(Part 1 here. Part 2 here.)
This has been one of the hardest posts to write in a really long time.
According to the journaling software I use to write my posts, I started it way back in January 19th. That's almost a month ago.
It was a hard post for many reasons, but mostly because I think I'm being even more open and vulnerable than I usually am. On top of that, I'm not even sure about what I'm writing about and so being vulnerable about something I'm not sure about doesn't make for easy writing.
But I'm glad I got it out and I'm glad I'm putting it up.
This has been a tough nut to crack but now that it's done, I'm hoping to finally get back to posting at least one post per week.
Anyway, this is all just my (lame) excuse as to why it's taken me so long to put anything up.
So I've written before about how since the start of 2006, I've been content as a single person.
That was an interesting time in life for me. Prior to 2006, my one aim in life was to try and find someone to love. More specifically, someone to love who would love me back (an important distinction). I used to complain endlessly about being single to the point that my friends would politely suggest that I shut the hell up and just date someone already.
And then 2006 rolled around and all that longing went away all by itself. I mean there wasn't any sort of grand epiphany that I had or any major life lesson that got me to change the way I felt about finding a girlfriend. Those longing feelings went away so cleanly that I didn't even notice that they had gone until a few months had passed. I was just driving around one day and somehow noticed that I wasn't pining for a relationship anymore.
In the months following my realization, there were two things going through my mind. First, I was wondering how long this contentment would last - I thought that I was somehow experiencing some sort of temporary reprieve from desperation and that one day the really bad, really lonely feelings would be back. Second, I wondered if there was any price to pay for this contentment. That is, I wondered if, in losing the longing that had plagued me for so long, I had lost something else at the same time.
Well two years have passed and I can say that I'm still very content with being single so I'm no longer worrying about that first bit. But the second bit? I think I'm beginning to realize that there was indeed a kind of price that I paid for this newfound contentment. And I'm beginning to think that the price may have been far higher than I ever thought it would be.
A little over a month ago I wrote about something that was eating away at me, something deep and hidden and ugly. I didn't know what this something was so I decided to call it "Bob." Anyway, I'm beginning to think that, in some way that is still unclear to me, Bob is a part of what it cost for me to have contentment as a single person.
And I realize I'm being obscure and vague, but it's because the connection isn't entirely clear to me either.
Let me see if I can write my way out of this.
There were lots of different reasons why I longed for a relationship prior to the liberation of 2006. Among them were these: I've always found women fascinating - the way they thought differently about the world, their soft skin, all the different ways they knew to do their hair, etc. I also longed for relationship because I wanted to know what it felt like to be loved by a woman. I wanted to be there for someone - someone who would be there for me as well. And of course I wanted to learn what I once called, "the warm, buttery language of touch."
I had all kinds of different reasons why I wanted to be in a relationship, but I think the main one was always - to learn about how to love and how to be loved. I remember at one point, I got close to having a girlfriend. It's a pretty long, pretty gory story (if you must know, see post 174) but suffice it to say that before it went bad, it was really good and I still (vaguely) remember how wondrously, vitally alive I felt during that time. And a big reason why I was looking for a relationship back then was to get that giddy, amazing feeling back - that feeling of loving and being loved.
And this is where I think I've paid a huge price for my contentment with being single.
See, it's taken me a long time to realize this but...and this is really hard for me to admit and write here...I wonder if I've lost my desire for and ability to love. And I don't just mean love in the context of romantic relationships. I mean love in all contexts. This is very difficult to write because it's embarrassing to admit and hard to face but I think I need to go there if I'm to get through. And I know that sounds like hyperbole, like I'm being overly dramatic for the sake of making my blog worth reading but in this case, I mean it just as I'm writing it. I don't think I give or receive love very well, if at all.
Actually, this isn't the first time I've thought and written about this. Back in post 284 I wrote the following, "What if I have no idea what love is? Because . . . I don't think I know what love is."
Maybe I've lost my ability/desire to love. And maybe that's because I don't know what love is.
I don't know.
But here's what I think.
I think that Bob is the part of me that still wants to love and be loved.
Because love is at the core of what it is to be human isn't it? But even if it isn't, then love is certainly at the core of what it is to be a christian.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.1 John 4:7-12
See, I wonder if after all those years of being an unhappy single person longing for love, I wonder if some subconscious part of me got tired of being lonely and frustrated and so it just kind of amputated that part of me - lopped it off and buried it away somewhere. And maybe it thought that was that. And I didn't think all that much about it because I was more than happy to be rid of all that old longing.
But maybe it wasn't just the romantic love part of me that got put away. Maybe love can't be so neatly dissected. Maybe all (or most) of my ability to know/give/receive love got buried as well.
But love is important, integral even. And if love is a large part of what it is to be whole, then despite the fact that I'm enjoying being single (being free of that old longing for a romantic relationship), something is very wrong in my life.
And that's what I think Bob is about. Bob may be that submerged longing for and need for love working its way back up to the surface. And love is patient, love is kind and perhaps that's why Bob only breaks through in moments of stillness and quiet and vulnerability.
So what now?
I don't know.
But something needs to change because I think this not knowing how to accept, not knowing how to give, not knowing how to ask for love is affecting me in more ways than I'm aware of.
Because (and this is also very hard to admit) there are times when I wonder about God's love for me. I mean, I know in theory that he loves me but I don't know how to experience, how to sense, how to feel that love. And turing that around, I'm not sure how to love God.
Maybe it's the perfect time for me to be attending Mars Hill Graduate School (I just realized that I haven't blogged about this yet...stay tuned, I will). Maybe working towards a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology will help me work through these issues of love.
I don't know.
And so tell me about love. Is anything I'm saying making any kind of sense? Am I suffering from mountain-out-of-molehill-itis? Am I still missing the point about Bob?
I don't know.