Friday, 14 November 2014

Two to tango (And lots of footnotes.)

Last night sparked something for me last night. I watched the trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey*, which was helpfully followed up by a suggestion from Google** for a movie called Old Fashioned. The trailer for this movie explained the plot - good Christian guy finds a lovely lady who is rather unconventional, and decides to court her and be super-spiritual to protect himself. I kind of like the sound of this movie. It sounds honest and real, even if no Charlie Tango is involved***.

I wondered by Christianity is always doing battle with the secular, and of yes, Fifty Shades is that. And, by rights, they probably should. But why do we Christian kids feel the need to take something of the world, and try to make it not of the world, but enough like the world we can fool people into thinking it's the same, but enhanced?

So. With all that in mind, I recalled a really weird time in my life, which, on reflection, has probably done more damage to me than any other relationship I've ever had.

No names. And no blame, not really. The people of concern in this are no longer, in any way, part of my life, and that's their choice.

Before I left for Bible College, I had some people speak into my life that I would meet the Man of My Dreams there (long story short - I didn't). And, more than anything at that time, I wanted to be in a relationship. And then I found myself in one. Yay!

The first week was great. And then I got kicked out of my flat, left my job, moved into a youth hostel for a few weeks, moved into my new house and started living by myself for the first time, started a new job and had pretty much no money. So, understandably, I turned into crazy hyper sensitive psycho princess bitch face. Deliriously happy one minute, cranky pants the next. Was I the most annoying person to deal with? Yes. Even I know that, and did at the time.

I used the term relationship loosely. We were together for maybe two months, and then had a two week break****, followed by a break up. If you're a big believer in fate, destiny, God stuff, whatever, you'll know this was totally for the best. At the time, well, let's just say I wasn't so sure. I knew that our relationship ending was completely my fault, and I hadn't even intentionally sabotaged it*****.

When it ended we had all these dumb deals like who could tell whom, and what we would say, and God was calling us not to be together. So, I just didn't talk about it, and he did, and suddenly I found myself on the outer with a few people until that year ended. Like all break ups, life is almost always better without the person (except when you need a plus one to go to a party or something, then it sucks). Except, for the first and last time, I really really really wanted him back. Mostly because I had this false belief that I had done all the damage, it was my fault, and I wanted to prove I could be awesome enough to go out with him.

But. That didn't happen. And if it had, what would it prove?

The tough thing about this relationship, and it was the last of it's kind in terms of this, was that a lot of it was based on the spiritual stuff. So, here are some whacked out things I have realised:

1. Just because you feel hurt and rejected, doesn't mean your identity is not based on the Image of God.
I could tell you until the cows come home that I know I am made in the image of God. My identity is, and always has firmly rooted in the fact that I'm a Child of God. But I take rejection badly, and to feel sad or ashamed that someone doesn't want you in their life doesn't mean you don't know who you are in Christ. Jesus himself felt rejected and shunned by his friends, and look how they treated Him!

2. Being in a relationship doesn't mean you have to be somebody's everything.
No one told me this at the time. But when you're part of something where people aren't dating, they're courting, and where marriage sooner rather than later is the norm, you rely on this all or nothing thing a lot. This was my biggest downfall in this relationship, and I have struggled again and again to get the right balance. Being married is totally different to playing house on the weekends together, even if it's really fun (except when you're really broke and you eat soup for seven meals straight).

3. People don't always have their hearts in the right place.
I had been seeing a counsellor before, during and after this so-called relationship, and during our last session (I made it our last because of this), all she wanted to do was talk about The Break Up. Totally not the reason I was there. People also tend to speak into your life at this point, which can be harmful to the process that comes with facing rejection. At this point, I didn't care about how many fish their were, I was in a glass bowl and all I wanted was the one other fish who had no interest in me whatsoever.

4. It's okay to be mad, but it's not your place to fix it.
After all of this, some pretty crappy things started happening. When you end a relationship, you really do end the friendship as well, at least for awhile. You don't really get a say in what the other person does with their life, unless it's to do with you, and only you. So, as pissed off as I was, I probably didn't have the right to go cuckoo-bananas on MSN Messenger, but what I should have done was say 'You need to stop leading me on by doing this, this and this.' This false hope giving started the on-again-off-again four year saga that was 'but what if we were meant to beeeeeeeeee?' (Yes, the word 'be' is written exactly like that in my journal, circa 2008.)

5. How you express your sweet lovin' is not up for Every Man's Battle to decide.
Oh, how I hate this book.
No, that's not true. I like the values and actual practical suggestions these books, and others like it. But, like all books, you need to decide for yourself what you want to take away from it. And then you need to express this to the person you're seeing. Boundaries are so so so important, and setting them is a really good thing. But you have to decide together, because boundaries set just by morals and what you should and shouldn't do 'as Christians' needs to be decided before you arrive at a point of no return.

To be really honest, I haven't had too many discussions since this time about what I should and shouldn't be doing, but it has really affected the way I have seen myself, and basically implies I'm a scarlet woman or something to that effect, even though I'm just an ordinary girl who has made decisions that aren't just based upon what I read in one book.

6. When you decide you don't like someone any more, don't tell everyone why.
Why did it end?
Because I was a princess bitchface. Because I couldn't adhere to poorly drawn boundaries. Because I was an unhappy person. Because I was jealous.

All these things are true. I am jealous, I can be horrible, I love boundaries, at that time I was really unhappy. No one really needed to know this. Why couldn't he have just said 'It just didn't work out. Hey, now let's change the subject?' Simply because at that time we were all accountable to one another, and it didn't seem right to just ignore such a question. My refusal to deal at the time was a good thing because it meant I didn't have to pull apart and analyse the relationship right there and then. Because, that's what I'm doing now, and now it doesn't hurt.

These last four years have been tough. I haven't been part of a church family for a long time, except for my home church. And I'm missing that, a lot. I've tried to find my identity in church, in work, in relationships and I have failed, miserably. Part of this comes from the idea that the Christian Church will be your home and family, when, really, most of what I have seen has been ego-driven, self serving, marketing mayhem, competitive spirits and holier-than-thou attitudes. And if that is church, and relationships, I don't want that. I just really like Jesus. I like his mission and purpose, and presence in my life.  

I said that this has had a huge impact on me. Yes. Because I thought I could change, that we just had bad timing, that I was totally at fault, that I... it goes on. But, really, I wasn't, and shouldn't and didn't. I just couldn't be what that person, as lovely as he is, wanted from a girlfriend. However, what I really failed to see for a long time is that I didn't really want him as a boyfriend. I just wanted to prove that I was worthy, to make up for the rejection I felt. This is not a clever move, and one that did not serve me well.

What does this have to do with those movies I referenced at the start of the blog? Basically, nothing, except some reassurance that I don't need to star in either of them. Except the chick in Old Fashioned has some pretty wicked clothes.

*As in, the movie for the first in the trilogy of the Fifty Shades books. Poorly written and possibly almost completely unseen by an editor, EL James could have condensed the plot line of girl meets guy/guy makes unreasonable demands of virgin/guy and girl fall in love/girl changes guy instead of having stupid subplots including a creepy bossy named Jack and a heap of easy to place twists with no actual surprises, hence, not a twist.

**Google is also known as Googs in my house. Of course, it doesn't respond to my 'Ok Googs' command, or realise when I have said thank you, but everyone in this house (myself, Stephen and the cat) all have eleventy nicknames, it's only fair to include Google in that. If we had a Siri, she would probably bee Seers, but, that sound stupid, and also, it's Apple.

***Charlie Tango is the name of Christian Grey's helicopter. Christian Grey is also known as 50 Shades, also known as Mr Grey and also known as Fifty Shades of Fucked Up. Which is depressing.

****I only know one person a 'break' has worked for, and a whole heap of people who tried breaks and got the old dumperoo.

*****If, like me, you hate being mean to anybody ever and can't face the thought of breaking up with them, bitchface tactics work really well, except they basically hate you.