Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It's Just a Dance.

Someone posted a link to the following blog on Facebook today, and I got distracted by it, but in the process, I found this little gem of a post:  Here is a quote from that post...
My ex-partner argued with me after he left that there are “several different types of love.” He pointed out that the Greeks have “five different words for it.” I emphatically disagree.  There is ONLY ONE TYPE OF LOVE. There are many ways of giving it and various degrees of intensity, but there is ONLY ONE KIND because all love comes from God and is impossible to experience apart from Him. There are lots of feelings and emotions that people mistakenly call “love.” These emotions, feelings, and attractions are not necessarily bad things, but they should never ever be mistaken for “Love.” Love is an Action Verb and it is a gift that is given.It is not ever a feeling or an emotion. We do ourselves and others a grave disservice when we adopt the view that there is any other form of “Love” other than what is described in detail 1 Corinthians 13

Later he says:

You mentioned "Romeo and Juliet" in your other email and that you often felt emotions similar to theirs and their "forbidden love." I can relate to what you are describing, but I do not believe that Romeo Loved Juliet. I'm serious! What they had was the Opposite of Love. Shakespeare’s play showed this, but our modern view has distorted everything. I personally believe that Shakespeare never intended anyone to believe that Romeo and Juliet loved each other in any way, shape, or form. For one thing the 16th century view of suicide was much different from our modern sympathetic view.

The only character in the play who demonstrates Love is Paris . He is the one who really and truly Loves Juliet.
Take a look at the opening Prologue of Romeo & Juliet. It is clear that Shakespeare did not view Romeo and Juliet’s relationship as healthy or loving in any way. He calls it “death-marked” for a reason.
He goes on to show why what Romeo and Juliet shared isn't love, and I was struck by the deconstruction of the relationship between Romeo and Juliet--it never occurred to me in High School when we read this play that Shakespeare might have been commenting on the paucity of their love.  Instead, I was enthralled with the modern idea of romantic love I projected into the play. During high school, I spent most of my waking hours thinking about being in love, talking about being in love, reading about being in love (I had a 3-4 harlequin romance a week habit--I no longer read romance novels, thank God!), watching movies about being in love, or dreaming about being in love. I had this notion that I would meet THE ONE in high school like my parents did. I even ended up in a couple of long distance relationships where I read a lot more into the relationship than was actually there--I was actually engaged to one of them for a while in college!

Like the above author states, our culture has mistaken the feelings based on infatuation and fantasies for real love.  My ex used to quote the movie Willow and tell me, "You are my sun, my moon, my starlit night.  Without you, I dwell in darkness," And it would usually make me feel incredibly uncomfortable--yes, I was flattered, but the quote didn't actually reflect our relationship, and frankly, it wasn't a role that I wanted to have in his life.   I often felt like I had become an idol in his life, and I didn't like that feeling.  Early in our marriage, I let him know that I didn't feel comfortable being on a pedestal, but I eventually quit trying to correct him--it was a losing proposition....Maybe he was right and he didn't have me on a pedestal, but he clearly wasn't engaged with the real me either.  Rather, I was a stand-in for who he thought I was, and anything that didn't fit his ideal was rejected, made fun of, or otherwise censured. For instance, I didn't sing for almost 10 years when he was around, not even in the shower, because he told me repeatedly that I couldn't sing. The funny thing is that I'm not really angry with him for this--I honestly don't think that he understood what he was doing or that it was even wrong.  I'm angry (actually, I'm livid) with myself for allowing this to go on for so long--for being complicit in his disordered behavior.  I'm a pretty intelligent person, and I allowed this to happen when I should know better.

So, I hid my thoughts and feelings almost from the very beginning of our marriage--to hide who I was--in order to either keep the peace or keep from getting sniped at.  Over and over in my journals, I wrote that I couldn't tell my ex or that my ex didn't understand, or that my ex would get mad if he knew _______. I became a chameleon that took on the colors of her surroundings in order to please my ex.  When we were separated the first time, I started to remove the mask, but began wearing it again when my ex and I got back together--it fit badly, and the mask reeked, but it was the only way to save my marriage.  It is only in the last three to four years that I have begun to show who I truly am again--to remove the mask I have been hiding behind, and I credit my conversion to Catholicism for that.  Something about internalizing that each human has intrinsic value gave me courage, and the graces of the sacraments didn't hurt either!

I'm older, and, I hope, wiser than I was when I first married my ex.  I'm also a lot more confident in who I am, and I know that the Lord has done an incredible healing work in my life. In the process of growing up, healing, etc.,  I have come to the conclusion that it serves no one to hide who you are in a relationship. My actions have probably swung to the opposite side of the continuum: to over-disclosure, but I guess I'd rather be a little socially awkward and risk scaring the people around me than to hide who I am anymore.  I've also noticed in my own life that deception begets deception--it becomes easier to justify deception the more we practice deception of any kind. I don't want to be good at deception, and that means unlearning and modifying behavior, even when it is hard to be honest.  I realize that prudence must play a part in this, and I'm not going to blurt out my whole life to a perfect stranger (not even a co-worker or acquaintance). However, I am more willing to put who I am out there than I have been my whole life.

Going out dancing recently is a case in point--I mentioned to my niece that I really wanted to dance, and she told me to just go ask someone.  Then she said something that I find really profound: "It's just a dance."  Whether they say yes, or they say no, it is just a dance, not the end of the world.  So, I asked a few gentlemen to dance, volunteered once when some teenager was rejected by a girl sitting near me, and I had a lot of fun.  Like my real life, if people don't like me for who I am, then, "It's just a dance."  Not the end of the world, not the last chance ever to have a friend, and not the reason to go back into the self-made cage that I'm working on dismantling bar by bar.

When we finally separated for good, my ex told me that he missed the woman that he fell in love with, but apparently she didn't exist anymore.  In a sense, he was right, but I don't think the girl he fell in love with ever existed.  Instead, I pretended to be her, I'm not sure why, and I hurt both of us in the process.   Now comes the hard work of healing, forgiving, and becoming the person God wants me to be.