I’ve always struggled with dating and relationships. I would over-analyse an infinite number of permutations and consequences of either over-committing or taking a cavalier view; only to inexorably end up clutching a hand full of “what ifs”.
In my case long held beliefs, conditioning and experiences from a young age had radically shaped my perception of relationships, and the denial of feelings or expression. My experiences and observations were shaped by sexual abuse from a family friend, as well as the behaviour of my father; which consisted of the acceptance of causal sexual encounters for the sake of self-gratification, a lack of empathy for the opposite sex, and the idolisation of sex and alcohol.
As a consequence I saw healthy physical and sexual expression as an indulgence, suffered from social anxiety in front of the opposite sex, and buried myself in the bravado and bragging rights of my peers and their sexual conquests. Whilst embarking on the occasional binge of pornography.
I laugh about it now (nervously), but when I used to date all of my self-approval and validation was hinged on that one date or encounter, as if no one else would find me worthy or approve of my imperfections. What was just a date or two, and a kiss became ‘the one’, so it was no wonder that I fell so hard when things did not go any further. And I would spend hours daydreaming about missed opportunities, self-absorbed in my own pity.
This was further perpetuated by my later religious conversion and experience where I demonised my sexuality. Using the ‘sin’ of touch as an excuse to not admit my cowardice when I was no longer interested, or feeling guilty for kissing or showing physical affection. I even admit that there was one early instance where I took a Bible on a date! I suppose this became a significant influence upon my decision to marry for the wrong reasons and my eventual way out of religion and the end of my marriage (see my blog-The truth about the tree, my life and the truth itself).
Even after this experience I continued to deny the very reality of sexual desire with by using the guise of so-called ‘spirituality’, by over emphasising all that was abstract, and struggling to connect the two, which in truth is not genuine ‘spirituality’ in any sense of the word. Therefore, I still struggled with rejection and the honesty of my own feelings and desires. Still bending them in accordance to other’s expectations and dogmas.
I eventually came to terms with my own emotional immaturity and guilt. And even though I’ve still had some less than stellar dating and relationship experiences, I have accepted and been grateful for them, having also surprised and learned more about myself along the way. And I have tried to do so without harming the other participant or by admitting my own short comings. But there have also been some wonderful and mutual experiences of self-discovery through genuine and intimate relationships and dating, whether sexual or otherwise.
Of course, it didn’t have to take me this long to accept myself; my true feelings and desires. I could have done more soul-searching, confronted those long-standing issues and came to the conclusion that my father was a bad role-model without rejecting my sexuality, just because he abused his own; and that sexuality was not evil, just because my abuser has chosen to violate her own, and destroy mine.
I could have realised that my father’s perception of sexuality and revelry was not a reflection of the freedoms, rights and expressions of love and life, that we as conscious beings are entitled to; whether we choose to abuse them or not, and that my own sexual abuse was not a reflection of how everyone chooses to use their sexuality. But this was the path that I chose in this life to follow in order find, or should I say rediscover my own place and purpose.
In life we often choose to completely accept or reject parts of our being based on life experiences; and they are labelled and categorised in either the ‘good’ box, or the ‘bad’ box. And it is easy to take this approach because it requires little critical thought, honesty and self-evaluation of our own trauma.
Whenever we hold two seemingly opposing reference points to answer a question, or to give life meaning we lack the capability to see all possibilities. For example, taking either an ascetic, or overtly-hedonistic viewpoint can be destructive, unless it is what YOU truly desire for yourself as an experience, and if you do not perceive your choice as the final or absolute path for yourself or everyone else; because to do so would rob one of the experience of finding themselves, and therefore meet their own needs.
Quite often the intentions or the reasons behind why we choose to express our sexuality, or experience pleasure determine our state of being rather than the action or experience itself. And even when our intentions appear to come from a place of dependency rather than true desire, we still have the opportunity to discover what we truly desire, by experiencing what we truly do not.
When we are able to objectively evaluate the morals and teachings that we have absorbed it allows us to take those things that ring true, and discard those things that do not, even when they stem from the same narrative or philosophy. Therefore, there is no such thing as ‘black’ and ‘white’, or even ‘good’ and ‘bad’, only the progressive expansion of our consciousness through the discernment of our own feelings and truth.