The “Easy Road”


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My last post was about living in fantasy land, and how dating and affairs are really a form of escapism.  They aren’t real love, and they aren’t even real life.

And I think sometimes problems can occur when people get confused about what “real life” actually is.

When people have online profiles (like facebook), they only present the things they want you to see.  It’s usually a “sanitized” version of their life.  They show the good parts, the celebrations, the parties, the trips.  If you looked only at peoples profiles, you would think they all had the perfect life, where everything was happy all the time and there were never any problems.

But that’s not what life really looks like.  Real life isn’t just the image of ourselves we portray.  It’s not the like the movies, and it’s not about escapism.

Real life can be messy.  It has highs and lows, and it requires us to face challenges and overcome them.

 

Looking for Fun

In the comments section of my last post, commenter wordsaremylife wrote (about her husband leaving):

my father summed it up perfectly, “He wants to be a college kid again. Fun without responsibility.”

 

This is a common thread in almost every story of a failed marriage or an affair.  Someone eventually seems to come to the conclusion that a marriage is just too much like work, and for some reason they believe it should be different.

They seem to think:

  • Life should be easy.
  • Love should be easy.

So many people seem to want life to come with an easy button, and when they find it doesn’t because things have gotten difficult?

They quit.

They walk out, and go in search of something simpler.

In search of fun, without responsibility.

Because it’s easier to walk out than to work on improving what you already have.

Thing is, often what they are walking out on is simply “real life”, and they are leaving it in pursuit of something that doesn’t actually exist.

 

Accepting Responsibility

I’ll be the first to admit that people often get so caught up in the “responsibility” side of life that they forget to have fun.  And when you ARE caught up in responsibility, it can be overwhelming.

But quitting is not the answer.  Escaping is not the answer.

Here’s a few important things that often get overlooked:

  • Life isn’t always easy.
  • Life doesn’t always work out the way you expect it to.
  • Life doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time.
  • Life is not all about you!!!
  • Responsibility isn’t a bad thing.

Not only is responsibility not a bad thing, I actually think it’s a great thing.  Being able to be responsible, and take responsibility for things means you are taking ownership of your own life.  And what could be better than that?

Responsibility means you aren’t a victim. 

Things happen in life, sometimes good and sometimes bad.  And usually we have no control over those things.

But we ALWAYS have control over ourselves, and how we react.  How we respond.

That is something that is always up to us.

We choose what situations we put ourselves into, and we choose how to respond to those situations.

 

Putting in Effort

If you’re an adult (legally, if not mentally) you have bills.  So I’m pretty sure you have a job too.

I’ve had a number of jobs over the years, and in all the time I’ve held a job I have yet to find one that doesn’t expect anything of me.

I’ve yet to see a job description that says something like “We will pay you a fantastic salary to do things the way YOU want.  You can come and go as you please, with no real duties and no expectations on you.”

*Maybe* jobs like that exist.  I kind of doubt it though.  If they do, I’ll guess there aren’t very many of them and they’re probably in high demand.

No, generally the jobs that pay more also have higher expectations and responsibilities.  That’s kind of the way it works.

With most things in life, if you want to get more out of something you need to be willing to put more in.

Putting in effort in everything in life is key to maximizing what you get out of it.

This is why I can’t understand the mentality of people who are looking for the easy road in life.  People who are looking for fun without responsibility.  And people who just quit and walk away when things get hard.

If everything is supposed to be easy, where is the sense of accomplishment?  Where is the sense of ownership in having built something that matters?

 

I’m not saying people should NEVER quit.  Because there comes a point in time where you have to accept that things aren’t working, and you have to be willing to go in a different direction.

But I am saying there’s a HUGE different between putting everything you have into something, and being able to accept when it doesn’t work, vs quitting when things get hard or when things make you uncomfortable.

 

The Color Red

Years ago I took some philosophy classes in university.  University was a long time ago, so I don’t remember much; but periodically bits of Philosophy classes pop up in my head.

One of my classes was Epistemology (the study of knowledge), and in it I remember my prof presenting a hypothetical world where everything was red.

Paraphrasing here, he asked us:

“in a world where everything was red, would you be able to see the color red?  Would you even be able to conceive of it?”

That’s always stuck with me, and I think it’s especially relevant here.

Life isn’t always easy, and not only is that alright – it’s also NECESSARY.

We need to experience good AND bad, pleasure AND pain.  It’s the opposite side of the spectrum that allows us to appreciate the differences in life.

 

When people are looking for the “easy road”, they are trying to avoid the parts of life that make them uncomfortable.  Fun, without the responsibility.  Which is similar to pleasure, without the pain.  Or love, without the sacrifice.

 

But that’s not the way life works.

One of the more formative books I’ve read in recent years is Brene Browns “The Gifts of Imperfection”.  And beyond the discussion of trying to live an authentic life, one of the most important moments in it is when she talks about numbing behaviors.

We all have issues, and we all have pain to deal with in our lives.  But if you’re looking for the easy road, it’s because you want to avoid that pain.  So people turn to different things in order to numb the pain.  Drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex (affairs can be big ones), there are a number of numbing behaviors people will use.

But all of these are just escapes, and they don’t deal with the actual problems.  Because as Brene Brown says, we cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb the painful emotions, we also number the positive emotions.

Fun without responsibility, pleasure without pain?  These aren’t sustainable.  They are short term “fixes” that do more harm than good.

 

The Keys To “Real Life”

Real life is complicated, and messy.  In real life we can’t selectively choose what we want to deal with and what we want to avoid.

But this also makes real life wonderful.

Earlier I mentioned that it’s the opposite side of the spectrum that allows us to appreciate the differences in life.

The key word there is APPRECIATE.

 

In real life, we need to be able to appreciate what we have, and not just look at what we are missing.  In fact, practicing active appreciation is probably one of the most important things you can ever learn to do.

 

People who can’t appreciate what they have tend to be chronically unhappy, while people who practice active appreciation tend to be happy, or at least content in life.

Active appreciation means living in the moment.  And when I say that I don’t mean being a selfish hedonistic a$$hole.  It means looking around you at what is REALLY important.

I guess that means different things to different people, but to me that means family and friends.  It means trying to do the right things and live with integrity.  It means facing issues instead of avoiding them.  It means BUILDING something instead of just using something.  And it means trying to appreciate what I DO have in my life instead of focusing on what is missing.

 

That doesn’t mean things are always good or I’ll get what I want.  And that doesn’t mean I’m always going to be happy.  But it means I can always put forth effort, and influence my situation in a positive way.

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23 thoughts on “The “Easy Road”

  1. I couldn’t have said it better myself. For me, part of the problem that I had with responsibility was the fear of success, and the additional expectations others would have of me. It was easier to avoid responsibility rather than to live up to other people’s expectations.

    However, in the long run, that doesn’t work. I ended up with no accomplishments and nothing to show for my life.

    Now, I’m happy with responsibility and actively look for it. Yes, I’ll disappoint people at times, including myself, but I don’t beat myself over that and learn from the experience.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I actually think I thrive off responsibility and accountability. That’s how I grow!!!

      Thanks for you comments on a fear of success – In some ways I don’t get that. But at the same time, I’ll admit there are things I haven’t even tried because I didn’t think I stood a chance.

      Was it fear, or just being realistic? I’m not really sure. But maybe for some people they tell themselves they are just being realistic when they avoid things out of fear, and it’s really fear of failure that drives them.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Gandalf,
      the first part of your writing is also known as self-sabotaging, it is indeed based on fear of not meeting expectations, so the way to [not] cope with it is avoidance. Most of the time people (I am not referring to you) come up with a plausible explanation why they did not persevere, these however, are often excuses.

      Like

  2. So much have been said and is written about infidelity (cheating and adultery), but indeed the common thread is that people escape reality for whatever reason and they come up with any justification they deemed fit.
    None work, none are valid, none can ever be justified. Betrayal is mean, heartless and selfish. If a relationship is not working, both need to talk to find solutions and to discuss missing needs. If one goes behind the other’s back to get an easy fix…that person is wrong, and they know it. Everyone who goes solo and uses deception is a relationship killer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Elisabeth,

      I agree that affairs are always wrong. And I’ve been on record as saying I think they are the most selfish action someone can do while in a relationship.

      They are also cowardly acts, as they are done behind someone else’s back in secret.

      That said, I do think there are a lot of people who have broken coping mechanisms, and struggle to deal with the responsibilities of day to day life. And people who struggle with that have different outlets (all of which are bad).

      Drugs, alcohol, affairs, eating – even internet addictions.

      Learning better coping mechanisms seems to be the key to healthier people (mentally and emotionally). And if people were healthier, I suspect a lot of these other problems would be much less pronounced.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Natasha, that’s great that the timing of it worked out for you. Glad you found value in the post.

      Sometimes I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself in my posts, but I think there are a number of recurring themes that are valuable.

      Like

      • It’s not repetitive to new readers. I honestly don’t have much time to go back through many of the old posts so it’s helpful to me even if it’s repetitive to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, that’s true. And even though the underlying themes may be the same, I try to present it in different ways and have different takes on things each time.

        As for old posts, I’ve been doing this a while and there are some older posts I thought were pretty good that never really “got the love”. I’ll have to figure out a way to give them new life. Maybe a section for my “favorite” posts or something? Not sure.

        Like

      • Actually if you have suggestions or highlights that would be great. I come to these blogs for male perspective on broken relationships. I just want to continue to grow. I know no one has it all figured out but seeing and reading different perspectives makes me think of things I didn’t think of before.
        This post hits home. Everything is hard work and life has so many ups and downs.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Another fantastic post and thanks for it. I agree with your comments around poor coping mechanisms, unbeknownst to me my husband came into our marriage with HUGE disfunction from childhood that he hid so well. He has cheated on every woman he has ever been with, and we are discovering in therapy it is a coping mechanism, avoidance mechanism etc. This knowledge still does not seem to make a dent in my feelings but I am still exploring…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there, thanks for the comment.

      Truly I think one of the most important things that we bring into a relationship is our coping mechanisms. If we have good ones, we have a great chance at a healthy relationship. On the flipside poor coping mechanisms are capable of destroying a relationship even if everything else seems to be good.

      The one real positive here is that coping mechanisms are learned. So although it can be difficult, they can also be unlearned.

      I’m a big believer in cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), and think it’s one of the most effective approaches for breaking down and correcting poor coping mechanisms.

      As for your feelings, I completely understand. Sometimes we can understand things at an intellectual level. But that doesn’t mean the human or emotional impact is lessened at all.

      Like

      • When you say you’re shitty at trying to mesh the intellect and the heart…

        …from above I’m assuming your husband cheated. If that’s the part you can’t mesh (meaning you can understand intellectually how/why he did it, but the emotional side of you can’t accept it), then I think that’s actually a good thing. Kind of.

        Because it’s never okay, and it never will be. It’s a terrible, terrible choice/action. And in emotionally healthy individuals, that will always be unacceptable and a betrayal.

        If someone says they are “okay with it”, then I worry.

        That said, in order to fully heal and be able to move on (either together or apart) I do think it’s important to be able to let it go.

        And that doesn’t mean you accept it, or think it’s alright. But IF it’s in the past (big if, as many people try to keep it going and just do a better job of hiding it), and IF he’s actually contrite and working towards a better future; then it has to stay in the past (I think anyhow).

        It will always be there, but a wound never heals when it’s constantly being revisited. Getting closure on it and moving past it is really hard, and very different from person to person. But the only couples I’ve ever seen make it after an affair are one who have allowed it to reopen lines of communication that weren’t working well before.

        Crappy road to be on, and hopefully it works out for you in a way that you can be happy with.

        Liked by 1 person

      • To answer your question, yes, you have nailed it, the how and why is what my emotional and rational side cannot mesh. I am about five months from D-day, and he has been contrite, has willingly put a tracker on his phone, has been open as far as I know and answered all my questions. I don’t know if there is more he has not told me, he swears I have it all. I let him know months ago if I found out one more thing, either past or present, it would be over for me and I meant it.

        My issue is also with myself, I wonder if I truly have the ability to move forward in a way the is necessary. This closure you speak of, I have no idea how to get. I wish someone could give me a rule book or instructional, with steps to follow…so foreign is this journey, so far from what I know, so far from what is right and fair.

        I admire that so many times you have written that you believe that a marriage can be fixed after betrayal such as we have gone through. You seem to have a great amount of faith in yourself, to repair, if only the offending partner be ready to repair as well. My H is trying to repair and I feel myself getting more distant, falling deeper into myself, protecting before anything else. Therapy is tonight, wish me luck, with me insight. You are being such a great sounding board and source of information and encouragement….thank you from the bottom of my heart.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the positive feedback.

        You say:

        “My issue is also with myself, I wonder if I truly have the ability to move forward in a way the is necessary.”

        And I caution that thinking. I’m a huge believer in the power of belief.

        Believing something doesn’t necessarily mean we can do it (I can’t will myself to make the olympics for example), but believing something gives us the best chance possible, and positions us for success.

        On the flipside, giving up, or believing you “can’t” do something pretty much guarantees you will fail.

        So I’ll say this to you – you DO have the ability to move forward, if it’s what you actually want, and you ACTIVELY chose it.

        It won’t be easy, and it won’t come overnight. It’s a process.

        A few (older) posts I have that I think may be relevant here are:

        https://thezombieshuffle.com/2015/02/03/emotional-walls/

        https://thezombieshuffle.com/2015/02/03/emotional-walls/

        https://thezombieshuffle.com/2015/10/21/the-power-of-belief/

        https://thezombieshuffle.com/2015/12/30/a-new-beginning/

        All the best

        Liked by 1 person

      • In response to the commenter above, I think the most important thing to note when it comes to infidelity is that keeping the person that was unfaithful under serveillance is only a small portion of the problem . This is not a popular opinion but unfaithfulness is typically rooted from deeper issues. Some of those issues may not belong to the person that was unfaithful. I am most certainly not justifying infidelity however, it is usually a result of something deeper.
        Marriages can get past infidelity but it takes work from both parties. You do feel for quite some time like a part of you died and for some that feeling never goes away. The most you can do is give it your best. And I do mean BEST. I really think no marriage is immune to this and more people go through this than we all know.

        Like

  4. Pingback: Words Mean Nothing | thezombieshuffle

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