Friday, 4 November 2016

Why I am Single: An Exposé

I have debated for a long time as to whether I should take a shot at writing about this particular subject or whether I should afford it to linger and stew for even longer within me.  This is probably, in all my life, the thing that I have been struggling with the most and, honestly, it is the reason why my blog has the title that it has.  Bear with me and pray for strength for me as I try to lay bare my biggest struggle for all the world to see.  I hope that what I write actually makes it on to the internet and doesn’t lay dormant in a file deep within my computer, never to see the light of day.  A final disclaimer before we jump right into my greatest apprehension: I write not this for pity, for attention or for someone to necessarily save me.  I write this to empathise with others who struggle (you are not alone) and to humanize myself.  One of my greatest objections of social media is that it seems to spur us on to only ever show the very best of ourselves to the quiet, onlooking world.  We tell others of our achievements, our strengths, our beauty, our intellect, our happy disposition, but never do we tell the world of that which bothers us, our insecurities, our fears and the pains we carry in our ostensibly smiling dispositions.  I hope through this writing to give myself less reason to fear and more reason to have the courage to do what I really want to do – to get to know the hearts of the hundreds of faces that pass me by every day whether it be to abate my singleness or whether it be for His Kingdom.
As some of you may know, I have been single all my life.  It’s a topic stirs up a mixed reaction within me.  I feel proud that I have avoided relationships that could have hurt me and removed my naivety about people.  I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and see the good in others, probably because no one has ever really hurt me to an unforgiving degree.  Had I been grievously hurt, God knows how negative I may have been about people.  On the other hand though, I feel a deep sense of longing that I have never truly taken the chance of getting to know someone beyond “How are you?” “What is your favourite band?” and “Who are you voting for?”.  That said, I am drawn to deep conversation and really getting to know people’s stories, but I must admit that this has been primarily limited to males.  I cannot say that I have ever had a female best friend; friends, yes, but best friend, no.  I think this to be quite tragic, actually.  How can I go about this life and experience it in its entirety if I never get to know half of the human race?  Believe me, women are fascinating to me.  I spend a disproportionate of my time considering their nature and trying to learn about them through vicarious means.  As much as I have come to know about the fairer sex through alternative mediums, the second-hand knowledge just doesn’t seem to hit the spot.  I desire for more.  I desire to touch, to feel, to see, to smell these majestic creatures, to use way too dramatic and poetic terms.  But I fear!  I am crippled by inaction!  I state that I desire to know more, but my actions show avoidance rather than action or even curiosity.  I berate myself so, so often for that.  My head can be a violent place sometimes – primarily towards myself.  I can be quite the perfectionist and thus I oftentimes have little mercy for myself.  I can be quite understanding and gracious towards others, but for myself, I set cripplingly high standards which make me feel like a failure so often.  I can probably rattle off a long list of all the failures I have had (relative to my own standards), when, in reality, I have much to be proud of.
One of the most crippling, heart-wrenching things that I hear about myself (and this happens every now and then) is if someone says they want to get to talk to me, but are too intimidated.  This actually happened only minutes before I started writing this post.  I was told by an admirable fellow at the lunch table that some of his female friends want to talk to me, but are too intimidated to me.  My first reaction to this is to sink into a hell-hole of grief and misery because I know (and I told the admirable fellow this) that there may never be communication between myself and his friends because I am probably more scared of them than they are of me.  Just writing that sentence is like feeling a fiery dart sear through my soul, but it is quite true – at least if one considers my actions.  I think a well-adjusted guy would have reacted to the statement by the admirable fellow with something to this accord, “So, do you think you could introduce me?” As much as it is my desire to ask the selfsame question, my immediate reaction is one of lamentation rather than action.  Maybe the key for me is to simply stop these negative cognitive distortions and rather let instinct take over.  The instinct knows what to do, but the heart is heavy.
In general though, I can say that I have a hard time in giving compliments to people.  The main reason for this is because authenticity is important to me.  I do not want to compliment something about someone unless I am sure that I really do like that aspect of them.  Considering this in a male-female interaction paradigm, I think many conversations are started by men towards women because they might compliment the woman on something.  I most certainly see many beautiful women in my meanderings in this life, but I don’t know if I have ever told an acquaintance or a stranger that I thought she was beautiful.  My rationalization for this is because I don’t want my very first interaction with someone to indicate that what I value about her is her appearance.  I mean, yes, the beauty is what drew me to look at you and is most likely what spurs the desire within me to bridge the gap between us, but I try so very hard to treat people in a Deontological way.  I mean by this that I treat everyone I come across not as a means to an end, but an end.  In other words, even if nothing else comes from our brief or lengthy moment of contact I had you for a moment and that is all that should matter.  If something extra such as a hug, a friendship, a relationship comes forth from it, then that is absolutely a bonus.  I will admit that the deontological approach to treating people is extremely hard.  I so often want more than just the person from an interaction.  I am someone that really likes to be touched.  I might not always show this (probably because of being untouched for so long), but almost every time I am touched by a female I am in a dream-like state for a little while.  How can I keep to this philosophy then if I so desire a something as simple as touch?  God knows how this virgin would react to an embrace, a kiss or sex!  I would like to know too, believe me.  All shall be revealed in its good and intended time.
To bring this point to a close, it’s hard not to compliment someone on appearance if that is by far and away the most salient characteristic about that person.  The end result is that I say nothing due to this moral-neurotic holding pattern (when I could have remarked something about her shoes, for example) and the person walks on, out of my life forever and I did not have the guts to communicate a simple gesture which would have afforded that moment of eye contact to proceed onwards to who knows how long. 
The tragedy and triumph about being a man in the society and times we live in is that your limit is your courage do and to act (relationally speaking).  This is great when you have the courage and take appropriate action, but absolutely tragic when you don’t.  No matter how successful, attractive, distinguished, good, rich, etc. you become, if you don’t have the courage to face rejection and talk to a woman, you almost certainly will never have one in your life.  God did say that it is not good for man to be alone and I know that life is better together than alone; therefore I need and want more female influence in my life.  It will never happen unless I develop the courage to change that. 
I know within my heart of hearts that I have much life, joy, growth and wisdom to bring to any person that comes across my way on this good earth, but even more so to a woman with whom I get to share intimacy with.  A tragic life is one without intimacy.  In spite of all the academic and sporting strivings I have made, my life lacks intimacy and therefore I am incomplete.  Corinthians 13:1-3 sums it up so, so well: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  Just reading this passage is a tear-jerker for me.  I do understand that it doesn’t necessarily specifically refers to romantic love, but I think we can all agree that romantic love is certainly a part of love.  I am missing that aspect of love and I will never be complete therewithout regardless of moving mountains, fathoming all mysteries and giving everything to the poor – therewithout I lack.
You have my utmost gratitude for making it this far.  I will probably end with this paragraph.  I think I still have so much more to say on this topic – I wrote much, but didn’t say much at all though my period of lamentation has passed and my ideas and feelings have past as well. However, this is the first step in me being more honest of what I lack.  I have never publicly admitted to what I admitted to in this post, so, regardless of what this day further brings, I can have some pride as to the small step taken by the post, but the giant leap that is hopefully in progress. 

I feel somewhat embarrassed that I have made such a big deal out of something that is actually easily fixable.  There are people with significantly worse struggles than my own who cope with it just fine.  However, this struggle is mine and it affects me and therefore I do have the right to feel duly affected by it.
We march