August 4, 2015 – Essays
By Adam Bregman, AJODA #35, 1993
Love should be free. Nothing has the potential to be more liberating. Here we have the power to take more control of our lives and not be as tied down by clocks and bosses. Yet most of the people I know have relationships that are more disabling, confining and abusive than their jobs or school. I think one reason is that myths prevail about relationships and sex that reflect the thinking of an ancient society. Gender roles are not crossed, boring, monogamous relationships drag on endlessly, lovers feel that their lover’s words are written in stone, that all commitments are to be fulfilled and that this relationship dragged them out of the misery and loneliness they had before and without this person, they can only fall back into misery and loneliness.
People do not fit together like puzzle pieces. Love is only as real as two people make it. It will not last forever. It may be ecstatic for a short time and then completely downhill from there, with both lovers trying to salvage what they had forever, until they lose interest or pretend they need to stay together because without one another they could only be lonely.
Happy couples you see smooching as you watch them, feeling alone and jealous, are not necessarily any more in love, happy or emotionally fulfilled than anyone else. Both lovers can be alienated within the relationship and be together for reasons that may have little to do with the love that may have originally brought them together. What really matters is how the individual feels about oneself. Can they feel confident enough about themselves to be relatively happy regardless if they are involved with someone or not? Will they let any one person control how they feel about themselves? Will they look at themselves through their own critical eyes or through someone else’s? When involved with someone, do they need to control them like a possession? Do they need to know everything about them? Do they ever need to tell them what to do? Can love not be free?
Love cannot be completely free of painful, gut-wrenching emotions. Nor will it ever be. Jealousy, alienation and fear are a reality in a world based on coercion. But they can all be dealt with without retreating into a monogamous, confining relationship or a lonely existence or uncaring attitudes used as a defense against feeling. There is a happy medium although it is not ecstatic or mythical. The true love or extended oneness that lovers endlessly search for can never be found, because it does not exist and it is not reality. It is only a place in the imagination to roam and dream about. But in the hard, cold, dark, scary reality that is life, there is a balance one can find and survive upon that is happy and free, but certainly never free of emotional baggage and pain. No matter what your situation you can find that balance that is happiness, but surely it is easier when you’ve taken care of your most basic wants and needs. In other words, it’s harder to achieve any kind of balance when you’re hungry, obsessed or in ill-health.
Most people think they need love and sex. Often when they get it, they protect it and treat it like a possession. Love and sex become a property. When their property is taken or tampered with they become jealous, angry or depressed. Having sex or being in love with someone does not imply ownership. We are all relatively free souls in a trapped environment, and we all have multiple desires that can be acted upon or restrained. If desires are always acted upon or always restrained they can only result in unhappiness. Most people I know spend most of their lives restraining themselves, because of commitments they made to their lovers or themselves. The rules they willingly follow usually mirror society’s age old rules regarding gender, relationships or love. They are usually handed down from their parents, but also are blitzed at us from every direction from the government, ‘concerned’ parents who wish to make the rest of the world as disjointed and boring as them and the mass media, which reflects as well as creates images regarding sex, gender and love that people blindly follow and accept as reality. Their reality gives you the freedom to possess and be possessed like any other commodity and live out age old fantasies of love that have always lead to war, death and being stuck in the same dead-end routine for the rest of your life. This is the contemporary and age old view of what love is, a rotting corpse in a prison.
Jealousy is a reality. There is no equality yet in our modern society. Jealousy is an extension of what you think you have, what you think you need to have and most importantly how you feel about yourself. If you act upon jealousy and attack or hurt someone, because of your own alienation or anger, you are most likely forgetting that neither you nor they can truly own another person in a relationship. If two people are having a relationship of their own volition, it does not necessarily mean that you had nothing with this person, that this person doesn’t love you, that this person will never love you again or that this person is trying to spite you. Most likely this person is acting upon their desires that may have little or nothing to do with you. Are you a more unlikable, or undesirable person, because this one person has chosen to leave you and do something else? Generally attempting to get this person back will be futile. If this person does come back, will everything be happy and dandy like it was, or maybe never was, or surely hasn’t been for quite a while? Why did the relationship end? It really doesn’t matter why it’s over, whether they come back or when you will find another lover. What really matters is that this person has become too big a part of your life and your happiness has become dependent on them being there. You are not independent enough to be happy without this person. This can be your lover, your parents or your best friend. It’s not healthy to channel so much of yourself into one person, when they inevitably leave you, you will be all the more unhappy. It’s very comfortable and easy to get really involved with one person you know so well. It’s much harder to take risks in an unfree society and get to know new people, different people and experience rejection.
Rejection is not a personal statement about you, it does not sum up your being or what you’re about. It can be the result of a large amount of factors, that may have something to do with you or absolutely nothing to do with you. Rejection and jealousy are emotions that need not be sources of great unhappiness. Nor should they be internalized or cast aside as childish or something to be embarrassed about. Rejection and jealousy are very real, intense emotions. But by looking at them through open eyes and with an open mind, they need not be debilitating. Nor should jealousy or rejection be used as an excuse to cause harm to someone you’re probably trying to tell you love.
Your true honest emotions that you want to express should not be repressed. Your point of view on anything regarding love, or your personal relationships is likely to change daily or hourly. Honesty must surely be used with a balance or you might tell everyone you know what you hate about them and be left completely alienated or more likely you might passively accept, everything that goes on around you not to your liking and be left totally depressed surrounded in what displeases you. The latter is what most of the people I know do. They will passively submit to anything that falls in to their routine, as long as it is a comfortable part of their schedule. They will complain or internalize their complaints, but always continue to walk the same paths and will usually end up blowing up a long ways down the line. Too much passive acceptance, toilsome routine following and not enough new, mental stimulation produce the emotional basketcases that are many of the people I know.
Class is a big factor in who can be with who. Not just rich, middle class and poor, although that is a big factor, but class differences that have to do with clicks, fashion, popularity and most importantly image. Real emotions re hidden behind a veil of acceptable correct behavior. This kind of conformity rears its head in almost every group.
Gender roles are explicitly laid out for you so you don’t have to think or choose. Your parents and the rest of the world most likely ingrained them in your brain from early on. Males are supposed to be masculine and in charge. Females are supposed to be passive and accepting. Males want to get laid. They think with their dicks. Females are manipulative. They tease men and fuck with their emotions. Men who sleep around a lot are studs. Women who sleep around a lot are whores. Both parties are supposed to be virtuous and true once they decide to commit to a relationship. Men are suppose to drive and pay. Women are supposed to look pretty and put out. No one should ever get involved with their lover’s close friends. Private lives should remain private. Homosexuality is still taboo, but now relatively permitted as long as it stays far away. All of the above is well-accepted and all of it is complete bullshit. Men and women should be able to do whatever they want with their sexuality. They should not have to hide it. They should be able to freely express it noncoercively anywhere they please. Sex even with AIDS killing off thousands should not be used as a tool for more repression. Bringing everything out in the open and exposing it for what it is, can only help to kill off the disease. Hiding away behind mistruths and ignorance is very comfortable and has never helped to cure anything. Sex can be fun, safe, genderbending and openly free. Variety can only add to happiness. Monogamous (I’ve used the word monogamy several times. I am not limiting the meaning of the word to strictly pertain to sexual intercourse. I’m using it to mean the restraint of any kind of relationship that might be deemed inappropriate by a possessive lover.) relationships or lengthy loneliness can only detract from life and repress desires. The act of sexual intercourse will not by itself significantly emotionally liberate anyone.
Only accepting oneself for what you are while continuing to change the act freely to do the things you dream of doing will liberate yourself from pain and alienation. I can not say and will never say that I am free of the intense emotions tied to love and relationships that possess everyone. I can say I am happier when I express my desires freely and I can accept jealousy and rejection as real and never something to make all-important. One of the most liberating things I can do is laugh loud and real loud in the middle of the most uncomfortable emotional predicament or in an act of extreme passion and see most clearly the great humor and horror in the emotions and relationships that so often encompass and possess us.