I'm not sure if it's kinda genius or the Worst Advice Ever. What do you think?
I think the search is for that perfect wrong person. The one whose scars you want to lick and kiss and love. This person who is wrong in all the right ways. That person who has horns on his or her head that fit into the holes in your head. You want to know that they are a problem that you want to have in your life. That wrong person should inspire you to gaze at them with love. To make your body yearn to touch them. And yes, you will shake your head at it all. This wild wrong person! You know, that person who is wrong for you in all the right ways.
The advice sounded a little screwy, not at all sensible or wise, but then she threw me this line:
You have got to be willing to not only dance with your demons you have to be willing to fuck them.
So. Fucking your demons. What could be more alluring, really?
Is succumbing to what (or who) you actually want to do--damn the wisdom or lack thereof--the key to living life fully and passionately? Or is it a complete rationalization for being in a screwed-up relationship?
Anjelica Huston, who dredged up memories of her turbulent years with Jack Nicholson in Watch Me: A Memoir describes the relationship as having "that kind of faint uncertainty" of being with someone who is never truly yours: "But that doesn't stop one from loving somebody; it just makes it a different kind of negotiation. You can have a hard time with somebody and say, 'That's it,' but you have to be able to leave the room, and I was never able to do that."
Was she wrong to spend 17 non-consecutive, non-monogamous years in a semi-compromised position? Or was that exactly what she was into, and on a very basic level, what she wanted/needed? Is it possible--or even advisable--to avoid someone when they offer compelling mental fuckery, personalized to your exact flavor of vulnerability?
You can make a decent argument for either side, I think. On the one hand, viva life, jump into the fire, go where the passion is. On the other, well, the tension/wrongness aspect can easily veer into much, much darker territory. A reader once wrote me to say her (ex-, thankfully) husband constantly told her how "ugly" her vagina was so she was looking into surgery so as not to subject some future beau to the supposed horror between her legs.*
I usually think of Wanting the Wrong Person as a gender issue but it's probably a universal condition for any slightly-harmed human. That is, pretty much everyone. Consider this exchange between Marc Maron and Dr. Drew on WTF, on falling for people who put you in a position of repeating traumatic patterns from childhood.
Dr. Drew: "You can't really ever cure this--you're going to be attracted to people that put you in that position. And you just love them. That's just how you're wired. It's your love map. The way to mitigate it is to go after people you're not that excited about--but then you're sort of withholding something from yourself.
Marc Maron: But you can't do that because it's sort of like a phantom limb.
Drew: It's hard. You can also go for people who are very exciting but realize it's going to be traumatic.
Maron: My therapist said that that's they way it's gonna be and the best you can hope for is that [the other person is] willing to do the work.
Drew: Yes. I absolutely agree with that. Because that's life. We're not perfect. We're not healthy all the time. It makes life interesting.
Maron: You can't be with someone that you're not going to connect with on that level.
Drew: You can, but...
Maron: You've got to be very disciplined not to go out and fuck the lunatic!
Drew: Correct. A lot of people do not understand this and it's where a lot of the craziness comes from. The things that were traumatic in our childhood are the sources of attraction.
Maron: Not only the sources of attraction, but you want to recreate it.
Drew: Well, that's the conscious experience of it. But I think there's something far more profound. When people start talking about it in therapy, they always go, "I guess I want to master it. I guess I want to make it right this time." No, that's your brain trying to make sense of bullshit motivation.
Maron: It's comfortable. It's what you grew up with.
Drew: It's your map. It's love. It's where you find love.
Maron: Is it love?
Drew: Yes. That's your version of love. It's not the healthiest version. But I've got the same one [he's been with his wife 23 years] so it's all good. I have found in the craziness, passion and renewal."I have found in the craziness, passion and renewal." Who knew? Square ol' Dr. Drew embroiled in a crazy passion-based relationship? And advising, basically, "fuck the lunatic"(!)
What do you make of all this? It is wise to seek health and balance (with accompanying possible tepidness) in relationships? Or do you go for the great passion/great trauma combo? And how has that worked out for you?
*Obviously there's a continuum between the delightful frisson of senseless ardor and someone truly hurting you physically and/or mentally and you want to be way way more toward the "delightful" end of it. (If you're not and you're ready, The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.)