Happy Ash Wednesday! I’m not religious; is that the proper sentiment? Anyway, today begins the 40 days and 40 nights of Lent, a period where Christians — particularly Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians — sacrifice for Jesus, often by giving up some sort of vice. Like I said, I am not religious and won’t be getting smudged at my local church today, but I will be giving something up for Lent because, well, why not?Now, a few months ago, I took a break from drinking, dating, and sex, so I guess you could say I was ahead of the curve on this whole Lent thing. Except that I only completely stopped drinking for about two weeks (although my current usage is significantly less than before). Not having sex or dating lasted a bit longer — almost, hmm, two months? — but I recently met a guy who makes my motor hum and my heart purr and so I gave up abstaining from sex and dating too, though I am happy to report that this little relationship-y thing I’m engaged in is not lame like those that came before. So far, it’s quite special and awesome, so special and awesome, in fact, that I am not ready to really write about it yet because I want it all for myself. And no, I won’t be giving him up for Lent either.
So, what should I give up? I considered giving up Diet Coke, which I’ve already whittled down to a 2-3 can a day habit (it was 4-5), but, alas, I recently bought a 12-pack and I’m not finished with it and I was raised to believe it’s wrong to waste carbonated beverages. I could give up drinking, but I did that recently and really feel like I maxed out the benefits. Hmm, what “vices” do I have left? Full-fat sour cream? Reality TV? Porn? Giving up any of those things seems too easy and the potential wisdom gained from abstaining from them seems minimal.
I’ve got it! The primary reason why I gave up dating/sex — even if it didn’t last that long — was so I could, essentially, learn to be happy with myself without validation from a man. I think I made some great progress in that regard, but I’ll only know how much I’ve learned as I put it into practice. Where I don’t allow my mind to run away into fantasy land, as my therapist calls it, where I start to imagine how the other person sees me and thus how I see myself. So, for the next 40 days and 40 nights and hopefully many, many days and nights after that, regardless of whether I am keeping the company of someone special or not, I am giving up being a total insecure head case. That means:
- I will live in the moment. Not one day from now, or six months from now, where what’s happened is but a vision in my overactive and often insecure imagination.
- I will follow my instincts instead of adhering to dating rules that apply to generalizations about men and women. However, if my instincts happen to fall in line with those dating rules, — because sometimes they are dead on — so be it.
- If I’m feeling genuinely unhappy about something in regards to that special someone, I will talk about it with him, not stew about it until it festers into something far more unmanageable.
- On the flip side, I will also be open about the things that are making me happy.
- I will expect nothing less than #4 and #5 from that special someone.
- I will only have sex because it’s giving me genuine full-body enjoyment, not just the temporary fulfillment of feeling wanted.
- Most of all, I will tell negative thoughts about myself to shut the f**k up.
And feel free to join me, Frisky readers, whether you’re doing it with Lent as an excuse or not. I think Jesus would approve.