I feel guilty for not writing in this thing as much as I should. As if I needed even one more thing to feel guilty about.
Anyway, I realized today that I have been back from my mission for six months, which lines up nicely with the fact that 2008 is approximately halfway over. Which made me think some sort of commemorative blog post was in order.
Let me just say, so far its been a banner effin year. I'm not dwelling on the negative here, I just stating the hard bloody facts. Quite a few positive things have happened: I found a job that I'm good at, I bought a car that runs year-round, I magically fell into a cheap apartment, I met and reunited with numerous dear friends, I reconciled with Vegetarianism, and I became a Temple Worker. Happy happy happy. The Lord is good to me. I'm not being sarcastic here, I know that if He has supported me this far there isn't much else he can do to faze me. And there is nothing He can do that will destroy my faith. Not to say the Forces on the Other Side (should I even capitalize that?) haven't tried. But I digress.
Conversely, my parents divorced after 27 years of misery. I was diagnosed with tuberculosis. David lost his job. Aaron died. Carlos' hepatitis treatments are starting to lose their momentum. My dad is unemployed and homeless and lives with his best friend. My heart got broken. Twice. By roommates in the same house. Cori almost lost her son. I spent my first few months in Utah shell-shocked, more often than not sitting in my room in my underwear, sometimes crying, sometimes near-catatonic. Lucky for me my roommate wasn't home much or she would have had me committed. I never imagined that coming home from a mission would have been like that.
Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done, behold the handmaid of the Lord, and all that jazz. My family has fallen apart, but I've learned a truckload about marriage from the gradual realization the the only marriage I have an insider view of is trash. You can learn a lot from the screw-ups of others. Which brings me to Friend X.
I won't use her name because 1. that's too personal even for the internet, and 2. she reads this blog with more regularity than bran muffins. However, I am immensely grateful for X, not only because she is my nearest friend at the moment (Cori will always be my Best Friend but she's a little caught up with raising a son and dealing with a terminal illness ... we all understand) but because of what I have learned from her. She lived through an experience that would have been mine, and possibly should have been; partially, I believe, so I could see the consequences.
Fresh off my mission, I fell madly in love with a guy who mentally ill, unstable, mean, unpredictable, and yet sadly, hypnotic. We were close friends, and that led to us opening up to each other, and trying to help one another deal with mounting personal problems (see the list above). I really don't know how I get myself into these predicaments. I talked to X about this boy often, and she warned me that the wisest course of action would be to withhold a relationship until he was Temple Worthy and had his life in order. Although I tried to help him with his laundry list of problems, because of my affection for him I was more of an enabler than anything else.
X warned me. And for once in my life, I listened. I can't remember if this was before or after I found out that he was messing around with another girl, but the point remains, I stopped contacting him. He was lazy and self-centered enough to not care much, and thus ended that aspect of our relationship. Remarkably, I still consider him a friend. Although no amount of begging would make me try again. Ever.
Around this same time, X got involved with a boy who was unsuitable in a similar way, although much, much worse. He also had another girl that he slept with and lied to, not to mention he was manipulative, perverted, and in every manner a sucky, abusive boyfriend. A horrible relationship ensued. Personal standards were sacrificed. Church discipline, an ugly break-up, and at least three broken hearts resulted. An all-around miserable experience, and I had season tickets to the carnage.
As I talked X through her complex and varied emotions, it hit me, time and time again, that I was watching my life play out as it would have if I had stayed with that boy as long as she had stayed with hers. My heartbreak lasted only a few months. Hers was drawn out over a year. Women all over the world do things they would never in a thousand lifetimes do normally, to keep a man around. And when the men that would take advantage of an opportunity like that meet up with women who "see the good" in them and make excuses for their rotten choices, tragedy is born. I don't normally use melodramatic language like this, but to say anything less would be disrespectful to my friend's experience. And mine.
I blame society, on a small level. I blame the culture--not just in the Church, but everywhere I've ever been--that tells women they need to be one hundred percent nice, one hundred percent of the time. That our role as nurturers equals lying down for orders, even ones we don't feel good about. That men are deep-down sex-crazed passion addicts, and to give them anything less than what they ask of our bodies is unfair. As if sex were something like oxygen, or insulin. And finally, that politeness is so inseparably connected with femininity that to be rude is to be somehow masculine. Even though rudeness can save lives.
I wish someone had sat me down when I was a young girl and told me that if I ever felt afraid with a man, no matter how unfounded or unrealistic my fear seemed, even if I had no evidence, the best thing to do is listen to my instinct and GET THE HELL OUT. Not after six months of intertwining our lives. On the first date. I wish someone had told me to be as rude as I needed to be to get out of that situation the first time something went wrong. That even if he called me a bitch, I had a right to demand whatever would make me feel safe. Better bitch than sorry.
You had better bet that my daughters and sons are going to be hearing that from me. A thousand times over. With feeling. If I can save my anyone from what X went through, I will do it.