This is Your Brain on Love and Stuff
Posted on March 27, 2012
I just read this fascinating study where they took a bunch of women in happy, committed relationships, attached an anklet around their slender legs, and shocked the shit out of them. The study was done in order to test your brain on love. First, they shocked the nice ladies while nothing was going on, you know, to get some base-normal readings. Afterwards, they put the ladies through the same series of shocks while holding the hand of their significant others.
I often wonder how one becomes a participant in one of these studies. Is there an ad placed in the University paper that reads:
“Are you a happy woman with a happy love life? Feel guilty about it? Well, stop on down to the University clinic this weekend and we’ll give you something to cry about.”
Needless to say, the women in the happy, committed, relationships felt less pain while being shocked the second time, as they held their lovers hands.
So, a supportive lover can protect you against the pain and torture that life will throw at you. No surprise there. But, just to make sure the theory was sound, the study also tested the other side.
The scientists brought in women in “troubled” relationships. I’d love to know how that ad copy read:
“Are you an unhappy woman in a loveless, difficult, relationship? Well, come on down to the clinic this weekend, we can make it worse!”
And that’s what happened, the depressed broads with the sh*tty partners felt twice the pain. So, it matters who you pick as a partner. Again, no surprise there.
I don’t think any of this is news to anyone. Most of us, from birth to adulthood, are seeking out that better half – the person who will make us feel supported and whole.
Now, since I’m on this Freud “work and love” kick, (It’s all about work and love.) I’m wondering if the same is true of work. I’m wondering if scientists can do a study for me – where clinicians observe office workers and the frequency of bathroom trips made in conjunction with time spent in said bathroom. My educated guess says that those who go to the bathroom most and spend the longest duration of time in there will be the same people who score high on the, “I feckin’ hate my job” test. (Either that or they have a urinary tract infection.)
My whole life I’ve been on the path to find the person I love the most – the person I could spend my life with. As my friend from college, Charlene, once said, “Mother, you never stay in a relationship for more than two weeks if you’re not really into the person. If you’re not really into the person, the relationship is dead almost immediately.”
Charlene made a spot-on observation about me there. I’m not one of those people who has EVER been able to stay in a relationship because it’s “comfortable”. I’m just not that person. In fact, I had resigned to the fact (before I met Wifesy) that I was willing to go a lifetime being single rather than endure one more relationship that wasn’t the whole kit and caboodle. I was tired of half-men and emotionally bereft women. Seriously, tired of it. Of course, I met Wifesy when I wasn’t even looking.
To put it plainly, Wifesy answers me fully. Completely. And I don’t mean we have matching resumes. To illustrate my point further, when I met Wifesy she was what I called “one of those lesbians” with a big smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye. She was a buddhist, vegetarian, vagitarian, conspiracy theorist. Seriously. Now, she eats meat and the buddhism is partially out the window. (I’m still working on the conspiracy theories.) None of this is to say that I don’t like buddhism or vegetarianism. I don’t mind either. The reason I’m discussing this is to point one thing out – when Wifesy and I met, the twinkle in my eye and the smile on my face meant, “We’re not going to twin off here. I’m a fully formed person, so if you want a twinsy, your going to have to go back to the drawing board.” I honestly feel that a couple doesn’t have to be so matchy-matchy. If you’re this thing (vegetarian, for example) than I must be this too (So, I’m giving up cheeseburgers right now!). To me, that was nonsense and I told Wifesy as such right away. To me, where you do have to be all matchy-matchy is on the inside. Would you help that person or walk by? What does loyalty mean to you? What do you want to do with your life? Who are you – INSIDE? How important is intimacy to you? Those are the things that matter to me and OF COURSE I have to be attracted to you too. For me, in all the ways that were important – Wifesy answered.
So, I’d say my life is about 80 – 90% there. (Maybe I should just be happy with that and shut up?) The missing 10 – 20% for me is the job part. I feel like I’ve always held those “get me to the bathroom, it’s the only place where I feel at peace” type jobs. Mindless, wage earning jobs. Even when I was able to make a full-time living at comedy, I had to do so many gigs that I didn’t want to do. Trust me, I’m no stranger to hard work. It’s been said about me many times, where I lack in talent, I make up for with persistence. Here’s what a coach said about me once, way back when: “Mother is NOT the best player on the team by a long-shot, but she will make sure they all fall down from exhaustion before her.” That’s who I am. So, I’m not looking for a job to be perfect – I’m looking for it to answer me. I’m looking for one creative occupation that pays (it has to eventually pay) to answer me in the way that I need it to.
It’s got to the point where – quite simply – I can’t do those mindless jobs anymore.
Recently, Wifesy and I went out with another gay couple. We have very few gay friends, so I was looking forward to the evening. In this coupling, one woman worked – made quite a good salary – and the other (the girl who was my friend from way back) quit comedy to have a baby. While, we were talking over dinner, the girl who quit comedy to have the baby said to me…
“You can’t have it all.”
“What?” I said.
“You can’t have it all. You either have happiness in your personal life or in your professional life, but you can’t have both.”
God, I hope that’s not true.
If scientists were to do a “This is Your Brain on Happiness” test – on me – it would go like this:
I’d have the anklet with all the disorganized wires attached to the shock treatment machine around my leg, while Wifesy held my left hand. But, in the right, I’d have a pen and a notebook where I was writing all this shit down. Go ahead, shock me again, I’ll make a post out of it! Oh, the machine’s stuck?! There’s a joke in there. Shock me then and I can handle just about anything. But, take away the writing stuff or Wifesy and my brain is not 100% happy.
However, there comes a point where you have to make money. Period. I am no exception to this rule. I have to take care of my family.
So, I’m left wondering – and who knows it may be the dangling question of my lifetime – Can you have both? Can you have it all?
What do you think?
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