Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Find Yourself

We women are made to love, to give, to be welcoming, to want to please.  It's what we do best when we love someone.  But this desire to give all, to please, to welcome in, also makes us easily manipulated by our emotions.

I remember very well how it was when I was 21.  You want to be with a man because you really like him.  You want to spend time with him.  But you don't want sex, not yet.  You want to please him, but you don't want sex.  You want affection, but you don't want sex.  You don't want to reject him, but you don't want sex.  You also don't want to get mad at him for insisting, because you don't want to be rejected either, and you don't want to hurt his feelings, because you like him, but you don't want sex.  So you accept a little more than you're really comfortable with, because you like him, but you don't want sex.

Society used to have rules in order to protect its young, open-hearted, giving, loving daughters.  Because we knew they needed to be protected and cared for, not manipulated and taken advantage of.  But today's society is all about love with no limits.  Everything you see on TV, in the movies, in books is all about sexual freedom, and eliminating barriers and limits. Today, if you set limits, you are negatively seen as prude and cold, old-fashioned and backwards. Parents step out of their children's love-life because it's "none of their business" what anyone else does.  So who is going to protect our daughters now?

You're young and in love, and you trust the man, but you give a little more than you really want to, because you think you can stop it before it goes too far.  But he takes advantage of that opening and takes more.  You manage to disappoint him for a time, a few days, a few weeks, maybe a few months.  But those societal rules, "stay out of the bedroom" for one, or at least, "keep doors open" if you're sharing a place with other people, they're prude and backwards and no one uses them.  Behind closed doors it's easy for him to ask for more, and unwillingly, you relent.  But you don't want sex.  And you've told him, and he knows, but that doesn't stop him from trying to convince you.

In the end, when it's over, he's content with himself.  He finally got what he wanted and he assumes you're happy too.  Because, egoistically, all he sees is what he wanted.  And while he is congratulating himself for giving you what you didn't know you wanted, deep down, you immediately feel regret.  You are disappointed with yourself for giving in.  You're not quite sure how it happened, you trusted him not to go too far, you thought you could stop it. You feel used, you feel maybe somewhat like a prostitute. You feel ashamed. You wish it never happened.  You think it's all your fault.

Maybe you want to break up with him, but now that you've had sex, you feel you owe it to him to give him a chance.  Because you are not that girl, the kind that has a one-night stand.  Because ironically, you don't want to hurt him by breaking up with him after having sex, when in reality, he deserves what's coming to him for pressuring you in the first place.  But you're not thinking straight, because sex clouds your judgement.
The next time you're together, it's a lot easier to get you to have sex again, because you've already had it, and eventually, you give up all pretense, because you know there's no point.

And then maybe after a few months, or a year, he gets tired of you and moves on.  Or you really just don't get along and you break up.  Or you get pregnant and he doesn't want a child, so you either have to deal with being a single mother or have an abortion.  And it's not just a broken heart you have.  Your soul is broken too.  That piece of you that you didn't want to give him yet, that he took anyway, you can never get it back.

The next time you meet a guy, you think "This time, it will be different."  But it isn't.  Because despite being hurt, you are still that loving, giving, wanting to please girl.  And you still don't realize that setting limits is the healthy thing to do.  So the same thing happens a second time, and a third time, maybe a fourth time, and a fifth time.

Maybe you end up settling for someone you otherwise would not have settled down with, because you thought you owed him that, since you'd had sex, and because having sex with him made that emotional bond stronger and your judgement weaker.  So you end up with someone who doesn't have the same world-view as you, who doesn't have the same values, or priorities.  And as the years go by, you become a cynical woman, who deeply regrets having given in, who desires a better relationship, but knows she'll never have that, not with him.  You wish you could go back and change what you did.  You've put walls around your heart because you've been hurt so many times by the differences between you.  You've made compromises in your relationship that you wish you didn't have to.  You haven't been able to give your children the kind of moral education you want to give them, because his morals are totally different.  You don't believe in love anymore.  Not for you.

Maybe you end up single and cynical. Maybe you've managed to separate love from sex, and you profit from the latter without giving into the former because you've been hurt too often.  You don't want to let yourself feel anymore.  Or maybe you cut yourself off completely from all men, because "they are all the same". You won't give any of them a chance, and you automatically assume they all have ulterior motives.  You've put walls up around you, and closed off your heart. You don't believe in love anymore.  Not for you.

When you hear about other women, young girls, who've been pressured into having sex against their better judgement, you feel a deep, silent and impotent rage inside of you. You know you are not alone, you know this is happening everywhere, and there is nothing you can do. Maybe you want to protect your daughter, but society is against you, and even if you don't buy into today's mantra that what they do is none of your business, (because if someone harms your underage daughter, it absolutely IS your business), and you set limits for her, will her boyfriend's family do the same?  Will she accept those rules, or will she go down the same path, afraid to be seen as prude, cold, old-fashioned and backwards, destined to be yet another cynical woman who doesn't believe in love anymore? Not for her?

It is not too late to turn things around if we remind ourselves to gently curb our emotions without building walls around our hearts. We are meant to be loving, giving, open-hearted women, instead of cynical, bitter, hopeless and regret-filled ones. It is better to seek fulfillment within ourselves, to find that which ignites our passion, that hidden talent, that personal challenge, that life goal instead of seeking fulfillment from someone else. Once we realize that we do not need a romantic relationship in order to be happy, that our lives can be full thanks to other meaningful relationships with family and friends and through fulfilling activities, we can more easily guard our hearts from becoming too attached too soon to any one person.

If we are not afraid of losing someone, we will be more likely to set healthy limits, less likely to compromise ourselves in order to be with them and more likely to eliminate bad relationships.  Even in a long-term committed relationship, fulfillment is found within, it is not the responsibility of our spouse. Our happiness depends on one person only, our self. Fulfillment is always possible, and happiness is probable, even in a difficult (non-abusive) relationship if we look for it within ourselves.

Perhaps love isn't what we naively thought it would be when we were younger, but it can be what we make it to be.

And guys, when she says she doesn't want to... She really doesn't want to.

The Simple Things

Or "The Best Time I Ever had in a Pub".

Image may contain: people sitting and indoor
Photo: Glen Morgan's Irish Pub
It was a Tuesday evening in late April or early May.  I normally work evenings past midnight, but that particular week, I got off at 8:00.  My friend Marcia had just recently found a good job, and wanted to celebrate.  So we went to a pub in the Old Saint-Jean; Glen Morgan's Irish Pub.

No one goes out to a bar on a Tuesday. The Pub was empty, almost, except for a group of military men in one corner.  Since there was no one else, they had commandeered the music, and were playing all kinds of old classic rock songs and laughing and singing along and generally having a grand time.

After sitting by ourselves for a little under an hour, and observing them from our corner, Marcia and I decided we wanted to join in on the fun too.  So we went and sat at two available stools at the bar next to them, which immediately prompted welcoming cheers from them.  They bought us drinks and asked us what music we wanted to hear.

We talked, we listened to good old classics, we sang, and we had a great time.  When it was time to go, Marcia and I went our way, and that was that.

I don't remember their names, I have had no further contact with any of them, but I will always remember them with fondness for that one evening of simple pleasures shared in a pub, with no further expectations than enjoying good music and company.  Sometimes, it really can be as simple as that.  And as profound as that.

A few things have come up in recent days, which make me think, sometimes simple is best.  One being the place of men in Catholicism, and an article on the subject, posted by a friend.  Catholicism (at least in North America) seems to have gone the Pentecostal way, bringing in the "feels" and a lot of either theological and intellectual talk or some very emotional talk, all of which requires a lot of talking, either about feelings or very abstract things.  All this emphasis on feelings and thoughts takes away from the simplicity of just being and acting.  There are people out there who just don't need the bells and whistles or the complexities of theology, or feelings.  All they need is a simple faith, fostered through example.  They go to mass, just because.  Jesus is there.  He said "do this in memory of me", and that's all they need to know.  He said "love one another as I have loved you" and "love your neighbour as yourself" and that's all they need to know. It's that simple, and it's that profound.  And they lead through selfless example, like St. Joseph.  St. Joseph didn't need to know all the whys and hows and whatnots.  He was told not to fear to take Mary as his wife and welcome the child that was not his, and he trusted and he did so.  It was as simple as that. Do we still have a place in our Church for people of a simple faith?

My youngest son's second year of catechism has started up, and the first meeting we looked at the story of the Creation.  In the beginning was chaos. God put order in the chaos, and created the world, the universe.  There are laws of physics and chemistry, so that there might be order in the universe, so that the mixing of two elements always creates a similar reaction, so you always know what to expect, you always fall down, you never fall up, or sideways, and fire always burns, but ice is cold, and you can use these properties to your advantage. In the same way, God gave us laws of human relationships.  If everyone just followed those laws, there would be order in our relationships and there would not be the chaos that we have in society today.  We would not need to complicate things in order to make up for the fact that we were not following the basic laws God set out for us, the 10 commandments.  If people cared more about getting to know the other person, and less about getting sex, if sex were put back into the sacred context of marriage, things would be a whole lot simpler in society. If people cared more about people than about making money, then there would be a lot less chaos in the world. When you ignore the basic laws, you complicate your life.  Sin complicates things, always.  You need to lie, to cheat, to cover things up.  Sometimes, you even need to kill other people, because they get in the way.

You know when things are simple, you're probably going down the right road.