Hurt people

“Your trauma” is the designator theater kids give to those moments during childhood when you were made to understand that life is not a fairy tale. In my view, your reaction to “your trauma” defines whether you are a good person or a bad one.

There are only two ways to react:

  • Option A is to work to become more like the person who hurt you. This is the natural reaction. When someone makes you feel jealousy, rage, loneliness, etc., that person has power over you. That power is attractive.
  • Option B is to work to rid the world of the kind of pain you suffered. This is the less natural reaction. It requires the acceptance of duty and responsibility. It is less attractive, harder to swallow.

Consider the story of Tucker Carlson. His mother, San Francisco heiress Lisa McNear Lombardi, abandoned Carlson and his brother when Carlson was six. She left to join David Hockney’s gay, bohemian Los Angeles entourage; her boys never saw her again.

Carlson is clearly an Option B man. “I got married at 22 and had four kids,” he’s said. “I just had this drive to have a really close, normal, happy family with dinners together where no one’s doing anything weird.”

He’s also spent his career warning against precisely the sort of derangement that caused his own unstable upbringing. When Carlson rails against the excesses of the left, it’s from first-hand knowledge.

Rising and falling in America

My background is very different from Carlson’s, but there are enough similarities for me to take a personal interest in how he’s used parental incompetence as motivation.

I, too, am unlucky in family; I rolled a three or four out of ten.

I am an only child sprouted from the unhappy endings of two classic stories of American decline. My mother’s side are Reform Jews of the progressive diaspora, the men spineless workaholics, the women narcissistic hippies. The parents put their bare feet up on dinner tables and shoplift socks from T.J. Maxx. Their daughters marry homosexuals (real) or become nonbinary and get their boobs chopped off (also real). The words honor, integrity, and loyalty have no meaning to any of them — they are “path of least resistance” people — and thus progressivism and pharmaceuticals have become their religion.

My mom is the “creative one” who blew it all on a theater career and other related boomer fantasies. She once disappeared for several days in Hawaii. I was twenty-six years old, midway through my law school finals. I finally tracked her down to a hotel in Molokai, in the middle of a manic episode in which she believed she was having a telekinetic love affair with indie film auteur Jim Jarmusch. She had never met him but believed he was signaling his love with collections of rocks and sticks she found and that he intended to fly out and marry her on the beach. Her reasoning: They were both from Cleveland.

The episode lasted for several months, during which time she became a sort of satanic version of herself. She texted me that she rued the day I was born, poured an entire bottle of milk on her head, and was arrested for erratic driving. Finally, her semi-estranged father — the episode was in reality a cry for his attention — got her admitted and treated with lithium. As you may imagine, the incident (which she now refers to as the time she was “very, very ill”) did not do me any favors career-wise.

My father is the second of four boys from a suburban Chicago family whose lineage can be traced to the Mayflower. Like my mother, he and his brothers were poisoned by the sixties; the poison made them antisocial, and they rejected their parents’ values to the degree of self-immolation.

My father had promise as a young actor. His talent and looks landed him an agent and roles in respected off-Broadway productions. But he was incapable of handling rejection, so he preemptively embraced failure by taking stranger and stranger jobs.

His final bow was in a dingy Chicago black box, where he appeared in the sleazy, bodily fluid-obsessed transgender romp “Cannibal Cheerleaders on Crack.” He then hung it up for a career as a language teacher. He spent the next few decades squeezing drops of St. John’s Wort in his espresso to treat his growing depression.

The world’s cringiest divorce

Out of both resentment over the fact my mother was more successful and a belief that “people have sex with each other, it’s just what they do,” he cheated on her with an actress in an out-of-town production. He got caught, his WASP quietude crumbling in the face of her Jewish matriarchy, and their phony, selfish sexual revolution values revealed themselves inadequate to the task of holding a marriage together.

So, when I was 17, they enacted the world’s cringiest divorce, replete with performative acts of self-sacrifice, including giving over my childhood home to a Northwestern University theater troupe (which included Zach Gilford, future star of NBC drama series “Friday Night Lights”), which left it littered with half-empty beer bottles and condom wrappers.

My point is not to garner sympathy. The point is to illustrate why I learned much earlier than almost all of my vaguely Jewish, stubbornly self-important, bourgeois classmates that I was to be alone on this Earth. If I wanted to base my life on some kind of solid foundation, it was up to me to build it.

God has a way of balancing these things out. While I was unlucky in family, I got lucky in love. Just before my mom went nuts, I met the woman who would become my wife.

I was a 26-year-old Tulane Law student pondering a career in international law; she, a 20-year-old Sarah Lawrence junior studying abroad. We both ended up at the University of Amsterdam. We also both ended up in the same ridiculously gorgeous dorm, located next to the Anne Frank House along the Prinsengracht Canal. We occupied units in the same stack, mine on the third floor, hers on the fourth.

She and her friends were the first real art hoes I’d ever met, which I found irresistibly hot. I pursued her aggressively and insisted we were meant to be, not just for the moment, but for life. This was quite a bold proposition for a girl accustomed to the ambivalent attentions of the soft campus simps back in Yonkers.

Killing the monster

Pursuit of women, I believe, relies mostly on certainty. If you like a girl, find a way to get word to her about it. Then make an initial approach and don’t get fazed when she rejects you. And she will almost certainly reject you, no matter how much of an alpha you are. In fact, how you handle this rejection is a test of your alpha-ness. You approach again, gently, and again, gently.

In this case, I told future wife’s friend that I had a crush on future wife, knowing that word would get around. Then, I asked future wife to come to a concert with me. Once I got the date, a harder task remained: overcoming her 20 years of Los Angeles private school conditioning, which frames male jealousy as problematic and commitment as weird. She was dating a German guy when we first met, and I had to wrest control from him by repeatedly and consistently declaring that she was my selected partner, not a fling.

At the same time, I had to battle my own insane, insatiable paranoia and jealousy, no doubt a byproduct of my parents’ infidelity. This was the true monster I had to slay in order to save the damsel and win her love. Option B is all about finding — and killing — the monster within.

We fell in love at the Rijksmuseum, cycling along the bay in the green farmlands, dancing at dubstep shows almost every night, smoking joints while hanging out the window watching the canal roll by. It was pretty much the most idyllic romance you could possibly imagine: 10/10. But only possible because I kept my hair-trigger insecurities under control.

Husband material

My wife is a happy, calm person who doesn’t care about money or online clout. Had she not, by sheer chance, encountered a psycho like me, who refused to let her go, she would’ve ended up with a sweet outdoorsy high school teacher in somewhere like Bend, Oregon.

She doesn’t take selfies and has never seen an episode of the Kardashians; she’d rather watch movies, or, more often, watch nothing. She loves libraries and art museums, where she reads every single placard and where I’m the one pulling her arm to go get lunch. She has never taken SSRIs and stopped taking birth control even before we got married.

She spends no time considering politics or culture war issues of any kind. Despite the wokest of all possible upbringings, she approaches motherhood, loyalty, and family in a deeply traditional manner; always insisting on quality time together and putting our daughter and me at the center of her world. She insists on eating together as a family.

My friends complain about their wives all the time. The typical stuff: They’re airheaded, they watch trash TV, they don’t let them off the leash, they spend money, they’re high-maintenance. One of my friend’s wives doesn’t cook or clean. Another whines constantly about male privilege. A third doesn’t let him out of the house without her. A fourth is the opposite — she never leaves the house with him.

I deal with none of these issues. I’m the high-maintenance one. My wife lets me do what I please. Everyone talks about how lucky I am, how long a leash she gives me.

I respond, of course, by denying the notion of leashes entirely! I stomp around the house, terrorizing her at the slightest attempt to reign me in. I accuse her of holding me down, preventing me from flying the way I could without her, of making me middling, of stopping my shine. I wake up in the morning too proud to apologize, breath from hell, and demand hamburgers delivered to the couch.

So, the question is, how does an emotionally damaged, deeply indebted, right-wing, alcoholic gonzo travel writer get such a wife when so much worthier husband material languishes in inceldom? Like so many things in life, getting the beautiful things depends on how you handle their ugly neighbors.

The Harpo within

There were two ways I could’ve reacted to being the neglected son of checked-out, theater-kid failchildren. Most would’ve read the environmental cues and doubled down on the pity party, embracing the degenerate artistic wasteland. I could’ve tamped down my desires for stability and numbed myself, let the world come take care of me. I could’ve been a lecherous lefty cool kid, reveling in the self-indulgent nihilism my personal trauma permitted me.

I would’ve ended up like Janice Soprano’s son Harpo (and Janice Soprano’s son I very much am), a “street person,” rebelling against my parents by embracing their own shiftless lifestyle and showing them how much further I could take it. Option A: s**t flows downstream. I just pass it along.

In some ways, this was my trajectory before I met my wife. Once I changed course, I risked reacting too strongly in the other direction, becoming one of those glorified pimps who regularly inspects his wife’s phone, soothing his insecurities with control and manipulation, brainwashing his wife to interpret possessiveness as love.

Instead, I worked to undo my own brainwashing. I owned up to my latent fears of abandonment. I created frameworks to understand the behavior I reacted to in its proper context — didn’t I flirt, too? Wasn’t I just as free? Why get angry at her for being attractive?

I fought my demons and won. This is how you stop the s**t cascade and accept the responsibility God has laid upon you.

Had I not done that, had I instead tried to make her responsible for my pain, I’m sure she would’ve left me long ago. Once, she nearly did. After a family feud where I felt she didn’t take my side against her parents, I disappeared to Tijuana for several days. She was just about done after that.

Somehow, I crawled back into her heart. The solution was, once again, certainty. Reminding her, over and over, that this was it, life partners, thick and thin, sickness and health, to the end. When you know this, and you say it repeatedly over and over, it can overcome almost any female resistance. Women by their nature cling to certitude of vision and dislike being dislodged from it.

How to get lucky

Hurt people hurt people. The molested molest. The meanest girl in high school is always the one hurt most by some prior rejection. This is the challenge life throws at you, and how you respond to it is the difference between an evil life and a good one.

How do you handle the forces that took your innocence? Do you embrace them and give the world more of what was given to you? Or do you stand against them, not as some vague external evil, but as a very real, internal darkness always ready to engulf you?

Most choose the former, which is why our political landscape is full of the traumatized victims of progressivism’s inherent chaos, reflecting and amplifying their harm onto younger generations.

My luck in love comes from the ability to see, with clear eyes, the harm that came to me. I got a good wife because I needed one. But if I’d let my vision be clouded by anger, or resentment, or contempt, or simply the desire to get back at my parents, I would’ve never been able to understand the depth of my need.

My desire for some kind of “revenge” would’ve been so overwhelming I would never have accepted the challenge before me. The challenge to reject years of pop culture and classroom propaganda, and to ignore the smug certainty in the voices of family and friends. The challenge to believe that making a lifetime commitment to a 20-year-old art student was actually a good idea.

Love is the product of this commitment, of this deal with ourselves, our partners, and with God. We’re taught to weigh the benefits. Are you happy in your marriage? Are you fulfilled? If not, question it, find alternatives, maximize your happiness, get away.

Despite being taught this, I could see the evil in it. Love isn’t something that happens to you; it’s the product of righteousness. And the only thing it asks from you is complete and total commitment, lack of doubt, an overcoming of oneself in service to another human. So, I went for it, and it turned out to be exactly what we both needed.

Am I suggesting that everyone take my path? Not at all. In fact, my point is precisely the opposite. A good relationship requires its own, consistent, shared morality. People criticize swingers or hyper-religious couples, but those couples understand marriage better than most.

The marriages that fail are those open to the influence of public opinion and the various “shoulds” it imposes: My husband shouldn’t criticize me for my weight, my wife shouldn’t watch the Kardashians. All of my divorced friends married women whose mainstream expectations made them highly susceptible to social pressure, whether it came from social media, their families, or their colleagues.

My wife and I break most of the shoulds, as all good couples do, but we always return to tend to the fire burning between us, to renew the agreement no one else can amend. Failed couples are performances for the benefit of others. Successful couples are their own little cults.

The ‘Pride’ that undoes us all

These cults resist the reigning Cult of Dionysus and the “Pride” it insists we all observe. We think of “Pride” as a celebration of homosexuality and transgenderism, but it’s rather more “inclusive” than that. Love whoever you want really means do whatever you want, and this credo provides cover for any number of heterosexual sins as well.

By today’s standards, did Lisa McNear Lombardi do anything wrong? Isn’t it good, and in fact noble, to shirk the oppressive, patriarchy-imposed duties of motherhood in order to “follow your bliss”?

To believe this lie is to be seduced by the same demon that urges the gender dysphoric to “change” sex; the same demon that tells two men facing the barrenness of their sexual proclivities that they can have a baby together.

The accusation of “virtue signaling” may be a stale right-wing trope, but it’s true that we mostly define being a good person in terms of what you do in public. We no longer seem to understand that morality is also a matter of what you don’t do. Then again, how could we? What could it possibly mean to resist temptation when one man’s temptation is another man’s truth?

This choice is available to us all. Boil down your experience to the specific evils God has put in your path. For me, they were degeneracy, atheism, and rootlessness. I fought back by following a traditional path and insisting that a woman in a similar situation do it with me.

What’s your version of this? What have you been given the opportunity to overcome? Do you inflict it upon others, or fight to stop it? Answer these questions correctly, and a woman will gravitate to you. Once she does, tell her you’re absolutely certain that she’s the one for you, and mean it. She’ll sense that you can conquer the darkness that chases her, too.

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