Sunday, August 13, 2006

How to Leave a Loser

By this time, all of Pretty Lady's friends should need no convincing of her qualifications regarding the titular topic. Pretty Lady, sadly, is an increasingly renowned expert on Losers. The Losers she has known, moreover, are not a homogenous lot; nor do they resemble the garden-variety loser in superficials. You know the one I mean--the pot addict, the drunkard, the perennially unemployed, the spendthrift, the wife-beater. No, Pretty Lady's taste in Losers has historically been wide-ranging and exotic. This is partly the reason she has been able to convince herself that each successive Loser was not a Loser at all, but merely a misunderstood genius. Some of them were geniuses, in fact; this does not affect their essential Loser nature one jot.

So Pretty Lady believes it is best to start with the basics: how does one recognize a Loser, when one is entangled to the point where one's Loser radar is hopelessly snarled in a miasma of erotic enslavement, emotional attachment, intellectual fascination, and codependent rationalization?

The answer to this question is, realistically, one doesn't. Not until the time arrives. One's friends can point it out, one's family can complain, roll eyeballs, and disinherit all they like. A Loser-addicted lady will not even notice. She will regard it as her job to defend the Loser against his detractors at all costs; this is merely her duty as a Good Faithful Woman.

So let us re-frame the question. What does one do when the love and light of one's life, that misunderstood genius, that special individual that only You are capable of understanding truly, that flawed god in human form, is turning your life into a thoroughly ungrounded roller coaster of increasingly infrequent blissed-out highs, punctuated by ever-deepening troughs of screaming misery?

Now I've got your attention.

A hallmark of Loser-addiction is the circular nature of your interactions. Well Pretty Lady remembers those tequila-soaked 3 AMs, the maudlin renditions of "Take a Pebble," the angst-ridden confessions of hopeless attachment, the reconcilatory passions, the snuggling amongst a mound of blankets. Well she harks back upon those hung-over dawns, with Coke and lime, beef stew and tortillas for breakfast; after this the contemplative, healthful explorations of hidden Spanish ruins in the rain. Even better does she recall the sudden moments when her lover abruptly disappeared, because he was entertaining yet another woman Pretty Lady hadn't heard about. A new one, an old one, they were all the same in the end.

Or the surprise visits from the Zen monastery--no expense spared on ten-year-old whiskey, the healthful jogs on the beaches, the deep conversations on esoteric matters, the grocery shopping, the impromptu dinner parties, the hijinks in the bathtub--followed by months of enlightened Zen silence.

Or the mutually supportive, mutually beneficial partnership--the Friday evening dates at Home Depot, the renovations, the potting of plants, the mutual massages, the outdoing one another on maternal clucking and cooking of healthful meals, the sushi splurges, the relaxing weekends upstate, mutually worn out from such mutually harmonious hard work. If it weren't for those periodic, rage-filled, irrational, abusive rants upon the evils of marriage, the lobotomizing effects of spiritual practice, and the basic sexual undesirability of Pretty Lady, a mutually satisfying relationship might have continued indefinitely.

So then the question becomes--when one of the Losers described above has worn you to a hysterical shred, when you must break the cycle or die, but you are still hampered by the fog of irrational yet overwhelmingly compelling attachment, what do you do?

Leaving town is a good option. Seriously. Leaving the country is even better.

If this is not possible, remember this axiom: It is not possible to change another person. It is only possible to change oneself.

The one immutable characteristic of a dyed-in-the-wool Loser is that he cannot bear personal growth. He creates these cycles of artificial drama because they create the illusion that something is happening, while allowing him to remain mired in his own battered infancy of the spirit. Not only can he not countenance genuine change in himself, he cannot endure it in other people.

So if you, his adoring punching-bag, make the choice to become a healthier, happier, more functional person, the overwhelming likelihood is that he will make it easy for you to leave him, by leaving you first.

If you find yourself shackled to a Loser, then, you must start with a simple action geared to your own personal benefit. You may join a gym or sign up for a yoga class. You may join a book club; you may take an independent holiday. You might decide to spend four hours a day arbitrarily ignoring your Loser. You could clean the clutter out of the corners of your apartment.

Once you have gotten into a few of these habits, the balance between you and the Loser will have subtly shifted. You will have a glow about you; you will not be so susceptible to sudden yankings upon the heartstrings. The Loser will not like this. He will yank harder. He will pretend to capitulate to therapy; he will throw one of his bi-annual 'I'm-going-to-quit-smoking-tomorrow' parties. He will dramatically jettison one or two of the less-consequential Other Women. He will write a thoughtful letter from the monastery. Anything to lure you back into the cycle.

You will, of course, be lured. But you will not cease going to yoga class. Eventually you will become so balanced, healthy, and centered that you will calmly ask the Loser to stop treating you like a psychic spittoon.

It is then that the yoga will come most in handy, because this request will cause the Loser to lose his shit. He will claim that you are an irrational, hysterical mess. He will make dates with five women in one week. He will sign up for a six-month Zen intensive in the Mojave desert. He will, in effect, cast you into the deepest soul-wrenching trough of screaming misery that he has ever done.

And you will look around the trough, think, "This looks familiar. In fact, I'm getting sort of bored with it," and climb out.


Anonymous said...

One of the nice things about the adult world is that the silent treatment gets to extend all the way to the fuckoff forever treatment.

It can be very cleansing.

Repeat if necessary.

Seek someone who actually gives a shit.

As usual, the circular file is available. ;)

Anonymous said...

I meant, rather than your inner 7.

Anonymous said...

that flawed god in human form

Hmmmm. Not to be negative, but it seems your needs may be part of the problem. They seem extremely detached from reality. But then, what do I know?

Pretty Lady said...

Gracious, boys, I knew y'all would come up with some horse/barn door advice. The point of this story is that it's over. Over, I tell you. There are no losers currently in Pretty Lady's life, and there never will be again. Stop your clucking, already.

As for seeking, Pretty Lady is not currently 'seeking' anything. She is busy exploring her own reality. Should an individual come along who is both capable of comprehending and interested in sharing this rich and fascinating reality, she will consider a bit of companionship. Until then, she is packing for her trip.

Anonymous said...

Woaaah... Pretty Lady.. You goofed big time.. well, not really. You are 39 years old this year. Maybe 38 going to be 39.. but you were definetly born in 1967. HA!

Pretty Lady said...

I don't follow. Was it such a terrible goof to be born in 1967? It seemed a splendid choice to me.

And for my birthday, coming up in three weeks, I should like many exotic and highly scented flowers delivered to my doorstep. You should wait until the end of September, though, because I shall be Away.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Pretty Lady for such a great post. Like you said, the losers come in all shapes and sizes, and can even lurk around as gainfully-employed engineers. Only the most experienced person can recognize all of them all the time... so thank you for sharing the pattern, so the rest of us do not have to suffer the experience (or at least can recognize the losers of the past for what they were).

Pretty Lady said...

You are most welcome, Anon. And I do believe we suffer the experiences we need to suffer, regardless of advice. Perhaps naming it is the only service anyone else can truly provide.

Anonymous said...

sorry PL.. I had a "moment" it's over though. nothing wrong with being born in 1967. I figured you much younger though. you are closer to my age then I previously thought. Thats all..

Pretty Lady said...

Darling, I am ageless and timeless, and so are you.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but it is easier to put up with losers when you're not as ageless as you are now.

It does wear on you after a bit.


Anonymous said...

PL... we are, but not in this world. Thank God for that!

heidi said...

You have learned how to leave. Many women and men spend their entire lives compensating for the hopeless immaturity of others. At this point in your life, I hope you learn to stay away or at least to keep your heart at a safe distance. The key is, in my opinion, recognizing the difference between "ministry" and "equality".

Pretty Lady said...

'Ministry' and 'equality.' I like that very much. The difference has become progressively clearer as my actual money-earning job develops into its own sort of 'ministry.' It is lovely when people come, tell me their troubles, I do something to help, and then they PAY ME AND GO AWAY. Instead of hanging round my neck like millstones.

The Aardvark said...

Maybe the hoary old "Lifetime" comedies have a point...all these guys who fear committment, or should at least be committed.
Oy, why is the c-word so feared....?

Yah, it is nice when the professionally troubled pay up and leave. I personally take no joy in the emotional and spiritual vampirism so rampant now. As says the Proverb:
"The leech has two daughters...Give, and Give."

Have a lovely trip, and a delightful birthday.
Here is one who delights in your birth!

Anonymous said...

PL, are you a counselor?

Pretty Lady said...

PL, are you a counselor?

Only indirectly, and on an amateur basis. Otherwise I would not have the financial issues I do.

And thank you, Aardvark! I am OFF! On the road! Out of here! Hooray!

Bob said...

Quite a post.

The hidden undercurrents suggest that it is not a smart thing to yank your chain...

After all, you could name names.

Young Girls said...

I really like the articles with positive thinking. Without having positive frame of mind lif will not go forward.

Little Miss said...

I enjoyed this post, this describes my soon to be ex to a tee. It's unfortunate that we put ourselves through this needless, useless BS as women.

I'd like to ask for a bit of advice on what to say when I break up with my loser but I'm very nervous about how he will react. Because he recently said I would regret it if I dumped him, I don't know if he meant it literally like he was going to do something. He's not violent or evil, he's just an asshole who thinks the world revolves around him. But there's really no telling. Anyway, I just want to keep it short and sweet and to the point, but letting him know he is not that great. I've been trying to think of perfectly snappy one-liners but I can't come up with anything.

Little Miss said...

That's perfect! Thanks.

karla said...