What Are the Big Relationship Questions After Divorce?
Lena Dunham is the 25 yo powerhouse who’s show GIRLS is a hit on HBO. Is she and her cast voicing millennial ennui of our time? The show tries to be shocking. It’s stars are quirky, damaged, and beautiful in many different facets. At least we’ve graduated beyond the vapid (shoes, sex, power, self-obsession) view of Sex and the City. And we’ve come a long way from Carrie Bradshaw to the lead in GIRLS played by Ms. Dunham.
And the questions, I now realize are the same ones I am asking myself. The questions that divorce and recovery have pressed firmly in my face as said, “Get your shit together, or don’t.”
And we know what not getting our shit together looks like. It looks nothing like writing and staring in your own TV series.
So the voice of this younger generation… The same questions. No wonder it’s doing great. Well done, Ms. Dunham and Co. Now let’s see these three biggie questions are pretty important.
What’s sex about?
Is it possible we (I am) are still trying to answer this question? In fact, as Thomas Moore would lead us to believe, the sex in our lives is one of the last un-illuminated mysteries of our lives. It’s still the primary place that can generate elation, ecstasy, horror, passion, obsession. Not all good, not all bad, but mysterious, yes. And taken one step further, Mr. Moore suggests that there is a spiritual component to sex, even if we don’t want to look at it. God is there, in the mystery. God is there in beauty and unexplained fantasies. Not all good. And not all bad.
So sex is a loaded gun. (pun sort of intended) We’re all carrying it around in our pocket. Sometimes we have concealed permits and we keep our deadly weapons hidden. Other times, sometimes with shocking results, we wear our weapons on our sleeve. I think of the 50+ woman in the local grocery store in her yoga pants and perfect hair and perfect teeth. I’m guessing her car is quite new and clean as well. It takes money to be dressed like that, to look like that, mid-day on a work day. For most of us, yoga, midday on a Tuesday is not an option.
There she is. A loaded weapon. Sharing every good piece of herself that she can. She may or may not have been to yoga, just now, but she’s looking like she just stepped out of the Yoga Journal, or some “special issue” of Playboy, “The Yogini Babes of the West Coast.”
I don’t think she’s putting out “come hither” vibes. But she is putting out the best that she’s got in a very sexual way. And all the other loaded weapons in the store, men and women, are taking notice. And that gives her some additional lift. Her brightly colored tennis shoes springing just a tad more as she heads for gluten-free.
So *what* is SEX all about?
Hell if I know.
Today I have a few touch points. But of course, tomorrow they will be different.
- Sex is essential. In fact is on the base level of Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s connected with survival. Instincts. Primal, animal, procreative sex. When you don’t have it, you either NOTICE or you don’t. We’re all animals with different wiring.
- Sex is fun.
- Sex can be messy. (Complications, miscommunications, obsessions, loss, lack of…)
- Sex… well it’s somewhere between Miranda in Sex in the City and XXX in Girls. Where you fall on the spectrum, has more to do with your family of origin and how you feel about the loaded weapon you are packing.
How do I make a living in this world?
I guess until you hit the ball out of the stadium, or inherit the unlimited wealth, making a living is going to form a large part of your existence. And your relationship to this task is critical to your self-worth, self-expression, and even your ability to thrive. And the rules and conditions change all the time. You think you have it figured out, and you get laid off. You imagine a big project is coming, and someone dies leaving the signed contract in limbo. There is always change in the world of work. Learning to take the “change” with balance and integrity, forms a good portion of how you walk in your life. There is nothing abstract about paying bills. And there is nothing casual about missing mortgage payments.
Are relationships where it’s at?
I think so. But I also know the “relationship” to myself comes before my ability to relate to another person.
“To find someone to love, you’ve got to be someone you love.” — nada surf, concrete bed
When I don’t have my own shit together, so to speak, it gets messy pretty quick. However, if I’m clear and in-tune with my inner dialogue and self-directed goals, it’s easier to enter a relationship (whatever the form: lover, inspiration, ex-wife) and stay true to what’s important to you and YOUR goals.
If you don’t have a clear link with your plans, if you don’t have a PLAN, you are likely to be misdirected by relationships.
There are three kinds of relationships that are most important in my life.
- Relationship to self and god. (*my* spiritual program and self-care regimen)
- Relationship to my children. (a life-long lesson in humility and blessings)
- Relationship to another person.
In my failing marriage, my therapist said to me,”It seems like she’s cut her flame off from you. She is protecting her flame for some reason.”
The metaphor worked for me.
“You should probably let her go. You deserve someone who can stand unshielded with you. Next to your flame. Someone who can burn brightly WITH and BESIDE you.”
Yes. We deserve to burn brightly. We crave that other flame that will bring additional heat and passion and beauty to our lives.
However, without our own flame, we are more likely to be looking for a light. That’s the wrong way to enter into a relationship.
So there you have it. Are relationships where it’s at? YES. And there are THREE of them. We have 100% responsibility for the first one. Relationship to self and god. (Please put whatever *concept* for god in there that fits with your belief.)
We have a lot of control over the initial trust and love of the second one: Relationship to my children. At some point they will fly under their own power, but at this critical juncture they need all the guidance and inspiration they can handle.
And on the final one: Relationship to another person. The loaded gun is in our hands. Either we have a clear understanding of our goals and purpose in holding it or we don’t. Either way, the gun is still in our hands. And the gun is always loaded.
The Off Parent
< back to On Dating Again index
- Five Habits of Bad Sex
- Seven Signs of a Healthy Post-Divorce Relationship
- All Kinds of Women and the Sparks of Desire
- Our Sexual Brain and the Lies It Tells Us
- Sex Rules: the Frequency, the Fun, and the Fantasy
- Browsable Women: The Three Hells of Online Dating
- Lena Dunham Doesn’t Want a Victoria’s Secret Body. Hers Is More Powerful. – Slate
- Thomas Moore’s The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life as an Act of Love
- Concrete Bed video – Nada Surf
- The Divorce Library (reading list)
- Songs of Divorce (free listening library – youtube sourced songs)
- Laugh It Off (building a resource library of funny videos and other diversions)
- Facebook (follow us on Facebook and keep up with all the conversations)
- The 5 Love Languages (a book on love styles by Gary Chapman)