Being that I am over 40, I’ve had some experience in this venue. I’ve been in a few long term relationships, I’ve been married once and I also went through a a couple periods I can only call ‘self-discovery’ which really involved a lot of drunken nights and ‘dates.’ Over the years, I was able to learn what I wanted, what worked, what sucked and what I was really after. As I grew older, that also changed. Some things became confusing to me over time, however, particularly when I gave my life back to Jesus.
In my teens I really was all about finding love, really had no clue about ‘men’ who were actually boys and if I had a clue, I would have known most of them were out to use me. By the time I was in my twenties, I had two young men of my own to take care of, an abusive ex I had just said “see ya” to and I was madly in love with someone I had known since I was fifteen. This man had been my friend and had been obsessed with me since he met me, and for once I looked his way and saw something there. He had a lot of experience and I had very little when it came to being with someone. But ultimately, our five year relationship was fraught with breakups and reconciliations that were intermixed with other people so it wasn’t meant to be. It was a learning experience.
The next man I was with seriously was my now ex-husband. I won’t go into much other than to say I became a bit repressed around that time, because although he expressed desires for things that any other guy seemed to want, he also didn’t want me to dress certain ways and would react funny when I responded to those desires with proposed action. After it was over, I pretty much went wild for a while. Before I evolved into an alcoholic I used to enjoy going out on weekends and I was an attractive woman, so I met guys who really liked me and also those who seemed to. Some guys were still just out to use me though; men who I found later had girlfriends or wives waiting at home or who just didn’t intend to emotionally commit to anything.
Emotionally I was hung up on the husband, and I suppose you could say I was attempting to fill a void in a way. I wish I’d spent less time drinking and more time getting to know someone for who they were, really. In retrospect, I passed up a couple guys who turned out to be really great friends later on in life, and if I hadn’t held that lantern for my ex, who knows? But c’est la vie.
I had a ‘following’ back then. I would go to a pub and dance all night. It was mostly just harmless fun. When I’d get there, I’d get hugged all around and signed up for karaoke. I’d sing Olivia Newton John’s I Honestly Love You, and I’d have guys singing it back to me. Or I’d sing No Doubt’s Don’t Speak, and cry during the last part of it because I was hurting so bad over my divorce. Most of the time I’d go home alone. But I had a few friends. I generally kept my social life to the weekends. I didn’t want anything affecting my daughter.
After a few years, though, I had to wrestle with the alcoholic demon and it changed my entire life. If you’ve ever had a drinking problem, having sober sex is terrifying. I was 36 years old when I got sober and was with a guy who was 21 years old. That relationship was fun at first but doomed. I should not have taken it as far as I did, because I was the one who wound up getting hurt. After it was over, I decided to take a complete hiatus from all men. And I did, for a couple years.
But I had gone home to Hawaii at the time and saw someone from my past, “M,” a man I had a bit of a past with, and started to have romantic thoughts about. I thought how nice it would be to ‘date’ someone my own age for once… I spent some time with him while in Hawaii, just talking. And flew back to the mainland with my heart sorta set on him.
I moved back to Hawaii in 2010 and I didn’t see this guy for a long time. I had this thing about my weight and also I was conflicted about my faith and relationships. I stayed celibate and alone for two years until I just got so lonely. Instead of calling the old friend up, though, I started dating another younger guy, 8 years younger. For about 4 months I was totally ‘in love’ with him. More like ‘lust’ I think, really. Then I started realizing how little I knew about him, and he was staying with me. He did something incredibly juvenile and betrayed my trust out of the blue about 6 months into our relationship, and instead of saying it was over, I wallowed in self-pity and turned to the guy from my past for comfort.
Things went really south from there. The guy, “M,” from my past came down one day and he was not who he represented himself to be. He tried to do something so criminal and horrible to me. I lost all faith in men for a long time after that. My relationship, already failing, fell apart. I had already had issues with PTSD and this just compounded it. Last October I finally kicked my last ex to the curb. It was the best decision; I really feel as if I am becoming who I was before he stepped into the picture in 2012. I am happy with who I am again for the most part. At the end of our relationship I was just miserable.
What made me think about all this is a book I’m reading called Sleeping Around by Catherine Townsend. I began my twenties having a very liberal attitude towards sex, relationships, gender roles, etc. I think the hardest part about being a Christian, for me, is I am stuck in a rut as far as relationships go. I pick the wrong men. The good guys? I don’t find them attractive. Hoping I will one day… with enough therapy. And I like sex. And that feels wrong. Add what “M” did to me and I’ve had terrible issues in that regard. My healthy attitude towards sex also changed because of going to church. I had this burning question in my head all the time: Is it wrong to masturbate?? It wasn’t being Christian, really, it was the fact that I felt ‘judged’ by other people when no one else has the right to judge someone else. That whole he who is without sin verse, you know? Cast the first stone if you are Jesus. Not a human.
I also have questions, though. I am single now and don’t have a plan on changing that. Do I have to go without intimacy or get married to someone even though it may fail? My divorce almost sunk me into oblivion. How do I balance being healthy sexually with being Christian? Because right now, I’m not healthy sexually, not after what happened to me. It’s why I don’t have anything to do with any men. Someday I may want to change that.
I just responded to a post on Facebook where a friend commented that she wanted someone to cuddle with. I said I’d like to cuddle then make him go away so I can sleep. That’s really where I am at right now. Funny? Maybe. But also pretty serious.