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Cities without landmarks
Niagara Falls, U.S./Canada
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I just realized that I have been reading this column on and off since I was in high school! I even wrote a letter to that other guy (the one from the radio) about my first broken heart but he didn’t respond. It’s OK. I got over it. Maybe you’ll answer this one and help me get over my issues. Or maybe not, and I’ll get over them anyway. Either way!
Anyway, I am a still-young-but-not-as-young-as-I-used-to-be adult woman in a serious relationship with a truly wonderful man. I am not exaggerating, he is wonderful. He is an actual genius. He is very successful in work but committed first to making the world a better place. He treats his mother and all his friends wonderfully. He is also really charming and hot-to-trot. He’s a catch. I love him.
Maybe too much? We’ve been together for a while now — like three years? — and the chemistry is still ridiculously intense. I still feel the same way I felt about him when we first got involved — nervous, thrilled, excited, impassioned. But this permanent(?) state of infatuation isn’t actually that pleasant. I don’t think I yet hit that comfortable, safe, secure warm-and-fuzzy stage of love. Instead, I feel insecure, jealous, obsessive. It’s like, “OMG is he going to call me? Does he still like me? OMG he’s so hot. Does he like someone else? Why hasn’t he texted back? OMG I have to see him” EVEN THOUGH WE LIVE TOGETHER. I compare myself to him (attractiveness, smartness, coolness, good person-ness) and always come up wanting. I can’t seem to convince myself that he would love me.
I have also become obsessed with his ex-girlfriends. I think sarcastic things about them nearly every day. One ex is particularly troublesome. Many of his friends and family dislike her, and have told me stories. I guess she treated him poorly and he put up with it and doted on her, even trying to remain “best friends” with her as she dated other people and he didn’t. I know some of this because their friendship didn’t end until he started seeing me and she became jealous. The whole thing really burns me up. I have two lines of poisonous thoughts: first, she was a crappy person, and he loved her (perhaps too well), so his love of me is no proof that I am worthwhile; second, maybe he loved her more than he loves me, maybe that horrible girl got something from him I can’t have?
I try, try, try to keep my mouth shut, to do little brain tricks to make these thoughts, when they aren’t fun, go away, but it bubbles up. It’s really sad, because my boyfriend has always said that he was attracted to my confidence, independence and “sense of self,” so I’m scared that all of my barely suppressed craziness is going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For his part, my boyfriend is trying to help. He doesn’t flirt with people or have contact with exes (when the ONE tried to rekindle the friendship, he was polite but firmly distant). But he’s not a very emotionally demonstrative person, really. Neither is his brother, actually– his boyfriend and I have bonded over feeling a bit romance-deprived, so maybe it’s not all my fault.
I SWEAR I’ve never been this way before. I feel like I’m regressing into some less wise, less mature version of myself. It’s hurting the rest of my life, too. I think about him more than I think about my work or my friends or anything else, which I used to be pretty darned excited about. I feel insecure about things I never used to feel insecure about, even outside the relationship. I am also experiencing my first set of age-related anxieties and feeling less pretty and fun and clever than I was five years ago, so it gets all wound up in that. But little-girl (and probably old-lady) me would be so annoyed at how I’m squandering this time of living in the big city with my sexy boyfriend and my fun job. They’d be really mad if I let it slip away because all that good stuff made me too insane to deal. I just want to be happy and enjoy what, if I look at it from the outside, should be one of the best periods of my life. What should I do?
Loving Wisely and Too Well
Dear Loving Wisely,
Well, here’s a suggestion. Why not throw yourself into yoga? It will help your self-confidence and calm your mind. I mean seriously throw yourself into it. Not just once a week but three times a week.
If you start doing yoga three times a week, then at least three times a week you will experience calm and well-being. This can be the start of a new life routine. Once you learn how to go into a state of calm well-being, and get used to it, you can expand that into other times during the day when you feel nervous and insecure.
These worries are a symptom of your existence. We don’t need to get into all that but basically you are OK and having a good time and all you need is some method of calming your mind and enjoying your body.
I mean, that’s pretty much it, in a nutshell.
Doing yoga will ground you in the present. You will find that over a period of a few months, these thoughts are replaced by other thoughts.
I haven’t really mentioned it before, but I did yoga when I was a teenage hippie. Yoga was a fringe thing then. You had the Beatles doing yoga. You had Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, with his long hair and beard.
You had to seek out a yoga place. There were all these cheap little storefronts where some lithe young woman with flowers in her hair would teach yoga and have a boyfriend in the Eagles. Or you would think she was all pure and then you’d see her drunk at a Fleetwood Mac concert and it would throw you off your mantra. You’d be hitchhiking around or traveling in the van with your dog and your long-haired friends and come to a new town in Pennsylvania or even Tennessee and look around for a storefront, and if it wasn’t Krishnas or Scientologists or Nichiren Shoshu Buddhists, it might be a yoga place. There would be a natural foods restaurant next door where you could have peppermint tea and brown rice.
Yoga for hippies was mainly for transcendence. I mean, staying sexy and lithe, and keeping the weight down and staying healthy with the cardiovascular system and all the rest, the childbirth advantages and all that, I’m sure that was part of it. But we were mostly looking for some way to stay high that wouldn’t kill you or end you up in a mental ward.
Our conclusions: Yoga worked. But it was way too much work. It was weird and kind of a fringe-type activity.
But it won’t be too much work for you because you’ll have social support. It’s quite accepted now to do yoga all the time. It will make you look great and feel great and will teach you how to meditate.
So pay special attention to that part in the yoga class where you meditate. It usually comes near the end. Keep doing that for a while, and then figure out a way to do it even on days when you don’t roll out your cute little yoga mat.
Niagara Falls, U.S./Canada
Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, U.S.
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Siena Cathedral, Siena, Italy
Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
Lost City of Petra, Jordan
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