After a sermon on singleness and after Jennie’s story earlier this week I thought it was about time I found a way to tell my story. I’m good at analysing situations, being objective about what is going on, deconstructing cause from effect. I can write about singleness in the church, I can write about dating, I can even write about marriage as far as that might seem from where I am now.
Where I am less sure about navigating my course and finding words to describe and explain is when I am the subject. I used to think it was because I was taking an objective standpoint, unburdened by emotional vagaries.
What I am actually doing is denying that I have any part to play. I pretend I don’t exist. Like a researcher conducting an anthropological study I assume I am invisible, that my presence is irrelevant to whatever may be in my sights.
So when I write about the dynamics of dating in the church I write about other people and not me. And when I think of whether the level of single people in church, and my church in particular, is a problem, I do not write from a personal perspective.
When I write an open letter to the ladies I may use language that conveys emotion, I may come across as honest and brave. But too often these emotions and this honesty is on someone else’s behalf, or in a corporate general sense.
Even now, I’m finding ways around actually telling my story by telling you how I avoid telling my story. The mind has remarkable agility when it comes to finding guises for respectability to avoid what needs to be done.
I am single. And I always have been.
And that’s where my story starts and ends. But a lot happens in between and I should therefore have something to say about singleness. It’s not a category or a label I use very often, perhaps partly to shield myself from having to decide whether or not I am happy with that status. If I don’t define myself in this way I tell myself that I am letting other parts of my life take the leading roles, maybe in my more spiritual days I view this as doing what Jennie speaks of: I am getting on with my life. I have never considered myself to be waiting for life to begin.
Maybe I have done a good job at getting on at life. But I have done this by seeing singleness as a part of my life that doesn’t matter.
It’s not mattered because I have disconnected myself from it. I have stepped outside of my situation and my relationships with others and tried to get on with life.
Whatever attraction or rejection I may feel or have experienced has been categorised as unimportant and more or less ignored. So when I have liked a girl, and not had the guts to do anything about it I have forced myself to get over what I define as infatuation. Or when that girl starts going out with someone else I tell myself that I was never going to make a move so it doesn’t matter.
I told myself that relationships don’t matter.
But I still wanted friends. I still wanted to be wanted and included, and a part of the crowd. I looked on enviously at communities forming and thriving, or relationships that helped each other get better. And while defining romance as an unnecessary addition I still wanted it.
This narcissistic self denial had an impact as I viewed women I liked as out of my reach. I confused attraction with infatuation and thus justified relegating it out of sight. Without making a move, without ever being rejected, I defined myself as rejected.
Because my singleness was a thorn in my side that I needed to ignore. I not only saw it as a problem, but I decided that it was other people’s problem and not mine. I did not want to be viewed that way, I did not want to be needy, or viewed as the reject that I had subconsciously branded myself.
Most of all I was ashamed. I was ashamed at never having gone out with a girl. When I was at school I hid behind my Christian piety, when I grew a little older I learnt that the bravado covered over others in the same place as me. But that was years ago now.
Now it is something a bit more painful. To go with the singleness is a legacy of not asking girls out. Of failing to stand up and man up when it was the thing that good Christian guys do.
My postulating on relationships came at a price. The price that I knew one day I would have to pay. With a post like this that lays it bare. This is my confession.