I’m having an epiphany.
Everything I’m struggling with in my relationship has very little to do with my relationship and most everything to do with my internal conflicts.
I’ve been reading a book called Women Food and God, a work intended to deliver emotional eaters from their compulsions. Binge eater or not, the author Geneen Roth challenges the readers to delve into their feelings when hit with the “inclination to bolt." We desire to escape ourselves, to flee from our emotions, fears and insecurities by running to the nearest source of solace whether it is chocolate, pizza, TV or web browsing. For me, looking up recipes and new things to be learned about food preparation and making healthier choices is my way of escaping what I don’t want to deal with.
But now that I am three quarters of the way through the book, I have learned about the practice of inquiry. When the inclination to bolt hit one night, I asked myself questions. I asked myself what I’m feeling, where in my body, what its color is, what shape and texture it is.
I have a swarm of vibrating thoughts like little red, orange and yellow dots vibrating together in a tightly packed school. Each dot is trying to get across the board like in a game of Chinese Checkers. But the dots just keep bumping into more dots and no one can get anywhere. What do I do? Do I calm down? I take a deep belly breath. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. I am calm. The dots have stopped vibrating so maybe they can get somewhere. No. They just move slower and hit one another more softly.
I have the false notion that marriage will settle me. That if all of a sudden everything I own is under the same roof with my intended spouse that I will suddenly feel settled and that I can see a thought through to its intended resting place. That somehow I will have fewer conflicting intentions. Or that I won’t have to pack all my feelings up so densely!
I also am hanging my self-worth on whether or not I’m marriage material. That if someone doesn’t desire to marry me tomorrow that my youth with expire. I’m already scared of hitting the 25 year mark in my life in about a month but even more terrifying is trying to settle with the likelihood of not walking down the aisle until I am 26! Twenty-six!? Twenty –six is when adulthood is undeniable. Twenty-six means no more fun. It means responsibility, off-white walls, taxes, and no more youthfulness. The pretty girls don’t get married at 26, they get married at 22 or 23. They are young, beautiful, they have vivaciousness in their eyes. I wanted to be a young blushing bride. I wanted a flawless face and wide eyes to be revealed at the removal of the veil. I didn’t want to uncover the beginning of wrinkles in the outer corners of eyes that have seen harsh realities. I didn’t want the salt of commitment placed on the lips that have spent more time frowning! How can a lady be a blushing bride at age 40?
I want to be a princess. A princess has youthfulness to be snatched by a handsome dashing man before she starts turn older. If I am not wanted as a bride at age 24 then I’ll never be wanted because my feminine charms only descend with age.
You’re reading this right now, shouting “That’s not true!” It’s not. But it’s what I believe. I’ve seen the beautiful young girls in the ministry get married young and the reason is because they are virtuous and feminine and perfect. The women who have gotten married later in life are not perfect. They’ve struggled with their weight, their career, their emotions. I remember a woman in my fellowship when I was around the age of 12 who always seemed to be crying. I thought why is she crying? What is it that constantly sets her off? Her and her husband-to-be were so in love. This woman was dying to make her nest; to settle down in a home with her love and raise children. I see it now. I see why she was so teary eyed during the least expected times. She desperately wanted to be married but circumstances stood in her way.
Who is to be blamed for me believing this lie that if I don’t get married now when I’m under 25 that I will never have my beauty and feminine virtues to offer anyone? May I blame Walt Disney? The countless movies and love stories I’ve seen of beautiful maidens whose waist is tiny enough for their prince to wrap just his hands around. Their eyes, pools of crystal blue or green looking up at their prince in wonder. Their strands of hair delicately resting on their thin necks. This ideal of beauty played out in front of me as far as my earliest recollection! I watched a beautiful yet unique girl fall in love with a man, overcome one big challenge at the climax of the film and, all within two hours or less, they are at their wedding sealing the deal on unending love and happiness.
Sure, I hit my feminist phase once I was in my teens. I didn’t want to be a wounded bird who needs saving. I never dreamed of the day I could be a stay at home mom and bake bread for my family. That might have been when I changed my mind about wanting the fairy tale but it was too late to erase what I learned at my most impressionable age.
Who else can I blame for the way I’m feeling? Mike who got my hopes up, made me feel like the princess I always wanted to be, and then abandoned me without warning? Marshall who threw scriptures at my problems and retreated at any sign of emotion? My mother whose negative self-talk weaseled its way into the depths of my heart and now I can’t believe anything other than I’m a horrible human being who needs fixing, a makeover and outside approval to make a move?
It’s too late for the blame game. If I’m to think about the issues I have with a clear head, I need to deal with what life throws at me responsibly. How can I deal with it if I’m treating the symptom and not the disease?
I think I’m in the middle of breaking through something and I will finally be free soon. But before that, I just can’t make any honest evaluations of my relationship.