Posts Tagged ‘secrets’
Nothing sparks one’s imagination, evokes one’s emotions, or speaks to one’s soul like a good book. For both the reader and the writer, the words inspire thought, create passion, and expose vulnerability.
As a reader, I find Eleanor Herman’s Sex With the Queen (a collection of sordid extramarital affairs carried on by some of history’s most highly respected and, as it turns out, sexually starved queens) to be a refreshing reminder of our perfectly imperfect humanity. With each forbidden frolic recounted by Herman, I was able to brush up on hundreds of years of risque royal romping outside the marital bedroom. Not only was I captivated by the author’s nefarious tales of wedded betrayal proving the lengths we, as sexual beings, will go to in order to sate our insatiable appetite for physical intimacy (even when met with certain death as standard archaic punishment)…but I was, once again, blown away by the sheer power of love itself…an engulfing emotion, a trance-inducing spell, a heart hijacking…prompting us to break rules, breach trust, and bring down marital houses.
As a writer, I was captured by her candidly prefaced description of what it’s like, as an author, to put herself out there (heart and soul) with written words and await the merciless criticism that will likely be hurled in her soul-baring direction…most of which she is willing to withstand if only to reach one reader who – like herself – finds liberating understanding and literary growth from her writing. Herman’s sentiments ring true with any writer who has ever written from the heart, unbridled and uncensored.
“Putting a first book out there for the world to read is like standing on a podium naked and asking people to judge you, body and soul. This is because each book is a clear reflection of its author, her personality, her thoughts and experience, her way of looking at the world. Judgement, therefore, will not only be about her writing, but about…her soul! It is extremely frightening to take that step up to the podium, utterly exposed; the least bit of jiggle, cellulite, or sagging clearly visible to potentially cruel judges. It is also an exhilarating experience when the judges agree the results are pretty good, and any minor jiggle can be forgiven.” ~ Eleanor Herman
To reveal oneself through words is to brave, dwelling within us, the inner inhibiting troll.
To break down walls and relinquish control.
To write from the heart, to bare one’s soul.
To break free from the repressed literary whole.
Feel, write, feel, repeat.
~ Chick Hughes
After reading a recent article in the New York Times, “Why Afghan Women Risk Death to Write Poetry,” I was overcome by a myriad of emotions. Anger and empathy dominating them. Once again struck by the struggles of women who, bound by culture and fear, are forced to share their lives with men who lack the education and self confidence to embrace and appreciate the wild, fiery, passionate, dedicated (and, yes, at times dramatic and difficult) entity that is the female spirit. In attempts to thwart off his own handed-down insecurities and assure himself that she will never have the freedom nor independence to see a life outside the one he deems “honorable,” he robs not only himself of the limitless possibilities promised by her ravenous spirit…but he robs her of a spirit that defines her, empowers her, and inspires her. Leaving her trapped in a relationship void of love, in a body void of familiarity…where she can only be, say, or do what is dictated to her.
In spite of this centuries-old practice, some women still manage to find a way to thrive. To write.
This ambitious group of Afghan women featured in the NYT article has found an emotional outlet in poetry. Writing as a form of escape, a form of complaint, a form of freedom. But they do so in secret because the act of expressing her feelings, her ambitions, her worries in written form is cause for extreme physical punishment at the hands of her husband, brother, or father. The men they dutifully answer to are threatened by such things, seeing her expression as a possible flight risk from her strictly defined domestic role. So, she isn’t allowed education or exposure to outside influences that may mar that role.
Feeding an unspoken fear as old as time…education leads to independent thinking. And independent thinking leads to rebellion.
Damn straight it does. Thank goodness!
Expressing oneself through writing is not only a source of therapy, expression, and self exploration for the writer, but also a source of strength, understanding, and inspiration for the reader. Though separated by oceans, cultures, and cavemen hell-bent against evolution, we all have the desire and the right to grow and learn by literary means.
To inspire. And to be inspired.
May these women continue to find both the strength and courage to inspire all women, as they have me.
I wish I may, I wish I might
Be a solitary bird lost in flight
Free to be, to love, to write
No glow of red, only green light
No tether, wrong, or right
Soaring high over mountains, cloaked in night
Shedding, ridding all semblance of plight
And fervently anticipating, with dawn in sight
A bold new rush of wind as I graze the sunlight
~ Chick Hughes
Does your spouse know everything there is to know about you? Do you know everything there is to know about your spouse? Are you an open book when it comes to each and every detail of your thoughts, insecurities, fantasies, embarrassing moments, etc.? Is your spouse? If you think you know every minor detail about your sweetie’s inner self, I’d love to know how the weather is over there in “your” world. And, even if you think you’re completely honest with your sweetie, I challenge you to think long and hard on it. Maybe you’re so good at keeping your secrets, you’ve fooled even yourself. We each have secrets…those thoughts we’re ashamed to admit we have (like sexual desires we’re afraid to share with our spouse for fear he/she will reject us), those little uh-ohs we’ve made over the years no one else knows about (like fender benders witnessed only by us), those little crushes we develop on someone other than our spouse (being married doesn’t mean we’re dead…we still find sparks outside our marriage every now and again), or those things we take a peek at when we think no one’s watching (like online porn or flirty glances at strangers). These secrets range from hiding that shopping indulgence we knew our spouse wouldn’t approve of to harboring romantic feelings for another person…from failing to mention previous relationships to having post-work beers with the guys while you’re thought to be working late. These are the little secrets we keep to steer clear of confrontation, to avoid shame, and to dodge repercussions. But are all secrets bad? Do we really need to know every thought or experience our other half has? On the flipside, do we want our other half to be privy to every private thought and detail about us that we’ve tried so desperately to keep hidden? Obviously, the answer is “NO!”
For years, marriage counselors have preached complete honesty (NO secrets) as the only way to have a successful marriage. But recently, professionals are rethinking this stance. It’s now thought that we need to keep some minor details secret (obviously not major details - such as affairs or financial secrets that will affect both partners) in order to maintain a little mystery, as well as to maintain what’s left of our individual identities. When we marry, we become one. But should we…is becoming one the best way?
Sure…at first, becoming one seems like the thing to do. Walking down the aisle and receiving that symbolic piece of paper seems to be the only way of becoming as close as humanly possible to that person we can’t seem to get enough of. We want to eat, sleep, and breathe this ONE person. But in time, as time has a way of doing, we may yearn for our own little piece of identity back. If our spouse is aware of every fleeting thought, every pending fear, every little move we make – every second of every day - (and we’re just as aware of his every move and thought) we begin to lose ourselves somewhat. The line separating where one ends and the other begins becomes as blurry as that cute little yellow line in the middle of the road after one too many jello shots. When that line blurs, we begin to grow bored with one another and wander over to another “traffic lane.” Knowing too much about the other can be monotonous. To a point, this is good…monotony means security for some. But without a little mystery and spontaneity, we’ll soon bore ourselves to death and, possibly, search for that spontaneity elsewhere.
Keeping secrets is a defense mechanism…self preservation…a natural behavior in human beings. But our culture dictates that we defy that instinct, divulge every detail of ourselves, and be completely honest in every aspect of our inner beings when it comes to our spouse. Not only are we taught to practice complete honesty regarding our most personal thoughts, but we’re also taught to expect the same from our spouse. Guess where these expectations get us? Denial…denial of our own feelings and actions and denial of our spouse’s feelings and actions. Denial is yet another defense mechanism we employ when we can’t come to terms with unrealistic expectations. Why do we insist on expecting superhuman traits from our spouses AND ourselves? These idealistic expectations are doomed to bite us in the ass. There’s no way either partner can accomplish this feat… being human and all. So, what happens when it comes out that one of us has kept a secret? What happens when she discovers that he’s been sneaking a peek at porn sites? What happens when she finds a love note from a girlfriend he had long before being married? What happens when he discovers she has a crush on another man? Just what does happen when we have our blinders ripped off and realize that our spouse – who we thought was so perfect and incapable of keeping secrets from us – does, in fact, have a few secrets…and is, in fact, not so perfect? Unnecessary fighting, tension, and disappointment are unleashed as the three-headed dragon that it is.
We’re convinced by society that, as a married couple, we should know everything there is to know about the other. And, if one is keeping secrets of any kind, the marriage is in trouble. So, when we uncover a secret…and some secrets will be uncovered…we feel betrayed. We feel like our marriage is a sinking ship…like we never really knew this person at all. This is what we’ve been taught to think. We’ve been taught that if our spouse keeps anything at all from us, we’ve been betrayed. We’ve learned to deduct that our spouse can’t possibly love us if he’s keeping little secrets… and divorce becomes our life boat to our perceived “sinking ship.” Maybe this is why the divorce rate is so high? If we go into a marriage expecting to become one person, expecting to know every detail about the other person, and expecting those details to merge with and mimic our own, where does this marriage have to go but down?
With a certain amount of privacy comes a feeling of being in control of our lives. Without it, we almost feel as if we’re still checking in with our parents…YES, that’s right…this is especially emasculating to men. We don’t want to feel controlled. We need, and deserve, our privacy. We need our space. And we need our individual identities if we want to remain appealing not only to our spouses, but to ourselves as well. We aren’t capable of remaining in love with our spouse if we feel we’ve lost ourselves to that person, if we feel we no longer know who we are without that person, if we don’t love ourselves any longer. We’re only capable of loving another, and being happy with another, when we know who we are and love ourselves first.
So, realize that we are imperfect beings marrying other imperfect beings. As these imperfect beings, we keep secrets to protect ourselves, as well as the ones we love. Know that your spouse will have secrets from you. Remember that you, too, have secrets of your own. Accept the presence of these secrets, know that they don’t end marriages (unless we expect them to), and embrace the humanity in all of us. Stay mysterious. Stay individual. Stay married.
Lies! Lies! Lies! Each and every air-breathing, fire-breathing, or barely-breathing human being is guilty of the occasional white lie. We lie for all sorts of reasons. While we don’t think too much of our personal white lies, we tend to get our offended little panties in quite the pouty bunch when our spouse gives us a dose of the same. We say we don’t want to be lied to, that honesty is always the best policy, that we would NEVER lie to him (one of our very own little “whities”). But are we being honest with him? With ourselves? Do we always want to hear the brutal truth? The ugly truth? Or do we prefer to entertain our delusions?
There are four main reasons men lie:
1. For sex: Men prefer to have sex often (yes, I know…stating the obvious). He knows that on any given day, it isn’t him deciding whether the two of you are “doing the deed.” It’s YOU deciding. He’s up for it ANYTIME you are, so his “nookie night” depends on your mood. Now, assume you ask him whether you look fat in those polka dot, second skin pants that you secretly know are not your best look. He has two options: He can be brutally honest and say, “Yes, we could make money advertising on that polka dot billboard.” – OR - he can play it safe, hope to get a piece of that billboard later on, and say “No, honey, you look hot. They look great.” Now, he KNOWS that even if you know he’s lying, he just scored nookie points with his white lie. Cha-Ching!
2. To avoid conflict: Let’s face it. Sometimes, we women like to think he agrees with us on almost every issue. If he doesn’t, our relationship (in our mind) has just entered dangerous waters and our difference of opinion could be construed as a “disconnect.” So when you are going on and on about how that “supposed” friend of yours has been talking about you behind your back – how she must not really be your friend at all - how you knew all along what a back-stabber she was, he will probably lie and say he agrees with you, even if he thinks you’re being completely unreasonable. WHY? To avoid your devil eyes abruptly switching direction and making a bee-line for him: your updated target of choice. This can apply to any issue on which he may not agree with you. He knows that disagreeing with you will lead to hours of conflict. He also knows that after all that energy is expended on this conflict, he still has NO hope of coming out on the other side holding his “Yes! I’m right” trophy. When the argument is all said and done, he’ll still be wrong. Where will this position land him on the “possible nookie” barometer? Lower than zero. Exhaustion from fighting, never being right, AND no hope of sex. Come on ladies, we seem to condition him to lie a little. Don’t you think?
3. To avoid doing something he doesn’t want to do: The latest romantic tear jerker is playing at the theater. You can’t get there fast enough and assume he wants to go with you because he “loves” you, right? For him, watching a romance and possibly falling prey to the elusive strong man cry ranks right up there with couple manis and pedis. NO THANKS! This is not his idea of a fun night. He may make an excuse. “I have to work late. You go on without me.” “I’m not really feeling up to it. Can you find a girlfriend to go with you?” Chick flicks, shopping, chores, housework…any of these may merit a white lie to prevent his otherwise required participation. ~ Of course, he may not lie to get out of chick flicks and shopping. He may claim to enjoy them. If he does, please refer to reason #1. He may join you with hopes of his evening of hell being rewarded with the much anticipated “nookie!” And shouldn’t it?
4. To avoid hurting your feelings: Men are sometimes empathetic creatures. He may present to you a heartfelt lie to avoid crushing your ego. You do the same for him on a regular basis. We do this out of love, not malice. He doesn’t want to tell you that he’s reminded of his mom when he sees you in that flower-print, cover- ALL swimsuit – just as you don’t want to hear it. He doesn’t want you to feel hurt when he gets caught looking at another woman. So, when asked if he thinks she’s pretty, he may say, “No, she’s ugly. Just look at that nose! I could hang my coat on it.” When you ask him whether he likes your over-cooked, under-flavored meatloaf, he doesn’t want to hurt you. He’ll likely lie and say it was wonderful. As he should.
So, there you have it. Men lie for many reasons, but most of his white lies will find themselves falling under one of these four major players. Do we unknowingly condition men to lie to us? I think so. Men learn how to avoid conflict, keep peace, and hopefully say the right things to lure out our frisky mood. They’ve learned this through trial and error. We certainly can’t blame them. Not only have we done the conditioning, but we also do the lying sometimes ourselves. Do we want them to tell us the truth ALL the time? I don’t think we do. We don’t want to hear that we, by no means, resemble the sexy vixen we were before we wed (especially when he has LITERALLY no room in his seam-bursting, begging to be retired pants to point fingers). We don’t want to hear that the dinner we’ve slaved over for two hours is about as easy to choke down as roadkill. We certainly don’t want to hear that we’re the one to blame when it comes to an argument with our friends. We just want him to agree, validate, and…wait for it…LIE! Please!!! For the sake of everyone’s feelings, egos, AND nookie!