Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sometimes Reading Makes You Smarter, Sometimes IT REALLY DOESN'T.

I am a huge reader.

Sometimes I take pride in this fact. There are a lot of books I have read that have challenged my intellect and helped heal my broken heart and inspired me to be a better person.

But sometimes, I get done reading a book, and not only do I immediately throw the book in the trash - but I lock the door to my room. You know, just in case someone were to walk in and see the words "SHAME" or "THE ONLY REASON I CAN THINK OF FOR FINISHING THAT BOOK IS THAT I'M AN IDIOT" written across my forehead.

You know how they relate someone experiencing "Godly Sorrow" to someone wishing to be crushed by a mountain? Well if that is Godly Sorrow, then consider this "Bookly Sorrow".

I once read a book called, "Possession." This is literally the Plot Summary. I am literally copying this directly off of the back cover:
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

It was absolutely as stupid as it sounds. I did not end up being pleasantly surprised. The writing did not gradually get better as the book went on. In fact, I did not gain a single piece of advice, nor did I learn a single lesson from reading this book. "How much trouble can one kiss cause?" Are you kidding me. Really. Did my 3-year-old illiterate cousin think that one up?

This is where my shame begins to grow. Have you ever started a TV Series, hated the first episode, but continued watching "just in case" it got better? For example: Scrubs. Have I ever laughed once during an episode? No. Do I ever find myself relating to any of the characters? No. Have I ever found myself thinking about it during the day? NO. Do I continue watching it? Yes. Here I am, 33 episodes later, repeating the words, "that was painfully stupid" at the end of every episode. 
If you can relate to that, you can relate to my relationship with books. Not only was "Possession" single-handedly the most time I have ever wasted - but I spent $20.00 on the sequel. Why, you ask? Solely for the fact that I had read the first one. 

This logic is flawed, and it is STOOPID. But there is something about a book that alters my judgement as the pages begin to turn-on. There is something about setting my life on the shelf, and picking up someone else's life for a little while - that feels comfortable and customary.

I once read a book that's entire purpose was to mistake "obsession" for love. It was about this over-protective boy who followed a girl around and would often PHYSICALLY throw her over his shoulder and "sweep her away" when he would find a boy hitting on her, or when she would be with friends he didn't approve of. 
I got done reading and guess what my thoughts were? Nope, you're wrong. They weren't, "What a controlling creep." They were, "HOW ROMANTIC!" This is the effect of an impractical book on an irrational teenage girl.

So, one day, when I entered a controlling-manipulative relationship, instead of running for dear life because of the "knowledge" I had on what "real love was," guess what this book did for me instead? It validated the insanity. It applauded the domination. It kissed the feet of manipulation, and opened the door for humiliation when it arrived. "Love" was an excuse to distrust me at all hours of the day, and his "adoration" for me was an absolute rational justification for why I shouldn't be allowed to have friends.

Now, I understand a lot of you aren't readers. Partly because that's just not your Cup Of Tea, but hopefully mostly because you actually have lives and don't spend 9 hours a day answering the phone, like Yours Truly. So let me relate an example to you that doesn't exist in book-form. 

Cue Twilight. Whether the human being reading this post right now is male or female, there is a 94% chance you have seen or read the unreasonably-popular story of an unnatural love between a girl and her vampire. This is an example of obsession at it's worst. But it's ok, because he's different, right? He's not like "other" boys, so it's acceptable for him to sit in her room every night and watch her sleep. And he LOVES her, guys! And love is a justification for any over-protective boyfriend to follow his girlfriend around in secret, and remove her from any situation His Majesty deems unacceptable. And it's okay that he leaves her out of the blue, causes her to lose her grasp on reality, and then waltzes back in the second she develops any sort of interest for another person of the opposite sex - because they're SOULMATES, guys. That's just what soulmates do. And I KNOW it's love, because she throws her family to the curb every chance she gets for this love. And we ALL know that someone who loves you will always make you burn every other part of your life, until all you have is him. DUH. Love is life-threatening, mentally-damaging, reality-altering, family-shattering, and lonely most of the time. But it's totes worth it as long as he says it's love. 

Okay. FYI - if, after a boy leaves you - you start to experience the symptoms of "withdrawal" in a forest for 3 days, guess what that means? That means addiction took place. Is addiction something to praise? No. Is it something we long for? No. Is it something we envy others for having? Absolutely not. Is it a result of love? How about never. In fact, ever heard of this little thing we call INTERVENTION. Ever heard of this place called rehab? In the face of addiction, not only do we look down upon it, but we immediately take extreme steps to "fix the problem"; to "release the prisoner". But it is unquestionably acceptable if it's in the form of love; if it's in the disguise of love. Romantic, even. Crucify Little-Red-Riding-Hood's mental state for confusing her grandmother with a wolf - but dress addiction up as love, and it's all good in the hood [pun intended]. A physical, emotional, psychological dependency on something else, becomes something vulnerable teenage girls become desperate for. 
It's humane, really. Take thee most insecure, self-conscious, immature, irrational, unstable, naive, impressional age-group on Earth, and tell them that they need someone else to be happy. Tell them that their life is miserable without a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Never mind the fact that you've already completed some college courses while still in high school, never mind the support you have from your family, never mind your ability to paint and draw and create, never mind the rush you feel during your tennis match - throw that all out the window. Because it is all irrelevant to the journey to "happiness". The only thing that is going to make you happy in this life is a hot boyfriend. And hot boys like average, self-pitying, girls with low-self esteem, right? They like girls who need "rescuing"; a damsel in distress.

"My boyfriend has all my passwords to my Facebook, Twitter, Email, Bank Account, Church Membership, and House - but it's romantic because the more over-protective a boy is, the more he cares about you, like EDWARD follows BELLA around, making her lose every friend she had ever made at that school."

"My parents have sat me down a few times to tell me how damaging this boy is becoming to my life - but I should just keep "pushing through", because BELLA ignored HER dad about EDWARD, and THEIR love ended up being FOREVER. Parents don't understand LOVE."

"My boyfriend is clinically depressed and Schizophrenic. It has deluded my sanity, destroyed my self-esteem, and darkened my world. But he's DIFFERENT than other boys. And all any girl wants in a boy, is for him to be DIFFERENT, despite his unnatural flaws. I mean, BELLA loved EDWARD regardless of his addiction to human blood."

"My boyfriend hits me. A lot. But love overcomes everything, right? And he NEEDS me. I am the only one who can calm him down. I am the only one who knows his secrets. I am the only person he's ever loved. BELLA had to help EDWARD overcome his problems, and I can help my boyfriend overcome his violent tendencies. See, I'm not the only one in the world with problems like this."

"My boyfriend dumped me a year ago, his family has stopped all communication with me, I have lost my grasp on reality, have suffered all the symptoms of depression, lost every friend I own, and refuse to come in contact with any of my family members - at the risk of actually having to leave my room. But I LOVE him. And when you LOVE someone, you WAIT for them. And he's my SOULMATE. There is no one else out there for me."

And don't even get me started on 'The O.C.' Life is a competition about who can be the richest. Either you gossip about other people with the "in-crowd", or you get gossiped about. There are only 2 options. You can't handle your life? Escape with drugs. Feeling alone? Attempt suicide, people will come running. Your husband loses his job? Divorce his ass. Want a boyfriend? Stop eating. You like reading and science and playing video games with your dad? Screw em', those things will never make you happy unless a "cool" girl LETS you be happy with them.

Like, kill me now. WHAT IS GOING ON. And then we actually have the nerve to be surprised that there have been 41 teenage suicides in Utah in the past year. These teenagers are going through the most confusing time of their lives, convinced it's impossible to be happy by themselves. Depression has become a "fad", cutting has become a "trend", and self-loathing has become twisted into something beautiful and poetic. It has become a justification for relationships to be damaging, a mockery of the sanctity of love and marriage, and has turned into "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" at the risk of teenagers who actually need the help. 

People, this is not coming from a judgmental "outsider's" opinion. This is coming from a girl who developed a sickness for a manipulating obsession that she deemed acceptable, because of the knowledge she had seen of "love" in books and movies and TV shows and songs. Because manipulation preys on dependency. Don't you get it? It hunts the vulnerable and impressionable. It takes a girl who believes in love, and uses that belief to destroy the other parts of her.

I am in love with a boy, who I have been sealed to for eternity. My life is now centered around my role as his wife. So now, knowing all that about me, listen to me closely as I tell you that love is not enough. No matter how unrealistically happy this marriage makes me, if it was the only thing in my life - I would gradually begin to become miserable. Love, and love alone, is not enough. My marriage works because it is accompanied by God and the Spirit and trips to the Temple. I am happy with Cole, because I was happy before I met Cole - ALL BY MYSELF. Cole is able to love me in all the right ways, because I loved myself before he ever even had the chance. I have felt my soul grow closer to his soul, while discussing things I had learned in College classes and listened to in General Conference. I have watched Cole love me a little more, as I teach him to enjoy the things I enjoyed before I ever met him. If I had come to Cole; self-loathing, uninterested in anything other than him, with none of my own beliefs - he would have showed me the door in 10 seconds.

Obsession is not love.
Addiction is not love.
Intensity is not love.

Obligation is not love.
Lust is not love.
Saying the words "I love you" is not even love.

And my heart breaks at the fact that people are convincing you that it is.

Never once has Cole made my heart feel broken. Never once has he made me jealous. His words have never hurt my stomach, and he has never made me feel small. I have never felt the need to change for him, and never felt unworthy of his love. He has never held my past mistakes over my head, and he has never threatened to leave me. He has never ignored me, yelled at me, or said a single bad word about my family. He has never once had to "rescue me" from anything, and I have never once felt "obligated" to stay with him.

This love is real. It is normal, and calm, and peaceful, and content. It lays in bed for hours watching 'The Office'. It is satisfied with a kiss on the cheek, or a night filled with Chess. It has accepted my faults, and acknowledged my strengths. It goes grocery shopping, and washes dishes, and does laundry on Friday nights.

If drama is what you are looking for, then stop looking for love. Because love is simple. Anything else is simply getting in the way of the love you could have.

Please don't settle. Please don't tweak your beliefs. Please don't "push through" or "endure". Love is not supposed to be endured. It's not supposed to make you cry. And it is absolutely not supposed to be the only thing you're made of.

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