Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I'd Like To Learn To Follow

"Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

I have begun dating again, which doesn't mean I've gone out on any actual dates but only that I have registered on a couple of Catholic dating sites and am talking with one man. Needless to say, I feel better than I did a few weeks ago even though I've now completed chemo infusions and am actually more physically tired than before and am still undergoing the experience of insurance companies and doctors not providing the requested information. But things have calmed down in my home and while registering on a dating site I remembered, I love life. I really, really love life. It's all banquet and I'm happy to be here.

About seven or eight years ago, I made a conscious decision to stop having sex unless I get married. I didn't stop going out with men, but deciding not to sleep with them meant I was going out with them less and less. For many of us here in New York (and I suspect elsewhere too), sex is simply part of dating, occurs on the first, second or third date and continues indeffinitely. Often, men and women will pair off for a few weeks or months but not always. It's not unusual for young New Yorkers to be "dating" several different "partners." It has become almost like shaking hands or kissing a friend on the cheek. Sex is expected, normal, not that big of a deal. And that was always my problem. I've always wanted it to be that big of a deal, always thought it should be one of the biggest deals in my life. Long before I made that conscious decision, I'd already stopped having sex with most of the men I dated.

Getting most (but by no means all) men to stop expecting that I'd sleep with them was easy. Many people know that God and I are "side-by-side," we hang together (in reality, He chooses to hang w/ me but language is so difficult to express these things). I decided to bring God into the conversation and fewer men expected me to be available. And then there was my wounded bird attitude, in which I presented myself as fragile because of being sexually abused as a child, and I really wanted sex but I also wanted a whole lot of other things that would assure me that the man I was with wasn't another abuser. I thought that was the truth - that I just wanted a man to take things slowly and "get to know me." I didn't realize that the truth was that just as I didn't blame God for killing my family or for the abuse I suffered, I didn't see every man as an abuser. I really like men. Enjoy flirting with them and wearing pretty clothes that please them and just being in their company. And I love sex which is why it ought to be a very big deal.

The real truth is that I was living out what I'd been taught: that all men are the enemy just waiting to abuse me, that I am better alone, that sex is for recreation because my body needs to be appeased from time to time. I was taught and kept insisting, I don't need you to take care of me without ever realizing that the corollary is, no one needs me to take care of him.

Illness changes things. When my body no longer does as I command (and for a dancer, that is bigger than big), my ability to control life is gone. Add a bunch of meds that make focus and concentration difficult and one is left with oneself. This past year, lying on my bed, watching old family comedies from the 50s and 60s because TV has become too loud and harsh, I've come to realize that loving and being loved are the best gifts God has given us. All the deep intellectual and spiritual conversations and research and writing and building a career are only so much crap if they take us into separate little worlds where we are walled off from one another. Making a home for a husband who cherishes me and protects me would be worth so much more than anything I've ever done in my life. No one ever taught me that when I was a girl. No one taught me that maybe it's enough to cook a delicious dinner, put on a pretty dress and make my husband happy.

The statistics are not in my favour and there are those who'd diagnose me as profoundly disturbed for venturing out into the fray. I'm not in the 25 - 35 age range that most men on the sites seem to want and without Divine intervention, can't have a child. I'm not a virgin and won't pretend to be. Sex is a big deal to me and I want it to be a big deal to the man I marry. (I think that makes me really scary to a lot of older men who are divorced-and-annulled or widowers or never marrieds.) Plus my health is bad and wind surfing along w/ sports of that sort are certainly not in my near future. It doesn't look good for me in the world of Catholic dating.

But I don't believe in statistics. I believe in God. And I believe that in this banquet, He has created a room for me and for the man who is willing to take the risk and love me exactly as I am, willing to risk that I will love him exactly as he is. I no longer have much else on my list of what he has to be - I'll leave it up to God to surprise me. (It would be lovely if he could teach me to dance the women's part. I was always one of the tallest girls in class and so learned to dance the man's role. I'd like to learn to follow.) And so I re-enter the fray, stroll around at the banquet and trust that God is bringing us both to that room. I've always loved parties and this is one I intend to enjoy to the fullest.

PS - Thank you dear, dear readers for all your prayers.

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