This time 28 years ago on a distant Leap Years day in Houston, TX, I said "I do" when what I really wanted to say was, "No, I don't."
But I did it anyway.
In my mind at the time, it was the “right” thing for a “good Christian girl” to do when the wedding was planned and paid for on the super thin, shoe-string budget, the guests were all in town and on their way to the church, and the sheer horrific thought of disappointing everyone loomed more ominous than anything I could even imagine in that moment.
So I did what any other respectable preacher’s daughter would do. I put on my hideous rented wedding gown with the high- neck lace collar and satin bodice, did my best to coif my too-short-cut hair into a presentable and pretty style, dried my tears and covered them in makeup so that no one was the wiser, then walked my brave face down the aisle toward the man I liked a lot.
Thinking back on my approach of the altar and seeing the bridesmaid dresses, I can only roll my eyes and wonder why in the hell did no one tell me how hideous those things were. Good lord, they could have been the most beautiful hanging draperies at a famous hotel, but they had no business being on a woman’s body. Forgive me sisters and friends –I was obviously not in my right mind.
I can’t remember one aspect of that day that was truly what I wanted it to be. It was what my mom and stepdad helped me put together on what could be afforded, and while it was tasteful and “nice”, it was nowhere near an accurate representation of me, my style, my desires or my actual tastes. Somehow, like so many other times in my life, I expressed a desire and either it was squashed entirely, or I wound up acquiescing to someone else’s vision and standards. It really was the story of my life.
Little did I know just how far from that reality I’d travel in my life.
I never should have walked down the aisle that day. But I did. While I liked the man I married a great deal, we had no business getting married. There was no heat, no fire, and no passion and as strong as our friendship was, it wasn’t enough to keep either of us truly happy for very long. My first clue should have been when I didn’t even want to kiss him the first time he moved in for one. I knew without a shadow of a doubt it was time to find my way out when I had the thought one day 4+ years into our marriage, “He will not be the father of my children”.
There are a multitude of things that were in play for me then, and there are a number of things I learned as a result of all that transpired then and since. While I don’t live my life with regrets, I do recognize all the ways I was not living as an empowered, passionate, fiery, living-from-the heart-woman that I naturally am. I was merely existing and playing out all the roles of the expectations of my traditional family and southern society.
I was living in my head and in the paradigm of "do it right, well and in an acceptable manner". That's not living; it's indentured servitude to a system that's cut off from it's own divine fire and ecstasy. Like so many, at the time, and for many years after, it was just easiest to go along with, rather than buck the current.
Then one day, and many days following, the truth came knocking at my proverbial door, barreling rather, and demanded I stop playing it safe and by anyone else’s rules or ways. My life, my body, my heart and my soul ached in unimaginable ways that are too numbered to share in this short space. Suffice it to say, I was dying a slow and painful death each and every day that I didn’t honor my true desires – the ones that burned like molten lava under the surface.
It has not been a quick or easy process for me. I took a really long time to let go of my conditioning - and I still am each and every day. I was such an excellent good girl who wore that brave face to the world, especially when everything in me wept; when everything in me wanted to run, to melt, to sear the world with the heat of me, but the weight of my conditioned life simply had its firm grasp on me. Funny thing about core desires and authentic destiny though – they will not be denied.
28-years later, I know more than ever how much religious, societal and cultural conditioning can dilute the true nature of who we are. Going into any relationship, much less a marriage shouldn’t be something we simply “do” because it’s the norm and the expected ideal. Especially if those “ideals” are based on outdated traditions, un-relatable models and simply copies of other poorly executed relationships that never should have seen the light of day either. Add to it that if any aspect of those traditions don’t feel good, that’s the truest sign that it’s time to turn-tail and run, not walk, to the nearest exit.
It took another marriage attempt and many dating and relationship scenarios for me to come to terms and eventual surrender to the fact that the way I love, and the way I am naturally designed, is not the traditional model. I actually don’t subscribe to monogamy as the way for me any longer, nor does my love only have an outlet with the other sex. Having been born and raised for the most part, in the Bible belt- that was a hard pill for me to swallow. Never wanting to disappoint or cause anyone else any discomfort, like so many times before, I acquiesced and eventually simply hid my life under a veil of secrecy shrouded in silent shame.
But with great thanks and gratitude, I am awed every day that I see other brave and courageous individuals owning their unique ways, proclaiming them publicly as they choose to partner differently, identify differently, love differently and ultimately, live differently than all that has come before them. Because of their courage, they inspire and invite the rest of us battling with our own choices to have the chutzpah to say, “Enough; I can’t not live as who I truly am any longer”. Regardless of who may be disappointed or upset, no one else walks one minute in our shoes our wakes up one day in our own skin. No one else knows the depths of the truth of our souls but us. And if we can’t hear the voice of our souls, or feel our core desires, you can rest assured, they will make themselves known – just you wait.
Here and now, we are at such a beautiful and often terrifying space of evolution. The “old ways” are dying and necessarily so. They have brought us to this blessed place on our journey and what worked then will not be what moves us into the next stages of humanity. The way we love, the way we show love, and all the ways we utilize our voices as love is changing. It has to. Just because we are products of our parents and grandparents does not limit us to their ways and beliefs.
That was then and this is now.
And what many of us don’t realize is that when they were living their lives in hard times, times of survival and struggle and often silent suffering, they were launching desires of something greater – something very different to the universe, so that people like us could come forth and DO IT DIFFERENT. BE different. Love different.
I’m proud to say that on this Leap Year day in 2020, 7 later from that wedding day in 1992, I am the fullest and most robust version of me I’ve ever been so far. I never hide or shrink from the fact that I have way more love to give, to share, to pour out and to play with than most people can even fathom and I don’t have to be in a relationship to share it. It isn’t reserved for those I know, or those I’m intimate with. I love seeking out new ways to expand the levels of love I live as and lead with.
I don’t have any expectations of anyone else being anything other than who they truly desire to be. Not the version they think they are from their minds and egos; rather, from the hungry, often ravenous and fiery, ever-pulsing, deep beats that stream from their souls. The voice that says, “There’s more than enough love if you’ll just let me be. I’ll show you the way that will satisfy you beyond your wildest imagination. And it’s not even dependent on another living soul.”
Stuff can't fill or solve what most of us are hungry and searching for. That solution lies right at home, under the surface within us. I just hope you don't have to make two unnecessary trips down a marriage aisle to meet your next level of love.
Love & Ecstasy,
Rhonda Burns is a leading-edge Sex, Intimacy & Relationship Mentor and Teacher. She helps suppressed men & women raised in religion and with highly conditioned belief systems learn to awaken desire, so they can design bodies, lives and love that flourishes, not flounders.
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