Unlocking The Wrong Door

My first car was a wreck. A real wreck. The make was Dacia and the model was Nova. The color was metal blue and the engine was a 1.4 liter gasoline. The doors weren’t closing right and rear window exploded one very cold winter while I was waiting at a red light. Don’t ask why, it just exploded. The inside was extremely hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter.

Half of the parts were malfunctioning one way or another. For instance, a heat sensor who was supposed to start the engine cooling system decided to have a life of its own. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. During the summer, if I was using the car more than 2-3 hours a day, at some point thick layers of white steam were starting to emerge from under the hood. Had to pull over and wait until the engine cooled down.

Yes, it was a real wreck. I remember that one day, during a very hot summer, I had a meeting down town. I found a parking spot, locked the car (a useless precaution, more like a habit) and then went to my meeting. I don’t remember well what was I supposed to do at that meeting or if it went well at all, but I remember that I stayed around an hour.

It was noon already and the heat was reaching the “unbearable” point. Once I got to my car, I inserted the key into the door lock and started to spin. Unfortunately, the lock was stuck. Alas, it wasn’t the first time. Like I told you, half of the parts were malfunctioning and my door lock was on that half. I remember there was a subtle sequence of pushing and spinning that I have to do with my key in order to trick the lock.

I think I stayed like 30 minutes using my wrist in the most incredible positions, trying to make that lock open. No chance. I went to the other door, but didn’t get luckier. It was getting hotter and hotter. Drops of sweat were already flowing down from my eyebrows. My shirt was wet and my feet were burning. And that stupid door had no intention to open.

At that point, I did what every frustrated man would have done: decided to punch the car as hard as I can. I clearly remembered that I lifted my right arm, chose the exact spot where my fist was about to land, then lowered it with great speed, waiting for my fist to reach that very familiar scratch on the hood. Yes, I even had a very familiar scratch on my hood.

But then something happened. I remember just as clear that my fist stopped millimeters above the hood, because, well, that familiar scratch, the point where all my fury had to explode in a giant hit, that scratch was gone. No scratch at all. Gone. Puzzled, I stepped down. At first, I thought that heat was playing a trick on me. But no, it was a Dacia. Even more, a Dacia Nova. Metal blue. Same tires. Same steering wheel. But the scratch wasn’t there anymore.

Then, for the first time during that half an hour, my head moved two degrees to the right. Until that moment, all my visual field was locked on the target in front of me: my car. But now it moved to the right a little. Something new and at the same time familiar appeared in my visual field. Another Dacia. 20 centimeters next to the one I wanted to unlock so far. Even more, a Dacia Nova. Metal blue. Same tires. Same steering wheel. Only the hood had that familiar scratch too.

I looked around really fast. Nobody seemed to have noticed anything. I went to that second car, unlocked the door with only one move and left in a split of a second. Yes, I was trying to unlock a different, but somehow familiar car. For the last half an hour, I was focusing on unlocking the wrong door.

Who Are You Talking To?

Yes, you can stop laughing now. Seriously. Are we cool now? Ok, thanks. 🙂

The reason I wrote this story is because every time I am coming around a new significant relationship, it kinda pops up into my head. Again and again. That half an hour spent trying to unlock the wrong door seems to be my “relationship red alert”. How come?

Well, because it reminds me about the difference between who I think I’m dealing with and who I’m really dealing with.

In my car situation, I was imagining all the time that I was dealing with something familiar. I went to that car without the blink of an eye. It looked exactly as the one I was expecting to get. Only it wasn’t.

In a similar way, we build an internal image of somebody who is supposed to be our “chosen one” and when we see that image, we’re rushing towards it without the blink of an eye. Only the person behind that image may have nothing in common with our expectations. And, to be honest, it seldom has something in common with our expectations. It’s just an image we built inside and, based on a strange coincidence, it just appeared in our visual field.

I know that because I’ve been there many times. Stumbled upon a familiar image, somebody that was really, really close to my internal ideal of a significant relationship and, based only on this, I imagined that I know whom am I talking to. Only I wasn’t really talking to somebody. It wasn’t a real discussion going on. All I was doing was trying to unstuck the door lock and get into that person heart.

Most of the time spent in these relationships was just an endless effort on the outside. Somehow, I even got used to this game and said to myself all kind of “encouraging” stuff like “if it takes so much time unlocking this door, it must be really valuable”. Only it wasn’t valuable at all, of course. None of these relationships was even started. All I was doing was staying in the heat, endlessly trying to unlock a door which wasn’t supposed to open for me.

In my experience, a relationship works only when the door unlocks from the first time and you’re getting everything about the other person, without any noise, secrets, decoys, detours or embellishing lies. Ok, you may have to do a few tricks, a little pushing and a little spinning, but the door to the other person heart must open.

That’s the starting point. Without opening the door, you can’t even leave in a journey together. You’re stuck on the parking lot. And what’s even more interesting is that even after you opened the other person’s heart, nobody guarantees that the journey will be peaceful and all happy and pink. It may leave off some thick layers of white steam every once in a while. Parts of it may explode during the winters and sometimes it will feel too cold or too hot. But at least you will have a journey together.

Yes, my first car was a wreck. A real wreck. But it was my car and I loved it. With good stuff and bad stuff. 🙂



Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner


The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”

And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.

Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.

If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.

Running For My Life -from zero to ultramarathoner

Dragos Roua

The guy who started all this. Entrepreneur, ultra-marathoner, tanguero, father and risk taker. I’m blogging here, but I also spend a lot of time in this marvelous space.. You’re invited, by the way.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. I have always enjoyed unlocking doors, whether they be the right or wrong ones. The fun is that with every door open, you have lesser doors to open to reach the right door. Well, this is what I love about your blog. You can tell stories of tiniest things in personal development.

    When I was into blogging, I thought it was a wrong door open. In some time, I realized it was the only door I could have opened. To me, my wrong is right…

    1. I can relate to this, I am not able to tell whether a door is wrong or right until I open it. The problem is that I sometimes unlock wrong doors very easily, and it’s very hard to lock them back…

  2. Thanks for sharing this! It seems almost like a spiritual experience to me, that applies to much more than the obvious. I guess if you find you are constantly fighting with something, you are always in a way trying to open a wrong door in some deep sense. Of course, it might be quite difficult to find out what exactly the door is, but I think this can be a quite useful metaphor.

  3. Amazing article, analogy and blog. A small comment though. When it comes to reality and relationshiops – BOTH cars do not exist. They are BOTH our illusions. All in our mind. Pitting against each other. Changing with our age, mood, situations, circumstances, pressures, joys – everyting. There is no ‘right’ car. The ‘rightest’ car might seem the ‘wrongest’ tomorrow. The car did not change. Our image did. I think we agree on this.

    But the objective is not to wait until or to try ‘effective’ ways to find the right ‘car’ which we can ‘unlock’ from day 1, but to realize that the ‘right and wrong’ is in our mind. Being a good fit might of course make life easier….but only for the PRESENT. But to COUNT on it, to HOLD on to it is being (literally) unrealistic 🙂 This includes our relationship with OURSELF too. When the ‘unlocking’ happens, it does not find we have found the roght person, but that OUR heart can be open to this person – for NOW atleast 🙂

    An open heart is not the result, but the CAUSE of things being ‘right’. It is when OUR heart closes, and we begin to prefer our illsuions over reality that the ‘wrongs’ begin.

    I wish I could give a great analogy like you did. But I hope you get what I am trying to say 🙂

    Again excellent blog and amazing writing skills!!!

    The moment we feel unhappy, we have ‘added’ something to reality – our judgment of what is right OR wrong. That itself creates the conflict.

    1. Thanks for the comment and, just for the record, I agree with everything yo wrote. And by the way, it’s pretty rare that a comment is as insightful as yours. Really.

      1. Thanks Dragos! Its a pleasure having someone understand what I mean too. The normal responses are usually ‘oh so u mean its all in OUR mind…its all OUR fault..there are no rights and wrongs’…followed by grotesque examples of injustices and crimes 🙂 Or that all this is too ‘impractical’. Rare? Yes. Impratical? Absolutely not. Infact in ‘practical life’ we MAKE it harder for ourselves and then cry over it.The irony! 🙂

    2. Very insightful and thought provoking comment indeed, but it seems to me that you are overlooking something: when it comes to relationships, the “cars” have a mind like you do, populated with images that change with the circumstances, etc. Then the notions of “right” and “wrong” relationships would make perfect sense, don’t you think?

      1. Hey Cristina,
        Thanks for responding. I see your point, but I did not understand the question.

        Yes the cars too have a mind of their own. which will set them up for misery the same way we did for ourselves. but thats THEIR problem. The sad part.

        The funny part starts with our reaction to it. Its called the need for approval, apprectiaton, to belong. Different names, but ‘needs’ nonetheless. To get our ‘fix’ we try to guess their image and then to fit ourselves into it. becoming a puppet(dragos blog on action vs reaction) is the best explanation anyway. Here, the problem is not THEIRS but OURs.

        If both can be ‘unconditionally happy’ without DEPENDING on the other, any relationship is the right relationship. The moment we set up an image, we expect reality to stay constant..which is impossible. A sure recipe for misery.

        I am not even going into the Crazy ideas we cultivate about the NEED to be in a relatinship, the NEED to make it work etc !!!

        The energy spent in trying something because we SHOULD, not because we WANTED to..eventually turns into grudge, resentment, bitterness. Serves nobody. But it all starts with gettingout oftouch with reality

        1. In my experience not everybody tries to fit themselves into the other’s image. Some try to change the other’s image, to impose their opinions (image )on the other. And some try to find another person whose images fit with their own, a “right” person for them.

          1. Absolutely agree cristina. You have listed all possible permutations of this play of images. Its just that i think understanding that its all images matters more than finding the right image.Cos an image is destined to break. When it collides with ever changing reality.

          2. Thank you! I was not talking about the “right image”, though, but about the “right person” 🙂
            Oh, and I’m sorry about how my question above sounds, my English needs to get better 🙂

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