You know what I love about Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose? Pretty much everything. *grin* But I especially love this entry. Because it is damn true that it is much easier to come to this struggle from a place of strength and being in a good relationship is a place of strength.
It’s got to be a GOOD relationship, though. Nothing like a bad relationship to tear you down and make life even harder.
I know this because I was in a bad relationship and now I am in a good relationship. I know that when I was in my bad relationship not only did my self-confidence crumble like a dried out bit of mortar in the wall of my self-image but I didn’t have the energy to speak up.
And that is half of what kept me in that bad relationship. No confidence to leave, no confidence to demand better, no confidence to question the things I was hearing that were tearing me down in the first place.
Being in a bad relationship locks you into a nasty cycle. And bad relationships rarely start out bad so you don’t even realize what’s happening until you wake up and realize that you are in the middle of that self-hating mindset that you thought you’d left behind. Well, you realize it if you’re lucky. Then you can, hopefully, build yourself back up to the point where you can fix the relationship or get out of it or do whatever you need to do.
And should you wind up single, you have to face the messages, and they come in waves like high tide, that say not only are you a disgusting person for being fat, you are a worthless woman because you are not in a relationship.
Being in a good relationship gives us a buffer. It’s a wall that prevents the waves from reaching all the way to us and dragging us under, though the water of it all still splashes up on us sometimes.
What we need to figure out is how to break out of the notion that women must be in a relationship to be worthwhile. In the meantime, if you’re single, you don’t HAVE to be in a relationship to be worthwhile. If you’re single, and you want to be in a relationship because you love the human companionship that is awesome. If you’re single and you want to be in a relationship because you think you’ll not be complete or worthwhile as a human being that is a bogus message fed to you by this society we find ourselves negotiating.
And being in a relationship just to make yourself feel better won’t make anything actually better. It will serve as a stopgap, if that. You won’t feel any better where it really counts – in your own head and heart.
We need to build a breakwater for ourselves, a better way of protecting our hard-fought self-confidence than giving in to the notion that we are worthless without a man at our side. That’s not only sexist, it’s heterosexist.
Of course, all of this is much easier for me to say. I’m in a good relationship, a really good one. I wish I had a better answer.
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, Social Commentary
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