Tuesday, June 27, 2006

a manifesto of sorts

Wow. I am way behind on my blogging.

This morning it occurred to me that I have been thinking a lot about relationships and that it is about time that my camp released some kind of a statement regarding love.

This was brought on by two things. One, the recent realization that I do not fit in the conventional conceptualization of relationships. And with this, the attendant suspicion that a lot of other people don't either. And two, I spoke to one of my ex-boyfriends for the first time in almost a year (wherein I realized that we should be friends again because he's a pretty cool guy; so I will no longer refer to him as my ex-boyfriend, but instead, as my friend. A, can I get a "hell yeah"?).

Okay, so. How do I "not fit"? Lots of folks will assume that this has something to do with confused sexuality. This is, uh, not the case. I'm straight, y'all, and about this fact I am not the least bit conflicted. But I think that it has become the norm to immediately ascribe an individual's discomfort with conventional relationships to some kind of flaw in her personality that can then be pathologized as "closeted" or whatever. That is, it's not the relationships that are flawed, it's you.

Likewise the less offensive but still problematic idea that a given individual is "not ready" for a relationship, thus suggesting that the individual will be somehow "cured" when she fianlly arrives at the ultimate goal of being "ready." This idea implies, of course, that we humans are all teleogically oriented toward the end of a relationship with one other human being as the fullest realization of existence, whether that relationship is homo or hetero. But look! The terms homo- and hetero- only exist if we accept this single, finally overdetermined relationship as our end goal. Life, then, becomes an exercise in the unification of fragments; our activities are oriented toward making these fragments into a whole, which whole is represented by the ever-elusive relationship, which is of course modeled on the heteronormative family structure, and, VIOLA! You're totally screwed.

And how easy it is to fail at this! We are more or less doomed to defeat here; yet so many people persist in believing that they are not whole, successful, fulfilled people unless they have completed the puzzle of "being with someone." You thought that the idea that men and women are failures unless they are married was archaic? But it's all around us!

Now, I am not saying anything that schizoanalysis hasn't said before. Still, I think it bears looking into how this family romance can rain havoc on the life of a single young gal. I have, in the past few years, had the pleasure of dating several very nice men. I loved one or two of them, yet my relationships with them resembled "real," or "good" relationships the least. I'm not excusing some of the fucked up things these guys did; I am, however, nonetheless uncomfortable with the number of times I was told that I "deserved better" from a relationship. This posits an ideal relationship in which I do not believe but that I am unfortunately still assumed to be unsuccessfully striving toward. I mean, if my end goal had been to get married and have kids and a 401K, yes, these relationships were failures. But what if there was no end goal? What if these relationships provided me with some moments, hours, and days of happiness in the continuum of my life? What if we look at relationships as moments to be lived, as different occurrences of intimacies instead of as a narrative that leads to a predetermined end? More plainly, I don't want to sacrifice too much of my life by treating it as something that needs to be "gotten past" to get to the next point, which is "success." These relationships can't be counted as failures simply because they didn't "get me somewhere." Nor would I call them "learning experiences," as though they were some kind of training for the real thing.

Although if it were that simple to simply "re-ideologize" a bad relationship into a good one, we wouldn't be having this (one-sided) conversation. These relationships were also plenty bad in real, palpable, immediate ways. And hence, I am not in them anymore. But they weren't just practice for the big one, either.

The "family romance" of a teleologically directed narrative indeed interferes in my more casual dating life as well. I have had the pleasure of dating a couple of wonderful guys in recent years, but these dates never became relationships. It was not because of any flaws in the respective men, nor, in this case, was it because of any flaws in me. It was simply that these otherwise great guys made the mistake of thinking that they knew me far too quickly; they seemed to assume that they knew what "women" wanted, and then behaved toward me as though they were following a script that they had bought from the writers of "Sex and the City." That is to say, they forgot they were on a date with ME and instead substituted "a woman" for "this woman here." Variously, these guys did things like spending an hour with me and then telling me that "I made them happy"; calling WAY TOO MUCH; assuming familiarities that didn't exist, like telling me that I was "smart" or "not like other girls" (you could maybe assume these things if you had known me for months, but not hours); ignoring me when I told them I was somewhat uncomfortable with relationships, choosing to believe instead that I simply needed to be "persuaded." Now, how many of you are thinking "What is she doing complaining about these guys when it's clear that she's just not mature enough/ready for a relationship?" My point exactly. I don't especially appreciate my feelings and convictions being treated as symptoms that need to be overcome. At that point I begin to feel suffocated and disappeared, like my actual self has been swallowed by the idea of a relationship.

But this is all too easy to do when we assume that we are all traveling toward the same goal: to be one half of a successfully formed "whole." Of course, anyone could point out the obvious here: I am spending most of my time reading, alone, and singing classic rock songs to Kristine's cat. Uh, is there something wrong with that? My biological clock is ticking? Not so much. "Getting married" is not a goal, although a lot of people think it is. What they might not be considering is that a wedding is their real goal; I don't ever want to have a relationship so that I can get married. Because what if I am not "whole" then (and so many, many people aren't, and it's a devastating realization)? I want to get married because I can't NOT get married. I want a relationship that is based on wanting as many moments as possible with someone because his presence makes my life a nicer place, a relationship that is part of my entire life, not its diagnostic marker. So, for now at least, none is fine.

Please discuss.

23 Comments:

Blogger Kim Lacey said...

My brother got engaged this past weekend and I'm still not quite sure how to react. Sure I'm thrilled for them and, so yeah, maybe I'm a bit jealous, but why? (and because I did the whole marriage thang and don't quite yet want to touch that again just furthers the 'jealousy' confusion...) Mostly, I'm bothered that their announcement bothers me. I thought I could be the girl who was cool without relationships. Who could do only the grad school/academic career thing (and of course this means nix-ing the whole being a human thing, too) And I dig the random moments, or the non-solidification of passing romances, and whatever. So, why am I wanting what they have? Why is their happiness painful for me? Why am I the horrible sister who secretly wants them to fight about something, *anything* for fuck's sake. And sure I see them rarely so I never see the fighting/crying/alone moments, so perhaps this jealousy is just a waste of time. But probably I'm just too pessimissitic. Anyway, I've been thinking about your post for a while and I thought I was ready to post on it, but maybe not. I'm just using this as a gripe session. Maybe the rest 'll be saved for a little post-reading group gossip session...

4:56 PM  
Blogger Jessica Smith said...

chiming in many many days later with "thanks for writing this." it's been making me think about it. more and more and more. i tend to be a serial monogamist. theoretically, i don't "need' to be in a relationship. but i don't know if a time when i haven't at least wanted to be (i mean since i was very little i've had crushes).

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Your subconscious mind is a powerful force. It can be an un-defeatable ally or a dangerous foe! It is a powerful force of nature that can be harnessed and made to work for us or it can be a wild beast that runs riot with our lives.
How powerful is 'powerful'?

Take the first Atomic Bomb - it could lay waste to an entire city in seconds. Or the gravitational pull of the Sun which stops our tiny planet from hurtling into space. Imagine the power of a black hole - that region of spacetime from which nothing can escape not even light travelling at 186 thousand miles a second. The Universe is full of powerful forces. Yet, all these wondrous things pale into insignificance when compared to the power of the subconscious mind.

The subconscious part of your mind is that part which regulates your heartbeat, lungs, digestive system and everything else in your body. It directs the inner workings of your body and such things as (what biologists call) 'machines' - tiny living cells that are composed of motors, drive-shafts and propellers - seriously!!! There is mounting evidence that the cells in our bodies have memory and that our very DNA is coded with memories of our ancestors. As well as having full control of all these functions and more your subconscious also retains all the thoughts, experiences and emotions you have ever felt. It regulates the most complicated mechanism in the unknown Universe - your body - and it can calculate the trajectory of multiple moving objects while supplying you with the words necessary to debate an issue while controlling a complex task of activities such as driving a car!
These tasks alone show how powerful the subconscious mind is. But it is much more powerful than that!

The truth is: No-one knows the limits of the subconscious mind's power!

Tell yourself that you will wake up at 6 a.m. and chances are you will awake. Go to a crowed party and through a mass of voices you will hear someone at the other side of the room mention your name! Set a problem aside and miraculously, out of nowhere, the answer comes while you are involved in another task. It recreates situations in your life that correspond to your beliefs. Time and time again you find yourself in the same situations, with similar partners, in almost identical jobs. Like a wheel your subconscious mind creates situations that bring your life back to the same spot.
Likewise it can totally transform your life - even overnight! It can bring you new situations, life experiences, luxuries and even people.

However, it is like a na�ve child or a better analogy is that of a computer. It believes everything that you tell it. Your conscious mind is the gatekeeper. Anything you think with complete faith is immediately past to the subconscious mind - which it then takes as literal fact. There will be no arguments because it has no discriminating capabilities.
Although your subconscious mind is more powerful than you can possibly imagine it is a mere servant. It is at your disposal. YOU are in charge. It acts just like a computer and like every computer it needs software to run. So if you do not program it then someone else will! You are constantly being bombarded with software programs for the mind every minute of everyday. Buy this product and you will look slim, drive this car and you will seem sexy, drink this potion and you will feel more vibrant about life. You are told what to buy and when to buy it, when you are too young to do a thing and when you are too old. You are told what is possible and what is not. Snap out of it!
Take back your control over mind and body. You were born with the most powerful computer system known to man - a bio-computer that regulates a sophisticated, highly flexible, changeable, self repairing vehicle. You are amazing, a true miracle. If you bought a new top of the range diesel Mercedes would you let Joe or Sue down the road fill it up with petrol?
Begin to think for yourself. Who told you that you could not achieve your dreams? Do you believe it? Who told you that you were too fat, too skinny, too stupid, too smart, too young or too old?

Does it matter?

No! Because you are and always have been in total control. Change your thinking and you will change your subconscious beliefs. Change your subconscious beliefs and you will change your life. personal development plan

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