Among my many burdens, fear of strangers, perfectionism, and a lack of faith in myself or that things in life will work out in the end, I have managed for the first time to feel that I have started to find my footing. In some ways, I got sick of being afraid of things, and when I got a taste of freedom, loving myself and experiencing life as a big web of possibilities and experiences and memories to be had, I decided that focusing on that possibility made me feel so much stronger, more powerful and mostly, happy. I changed my major to Environmental Science, and right now I am beginning a year of catching up on Prerequisites for that major so that by next Fall, I should be able to join the major. There's a lot of stuff going on in life, but I have learned that focusing on the present is the only way to really accomplish anything. I would much rather relax and let life do its thing than try to force things, control things, or even worse, worry about all the things that could go wrong if this or that or the other thing.. It's a nightmare and it leads me down paths of despair and sadness. Not fun. And not worth it if I can help it. So much burden has been lifted from me with this mindset.
One of the main, and challenging things I have had to deal with and figure out is where I stand with my religion.. In many ways, I got sick of how in religion, things have to fit certain traits in order to "work" or "find salvation". I believe very strongly in the spirit and mystery of God, and Christ, but the construct of religion itself, I think is very broken, as people are broken and there are aspects of the church that I find myself disagreeing with, mainly the shaming of sexuality outside of the confines of marriage. I don't know why, but it has been so important for me to understand everything that I believe and agree with it. Cognitive dissonance made me go crazy when I fell in love with a young man who wasn't religious, probably never will be, and has no reason to be. I listen to his story with so much love and understanding, and I let it make me think about my beliefs and how they fit together. I decided that I don't like the idea of a God who is selective about who he sends his grace to. I love this guy. I know he is a beautiful person and I see God in him in many ways even though he doesn't believe in God. I want to believe in a God who would be willing to save him (send him to Heaven) for the good things he has done and does even if he lives his life in a completely non-religous way. His non-religious way, I believe is one of the most loving ways I have ever seen someone chose to believe and act. He doesn't need anything in order to do good for others. He doesn't need the idea that a God will reward him for it. He would rather just do good to do good. He has had so many encounters with religious people which have been negative and not God-like or loving so it is reasonable and understanding why he chooses to not follow a main religion.
Another reason why I have found myself disagreeing with the church is on sexuality. I had a lot of conflict when I was in a relationship with this person because I wanted to do the "right" thing so badly for my religion and in my church, for God, but my heart was telling me that a sexual relationship with this person was completely out of love and respect in a way that I had never experienced. It gave me hope for the world, for my future, and for humanity. It also made me realize that I didn't agree with the rigid ideas of sexuality that the church teaches because it was somehow implying that God (or love) could only be between people in their sexual relationships in the confines of marriage. Marriage is a flawed idea; has become a flawed thing. The reason is that people idolize marriage when the relationship is the part that matters. The stages between dating and marriage and things like that have too big a line in religion that I think hinders the process and makes it unhealthy. I do believe in sexual compatibility. That's not to say that sexuality can be learned together as a couple. I think that is something that will always be a learning process for any couple. However, being comfortable with your sexuality, I think is something that is important for anyone in order to learn how to truly love yourself and understand how high your standards should be and how deserving of respect you are. Shame or guilt are not things that I believe should be in the realm of sexuality unless people are harming each other with it by cheating, manipulating, harassing or pressuring. This is an important distinction for what I believe constitutes a loving relationship and a non-loving one. It is also really important to not put sexuality on a pedestal because it is important to be able to focus on other, more important things in life, and other, more important things in your relationship. Sex should never be used to build connection where there isn't one because I believe that is something that can be harmful to your soul, but consensual, healthy sexual relationships, I think are maybe even important in learning what love is and how to love in life, especially when it involves masturbation. Religious differences, aside, I love this person very much. He has been a shining light in my life and has taught me so so much about love and how to grow up, love myself, be positive and shed the weight of the past and the burdens of others. It breaks my heart that his father passed away last March. I can not fathom what he is going through. The world is an unkind place, seemingly ruled by selfish, evil people, and those who don't deserve life remain living while those who gave their life for others in many of the most self-less ways die.
He and I have been just friends for the last few months. The longer the months go by, the more I feel like I am growing up and realizing just how much I care about and appreciate this young man for everything he is. We do have our differences, and sometimes it feels like there's no way we could be truly happy or maybe, complete if we ever got back together and had a long-term relationship again because those differences feel so vast, and yet, we keep each other around, we take care of each other. We are companions in the truest sense that I have ever felt before. We are friends. And friendship is the strongest, truest kind of love.