When I was 9 or so, I often pictured myself in college as a healthy, thin, fit and dynamic, stylish and feminine – yet simple – intelligent, engaged and independent woman, walking with a spring in my step toward my beloved and loving boyfriend. Sure enough, the operative word in that sentence turned out to be 'toward,' i.e. in the direction of but not together with. And all these many years since, throughout college and well beyond, underlying every attempt at a relationship, the word has remained, to the point that, today, I am questioning whether the destination ever even existed.
So, I find myself in a paradox. On the one hand, my health is pushing me towards more detoxing and exploring of the self. On the other, I get the feeling that the more I get in touch with my sensitivity and my instincts, the less I become girlfriend/ wife/ mother material. In other words, the less I am able to put on a show, the more skeptical I am of someday meeting a man who can relate to me – the real me, the strange me, the broken me, the unattractive me. Time and time again, I fall back on the learned assumption that in order not be alone in this world, in order to be appreciated and loved, I must make due, accommodate others and adapt myself to them.
The proof is in the many drunken high school and university nights I feel embarrassed about. I never quite understood what energies brought me there but for many years, regardless of the country or culture I was living in, I kept on putting myself or being pulled into objectifying – and sometimes frankly dangerous – situations that ended up not agreeing with me in the least. Talk about male peer pressure! And not much has changed. Up to today, I still have not found a partner whose first interest in me is not sex. More times than not, I find myself acting like a less skinny, less styled, less confident version of a Samantha, when in truth, I might be closer to a less childish, less moody, less principled version of a Charlotte. So I wonder: where is the man who will love my sex not because it “got the moves," but because it is mine?
With this in mind, I was not at all surprised when I read in Jacques Martel's 'Le grand dictionnaire des malaises et des maladies' (The Great Dictionary of Aches and Illnesses) that Candida overgrowth appears when one questions sexuality and sexual behaviors, that my type of bad digestion would be a form of avoidance and self-rejection and that liver problems are linked to the accumulation of anger and frustrations. Bluntly put: while the physical symptoms of my chronic digestive troubles are very real indeed and were at one time quite debilitating, they also serve me as an excuse. An excuse that boils down to one word: fear. Fear of expectations, fear of intrusion, fear of disrespect, fear of men, and, ultimately, fear of sex. In fact, just hearing or reading the word 'sex' can sometimes put me in a small state of alarm. After all, let us not pretend like it is not one of the most loaded words in our vocabulary.
But my situation is not just about semantics, is it? Although its title is terrible, the book 'Dis moi qui tu aimes et je te dirais qui tu es' ('Tell me who you love and I will tell you who you are') told me just that. The author, Psychologist Marc Pistorio, explains there are three types of relationship behaviours or 'attachments' (and a fourth, which is a mix of the last two): the secure, the anxious and the avoiding. A very quick overview of them would be that: the secure type, which accounts for the vast majority of the population, is the well-balanced type; the anxious type has a negative self-perception, craves constant approval and can come off as needy; and the avoiding type is distant, trusts only themselves and is afraid of others and so prefers to go solo. Chances are I am the last.
But so what? Both are books I quite appreciate and regularly go back to. What bothers me is that while there is a tremendous amount of truth in them and that their insights can be liberating, they also have the nasty habit of making you think the fault is yours. You are the reason why – and the only reason why – you are not in a stable, mature and healthy relationship. It got me so convinced that I pushed myself to test out a few dating sites. While the experience has been fun, it has also somewhat increased my doubts and my loneliness. What mainly came out of it is a bunch of mismatches and men who reduce relationships to sex and sex to mechanics.
Tantra explains men give with their sexual organs and receive with their heart. Women have it the other way around. This would imply that from the moment you are in a system where men are incapable of giving with their sex and it is up to women to take on that role, you end up with a man who only receives and a woman who only gives…. I say: welcome to the galvanized meat market… Well, maybe, it might be time I stopped feeling guilty about not fitting into that, however "uncool," "rigid" or "immature" men may tell me that is. Because, at the end of the day, no, sex is not "just" sex.
Or is that my rejection mechanism acting up again?