Monday, February 25, 2013
Awards season. Honestly, most people just call it February, but some wait the whole year—even their whole lives—for that time when “who are you wearing” becomes more important than who you are with, and the joy of being nominated causes a city-wide spike in the sale of lemons, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and laxatives. For all of us working stiffs in Los Angeles, awards season is just that time of the year when traffic in West L.A. gets even more obnoxiously unpredictable, and in particular for me, when those annoying road closures and detours make it impossible to drive to the best juice bar in Weho to get my favorite Sunday beet-ginger-green drink. I actually have to walk. And it’s cold that time of year. I sometimes even have to wear a light jacket.
Seriously. Most of us have real champagne quality problems. Missing my Sunday juice won’t break me, just like losing an award won’t break anybody in Hollywood. However, winning that award can make a career. By Monday, nobody’s talking about who lost the naked man. All that matters is who the winner is.
Whether it’s a green drink or a golden statue, everybody wants a win. Some thing that makes you feel like you’re living the dream, kicking ass and taking names, on top of the world. For example, my client—let’s call her Emmy—she’s a junior at a major agency who works twenty-five hour days (workouts out for an additional three), got straight A’s at a top B-school, and currently has her sights set on a big promotion that will only result in a little increase to her salary, but a sizeable increase to her statue—I mean stature—in the business. It’s not even a “thing” she can touch, but she wants them to give it to her because it will mean they like her…they really, really like her. And we all just want to be liked. The problem is, Emmy’s desperate need to be liked is resulting in an aversion to being licked. And that’s where I come in.
Emmy doesn’t have time for a boyfriend; she’s too busy running the Santa Monica Stairs up the Hollywood corporate ladder to bother with a crazy little thing called love. Rather, Emmy has historically used sex and a steady stream of short-term romantic entanglements to fill the space on her internal mantle until she can replace it with the big award, which for Emmy, is career success. At this point, Emmy is so close to winning that she’s lost her orgasm. But man alive, is she looking for it! Literally. In every man alive.
In just the past two months, Emmy’s run the gamut of passion prizes. There was the guy with the golden globes. She said his nipples were so shiny and perky, she felt like they were staring at her—giving a whole new synopsis to The Hills Have Eyes. Then there was the SAG. She said his scrotal sack was so saggy, she couldn’t keep her head in the game. It was like being spanked with wet tennis ball-filled gym socks—that doesn’t exactly lend itself to love, set, match. Then there was the super intense, hipster-intellectual she picked up while dropping off her laundry at the Fluff-and-Fold. She got him back to her place and quickly realized he was her Independent Spirit—a lotta talk, not much action. But really, none of these guys stood a chance because Emmy was holding out for her Oscar. Her boss, Oscar Lazar. This is the week Oscar will tell her if she’s won the promotion. But what I told Emmy was, as soon as she wins it, there will just be another prize she’ll need to win. I’ve tried to help her see that there is no person, place, or thing that can ever successfully satisfy an insatiable need for success.
If Emmy wants to win back her orgasm, she’s going to have to get over her fear of losing. So often the fear of losing isn’t about those catastrophic losses, rather the every day ones…the mundane things-to-do list that is life. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it feels like I need my own personal tickertape parade every time I do anything good. If I let someone merge into my lane during rush hour, or breathe in an extra four seconds at yoga, or get through a week without canceling any of my therapy sessions, I genuinely want trumpets to sound, and Beyoncé to perform, and red carpets to roll out in congratulations and celebration that this week, Lainey, you didn’t suck. It’s indoctrinated in infancy! Sit still, and you’ll get a cookie. Be good, and you’ll get a toy. We’re taught that there will always be a reward when we put in an effort—and the bigger the effort, the bigger the reward. Right? Wrong. In real, grownup life, that’s just not true. That type of thinking ensures that even if you’re doing everything right, if there’s no prize at the end, you end up feeling like a big loser. But, when you think of it, everyday we are all losing some prize or another. Most of us didn't win an Emmy, or Golden Globe, or an Oscar this year, and it didn’t matter. That’s the key to relieving anxiety—find a way to make it (whatever that “it” is for you) not matter so much. Emmy has stopped experiencing physical pleasure because the pain of her need for emotional validation in the form of professional success has blocked it. I’m encouraging Emmy to let this week be about letting go of the need, so she can really get what she wants. If she doesn’t need the success, the success will surely come. And so will she.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
There comes a time in every relationship when the proverbial jig is up. The deck is depleted and you have to show your hand. In romance, some time between coming and going, both parties have to come clean.
There are the obvious lies of illusion to fess up about, i.e., his internet profile said he was 5’ 11”, but without his lifts he’s really 5’ 5”, or her skin looks flawless, but waking up to her a.m. facade feels like staring at the dark side of the moon. Perhaps he picks you up for the date in a Mercedes SLK, but after the date, when he takes you back to his place, it’s a 300 sq-ft bachelor with little more than an air mattress and a hot plate. Or maybe you’re really digging your new girlfriend’s perky and plentiful décolletage only to get her undressed and find her tits really reside closer to her navel than her neck. That’s the real secret Victoria’s hiding! Unless she’s under 25 years-old, or slinging silicone, no woman’s tits are as perky or perfect as a strategic placement of underwire and hooks purport them to be. Let’s face it girls, we’re almost all liars to some degree. Our cheeks aren’t that rosy, our lashes aren’t that long, our hair does not sprout from our scalps with perfect sun-kissed highlights and chestnut undertones, and though we may start the evening with bodacious tatas, by the end of the night are tits will be deflated somewhere around our armpits. But what we really want to know is, will he love us anyway?
Chris Rock once joked that nobody starts a relationship as his or her true self, rather we all send our representative. We put our best foot forward, hiding the bunions and ingrown toenails under Cinderella’s glass slipper. And many of the women I see in my office would rather flee the scene than let Prince Charming see how jacked up her feet really are.
For example, I have a client, we’ll call her Cindy, who came to me desperate to find true love. She took excellent care of her body, was highly educated, poised, and had even learned rules, stats, and players of every major US-televised sport as to make herself more attractive to men. But Cindy could never seem to score when it came to romance. Much like Cinderella, Cindy had been made into the belle of the ball, but her beauty, both outside and in, was on a ticking clock. Eventually, midnight would strike and the prince du jour would find out that she wasn’t that beautiful, or that sweet, and that his little princess was the one thing so many women are afraid to be – human. Cindy and I discovered that all her lies of illusion boiled down to one simple lie of omission. She had been omitting her true self from all of her relationships. She’d been operating under the common delusion that romantic relationships are a game of tit for tat. She thought if she gave her men a beautiful outside, then they would make her feel beautiful on the inside. But if Cindy couldn’t get her outsides to match her insides herself, she was never going to find the love she desired. No man could make her feel whole when her story was only half-truths. There’s just no tit for that.
Cindy and I worked on building her self-esteem by daring to get acquainted with her true self. And once the real Cindy emerged, she realized falling in love was less about her makeup and pushup bras, than it was about being woman enough to admit that, when it came to relationships, she was really just a scared little girl.
We are, all of us, just emotional infants fumbling about in grownup skin. In the game of love, we compete, and bluff, and one-up each other because we’re really all just afraid of losing. I wonder what lies might be standing in the way of my own romantic end game. Could the big-O be eluding me because, just like Cindy, I was a big faker? For all my boys and toys, could it be that the one thing I really need to try in order to come, is to come clean? Finally show a partner who I really am? If so, I don’t know if that can be done in the next 246 days. Perhaps my sexual revolution will end up just like my new year’s resolutions – facedown in a pint of rum raisin, dripping all over my brand new yoga pants. I just don’t know. Cindy’s story was a success. Eventually. Maybe mine will be too.