Butterfly Wings

“The Second French Empire collapsed when the dyspeptic Emperor Napoleon III, unwisely venturing onto the battlefield, was captured and imprisoned.” The Bettencourt Affair

By: Gabriela Yareliz

As I read The Bettencourt Affair, I am struck by several things at once. It makes me wonder about the different and powerful things that drew so many different people into collaboration with the Nazi’s during German occupation. How many were attracted by different aspects of it and yet ended up in the same dangerous group. It brought to mind how racism can truly lead to a distorted view of the world, but how it’s often funded and protected. The company L’Oreal wouldn’t exist as it exists now, had its founder not been a strong Nazi collaborator, funder and sympathizer (and had not old chums saved his butt later, after the Allies and Resistance won out). It brings to mind how we never truly outgrow our inner child unless we truly heal from those childhood wounds. This book highlights the unraveling of a family who, apart from its incredible fortune, was so dysfunctional due to its inability to share true affection and each of its participants’ hunger for love and attention. While this scandal (“affair” in French) that riveted the attention of the French and the world (and destroyed Sarkozy’s reputation) was about money, undue influence and types of revenge and corruption, its characters, real and flawed, stand before us. Their insecurities and dark histories exposed. A lesson for us all.

The quote at the beginning of this post struck me. Sometimes, we think so little of the small decisions we make. Sometimes, we categorize choices and think of some as “big” or “important” and others as inconsequential. Here, we have Napoleon III just venturing out. It costs him and everyone else the entire empire. This book reminded me how each of our choices can change the course of history. The small choices can become the big trigger to something that changes the world— not just our world. A simple venturing out can cost you an empire.

I thought of this as I watched the Britney documentary, and how so many fail to realize the very unwise decisions she continually made before she was placed under conservatorship. (Not arguing for the conservatorship— just noting this). Our choices, as small as they may seem, when added up in a formula, bring us into our present.

What if we chose to do the right thing? What if we healed instead of obsessively hungering for affection (rooting our identity in this need to be desired)? What if we just weighed the possibilities in the humility of knowing that while no one knows the future, there is a cause and effect? What if we realized that the decisions we make extend past ourselves?

One of my favorite films Le Battement d’ailes du papillon explains that like the batting of a butterfly’s wings can change the course of the entire world, our choices can do the same.

“You see, every detail, every gesture, as slight as it may be, reveals an infinity of truths and thus has an endless repercussion and grandiose effects.” Le Battement d’ailes du papillon

If only we could see that every choice triggers a light rain that falls on us all, like the rains that blanket Paris on a gray day, like the rains that fall over NYC today.

How to Have a Charmed Spring

Image from @tessguinery

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I loved Gigi Chomiak‘s 100 Ways to Romance Life email newsletter (sent February 11). It got my mind wandering and thinking about the things that I feel make (or could make) spring magical. Spring is my favorite season, so I figured it would be fun to make a little list of how to find and create the little gem moments, for this recharge season. Twenty-four more days!

I bear a charmed life.” William Shakespeare

It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!

Mark Twain

Image via Food 52
  1. Open a window. Open the shades, and let the light stream in. Also, open the actual window, and let fresh air circulate.
  2. Watch local birds.
  3. Draw the prettiest bird you see.
  4. Find a patch of little wildflowers (even if they are considered weeds). Pick some. Press some.
  5. Squeeze your own orange juice, and enjoy.
  6. Find some cute sandals for a sunny stroll.
  7. Figure out who your mentor is. (This can be an author whose books you read or a podcast you listen to often). Believe it or not, you have one– or a couple.
  8. Plan to wear leg-exposing bottoms for an entire week (shorts, dress, skirt). I love sitting on a bench and letting the sun hit my bare legs. It’s amazing to uncover the legs after months of stockings and leggings.
  9. Plan a picnic.
  10. And choose a fabulous blanket that sets the picnic vibe.
  11. Buy a good lemonade for this picnic.
  12. Read Jane Eyre.
  13. Wear a kaftan with sunglasses. (Rachel Zoe is fab inspiration).
  14. Watch the sunrise.
  15. Tablescape like Courtney Dial Whitmore. Her stuff is so inspiring.
  16. Wear socks with high heels.
  17. Cook with ingredients from a farmers market.
  18. Listen to anything Carla Bruni.
  19. Read some poetry every day, for a week.
  20. Read some philosophy. (I love books by Ryan Holiday).
  21. Listen to a great “Battle Ready” podcast conversation.
  22. Listen to an engaging “TSC Podcast” episode.
  23. Talk to someone in your community, and learn something new.
  24. Watch Confessions of a Shopaholic.
  25. Watch Uptown Girls.
  26. Watch The Secret Garden.
  27. Watch Paris, je t’aime.
  28. Get a massage.
  29. Send snail mail once a week.
  30. Go to bed at 8 pm, one night.
  31. Do a mini day trip/road trip.
  32. Try a new gas station snack.
  33. Get some branches for a table in your home.
  34. Spend at least an hour by a body of water.
  35. Make a pie.
  36. Read Wide Awake by Erwin McManus.
  37. Buy a physical magazine or journal. Read it.
  38. Redecorate a corner of your home.
  39. Deep clean your home.
  40. Donate old clothes.
  41. Plan you future.
  42. Approach your productivity differently.
  43. Ride a bike.
  44. Take something out of your morning routine.
  45. Add something new to your morning routine.
  46. Write consistently.
  47. Get a disposable camera and see what you end up taking photos of.
  48. Chase the light.
  49. Read Strange Planet.
  50. Choose a person. Invest in him/her.
Laila Gohar via Pinterest

Types of Breakups

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I’ve noticed there are breakups that are for the best. We almost sigh in relief as witnesses, with the involved parties. But then, there are breakups that change the course of life and time as we know it. There are ruptures that leave a rip in the universe. Harmony ceases and the ‘what if’s’ haunt the existence of all who knew or come to know.

Gonna Get Me A Kilt

Image via discount99.us

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Guys, I saw a trailer for a TV show on Starz the other day, and it stayed on my mind. It felt fun and exciting and looked like life. (Something that feels a bit foreign to those of us who have been locked up in our rooms like the girl from Tangled (yes, that is a Nurse Morgan reference from The Mindy Project).

In this trailer, these two rugged men look like they are trying new things and look blissfully clueless. They grab bikes and ride them down little paths, jump off waterfalls, they do little dances and run with wild animals. I am missing when I would chase Bunny in the cow pastures, and the cows would gang up on us and start the stampede. Vibes. One of the closing scenes of this trailer includes the two men in kilts, sitting on the ground against a large vehicle drinking out of a flask. Listen, I don’t drink; not my thing, but I couldn’t help but ask myself, when was the last time I just sat on the ground and chilled. Like for real. In this new, indoor digital world where no one knows the true color of my lipstick because Zoom and the lighting distort it, we aren’t livin’.

This video made me want to go on an adventure. I mean, here these men who know nothing are on this road trip of a lifetime, to explore, learn new things and make memories. But isn’t that what life is? Aren’t we clueless? Aren’t we on a trip of a lifetime? We are here to learn new things and make memories.

Where can you find me, you ask? Probably in a kilt, sitting on the ground somewhere. Given the travel restrictions, sigh, a skirt will have to do. I have plenty of those, though. *searches kilt on Amazon*

“Listen– are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” Mary Oliver

If you want to be inspired by what living actually looks like, see the subject trailer for Men in Kilts, below:

Ideas on how to feel more alive in the comments, please.

Image via TV Insider

Wanna Say It Now, Wanna Make It Clear

Image via giphy

By: Gabriela Yareliz

We’ve made it to the end of our journey with our music leading up to Valentine’s Day. We are ending with a song that Gwen Stefani is featured on, but it’s not her song. We are ending with Blake Shelton’s “Nobody But You.” This song gives me all the feels. Every.Single.Time.

What do I love about it? Several things. First, I love every single word in the lyrics. I love that it shows how good it can be to start again and have something be redeemed in your life. I love that it shows two people, who are opposites, completely in love. There is a scene in the music video where they are on a stage, and she is in her typical glitter getup, and he is wearing a blazer with jeans.

Image via Giphy

The song appeals to my southern side, and it goes against convention. The first stanza is all about how he feels he doesn’t need anything other than her. He is also saying he will make sure that he tells her how he feels because he won’t be caught with the regret of wondering who she married, years down the line. It’s a song about declaring your love for someone, and this time, it’s reciprocated.

Image via Yahoo!

My favorite lines in this song, which are so passionately sung by the duo, are:

Wanna say it now, wanna make it clear
For only you and God to hear
When you love someone, they say you set ’em free
But that ain’t gonna work for me

There is an intentionality and clarity in these lines. They aren’t letting go of each other, and not in a creepy possessive way, but in a way that shows a mature love that they are willing to fight for. It’ll overcome obstacles. It’s loyal. It’s staying.

Image via Giphy

One of the most powerful images in this music video (gives me chills) is seeing Gwen Stefani in her gown emerge from leaves in a wood like a phoenix (exactly at second :37). Stefani in a gown is no new thing. We have seen her in a million gowns in past videos sobbing on the floor. This time it’s different. She is emerging from the ground, powerful, beautiful and loved. RISING FROM THE ASHES LIKE A BOSS.

There is a stability to this song that we haven’t seen in her previous music. They both reflect on their love histories and pasts. They sing, “All the wasted days, all the wasted nights– I blame it all on being young. Got no regrets, ’cause they got me here, but I don’t wanna waste another one.” There is a recognition of mistakes but a determination to move forward in a better way. While they wish they hadn’t endured all of their suffering, they are clear on the fact that all of these moments in the end are not wasted because it made them who they are today and brought them together. Somehow, their roads met.

In the end, they have been thinking about what they want in life, and the one thing is each other. This song has a finality to it. That’s it. There are no other roads to be wandered down; there are no other paths to be taken. They have found each other, and this song is letting the world know, they don’t want to love anyone but the person they are with.

Image via Giphy

In 2020, Blake Shelton proposed to Gwen Stefani. There is a wedding coming our way. Our songwriting heroine got her first #1 on the charts, with this song. If you ask me, there is no better song to make #1 than this one. She is happy. Stefani has found a man who apparently treats her with respect and adores her. It’s the ending we all dream of, and the truth is, we know every ending is a new beginning.

E! News Image

Stefani’s broken heart has given us some raw and heart-wrenching ballads. But Stefani’s happy heart has given us a #1. We sometimes make the mistake of thinking love has to be dramatic and painful. It doesn’t. There are imperfect good souls out there. The desired person can come your way looking nothing like what you pictured, but being exactly what you needed and wanted had you known.

This one goes out to the ones who are going hard after what and who they want; the ones who rise from the ground into new strength; the ones who know there is strength in lasting love, a love that chooses one and stays.

Wishing each of you finds someone you don’t want to live without.

Happy Valentine’s Day! xx

I Was Fine Before

Image via blogspot

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Love can sneak up on us. We can fall in love with someone we didn’t expect. Sometimes, it’s someone who has been in front of us for a while. Today, we are looking at when love seems to show up as a divine interruption, via Gwen Stefani’s “Make Me Like You.”

The video was filmed in one take at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards; a very unique performance. (Source) The video starts out looking black and white. She wakes up in the middle of a wreck. Then, she is whisked away into a colorful world where people are reading gossip magazines about her.

Image via Giphy

The protagonist of this song is someone who finds love in someone they did not expect, and it intrudes on her reality. Stefani starts by stating that she was “broken but fine,” “lost and uncertain” but her heart was her own. The truth is that life is so much easier when you are alone. Being alone isn’t hard. The challenge starts when you have to start taking another person into consideration, and each person is a different world with a different set of experiences and expectations. She sings that she was “all alone in a clear view, but now you are all I see.” Stefani is right to think that now things are getting complicated, as her heart starts to not just be her own. The truth is, one of the bravest things we can do is love another person.

Image via Amazon

She mentions she was “broken but free.” Here, just like in “Misery,” we have a reference to freedom and independence. We have a Stefani, post divorce, seeing a colleague as something more than a friend and colleague. *ENTER BLAKE SHELTON* And this is not an assumption. In the video, there is literally a neon sign on set that reads “Blakey.”

Image via Yahoo!

She mentions that it’s “not fair,” acting as if she is under a spell and this is something that he is doing to her, giving us a taste of the fact that she is falling for him and falling hard.

Image via Tumblr

Stefani takes us on a journey about what it’s like to suddenly have your life interrupted by the unexpected but good. She details that she can see this relationship progressing, she likes it and can “get used to this.” She also, in true Stefani style, says bluntly and honestly, “But I’m so scared.” While the lyrics sound serious, the song is playful, upbeat and despite her apparent dismay regarding this man “making” her like him, she keeps repeating, “Thank God that I found you.” I love this line. Many of the best things in life, especially the encounters with people who surprise us, could not be planned by us. In fact, some of the most magical things in life are divine orchestration (and I dare say Stefani agrees with me, as a fellow believer and praying person).

Image via Pinterest

This is a new moment for Gwen.

She said she was fine before– but who wants to be just “fine”? The festivities in the video show that while “fine” was ok, it’s time to embrace a new possibility– and it’s looking loud, exciting and bright. Sometimes, we need to trade fine for FABULOUS. It takes courage, but it can be one of the best decisions you make.

Image via Tumblr

If you have been divinely interrupted and found good in unexpected places (Thank God)– this one goes out to you:

Sensible

Image via Walmart

By: Gabriela Yareliz

We are bopping today to Gwen Stefani’s “Misery,” and don’t let the title fool you. I am keeping my promise. This is not a sad song. This is not a song about her ex-husband. We left that behind us, and now we have a Gwen who is starting over. This song is the embodiment of the emotions we feel when a crush or love interest is new, or when something is in pre-relationship stage. You know that exciting time that I am talking about. It’s that euphoric stage when we are constantly searching the room for that person; it’s when we are trying to keep our cool, but we are giddy, nervous and excited– maybe a bit unsure, but we are getting bolder.

We can all relate to that first stanza where she sings, “I’m trying not to care, but where’d you go? I’m doing my best to be sensible.” I love the giddiness and bashful reluctance in this song. Also interesting is that she is wearing a head piece at the beginning of this music video that looks like the crown that Lady Liberty wears (#FREEDOM), but as the video progresses, she looks softer and more romantic.

A new love interest feels like drugs to us, Stefani sings. It’s someone we come back to repeatedly and want more of. You know, when you keep checking your phone, checking your surroundings, checking your inbox– you can’t focus, and honestly, you don’t want to. Being with that person is what takes you out of the “misery” of missing them.

Image via Walmart

What may have inspired this song? (We love to investigate this, don’t we?) BLAKE SHELTON. In past interviews, they’ve spoken about how they were both colleagues and going through a similar divorce, at the same time. They became friends and would check on each other. Then, suddenly, she was wondering if he missed her the way she missed him, when he wasn’t around, and vice versa.

In this song, Stefani sings that she feels drawn. She is “thinking things I never thought before.” Suddenly, a new window is opening. There is a chance. There is an opportunity to “taste” a new kind of love, and she can’t help but want all in.

One of the lines in the song says “Enough, enough of this suffering.” I think this could have a double meaning. It could be that her misery and suffering stems from this new man’s absence and his presence makes it disappear, but it could also be that she is calling on him to help end the pattern of suffering she has endured through her past relationships and history. She wants and needs someone who is different. We see Stefani on a bike looking youthful and her playful smirk as she sings, “you’re in so much trouble.”

We also see Stefani with a black horse in the video. This may not have been the intention, but given her artistry in past videos, it seems to be a symbol for something. Maybe the death of something old, and now she is venturing into something new. Typically, black horses symbolize mystery and allure, independence and intrigue.

Image via Wikipedia

There are times in life when we need something new. We need to allow ourselves to get playful. We need to give ourselves that new opportunity. We need to say “enough of this suffering” and have someone put us out of misery. We can always put ourselves out of misery, but the ultimate vulnerable line in this song is when she says, “So put me out of my misery.” She acknowledges that her misery ending is partly in someone else’s control, now. It is when the walls come down, and you are ready to look as foolish as you have to look. You are revealing your desires.

It’s pretty magical when you do meet that person where you always search the room for them. This song reminded me a little bit of quaratine and lockdowns. I didn’t see my boyfriend for a long time, when all of this started. Weeks. It was a crazy time of isolation. I know that I wanted to be put out of my misery. I guess my point is when you find as the French say la bonne personne, your person, this feeling of joy and wanting to be with someone doesn’t have to end. It’s not limited to the start of something new. An amazing partner makes every day feel like a new day; a day that is best spent in each other’s company.

Image via Walmart

This one goes out to anyone who is taking another chance on love. Stay open to receiving because you just might come across who you are looking for– someone who will put you out of your misery and end the suffering.

Image via Onecountry.com

Looks like she found him.

I Don’t Know Why I Cry

Image via Vogue

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Today, we are looking at the last sad ballad (the last songs we will look at are happier– Happy Gwen). If our previous post was on “Early Winter,” we’ll call this one the late winter ballad. After the demise of her 13-year marriage to Gavin Rossdale due to his apparently multiple infidelities, two flopped singles (though one of the flops “Baby Don’t Lie” is an upbeat song about dealing with a liar in a relationship, highly recommend), we have her divorce anthem, “Used to Love You,” from her This Is What the Truth Feels Like album. Today, we sit with Gwen and ask all of the questions we all ask ourselves when something ends badly (namely, why did I fall for this person and how).

Some critics have said this is her best song since “Don’t Speak.” It’s the mature, 20-years-later version. (Source) There is no apparent story being acted out in the music video. The video is Stefani sitting in front of a black screen with a white top on, staring into the camera with eyes so pregnant with emotion you can swim in them. The story can be found in her facial expressions as she processes the song, going from anger, fury to sadness, and her voice’s inflection gives us her signature raw vulnerability.

Even after all those gripping ballads we have dissected, we have a Stefani who can’t believe this breakup actually happened. She held on for a long time. Sometimes in relationships, we coast in our dysfunction with a strange sense of “normalcy” but fail to realize that this is not sustainable. She sings, “I must be dreaming, you’re gone.” As he is pulling out of the driveway, she tells us she is thinking, “You can keep all the memories; I thought I was the best thing that ever happened to you. I thought you loved me the most.”

Stefani was most likely the best thing that happened to that man; she is right. What makes the heart grimace is when she sings, “I thought you loved me the most.” The most implies there were others in some sort of ranking. It means she wasn’t the only one, but the top one; and in the end, she realized she wasn’t even that.

The chorus hits us, and it’s words that articulate how anyone who has been let down in love has felt, at some point:

I don’t know why I cry
But I think it’s cause I remembered for the first time
Since I hated you
That I used to love you

Here we have two extremes, love and hate, all directed toward one person. It’s a weird thing when a relationship ends, and it ends badly. And this is not a Tony-Kanal-Don’t-Speak badly. See, Kanal and Stefani remained friends and had respect between them. Here, we have the rupture of a relationship where one party has been shown the ultimate disrespect, which is when a partner betrays the other. There is a deep pain and a realization that something has been irretrievably broken.

This song’s chorus repeats throughout, but the last verse essentially says that the relationship lacked boundaries, and she was pushed too far. Then, what follows is Stefani singing, “I guess nobody taught you, nobody taught you how to love.” This, my friends, is a pretty compassionate thing to say to someone who blows your life and dreams up in smoke.

Essentially, it’s the most mature way to see the people who f-up everything and everyone in their paths due to their own selfishness or narcissism. These people lack the fundamental understanding of what it is to love. They destroy because they aren’t capable of better in their current state. This doesn’t excuse anything (and in the end, they end up losing), but as a good friend of mine says, sometimes we expect people with no wings to fly.

There’s no point in dwelling and drowning in our mistakes. But Stefani leads us into an important introspection; A reminder that it’s important to see why things fail and why we chose who we chose. This is important to reflect on because if we do it, we are less likely to pick another wingless creature to fly beside us. That’s right, my friend, you were born to fly.

Cast off what’s weighing you down and who is weighing you down. Cry if you have to. Feel the anger, but then, let that person back out of the driveway, with all of the memories.

In the end, Stefani sings that she isn’t sure why she is crying. When a relationship ends badly, the Band-Aids used to hold the relationship together have been ripped off. The taut energy is gone, and you are left knowing it was the other person’s ultimate loss, despite the grief you feel, yourself.

To answer our previous question (in this series) about whether love can be past tense– Stefani shows us here that yes, there are people we used to love, but we’ll be all right because we are the best thing that happened to them.

To anyone who fell in love with a wingless creature who didn’t deserve you– this one goes out to you:

The Sun’s Getting Cold

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By: Gabriela Yareliz

The Earth is in constant movement, causing seasons to come and go. There are times when the heart gets buried in snow. Today, we’ve got another ballad from Gwen Stefani’s Sweet Escape album: “Early Winter.” If you thought “4 in the Morning” was heartbreaking, here’s one to top it. Included in the same album, we see a Stefani who, while private with her personal life, is still using her music to pour out her emotions. As mentioned before, she was married for years to Gavin Rossdale, a real idiot if there ever was one. Rossdale disrespected her and their relationship with many lies and liaisons over the years.

The song begins with some sort of event that has caused a substantial crash in the relationship. Whatever it was caused more than a dent, evidenced by the lyrics: “You, you know how to get me so low; My heart had a crash when we spoke– I can’t fix what you broke.” She emphasizes that she is feeling something she has felt over and over again.

Image via Ebay

Stefani, in this song, plays with the concepts of hot and cold again (we looked at “Cool“), and she also focuses on the parallel between the seasons in a relationship and the actual seasons we experience due to the Earth’s movement and tilt. Relationships are dynamic. They have highs and lows, and things shift as life speeds onward. The relationship she is singing about in this song has no sunshine. She sings, “It hurts, and I can’t remember sunlight.” She mentions that the leaves are changing. Winter is a season of deep cold, darkness and death. Stefani sings that it’s cold and snowing. Maybe, she also feels that just as winter is dormant, something in her heart is numb. (You know that feeling when your fingers are so cold they are stiff– the heart can feel that way, too).

The verses that I find to be so key in this song are the following:

It’s sad the map of the world is on you
The moon gravitates around you
The seasons escape you

Stefani sings that her counterpart is a self-centered person– the moon gravitates around that person, which also implies that there is a lot of darkness involved. The moon is revealed to us at night, has no light of its own, and it’s also something that is ever changing to us, as we see different sides of it illuminated. Then, she states that the seasons escape this person. Just as in “4 in the Morning,” Stefani reveals herself to be the one crying and suffering, alone. It’s like she is the only one awake or looking out the window. She feels how the relationship is dying while this other person feels nothing and is so far gone, they don’t perceive the shifts. And take it from someone who experiences all four literal seasons– there is a big difference from summer to winter. Having been slammed with inches of snow in the past few weeks, winter is something that is obviously felt and not subtle. The fact that the seasons escape this other person’s world is quite the statement.

Self-centered people are like this, though. It’s the person making decisions to serve him/herself not keeping others in consideration; he/she is constantly giving excuses or justifications or as Stefani sings, “you always have a reason.” It’s almost like this person is blind. There is no way to make him/her see what is obviously in front of him/her. Just like when you are trapped in a bad snow storm– visibility is zero.

In the bridge, Stefani is very direct and asks bluntly, “Why? Why do you act so stupid?” The language in the question is a big contrast to the glamorous gowns and gold palace Stefani seems to be singing and crying in. “Early Winter” is a song that will be felt deeply by anyone who has experienced pain as a result of someone else’s poor decisions and/or lies. It’s about a low point she is not sure there is any coming back from.

Image via alwaysreview.com

Eventually, the anguish of dealing with lies and a broken relationship lead to a silent stillness– death of the relationship. Thankfully, the icy winters work to preserve something, so that when spring breaks forth, a new beginning can emerge.

Image via blogodisea.com

If you have seen the leaves start to fall in your own relationship– this one goes out to you. Remember, after every winter, spring is sure to come.

Image via Ebay

Give Me Everything

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By: Gabriela Yareliz

The need for transparency in a relationship– this is what today’s Gwen Stefani song “4 in the Morning” is all about. This song is criminally underrated. The song was co-written and produced by Tony Kanal. Yup, ex-boyfriend Tony Kanal. Tony always pops up. We can count on that. He is brilliant with Stefani; we’ll give credit where credit is due. At this point in Stefani’s life, she is married to Gavin Rossdale, who we briefly introduced in our last post (she based “Underneath it all” on her relationship with him). And while Stefani said she wanted a nice ballad on her second solo album Sweet Escape, and this one definitely fits the bill, one can’t help but wonder what was happening in that relationship, at the time, that inspired this song. She began writing the song while pregnant, and she finished the song with Kanal. (Source) It’s also eerie that years later, shortly after having their third child, they would divorce due to his long affair with the nanny. Trashy, Rossdale. Trashy. Trashy doesn’t even cut it, but back to Stefani, the real hero of this song–

Image via Blogspot

This song is one where the protagonist is clearly carrying a lot of pain. She feels that her relationship is at a fork in the road where she is deciding whether it’s “worth the fight” because “if we’re gonna do it, come on, do it right.” The lyrics make clear that she doesn’t feel safe, and that’s all she wanted– but she doesn’t want to give up. (We hate giving up. Sometimes, we almost kill ourselves in the process of holding onto things that are toxic). The key here is that she feels she is giving her 100%, and he is not giving it his all. She pleads with him, saying that if they are going to make it work, he needs to give her everything. What a terrible feeling of pain and dread knowing you aren’t getting the same vulnerability and sincerity you are putting into something. She makes clear that she isn’t getting all his love, singing, “Save all your love up for me.” There is a tinge of betrayal in this song. She flags a broken promise and the injustice of the exchange or lack thereof.

“It’s not fair how you are; I can’t be complete, can you give me more?” is one of the lines that stands out to me in this song. She sings that she is up at 4 in the morning (the title of the song) thinking and crying about this. The main thing on her mind is she wants something real: “I’m handin’ over everything that I’ve got, ’cause I wanna have a really true love. Don’t ever wanna have to go and give you up.”

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Sadly enough, Stefani does end up having to give up Rossdale. He ends up breaking more than one promise, and the desire of the protagonist in this song doesn’t become a reality in Stefani’s real life until much later (and not with Rossdale).

In a world that sees love as compatibility, emotion, attraction, often in the dynamic there is a clear thing missing from the equation, and without it, things fall apart: vulnerability. There are people who are unavailable despite what they may feel is them being available. Sometimes, we can’t put our finger on it, we just feel it. We know that someone isn’t giving us 100%. Relationships are never 50-50 but 100-100. The damage that a lack of transparency inflicts on a relationship is deep, even when the affected party is willing to fight for the relationship. It takes two to make it work. To leave someone empty handed with just pieces of you leaves them hungry for more and filled with an unease that is hard to describe and suffocating to feel.

A partner observing their partner carry on as they feel their relationship is teetering on the edge of death leads to a partner who starts emotionally shutting down to match the unavailable party. This song reminded me a little bit of Nikki Bella’s very public relationship with John Cena. I do think they loved each other, but his inaccessibilty and distance with her ended in resentment and suffering on her part. She ended the relationship publicly before their long awaited (LONG AWAITED) marriage. I think this was such a bold move. She realized that by accepting less than 100% from a partner, she was denying a part of herself (more on this in the post “Honoring Self“). As Stefani sings, you can’t have the real thing (a healthy functional relationship stemming from true love) unless both people are giving all of themselves to the other.

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If you aren’t getting 100% from someone, take a page out of these bold women’s books and realize, it will not end well. If you are giving all of you, you deserve someone who is willing and ready to do the same. Avoid the tears at 4 in the morning. They aren’t worth it. The video is stunning, vulnerable and filled with 4 am tears. For the people giving their 100– this one goes out to you: