Ever been betrayed? There’s a little bit of Judas in us all…..

“It is not an enemy who taunts me—I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me—I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you—my equal, my companion and close friend”. Psalm 55:12

One of the darkest times in my life was in the mid-1980s. I’d gone through a bitter divorce and my personal life was in shambles. About a week after the ink was dry on my divorce papers, I received a letter from my best friend explaining he was (and had been) involved with my ex-wife. The letter explained that he hoped it didn’t complicate our friendship, and he hoped we could all sit down over coffee and discuss what had happened. He ended it with some bullshit about not wanting to lose my friendship. Two things came from that letter… my relationship with him would never be repaired and I had a Jesus moment. Like Jesus, I had discovered my own personal Judas. I’ll tell you more about this guy later…

It took a long time for me to get past that betrayal. I can thank Oprah for helping with it…. One day she had Deepak Chopra on and the topic was “When a friend betrays you”… Hello! That’s a topic I tuned in for and learned from it. Deepak is one of my heroes! As he explains it…. betrayal is as toxic to us as Agent Orange… we may or may not fully recover from it.

Nothing grows in a toxic environment. An organism will destroy its own ability to grow. I have discovered over the years that those who undermine and betray are the ones that left me doubting myself, my calling, and worried that I didn’t have what it took to accomplish the task at hand. After dealing personally with a friend’s betrayal, it has led me to some conclusions that I think may help. When betrayal happens, it creates a sense of mistrust, broken hearts, and a cocooning of the human spirit. We have a tendency to close up and not trust with abandonment after betrayal.

Inside the family, betrayal has set up the greatest failure statistics of marriage and child-rearing recorded since time began. Inside the corporate world, it serves to reveal selfish desires. On social media, betrayal can cause undo harm to good reputations, and make heroes out of idiots.

Betrayal is a strong feeling that can be difficult to process. Why? Because the trauma of the betrayal creates fear, shame, secrets, and intensity. These feelings may even mix with love and longing for the person by whom we feel betrayed.

Remember that country song that said “My wife ran off with my best friend and I sure do miss him!”
The song is 100% correct. Many times, people don’t know how to deal with the emotional pain of betrayal because our culture doesn’t encourage reflection and genuine expression of our feelings. We become skillful at distracting ourselves by keeping busy with work in an attempt to shield ourselves from feeling the pain. Or for some, we self-medicate to ease the anxiety, stress, and hurt. How many people end up at the bar drinking to a “somebody done me wrong song”?

The point is you can forgive, or let them go…. but you have to do something … pick one and stick with it!

Forgiving someone after a betrayal is a huge step that must be thoroughly thought out, as well as choosing to let them go. You need to make sure you’re fully committed to your decision because if you’re not it will be a major mistake for you.

To forgive you must fully come to terms with what happened and ultimately forget about it. If you choose to dwell on the betrayal then forgiveness will be impossible. Consider forgiveness to be one of the last and major steps of moving forward with the situation and your life. That is unless you’re unlucky enough to have betrayal rears its ugly head once more.

Maybe you’ve thought it out and this betrayal in particular can’t be forgiven or forgotten. No matter what anyone else says, your decision is totally acceptable. This choice is yours and only yours, but now you have to keep to yourself and move along. Always make sure that you don’t let your decision take control over your life negatively.

For years, I didn’t forgive him. The very mention of his name sent me into a rage. But one day… I let it go. His relationship with my ex ended in disaster… he settled for a woman from a nail salon and he ended up making pies in Mexico for a hotel… even that didn’t work out. I googled him after I heard all this… there he was a bloated guy sitting on a sofa at his 60th birthday party looking like the complete waste of humanity I’d hoped he’d become so long ago… and just as Christ said on the cross… “It is finished”.

Suddenly… it was finished. All of my hatred, hurt and rage from his betrayal left me… Karma stepped in and did what I could not… Thanks Karma!

This is my journey… this is my life
Rob Cantrell

Here’s the real issue with the gay lifestyle….

Somebody needs to say it and it might as well be me!

Anyone that knows me will tell you what you see is exactly what you get… I’ve lived too long and way too hard to make other people comfortable by censoring my life. That simply isn’t going to happen. I learned in the first few decades on this planet that it is impossible to fit in other people’s “boxes”… they can’t do it… and I’m not gonna try. This is me… this is Rob and this is how it is always going to be.
If you have followed me on Facebook for more than 2 minutes and looked at the photos I post, you’ll quickly see what matters to me in life. I’m sober, happy and living a life perfect for me. It’s a journey and

I want the entire world to see it!

But I have an important message ……

If you never read another word I write… please read these! There is no such thing as a “gay lifestyle”! Let me repeat this so even those of you talking on the phone can grasp it …. There is no such thing as a gay lifestyle!

Let’s look just at the term ‘lifestyle’ – what comes to mind when someone is talking about a lifestyle? I think of terms like a healthy lifestyle, a sedentary lifestyle, an active lifestyle, or an extravagant lifestyle – just to name a few. Now what do these examples have in common? They are all based on choices. You can choose to be healthy. You can choose to be sedentary. You can choose to be active. You can choose to live extravagantly.

There is also no such thing as a “Gay Agenda”, at least not in the sense that it has been brought up by those who are suspicious of the gay community as a whole. If there is a gay agenda, it is to have equal rights, to have a job without fear of being fired, just because of one’s sexual orientation, to serve our country without fear of being court-martialed for whom we choose to love, and most importantly, to marry and have the same benefits under the law as heterosexuals do.

The gay community has no desire to recruit children. There is a difference between someone who is gay and a pedophile. Pedophiles are sick bastards that need to be shot in the head on the evening news! You don’t want to get me started on pedophiles. If anything, if we have children of our own, most likely we prefer they grow up straight because from our own personal experience, we know how difficult it is growing up gay, though we do hope that will not always be the case. The gay community as a whole does want children who discover they are gay; to know they are not alone, no matter where they come from. We want them to know that they are not abnormal and they do not have to hate themselves because of their sexual preferences, no matter what those around them might say.

It cannot be beyond comprehension that gay people also have jobs and careers, play and watch sports, socialize, walk our dogs, take exams, celebrate holidays, save for a house, pay the bills, eat, sleep and drink. That gay people live everyday lives too. What is there to misunderstand? Where is this naivety coming from? Too much TV? We can thank television and film for attempts at bringing LGBT lives into mainstream media, though entertaining as they were, they’ve clearly left the unenlightened under a misguided, exaggerated illusion. It’s not all Broke Back Mountain and that fat gay guy on Modern Family. I don’t know any gay people like that in my world!

I note that the dictionary defines heterosexuality as “sexual feeling or behavior directed toward a person or persons of the opposite sex.” The same dictionary defines homosexuality as “sexual desire or behavior directed toward a person or persons of one’s own sex.” I see little difference apart from a gender reference, which both specify equally. There was no mention of this “gay lifestyle.” Clearly some need to get their head out of their asses and even their mind out of the gutter, for that matter… and keep up with the real world. Being gay has no more to do with sex than being heterosexual does. There is nothing unique to the gay community in that regard, we’re just like everyone else.

It’s no great secret: some people are gay. What difference does that make to anybody? What impact does it have on anyone else’s life? These narrow and harmful views are motivated by fear, not understanding. They’re driven by intolerance, not empathy. Nevertheless they are beliefs held strongly by some, but it would appear they’re on shaky ground. It’s time for change, and change is coming. And it’s not gay people that need to change. Gay people are not the problem. Being gay isn’t a problem. How those who are gay are perceived and, indeed, treated — that’s the problem. Education will correct these misconceptions and that’s why I feel it’s important that I share with the 8,000 people that actually read this blog. It’s important that those in need of this knowledge become aware that not only are some gay people world-class athletes, but indeed, some are doctors, teachers, nurses, politicians, actors, veterinarians, judges, shopkeepers, singers, police officers, astronauts and even substance abuse counselors. The list goes on. We, too, have passion, we, too earn livelihoods, some of us are very career-orientated, and some of us excel in our chosen fields. Again, there’s nothing unique to the gay community in that regard, we’re just like everyone else.

I could not care less if you support or oppose same sex marriage. I think marriage itself should be outlawed! Nothing good ever came out of mine but a bunch of wonderful kids! The rest of marriage totally sucked for me!

Being gay is not the most important thing in a gay person’s life, but it is important that the world around us, if not accepting of us, at least respects us and allows us the same rights and privileges that everyone else takes for granted.

You be you… I’ll be me and that is exactly how it should be!

This is my journey… this is my life!

Rob Cantrell

Why don’t you love me?

It hurts when you have someone in your heart but will never have them in your arms….

Many years ago, my son went to a well-established prep school in Jacksonville, Florida. The year was just starting and I had an appointment to meet the teacher. I also had an opportunity to volunteer for every function … from field trips to science fairs. It had the potential to be a great experience for my father/son relationship. It turned out to be a nightmare.

The teacher was picking up signals I wasn’t sending. She called continuously, scheduled meetings continuously and planned outing for the two of us. I knew she had an attraction to me, and I loved the attention, so I let it continue. One afternoon as I was picking up my son she asked if we could speak… so as usual I agreed. In her classroom she took my hand and announced she was divorcing her husband. She said, “I love him like I love all mankind… but I’m not in love with him”…”this will allow us to finally be together”.

STOP! Let me see if I’ve got this right… the husband loves her but she doesn’t love him…. and she loves me but I don’t love her. There is a lot of love misdirected in this story. Long and the short of it…. she divorced him… I ran from her and everyone ended up single. Love sucks….

I read an article recently by Paul Hudson, a guy that knows the agony of love gone wrong. He seems to understand my story and what happens to us when a love so right turns out to be so wrong… maybe you can see yourself in some of this…

People who don’t love you can be found in many places. Pick the person in a brand new relationship; they can’t see more than five inches past the face of their new love, let alone far enough to see you pining away in the corner. Pick the girl you’ve been friends with for ages, the one who refers to you as a brother and will never see you as anything else. Pick the boy who flirts with everyone, sleeps with everyone, the one who doesn’t know what he’s looking for and never seems satisfied. He’ll do just fine, too.

This has to be more than a crush, more than just a fleeting attraction. Thinking they look cute when they smile, or letting your imagination momentarily wander when they touch your skin isn’t enough. You must love them with every fiber of your being, from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep, day after heartbroken day. Memorize the rhythm of their voice, the subtle gestures of their hands and each expression of their face, so when you’re asleep and dreaming of a world in which you’re together, it seems real. Feel your soul fracture each morning when you wake up and realize it isn’t. Let the agony, the obsession, consume you. Nothing hurts like loving someone who doesn’t love you back.

Perhaps you think I’m crazy for suggesting anyone let themselves fall into this pit of despair, that I’m an emotional sadist. I assure you I’m not, because eventually something happens to every single person who loves someone who doesn’t love them back: they manage to stop being in love.

While it takes varying amounts of time, everyone finds their breaking point, that moment when enough becomes enough. It could be the third night you cry yourself to sleep, the fifth time they cancel plans with you to be with someone else, or the eighth night in a row you spend getting drunk alone. It can take months, or even years. But here’s what you’ll have once you get there:

After surviving that kind of ache, you’ll be so much stronger, so much more certain of yourself. You’ll see that all pain (physical, emotional, and metal) is a temporary state of being, not a permanent one. There is always a reason to go on, always a reason to fight for yourself.

Here’s the best part about getting over someone who doesn’t love you: You realize that nobody healed your heartache, that you were able to fix yourself all on your own. And once you’ve proven to yourself that you can recover from that, you won’t be afraid to go looking for love again.

Until you fall in love, you don’t know what it means to live. Well, to be more exact, until you fall in love and have your heart broken, you don’t know what it means to live. Furthermore, until you have your heart broken, you won’t understand what it means to truly love.

As human beings, we learn best from loss. We come to understand the importance and value of both people and things, by losing them. Sure, we can imagine how it must feel to lose a person we love, but until we actually lose, or are at risk of losing, this person, we never fully understand how important he or she is to us.

We learn by losing. We learn when we are beaten by others, when our best efforts aren’t good enough, when we don’t make the cut, and when we fail. Success is no teacher. In fact, success can often do more harm than good — especially when it wasn’t worked for or earned.

But loss… when you lose something, you instantly become aware of the now vacant space in your life that was once filled with something beautiful — even if that something beautiful was only the dream of having that which you now know you won’t have. And it hurts.

Love can teach you just about everything you need to know about life. For example, it can teach you that sometimes no matter how much you love a person, that person simply won’t love you back.
It can teach you that there are many levels to loving and that each and every person loves a little differently. It can also teach you that sometimes you have no choice but to love someone who will never love you as much as you love him or her.

We often talk about unconditional love, as if it were a real thing. The truth is that there is no such thing as unconditional love; we all love conditionally. However, having someone love you back is not one of those necessary conditions.

In fact, we often fall in love and continue to love those who don’t love us back as passionately. We all love that which we can’t have, and if we find someone that doesn’t want us it only makes us more desperate to have that someone.

That’s a bitch, ain’t it? You fall in love with someone who doesn’t love you back and knowing he or she is trying to push you away only makes you want to latch on tighter. The more that person tells you he or she doesn’t want you, the more your imagination concocts ways of making that person fall for you.
I speak from experience… as people, we are capable of chasing the person we are in love with for years and years on end to no avail. Every time we are turned down, we fall in love a little deeper. Or so we think.

Most of us have a difficult time distinguishing between romantic love and love itself. Romantic love is more a sort of obsession than it is anything else, and it’s romantic love that makes us want that which we can’t have.

Romantic love is what turns our imaginations on high and makes it impossible to start thinking about that one special person. The best part of it all is that we love being in love romantically, no matter how much it hurts.

Being in love with someone who will never love you as much as you love him or her shakes you to your core, but you love it. Don’t get me wrong, it hurts. It hurts a whole lot. At the same time, it makes you feel more alive. It makes you feel more “in the moment.”

It opens you up to a side of life and a side of yourself that you didn’t previously know existed. It’s the sort of pain that you never forget, but at the same time look back at with a sort of fondness and sense of nostalgia.

There’s a fine line between pain and pleasure. Romantic love walks that line. I hate crossing lines.

This is my journey… this is my life.
Rob Cantrell

Cheating Is A Choice…. Not A Mistake!

Revenge? Nah… I’m too lazy for that. I’m gonna sit here and let Karma mess you up!

I am no stranger to wild living and one night stands… I’ve stolen towels and ashtrays from some of the finest Indian owned motels in the south… I’m talking about the classy ones with avocado green shag carpets and velvet paintings of dogs playing poker nailed to the wall. I’ve even seen a room with a framed 8”X10” of Jesus knocking on the door of a house… that one always gave me the creeps. Who decorates those places?

I’ve done a lot of crappy things…. But I never cheated on anyone I was in a committed relationship with… ever! That to me is the unpardonable sin… there is no going back and fixing that. You sleep with someone else … it’s over… have your attorney call mine!

The most insensitive words I’ve ever heard were….. “It didn’t mean anything!” Really? You just destroyed everything we’ve built for 7 ½ minutes with someone that didn’t mean anything to you? Now I’m more than hurt … I’m insulted! It should have been the orgasm to end all orgasms! A holiday should be named after it!

I’ve had my share of cheating spouses… each of them enjoyed a visit from Karma. Karma will handle situations most of us would go to jail for handling! You just have to wait… Karma always comes knocking …. (I love me some Karma!).

I understand so much more now that I’m on the other side of some of the worst relationships in recorded history… I survived and I’m still standing. Maybe I should put all the psychology courses I’ve endured to work…. Maybe I should finally realize there’s a lot to be said for moving on…

I was reading an article written by Jason Fierstein, a psychotherapist in Phoenix that specializes in “cheater” therapy… can you imagine doing that for a living? But I agree with him, so this is what we think about those that can’t keep their clothes on …. they cause damage that long outlast the actual “act” or the act of getting caught! These are fundamentally damaged people that damage others….

The unfortunate thing about being cheated on is that it’s a gift that keeps on giving. As if being cheated on is hard enough, often the negative effects of having been cheated on ripple out into other intimate relationships you may have. If you’ve ever been cheated on, you might want to know about this.

Sometimes, we convince ourselves that we’ve done our grieving or worked through the negative impact of being cheated on. We can get good at convincing ourselves or rationalizing that we’re “over it”, but are we really over it? Once we’re in new relationships, sometimes the after burn of being cheated on plays out with our new partners. Jealousy and suspicion sometimes irrationally creep in our minds, and we can’t shake the idea that will be cheated on again. No matter what our partner says or does, or how much they convince us that they’re not going to do whatever previous partner did to us, it’s still not enough to shake those irrational thoughts. We ruminate and we obsess. In our minds, we think that our new partners are going cheat on us, when they probably won’t. We harbor suspicion and doubt, and then end up acting in ways that push our partners away with that jealousy and doubt. We create what we fear.

You may have convinced yourself that you’ve dealt with being cheated on. Maybe you have, and maybe you haven’t. It’s not enough just to tell yourself that you’ve if you’ve ever been cheated on gotten over it, or that you’ve healed. If you’re still ruminating irrationally in your new relationship that tells me that the work may not be over for you. You may have some unfinished business about being cheated on, so it would behoove you to get some professional help to work on those issues. Often times, there’s a lot of pain, grief, rejection and anger associated with the partner that cheated on us, that we really never got to identify or process when it happened because we were so rattled at the time, or we didn’t want to look at those feelings within us. I know that feeling rejected by your life partner is probably one of the hardest things to deal with, because it cuts so deep personally. If they’ve cheated on you, it may translate for you to mean that you’re flawed, or that you’re not wanted by this person, and that they chose somebody better than you to be with, or at least to sleep with. It really may go to the core of your being, in terms of your confidence, feelings of security, and trust. All those issues are really major things, and if you haven’t looked at those issues in depth, it might be in your benefit so that you allow yourself to be more emotionally available for your future relationships. The past affects us in the present so long as we haven’t dealt with it.

Trust is one of the most precious things to create in a relationship, and once that’s been corrupted, it’s really hard to get it back. It affects us negatively well into our future, when we choose our future partners and when we try to create new intimate relationships. We have to localize our trust issues, and really commit to working on them. We need to clear ourselves out emotionally to be able to learn to trust again. Even if you know your new relationship partner isn’t going to cheat on you or compromise your trust, on an emotional level your heart maybe telling you something different from your head. Your head knows that they’re not going to do anything to you rationally, but irrationally, the heart probably is telling you something else. It’s telling you to watch out for danger, that you could be put in the very situation that you don’t want to be in before.

Naturally, when we’ve been hurt, we want to close up. We shut our doors to someone else, and we push people out. We don’t want to risk being open and vulnerable to someone else, when we’ve been so hurt in the past. This limits our ability to deepen and strengthen our new relationships, as we’re being held back by old ones. If time goes on and you’re continuing to be closed to your vulnerability, your new relationship partner may, in fact, be starting to react against you for that. They may withdraw, or attack, or eventually want to get their needs met from somebody else, thus fulfilling the prophecy you have inadvertently created for yourself. You don’t want that, do you?

It is possible to get past the negative effects of being cheated on. It makes sense, if you want to have another trusting, open relationship with someone else. It’s unfortunate that a lot of people never really work on the issues I just mentioned and remain single and never get into another relationship because they’re terrified of being cheated on again. It may be difficult to work through all of the pain, rejection and grief that’s associated with being cheated on, but in the long run, you’ll have invested in a happier future for yourself.

In my opinion, cheating is a selfish and cowardly act of not considering anyone or anything except your own greed, need, and sexual desires. It’s an immoral way to accomplish something. Consider it stealing or taking something that doesn’t belong to you. Perhaps you’ve been hurt and you want to pay the other person back, or the relationship is no longer what you want. The lack of compassion or respect for the other person is bad enough, but the affects that will carry over to your children, whether you see them or not, is another, which can cause the most damage.

It’s easier and selfish to think that your children will forget about the disruption and sometimes devastation to their life or that it won’t affect them if they don’t know. The fact of the matter is, they will remember and if they didn’t know at the onset, sooner or later they will find out. It may come out in forms you may never care to associate with your actions. You may never realize the destruction to their life or if you do it may be when it’s too late.

Parents repeat the same loving words, they would do anything for their children, and then they cheat without considering any of the ramifications. When you destroy a relationship, take more than a fleeting moment to consider everyone in that relationship. If you aren’t happy, get out of the relationship with your dignity intact and move on respectfully. Consider the emotional aftermath your children will suffer although they may not say a single word to you about it. Look at the statistics of young adults in therapy because a parent cheated. Now, consider those that aren’t in therapy and have to emotionally find their own way around your actions. That selfish act can damage your children for life. Is it worth taking that risk?

Cheaters are going to cheat… it’s a shame they can’t do us a favor and just leave… that’s easier to face and accept for everyone left picking up the pieces.

This is my life… this is my journey!

Rob Cantrell

Love Hurts! Please hit me again …..

“So what’s the glory in leaving… doesn’t anybody ever stay together anymore? If love never lasts forever tell me what’s forever for?” – Billy Gillmore

I’ve never been lucky with love, commitments, relationship, houseplants, recreational drug use or keeping secrets… if you know something terrible… don’t tell me or I’ll put it on the internet!

Do I suck so badly that the cosmos have decided to poo-poo on my love parade or do I simply not understand what love is supposed to do?

To find out I went to the keeper of all secrets big and small …… Google!
I found some “true-dats” I’d over looked for 50 years! Now I’m gonna share them with you!

In 1967, John Lennon wrote a song called, “All You Need is Love.” He also beat both of his wives, abandoned one of his children, verbally abused his gay Jewish manager with homophobic and anti-Semitic slurs, and once had a camera crew film him lying naked in his bed for an entire day.

Thirty-five years later, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails wrote a song called “Love is Not Enough.” Reznor, despite being famous for his shocking stage performances and his grotesque and disturbing videos, got clean from all drugs and alcohol, married one woman, had two children with her, and then cancelled entire albums and tours so that he could stay home and be a good husband and father.

One of these two men had a clear and realistic understanding of love. One of them did not. One of these men idealized love as the solution to all of his problems. One of them did not. One of these men was probably a narcissistic asshole. One of them was not.

In our culture, many of us idealize love. We see it as some lofty cure-all for all of life’s problems. Our movies and our stories and our history all celebrate it as life’s ultimate goal, the final solution for all of our pain and struggle. And because we idealize love, we overestimate it. As a result, our relationships pay a price.

When we believe that “all we need is love,” then like Lennon, we’re more likely to ignore fundamental values such as respect, humility and commitment towards the people we care about. After all, if love solves everything, then why bother with all the other stuff — all of the hard stuff?

The problem with idealizing love is that it causes us to develop unrealistic expectations about what love actually is and what it can do for us. These unrealistic expectations then sabotage the very relationships we hold dear in the first place.

Love does not equal compatibility… just because you fall in love with someone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good partner for you to be with over the long term. Love is an emotional process; compatibility is a logical process. And the two don’t bleed into one another very well. It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who doesn’t treat us well, who makes us feel worse about ourselves, who doesn’t hold the same respect for us as we do for them, or who has such a dysfunctional life themselves that they threaten to bring us down with them.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who has different ambitions or life goals that are contradictory to our own, who holds different philosophical beliefs or worldviews that clash with our own sense of reality. It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who sucks for us and our happiness.
When I think of all of the disastrous relationships I’ve had or the ones people have told me about I see all started with one basis of emotion… we felt that “spark” and so we just dove in head first. Forget that he was a born-again Christian alcoholic and she was an acid-dropping bisexual necrophiliac. It just felt right.

And then six months later, when she’s throwing his crap out onto the lawn and he’s praying to Jesus twelve times a day for her salvation, they look around and wonder, “Gee, where did it go wrong?”

The truth is, it went wrong before it even began.

When dating and looking for a partner, you must use not only your heart, but your mind. Yes, you want to find someone who makes your heart flutter and your farts smell like cherry Popsicles. But you also need to evaluate a person’s values, how they treat themselves, how they treat those close to them, their ambitions and their worldviews in general. Because if you fall in love with someone who is incompatible with you…well, as the ski instructor from South Park once said, you’re going to have a bad time.

Love is not always worth sacrificing yourself. One of the defining characteristics of loving someone is that you are able to think outside of yourself and your own needs to help care for another person and their needs as well.

But the question that doesn’t get asked often enough is exactly what are you sacrificing, and is it worth it?
It’s normal for both people to occasionally sacrifice their own desires, their own needs, and their own time for one another. I would argue that this is normal and healthy and a big part of what makes a relationship so great.

But when it comes to sacrificing one’s self-respect, one’s dignity, one’s physical body, one’s ambitions and life purpose, just to be with someone, then that same love becomes problematic. A loving relationship is supposed to supplement our individual identity, not damage it or replace it. If we find ourselves in situations where we’re tolerating disrespectful or abusive behavior, then that’s essentially what we’re doing: we’re allowing our love to consume us and negate us, and if we’re not careful, it will leave us as a shell of the person we once were.

You can fall in love with a wide variety of people throughout the course of your life. You can fall in love with people who are good for you and people who are bad for you. You can fall in love in healthy ways and unhealthy ways. You can fall in love when you’re young and when you’re old. Love is not unique. Love is not special. Love is not scarce.

But your self-respect is. So is your dignity. So is your ability to trust. There can potentially be many loves throughout your life, but once you lose your self-respect, your dignity or your ability to trust, they are very hard to get back.

Love is a wonderful experience. It’s one of the greatest experiences life has to offer. And it is something everyone should aspire to feel and enjoy. But like any other experience, it can be healthy or unhealthy. Like any other experience, it cannot be allowed to define us, our identities or our life purpose. We cannot let it consume us. We cannot sacrifice our identities and self-worth to it. Because the moment we do that, we lose love and we lose ourselves.

Because you need more in life than love. Love is great. Love is necessary. Love is beautiful. But love is not enough. Don’t settle ….

This is my journey … this is my life!
Rob Cantrell

Dating an Addict? Know the facts….

5 Things To Know Before Dating An Addict…

A report from Partnership for Drug Free Kids states there are 23.5 million Americans in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. That means roughly 8% of the U.S. population is getting their act together and living life on life’s terms… bravo! It also means there’s a chance the remaining 92% of the country will end up dating us …. This is where it gets tricky!

I read an article by Dr. David Sack, an authority on addictive behavior, and wanted to share the facts with you on dating an alcoholic or addict…. I’m in recovery and can tell you the facts don’t lie… we’re a complicated lot and will break your heart if you’re not careful… love is blind… it doesn’t have to be stupid!

A history of addiction doesn’t necessarily turn Mr./Mrs. Right into Mr./Mrs. Wrong. In fact, addicts who are solid in their recovery can make excellent partners. I like to think I’m one… We’ve waged a courageous battle, spending a great deal of time working to take care of and improve our lives. But before you put yourself in a position to fall for an addict, there are a few things you need to know:

1. Love does not conquer all.
For anyone considering dating an active addict, it is important to realize that love cannot conquer addiction. Addiction takes priority over everything – you, children, career, financial security, even one’s own freedom. Before diving into a relationship, find out if your prospective partner is actively using drugs or alcohol, or if they display addictive or compulsive patterns in other areas (e.g., gambling, work, sex, food or spending).

If you care about someone in active addiction, help them into treatment and hold off on turning a friendship into more until they’re grounded in their recovery. If they are in recovery, how long have they stayed sober? Are they actively working a program of recovery (e.g., participating in self-help support meetings, counseling or an aftercare program)?

Someone with less than a year sober should stay focused on their recovery program, not dating. This guideline is designed to protect the addict as well as the people they might date. In the earliest stages, most recovering addicts are trying to figure out who they are, what they want and how to be in a healthy relationship. Beyond the first year, the longer someone has maintained their sobriety the more secure you can feel that you’re choosing a partner who is healthy and whole.

2. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease.
An estimated 40 to 60 percent of addicts relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Since relapse is always a possibility, addicts and their partners need to stay alert to their triggers and be prepared to get help when warranted. If you’ve struggled with addiction yourself, be extra cautious – your use can trigger their relapse, and their relapse could spell ruin for both of you. Left unaddressed, relapse can set in motion a roller coaster of chaotic break-ups and reunification that in the long run only exacerbates the problem.

The threat of relapse need not deter you from dating someone firmly grounded in their recovery. It is simply a reality you should be aware of. By educating yourself about disease of addiction, you’ll know what to expect and when to ask for help.

3. Recovering addicts need support.
Being a loving partner to a recovering addict requires sensitivity and discretion. For example, you’ll likely need to avoid drinking or using drugs around your partner. If you go to parties or events where alcohol is being served, you may need to leave early or offer additional support.

Even if it’s inconvenient for you, you’ll need to make allowances for your partner to go to meetings or counseling sessions, particularly in stressful times, so that they can continue to prioritize their recovery. Short of a relapse, there still may be times when they fall into old habits, such as withdrawing from friends and family or telling lies. You’ll need to recognize these signs and get involved.

4. You can’t change the past.
Many recovering addicts have done things in the past that result in a criminal record, making it harder to get a job. They may have accrued significant debt, declared bankruptcy or had other financial problems. They may still be working out legal issues and trying to earn their way back into the lives of family and friends. Although these are not necessarily deal-breakers, you need to know that their problems can become your problems. If you can’t accept what was, you may not be the right person to accompany them through what is and what will be.

5. Know (and take care of) yourself.
You can’t change your partner or their past, but you can control yourself. In any relationship, setting and enforcing personal boundaries is an essential skill. When your own boundaries are firmly in place, you protect yourself from being taken down by your loved one’s illness.

There may come a point in the relationship when you need to ask some difficult questions: Why are you attracted to this person? Is it because of who they are and how they treat you, or do you have a history of being attracted to people you can rescue or fix? To avoid codependency, enabling and other problematic patterns, you may need to seek counseling of your own.

If a partner relapses, it can be difficult to know what lines to draw. You don’t want to give up on a person you love – after all, they must be in there somewhere – but if the relationship is making one or both of you sick despite your best efforts, it may be time to leave. No one can tell you when it’s time to call it quits except you.

Dating a recovering addict can be complicated, but most relationships are. So long as you know what to watch out for, work to ensure you’re both getting your needs met in healthy ways and reach out for help if you get in over your head – in other words, take the precautions you’d take in any romantic relationship – a recovering addict can be an excellent friend and partner. I think I am…

This is my journey… this is my life.
Rob Cantrell

Hollywood’s Sidewalk Lady… homeless and alone

“If you see me walking down the street and I start to cry… Walk on by, walk on by” – Dionne Warwick

There is nothing memorable about the corner of Franklin Avenue and Highland Avenue in Hollywood. It’s a miserable place where traffic is heavy and the midday sun unforgiving. The corner is simply ugly. It sits one block off the Walk of Fame and is home to the only gas station in the neighborhood. It’s a place you use to get someplace else… you’d have no reason to stay. Highland and Franklin has two towering structures that can be seen from a distance, the Lowes Hotel and a Methodist Church. The Lowes is a hot spot for travelers and “C” list celebrities… the kind that are on dance shows or Real Housewives of Anywhere… it ain’t Beverly Hills.

I’ve never seen anyone near the Methodist Church. The building is big and ugly with a giant tower attached to it, maybe once it housed a bell or clock to let the neighborhood know the Methodists were open for business. Today, it has the biggest faded billboard of an AIDS ribbon I’ve ever seen. I suspect it was installed 25 years ago when the world was still interested in the disease that killed over 750,000 gay men. Today, the sign seems faded and a symbol of the past. The church, the sign, AIDS are all things no longer in fashion, soon a developer will level the area for something important like an American Apparel Store or maybe a Target.

The things that stand out in my mind about Franklin and Highland are the unbearable heat, inoperable pedestrian crossing signs and the lady by the fence. For a year, I have cursed the corner on my way to hike Runyon Canyon. It delays my schedule and ruins my motivation to climb the mountain. Everything about Highland and Franklin irritates me. Damn traffic in L.A. will it ever lighten up? I know with certainty I will run in place waiting for a light that doesn’t change, and I will dart out into traffic and chance becoming a hit and run statistic. I also know that as I wait for my chance to cheat death… I will look for her across the lanes of traffic curled in a fetal position… still and lifeless.

She is the lady by the fence. She has been in the same spot for a year, curled beneath a bush next to a fence that protects the empty parking lot of the Methodist Church with the faded AIDS ribbon. Day and night she remains under the bush motionless… never facing traffic or the life on Hollywood Boulevard. Her world is the bush and the chain link fence that protects the empty parking lot. Once I saw gardeners trimming the bush with heavy equipment and she never moved. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. How could she handle what was happening to her? My God, the noise… the heat… the filth… did rats crawl on her at night? But as always, the walking light turned green and I had a canyon to hike, so I left her there as I always do never thinking about her again. She was on the other side of the street and I wasn’t going there, someone would help her. The question was when was it going to happen?

An article in the LA Times stated that 13,000 people a month become homeless in Los Angeles… I think most of them are in Hollywood. I walk past a dozen every morning on my way to Starbucks… I smell the pee and step around them on the sidewalk. Homelessness is part of my daily routine on the boulevard of broken dreams. It’s where the dream malfunctions. I’ve learned not to make eye contact or engage in conversation with anyone or I end up walking home without a latte and pissed off. Maybe that’s why I felt such disregard for the lady under the bush… I never saw her face or made eye contact so we had no human connection. She was not my problem, and as long as I remained across the street I was safe.
Everything changed on Yom Kippur

I listened to a message from Rabbi Denise Eger regarding social injustice and I thought of the lady under the bush. Who was she? Was someone looking for her? How did she get there? Was she still breathing? I couldn’t stop thinking about her.

After services, I walked to the corner of Franklin and Highland and there she was… like one hundred times before she was in the same spot under the same bush in the same position. This time I crossed the street and knelt down next to her and asked if she was ok. I wasn’t prepared for her face, it was filthy as I knew it would be, but the color of her eyes were bright blue and alive. She’s a battered little woman in her 50’s, she doesn’t know her name or where her home is… so she stays under the bush where it is safe. She told me she was hungry and just wanted to go home. I wanted to hug her but we were both too afraid for that.

I left her with all the money I had to get food ($4.00), she said she would walk across to the gas station and eat… I know in my heart she would. She’s not an alcoholic or addict working a scam for her next high… I’m a recovering addict … I can spot others like me in a crowd. She’s simply lost in the world.
As I left, I told her I was going to call someone to help her and to not be afraid. She understood and I left her there alone and waiting. As I walked away I called 911 and reported a woman badly injured by a hit and run driver at Highland and Franklin in need of immediate attention. Yes, I lied to the dispatcher because rescue won’t come for the homeless… they don’t matter. I’d do it again!

This morning she’s gone… I don’t know if she will ever remember her name or where her home is or if someone will love and care for her… all I know is it took a year for me to take an action to help her. I’m ashamed of that….

This is my journey… this is my life.
Rob Cantrell