during that time period, and we broke up repeatedly as a result. Was a bad deal. And yes, I am guilty.

We live and hopefully we learn. That felt like a “one-and-done” deal to me. Tried that, got horribly burnt and injured another person in the process, made a mess of 3 years of my life, became more neurotic, and shit just slid downhill. I fucked up. Don’t care about other people’s opinions on this matter currently and have been telling on myself out in public too, despite also gossiping about the other end of it at times. But hell, this is what I did. I hurt my loved one and I hurt myself. Didn’t set out to do that originally, but it’s what I wound up doing because we were incompatible and I should’ve just been friends with him instead of letting it go that far. He’s not a horrible person, though I am still aggravated with him and the entire situation, but after this we won’t ever probably be able to be cool with one another again. That’s it. Bridge irreparably burnt. And I initially started the fire.

Truth be told…

I am sorry. To him. Not to anybody else, other than my friends and Grandma who’ve had to endure this stupid struggle with me throughout. Messed with my mind. I can’t do that to someone I love in the future. Hurt us too much. Not worth it. Parting sooner would’ve been less painful and more merciful for both of us.

He got me back, whether he meant to or not, whatever his actual plans were that evening, demonstrating that I too cannot tolerate my lover being intimate with someone else. I already figured this out in the past, and yet…what? Did I forget it? He essentially said the same thing about how if the shoe had been on the other foot, and he was correct. I can’t handle it. He shouldn’t have handled it either. He should’ve walked sooner too. And then this past year rolled around and I didn’t want to let go since it felt like there was so much invested by then. This all messed with my head…

I CANNOT and WILL NOT allow anything like this to happen in the future. Was it a lesson that needed to be drummed into me in this way? I don’t know. Maybe so, considering what I’ve previously come through and all. And maybe in that way my former companion truly did help me, though in the worst way possible in terms of how it hurt him. Our heavy drinking did us no favors either. He tried to forgive me, I know that. But it’s a boundary that’s tough to forgive transgression of, and I understand that too. My own jealousy prohibits putting up with that, and the same is true with him. In that regard, it did wind up feeling like looking in a mirror, except he reacted less strongly and angrily initially than I did. I couldn’t tolerate it at all. Not even at that late stage in our stupid game.

Wasn’t a game worth playing. I knew better, and yet I veered down that path anyway. To do what? To numb other pains that my companion couldn’t help me with at the time? Fundamentally incompatible there.

But the upside (if we can consider it that) to this is that being put through these paces (by both of us) and feeling like I’ve been in the doghouse the last 3 years, I now understand this all in a clearer, harsher way that is unavoidable. The lesson has been learned and thoroughly internalized. I understand. This can never happen again. This was rude and wrong and hurtful and unacceptable. I made a promise that I broke, and he didn’t deserve that. No matter what rationalizations I was operating with at the time.

Self-flagellation is deserved sometimes. Mea culpa. It’s understood. That was not who I want to be. I cannot live like that while prospering in any real sense. Nor can my partner since it makes me too miserable, too difficult to deal with. Regrets and guilt are hellacious to contend with. That’s all I know for certain right about now.

Reading the blogs of James Altucher, and now taking in some of his podcasts, has proven very helpful in sorting out this bullshit lately. It is ultimately my fault, yes. Cause and effect. James’ words have come across to me like those of a nerdy, socially-awkward big brother I never had.  ha  I needed his wake-up call. Taking time with so much of what he’s written (and spoken) has tapped the message deeper into me. Furthermore, I’m inspired by his “radical honesty,” as someone who already shares a good bit pretty openly but who’s working toward taking it to the next level by following the “daily practice” and figuring out how to share my own observations and questions and life experiences in ways that others might glean something from. Why? Because why not? I just want to be a human being and revel in what that really means. I am human and I am fallible, infinitely so. But I possess the will to do better, to try harder, to become some sort of better version of myself. Because I do care about my loved ones and don’t want to let them down like that again. Because I have been so depressed for too long and need to climb out of this and find a way to get and keep a firmer grip so that life’s trials don’t knock me down like that again. Because people like my former companion didn’t deserve that, not like that. And my future lovers won’t either. Nor did I in the past, nor do I in going forward. We deserve better treatment from one another than this. Because when we do love, that matters more than anything else. To me, at least. So I better act like it.

I mostly disappointed my own self. And that’s hard to live with. He wanted me to be stronger than I was at the time, but I will become stronger going forward. And I hope this all doesn’t turn his heart cold to where he fears finding love again. Neither of us truly deserved this. I do sincerely want better for us both in the future. He has his own path to navigate here on out, as do I. And that’s it. That’s where that story ends. C’est la vie. These regrets have to aid in remolding me now, since that’s all they can productively do at this point.

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3 Responses to James Altucher on radical honesty (plus my thoughts)

  1. Wyrd Smythe says:

    Good observations there. The question pops up in relationship stories where one partner has cheated on the other and then struggles with whether to confess or not. For the one-time slip, it seems clear that sharing is a bad idea presuming it won’t happen again.

    The smart money, obviously, is not to put oneself in that position at all, but it’s a lesson that often requires actually touching the hot stove, and it sometimes requires more than once to really get the message through. I learned in high school that I was terrible at having more than one girlfriend at a time.

    Well, I thought I learned it then… it took another painful lesson around age 30 to really pound it in. That one screwed me up for *years*!

    It seems not uncommon, when a relationship is suffering, and we feel we’re not getting what we should from it, to satisfy our needs elsewhere. As you say, you experienced that from the “satisfaction supply” side in your escort days, and from the “need my needs met” side more recently.

    We’re human and trying to make our way through the mess of life as best we can. The trick is trying to learn from experiences. Not everyone does.

    • Byenia says:

      Definitely pounded that lesson into me. And for that, at least, I am grateful. Good that it happened with him, a relationship that was bound to self-destructive eventually anyway, and not with someone I had actually been compatible with. Cruel as that may sound. *shrug*

      But I do get it now. Not even going to promise monogamy to anybody for a very long time. Not planning on dating anytime soon, but even when I do, I’m going to be extremely careful with any and all promises I ever make. Hurts too much otherwise. Not fair to anybody involved when we don’t keep our word.

      Thanks for the feedback and for being understanding, Wyrd.

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