Sunday, January 16, 2011

Integrated Self

My nature is open and trusting. As those of you who read my blog know, I don't filter much. Sure, there are some things that would be inappropriate to display for public viewing, particularly things concerning my family but when it comes to me and my thoughts, ideas, experiences and feelings, I'm pretty much an open book. I've always been this way. I've never been able to keep parts of myself hidden away from others. I had a job a couple of years ago which forced me to compartmentalize my feelings and doing so caused me to fall into a mild depression. This is who I am, warts, talents, goofiness and all and I've never been good at knowing how to disclose different parts of myself to different people.

Being open caused me no end of pain when I was a child and young teen. Land sakes, I can't remember the number of times I was hurt after telling a friend or group of friends something about myself only to have it turned around and used against me in the way schoolchildren often do. All those unspoken rules of girls, I was completely oblivious to. I learned slowly, painful lesson after painful lesson, to keep myself back, to not reveal my true self: sometime to dissemble or even lie. Doing so was not natural to me but like an albino squirrel, I needed camouflage if I was going to survive in the world.

My relationships with girls and women for years were heavily informed by this need to mistrust their intentions and keep myself protected and safe. On the other hand, my relationships with boys/men seemed safer. To begin with, most boys do not learn the same social dynamics girls do as children so do not gather information about others which they can then use as a tool. Also, I felt much more powerful in my relationships with men. I was attractive and flirtatious, feminine in a very not-normal way and was a minor music nerd so could hold my own in conversations in a way few other women could (or wanted to) do. I held sexual power in my relationships with men. I didn't use that power to hurt anyone or to manipulate or deceive but using it at all was certainly not honest nor straight. Milan Kundera, in The Unbearable Lightness of Being said, "Flirting is a promise of sexual intercourse without a guarantee". I used to make promises all over the place but rarely ever fulfilled them. I wanted to know that I could have the interest of any man I found interesting and found it fun to stimulate that interest.

That is, until I committed to being with Hammy. All of a sudden, flirting didn't seem ok. When Hammy and I became monogamously tied, flirting felt disloyal and wrong. Shortly thereafter I become a mother which changed my perspective about pretty much everything.

When I became a mother I automatically entered an exclusive club with other women. And the fact of having chosen a homebirth made the club even more exclusive. I found myself having a great deal in common with other women; women who were sincere in their approaches to life and impassioned by their choices. I found myself accepted and approved of by these women.

I'd been a spiritual seeker through much of my young adult life and wended my way to Friends meeting and so to discovering an awareness of Spirit, and to a slow rediscovery of my
Original Face. What I found in myself was my own true self. I re-learned to be my own self in all my relationships and interactions with others. I slowly identified that I sometimes acted in ways which did not seem fully true in my dealings with different people and so learned to let go of the expectations and desired outcomes for those interactions. I allowed God to lead me so my life became integrated and my interactions with others became undergirded by Christ-informed integrity. I try to be aware that my first relationship is with God and so I should reflect that in all my other relationships.

I'm visiting this concept because my life is changing and I-in-relation-to-others am changing. I will no longer be a woman who is part of a committed romantic partnership but will be a woman who is independent and romantically unattached. At this point, I feel quite liberated to be able to put my energies into my friendships and my relationships with my children, family and existing communities, to my physical well-being and of course, to my awareness of God in my life through prayer, writing, music, nature. I will be discovering many new ways of being in the world as I allow my new life to unfold. I think it could be easy to fall back into the comfort of feeling empowered by the attention I used to be able to generate when I flirted with smart, funny nerdy men. Flirting, right now, would not be honest or true though, and certainly not a positive reflection of God.

If I paint the lashes dark
And the eyes more bright
And your lips more scarlet
Ask if it'll all be right
And it's mirror after mirror
No vanities displayed
You're just looking for the face you had
Before the world was made
-Van Morrison "Before the World Was Made"

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