The Abusive Gentleman

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I once had an ex who never once laid a hand on me because he was taught that a gentleman would never do such a thing, and as such, he considered himself a gentleman. He did, however, emotionally abuse me.  He had never learned not to emotionally abuse someone and although this was ultimately his failing and not his parents, it persisted in our relationship because I was also never taught to reject emotional abuse and recognize it for what it was.  For me, I was always fiercely vocal about my opinions and let him know when he did something wrong like punch a hole in the wall or yell at me in front of strangers like I was a child.  Because I thought I addressed the situation, I didn’t see myself as being emotionally abused and he had no idea that is what he was doing.

Emotional abuse can take many forms, and in my case, he was very verbal in telling me how I did things wrong, how I needed to conform to his liking, and isolated me from others who may have told me differently.  I wanted the relationship to work so badly that I ignored all these signs and stayed, but advocated for myself as well.  I developed a small gambling habit because it took my mind off my troubles and I realize now that if it starts up again, there is something else in my life that I’m avoiding.  He was always unhappy with me, but I know now that it was because he was very unhappy with who he was and instead, projected it unto me and that he wanted to make me as miserable as he was so he could feel better about himself.  The abuse is never about the victim.  It’s about what is happening to the abuser, but they make the victim feel as if it is their fault.

I now have a son and know that this something I must teach him.  First off, emotional abuse is abuse and just because you don’t hit a woman does not mean you’re a good man if you’re still berating them.  Secondly, I think we need to teach our boys how to handle rejection, what self-reflection is, and most importantly, build their self-worth.  The truth is, many boys may have a high self-esteem in that they see themselves worthy of more, but some of them feel as if they don’t deserve it and this causes them to lash out.  They may be able to get the job or the girl because they see they are worthy of, but deep down, they may feel as if they don’t really deserve it, so they sabotage themselves by losing what they got.  Of course, not all boys are like this, but I guarantee you that the ones who are abusive are and if we don’t address this issue when they are young, it will only grow larger as they do.

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A Successful Marriage is Not Important

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We hear that question a lot.  How do you have a successful marriage?  In the midst of any marriage, no two people can answer that question because a successful marriage only occurs when they are both dead and still married to each other.  A successful marriage means that you remain together through thick and thin and never part, but that shouldn’t be what we should focus on.  Instead of focusing on an enduring marriage, we should focus on if we are happy in the moment in our relationships.  Oftentimes, we may even think we are successful and there are celebrities who write books about how well their marriages are going only for the relationship to disintegrate right after the book is published.

We then ask what happened?  What happened is that relationships are organic and people and circumstances change.  We should not judge a relationship by it’s longevity, but instead what is happening in the moment with the couple.  Are you both happy?  Content?  Respectful?  If you are in that moment, that is all that matters.  For the thing is, that could all change overnight due to no fault of your own.  Does that mean that you should stay in a bad relationship for the rest of your life because that is the picture of perfection we’ve been told all our lives?  The truth is, it is better to be divorced and happy than it is to be married until you die and miserable.

People change and so do relationships and that is okay.  What isn’t okay is staying together because society tells you that is what you’re supposed to do.  A successful relationship is organic and ever changing.  If it means you separate because that is the healthy thing to do, you have completed the transition into a successful non-romantic relationship.  It’s time we start thinking about what success means to us and how it can ultimately ruin our lives if we let it consume us.  If success is vindication that you out-lived the nay-sayers, your relationship may not be as stable as you’d imagine.  However, if your definition of success depends on how you treat each other and how you value each other’s opinions and happiness, you may see that your definition is all that matters.

Razor Blades & Civil War Monuments

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Anytime change is introduced, people, regardless of race, sexual orientation, or gender misconstrue this as an attack on themselves.  The reality is that everyone believes that they are good people and to suggest otherwise forces them to look introspectively at themselves, which is the real issue.  Most people in general don’t change unless they are forced to change.  Most people tend to change after someone breaks up with them, their health is threatened, or if they experience a traumatic experience.  To change means we have been doing something wrong, so if we are confronted with change, we will vehemently deny it because it allows us to not think about who we are.

This has nothing to do with masculinity or race, but happens to be more pronounced in those who are privileged.  Those who are privileged tend to have their voices heard more often over those who are minorities and not the norm.  Just because we are confronted with change does not necessarily mean we have been doing something wrong, but sometimes it does.  When statues of southern generals from the Civil War were taken down, people were upset because they did not believe they were wrong and to take them down indicated that they perhaps were wrong in erecting the statues in the first place.  It allows people to believe that they were right and to threaten that threatens their core beliefs and so, people will fight tooth and nail to retain their ‘culture.’

With the Gillette ads that admonish unsavory tendencies of men, many men who do not commit these tendencies are deeply offended simply by the suggestion that they are lumped into the same category of these men without acknowledging that this category of men exist.  Then there are a few men who have done these things and they vehemently deny that these things are issues because once again, to do so would mean they have been wrong this entire time and need to change.  As such, we get an ‘over-reaction’ of defending oneself, which leads to defining oneself by their past and not being able to change because of it.

If we don’t have the ability to change, we will always remain stagnant, never learning or growing beyond who we were.  Change is difficult and hard and that in of itself needs to be acknowledged.  Change will never come easy socially and individually, but simply realizing that we all approach change the same way should tell who we are.

How to affect change by yourself

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I heard someone pose a question to a celebrity, asking how they as an individual, who didn’t have any clout or resources, could help change the world.  As a person who was not a celebrity or rich, this kid wondered how he could help add to the good of everyone else.  Although you do not have the resources or reach of those in the media, you can affect change simply by being yourself.  Yes, you can volunteer and donate if you can and those things are crucial, but what is more crucial is you and how you act.  Believe in who you are and live your truest life.  That means holding dear to your ideals and morals.  Not someone else’s morals, but simply your own.  Own who you are and do not be afraid of what comes your way.

When you respect yourself and those around you, always abiding by you own edicts, you teach others that it is possible to be a great human being.  When you know who you are and your role in your community, that is a powerful thing and others can sense that.  It manifests itself in everything that you do.  When those around you see that, they can be encouraged to the same and they in turn, can influence those around them.  You then create a ripple effect that reaches out infinitely, just by being yourself.  The change in this world does not usually happen through great, monumental shifts.  Usually, they happen in tiny whispers that barely anyone notices until the world we know is completely different.  Those whispers are contingent on being true to yourself and holding yourself to your own rules.  That is the test of a great person: someone who can do as they say.  If no one notices, you have lived your life as you wanted.  If one person noticed, they can see the possibility of doing it as well.

The God Complex

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There is a scene in the recent movie Prometheus, where a human being asks why their creator created them and they seem to go on a unnecessary and unneeded journey to answer those burning questions.  Although this scene may appear innocuous and superfluous at first, it really resonates with me relating to a deep-seated desire that is embedded in the human psyche.  I believe we all have a God-Complex.  We adore our maker, want to please them, and desire to know our purpose.  We are always asking why we are here and exactly why we are the special one.  However, the God-Complex becomes something far more convoluted when we see our parents as our creators.

When we see our parents as our creators, we imbue them with god-like qualities that they may or may not deserve.  We spend our whole lives, in essence, worshiping and trying to appease them.  For some of us, we scorn our parents with a passion and try to disappoint them.  Those are two sides of the same coin, for we are acting in a way that we can get a reaction from them.  We crave their love and acceptance, and when we don’t get it, we feel empty and lost.  If we don’t get their unconditional love, we seek it out from our partners, who can only love us conditionally as any healthy, romantic relationship can.  We make our parents into these omnipotent beings who have so much power over us, when in fact, they are but mere mortals with faults such as our own.

There is a danger in seeing our parents as gods, for we seek acceptance from them that they may not be able to provide.  There is no way to reverse this God-Complex as it is ingrained in our DNA, but we may be better able to overcome our childhood traumas by recognizing this idea instead of placing our parents on a pedestal.  Some of our parents do deserve to be on a pedestal, some deserve no contact with us, but most of them are guilty of at least one foible and we must learn to not hold them to the same standards of gods.  When we do that, we will always be disappointed by them.  Although we can’t change our God-Complex, we can come to understand it and how it affects us growing up.

Perhaps then, we do not need to make unnecessary and unneeded journeys to ask what our purpose is and why we were created.  You may be planned, an accident, or an act of rape, but the circumstances of your conception and birth do not explain who you are.  Whether you were loved or unwanted affects you greatly, but it does not explain who you are either.  Who you are is dependent on how you view and understand yourself.  Once you see that your self-identity is not contingent on your birth, you may free yourself from the chains that hold you back.

Hollagram: Augmented Reality Cards

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Let me say that I am a writer, first and foremost, and know little about augmented and virtual reality beyond what is shown to me. When then am I embarking on a journey to create AR greeting cards?  My brothers are very knowledgeable in building and creating models, animating them, and constructing whole augmented reality and virtual reality games.  I have co-opted their skills to start a new venture known as Hollagram Cards.  We are a fairly new start-up that is testing the waters through Kickstarter.  The challenges have been difficult, but the rewards have been satisfying to say the least.

So what exactly is an augmented reality greeting card and why should you be interested in this?  AR is the part of the wave of the future and is definitely waiting to become more mainstream.  If you look, there are not many AR products out there that are readily available and cheap, save for Snapchat and Pokemon Go.  Other forms of AR require you to purchase expensive glasses just to view it.  It seems that the prices have not yet caught up with consumer demand, for the public does not really understand how it can be applied outside of a game.  Greeting cards can be a great way to introduce people to a stand-alone product that functions and costs the same as any paper card, but have the AR functionality that can be activated via a free, downloadable app.

The greeting card business is frankly over saturated and can range from extremely cheap to expensive and elaborate pop-ups.  There will definitely always be a market for both these spectrum’s, but no one is really offering original, 3-D augmented reality greeting cards.  If we were to step into the future, this is definitely the way to go.  It’s something that has not been seen before on a mass scale and is novel enough to start a new trend in how cards are made.  To be one of the first people to experience an AR card is quite a fun exchange.  Most people have seen pop-up cards, but none have really seen an AR card.  Our cards are more reasonably priced and can achieve the ‘wow’ factor that you are looking for.

We’ve had many bumps and disagreements along the way with this being a family-ran operation, and although we are very new to the scene, our cards speak for themselves.  We have learned a lot about our own personal strengths and weaknesses and also learned how to build a business from the ground up.  It’s exciting to be at the forefront of a new venture that hasn’t been done before.  Because there is no path to follow, we find we must blaze one ourselves, and that has been the hardest challenge.  Hollagram Cards has been a labor of love and we hope you may enjoy it’s fruits as well.

 

 

A Limbo of Oddities

There is a way this world is built

That exits in a limbo of oddities.

Mud and sand changed into mortar and bricks

And the people thought it was a revolution,

Never realizing it did not change who they were.

So they can unravel DNA and fly to the moon,

But not understand the human soul.

For the soul has been forgotten,

Replaced with the glittery gems of yonder.

We build our foundations on quicksand

If we do not understand ourselves.

We call this the civilized world

Because we don’t execute in the streets,

But we do far worse by sweeping

Our problems under the rug.

Pretending they do not exist if we can’t see.

And yet, they fester as wounds always do.

And we wonder why we cannot progress faster

When we can’t even help ourselves.