Tuesday 9 September 2008

Shame, Self belief and Integrity

I have thought carefully about how to write this post.

Because I have to write it, really.
Because in some ways, it's a happy post.
But it looks back on things- less happy.

Let's just start with a basic Crushed belief.
The only thing in life that really matters, is whether you can look yourself in the eye in the mirror every morning before you leave home, and be proud of what you see.

If you LIKE yourself, if you're proud of yourself and in your heart of hearts you feel comfortable in your own integrity, life will always deliver what you ask of it.

There are those who would say I have no sense of shame. That in some ways, I'm pretty shocking.
Certainly, my values system isn't that of everyone else.

There are plenty of things that others would find embarrassing to admit to or talk about which just don't bother me.
At one time, I kept these things off my blog. I had no problems at all talking about them down the pub to just about anyone, but I kept them off the blog in the belief that they might damage the blog.

To recap;
I'm not embarrassed by having served a sentence for Ecstasy. Because I see nothing immoral about using Ecstasy and I do not believe that selling Ecstasy is LESS moral than selling goods made in China.

There are other things I don't feel embarrassed or shamed about talking about. I'll put my hands up to them. They don't bother me. They might bother others, but not me.

The list is endless, but here's one You haven't heard before. You can have it, because I'm fairly candid person and it doesn't bother me. It doesn't embarrass me in the slightest.
I have in the past been treated for an STD. I really don't know why people still get embarrassed by this sort of thing. I'd say one in five males at least has picked up SOMETHING. I guess there's still a residual shame about how these things are caught, but I don't see why. I see no reason to hide it any more than if I'd had caught food poisoning.

You see, a large part of my self-belief actually rests in the fact I like being known as someone who basically, is always totally candid.

Like at work. Some people roll in at eleven and have a lame story about a traffic accident which turns out to have little evidence to substantiate it.

The last time I rolled in three hours late, I told the truth 'I met this bird in the pub, we ended up in bed and I only went to sleep at five and I forgot to set my alarm.'

Yes, my boss WAS pretty livid. But he forgave me, as he always does.
Because he knows I'll never lie.

Evade, yes. Lie, no.

You may not always get a straight answer to a straight question, especially if it concerns a monumental cock up on my part, but I'll never lie.

And I pride myself in that.

And I pride myself in my convictions. I pride myself in the fact that I have a sincere set of beliefs that aren't most people's, but I stick by them. No matter how others slate those principles. Because I believe mine to be correct. And I acquired them, not out of a book, but through actual living.

You see, I don't really care whether people approve or not. It's whether I live up to what I think is right. Am I behaving in a manner which fits in with my values?

Sometimes I've told an anecdote and the response I get from some quarters is 'You really have no shame, do you?'

And I smile. Because if I'd have had any other reaction from the quarter in question, I'd have felt I was doing something wrong.
There are some people I hope to God I offend, because frankly, to have the approval of people with their views on life, would actually offend me.

These are the people who call themselves 'The moral majority.'

I see sticking two fingers up to the values of the 'moral majority' as a worthy cause in it's own right. Because I find their Pecksniffian, holier than thou judging attitude sickening and I enjoy making them sick.

As far as I''m concerned, something is morally wrong if you can prove to me how. don't be pointing to some passage in Leviticus. I don't care. Don't be telling me about the law. That doesn't determine the morality of a subject either.

Show me where I interfere with someone else's path to happiness.
Or carry on being offended.
Your choice.

Now this brings me to my outlook on sex and relationships.

I think you all know I believe in Free Love.
I PASSIONATELY believe in Free Love.

Now, I need to break this down to how it actually applies in real life when I come to make moral judgements, or when people ask me for advice/support.

Because believe it or not, they often do. A lot of people respect my rather practical approach to morals, as in, does anyone get hurt, as opposed to feeling guilty because of some ancient scriptural taboo.

Firstly, my general advice, is if you can have an open relationship, without a commitment to sexual fidelity, but instead a commitment to total honesty with eachother, that's the best way. If both of you are mature enough and adult enough to deal with it and you are sure you can handle it. Most people still actually can't. The sense of wanting to own the rights to someone's body is quite ingrained in our culture. But if you CAN do it, do it. It's actually the best way.

Secondly is that I take a slightly different view to most people on the status of an 'undefined' relationship. What I mean is, I take the view that commitment is something opted into, not opted out of. In other words, the default status of a relationship is an open one, not one in which sexual fidelity- or exclusivity of any type- is to be expected.
If someone tells me they're thinking of cheating, or already have and are worried or feel guilty, I always ask them 'Have you either of you actually ever made definite promises to be exclusive?'

Because if no such agreement has been made, it's wrong to expect it as the default position.

Lastly, how do I view 'cheating' in a situation where it is clear such commitments and promises of exclusivity have been made.
Yes, it's a broken promise. And if compounded by lieing, worse still.

But on the other hand, it is also- in my view- an unreasonable promise to expect someone to make in the first place. Any specialist in contract law will agree, the existence of a contract doesn't mean a court will agree that contrct was reasonble. I've signed contracts for example, saying that if I leave the company I work for I cannot work in a similar sector within a twenty mile radius.

It wouldn't stand up in court.

And I regard contracts of exclusivity- especially for life- as being that kind of contract.

So when someone 'cheats', I'm not necessarily unsympathetic. If it was gratuitous, maybe. But usually, I tend to have a lot more sympathy for the errant partner than most. I would certainly never tell the 'deceived ' party, even they were my closest friend. And often I'll go further. I'm quite happy to assist in covering up the 'infidelity'. I actually see it as a white lie.

Because I don't actually see the infidelity as wrong, just the lieing. But I also believe that everyone is actually happier if the truth doesn't come out. I don't see what is served by the truth coming out. The fact is, it's one of those things, if you don't know it doesn't hurt you.

And I've actually been asked by friends of BOTH sexes IF they think they should cheat on their partners. And I don't always advise against it. There are times when I actually think they should. I don't approve of the fact they have to lie to do it, but I also don't approve of the fact their partner wouldn't allow them to.

I concede most of you think that last sentence is- way out. But that's how I see sexual exclusivity. An unreasonable and actually quite unpleasant and damaging human ideal.

How does this relate to my personal sexuality?
Well, time was when I paid lip service to sexual exclusivity.
But I never managed it. So now I have a clear cut policy on it.

Generally speaking, it is always my preference to have an open relationship- or at least avoid making a commitment to exclusivity. So I never actually feel I'm doing anything wrong when I play elsewhere. I don't lie about it, but if no agreement has been reached yet on an open relationship (which it rarely is), I consider that least I haven't broken any promises and what the eye don't see the heart won't grieve over.

So I just don't tell them.

But I don't deny it when others in a position to know, ask. Or people who know me well enough ask. Because I'm not embarrassed about it and also I'm happy to demonstrate I practise what I preach.

My mother and my grandmother know I practice this and in a way, I'd be ashamed for them to think I did otherwise. I find the idea of people thinking I live other than I do, something I'm not comfortable with.

Put bluntly, I would not want anyone I know, to think I practised sexual exclusivity. I would feel that they thought I'd betrayed my beliefs.
And that's crucial.

I'd never want it to be thought I'd betrayed my beliefs.

So her comes the crunch question you all want to know.

How would you deal with being in a relationship with someone you wanted to be in a relationship with, but expected a commitment.


If I truly loved them, I'd move mountains for them. Moving mountains is kind of unreasonable. For love, you'll do anything.
Including making a commitment that you yourself think is something people shouldn't do.

And I could, actually do it, if I loved them.
But that wouldn't mean I'd change the advice I offered everyone else.

If I truly loved someone, and they asked me to, I'd walk across hot coals.
Doesn't mean I'd recommend it to anyone else.

Nor would I expect her to walk across hot coals.

So this raises the point about her commitment back. One reader once suggested to REFUSE her commitment would be imposing a condition on the relationship- one where she HAD to sleep around.

No, not at all. She could make such a commitment if she wanted, but since I wouldn't have imposed it, it would really be a commitment to herself. If she broke it, it would make no difference to me, and I'd rather she just admitted it rather than lied about it.

There would be far, far, worse things a woman could do to me.

You see, one crucial point to remember is that I am quite vocal about my opinions. I stand by them. Having made such a commitment- in private- it wouldn't alter the fact that in principle, I am, and would always be, fundamentally opposed to such commitments and firmly committed to trying to convert people to NOT making such commitments or feeling that doing so was something they should do.

I believe human society will be better off when such commitments are a thing of the past, or at least simply practised by a tiny minority wedded to Mosaic law.

I look forward to the day when the open relatonship is the cultural norm. And publically, I want to be able to stand by that.

For example, I want this blog to be able to promote that viewpoint.

And therefore, to admit to having made any kind of commitment to exclusivity is not something I'd trumpet.
If was accused of having done so, I'd outright deny it.

Because I would feel it undermined the integrity of the position I aim to push, not just on this blog but in the statements I make in real life.

So let's just take a hypothetical scenario.
Let's just say early in the life of this blog I'd made commitments of some kind to meet another blogger. What those commitments were, is immaterial. I certainly could not answer for whether or not I'd find them physically attractive if we ever met, but I'm open about these things, and anyway personality goes a long way. Quite often the way we regard someone physically is affected by the how we regard the personality within.

Now, firstly this could not realistically be regarded as an actual relationship, but had this happened, then it is important to notice one point.

Had the other party hypothetically gone round e-mailing other bloggers or commenting at other blogs to effectively say 'This is my man', I would have felt degraded and humiliated in front of every one of those bloggers.

That to me, would be the ultimate betrayal.

Because it makes my principles look shallow. If I've got a woman running round laying claim to me and warning other women away from 'her' man, it goes completely against the ideals I'm trying to promote.

Because let's just say hypothetically that one of those bloggers was regularly discussing with me whether I thought she should 'cheat' on her boyfriend.

My view? She's been with him five years, only had one lover apart from him, she was twenty five, yes, I said. I thought she'd be missing out on life if she didn't experience sex with other people. I wouldn't be recommending myself, just that she should try it.

Ok, you may think that totally immoral advice to offer. But you have to respect that in such a hypothetical situation, yes, that's the advice I'd offer.

Now let's just say that the hypothetical woman who I have hypothetically committed to meet hypothetically e-mails said female blogger because she's worried that 'something might be going' on and lays claim to her man.

If asked by the second blogger, I'd deny all knowledge of what this woman was talking about.

Because there's no way I wanted to be associated in front of other people, with such a statement. It weakens my ideological position.

Her having revealed at all that we'd even spoken of meeting, certainly implying that she had some sort of claim to me, would, to me, be degrading and humiliating.


Because it implies that I haven't the courage of my convictions. A woman would hypothetically be stating in front of others that she had a right to expect some kind of exclusivity from me.

And that, to me, would be the ultimate betrayal.

Because you're making my beliefs look insincere. I'm offering advice to people I'm not living up to. I'm telling people to go round practising Free Love and I've got some woman wondering round telling just about everyone that she thinks she has some kind of exclusive rights to me.

And the idea that anyone would think that about me, is just about the most shameful and humiliating thing I can think of. So hypothetically, the more she did this, the more she'd start to revolt me. Till eventually, the very idea of her would physically repulse me. Because I'd feel publicly degraded. I'd feel as if she'd urinated on me in public.

In this hypothetical situation it doesn't matter whether or not the woman in question had reason to believe she had a right to exclusivity. The point is, if ever I made such a commitment to any form of exclusivity, what I would ask in return is that the person I made it to NEVER told anyone.
Because the public position in front of the whole of the rest of the world, would be that it hadn't.

Because I would have made it for their benefit, but would still ultimately regard the existence of such commitments as negative.

I hasten to add I've NEVER made such a commitment.

Anyway, if such a situation went on long enough, I would end up getting muscle spasms at the very sight of such a creature's name. Because the physical revulsion her actions were making me feel would start to mean that just thinking of her existence would make me feel as if I was somehow covered in human excrement.

And I'd try cut her off. And if she persisted in trying to contact me, say ringing my phone, IMing me etc, each time she did so, it would feel almost like a sexual assault. Because someone you actually feel total physical revulsion towards was forcing themselves upon you. And that is what it would be. Forcing you to remember the existence of a personality, the working of whose mind you find physically repellent.

And you would feel that everything they touched was somehow unclean.

Let's say hypothetically they started stalking your grandmother in the Old Folks home.

You'd feel that your relationship with your own grandmother had been sullied, polluted, was DIRTY.
Because it had been touched by that creature.

Every e-mail you received from them, every comment they tried to leave on your blog would feel like a man attempting to rape you.

And if such a situation happened, it would take a long time for you to get over it.

And a long time for you to recover your self esteem.

Because you would feel degraded and humiliated. Too embarrassed to retain relations with your own family because this pollution seeped into it.

You would find yourself sitting at work, and suddenly you'd remember the creature and you would feel a physical shudder of revulsion twist you into a spasm.

And you'd look at yourself in the mirror and be disgusted. You'd think of how people KNEW you'd been connected with that THING. And you were thoroughly, thoroughly ashamed that anyone would think you'd ever make an agreement to meet a creature who would behave in such a manner.
Ashamed that she had you crying in hysterics. Ashamed that she had you rocking on your bed in the foetal position.

Ashamed that she made you look disingenuous. Ashamed that she made you try defend yourself to people whose values you despise.

Ashamed because for a while there you felt you'd betrayed your beliefs. You'd failed to fight on your terms. You'd ended up a jibbering little child, sullied, polluted and degraded.

Of course, this is all hypothetical...

All a completely fanciful situation...


On a completely different note, I had a hard year last year.

A lot happened that was hard to get through.

And in some ways I fell apart. I forgot to pay bills, I let my personal appearance slide, I got drunk way too much, really it wasn't good.

But last few weeks, I've...come good again.

I look at myself in the morning and I'm proud of who I see.

I feel that I live up, every day, to my own beliefs- and I stand by them.

A friend of mine left me a message on Facebook yesterday I'd like to share with you. It made me smile. It picked me up no end.

Lisa sent you a message.

Subject: What the fuck?


What the fuck is going on? You don't do lovesick! You don't do relationships. You don't fall in love! You love 'em and leave 'em. What's going on? Don't tell me you're maturing? lol

I'm in shock. Talk to me, tell me what's happening, cause this bird is stunned!!!

This isn't the ___ I know!! Who are you, and what have you done with ___?

To reply to this message, follow the link below:

And I smile at that. I wouldn't want to be seen any other way.

I've started preening myself again, I notice I've started walking the way I used to, (swinging shoulders, heels never quite touching the ground).

I feel pride in myself, I LIKE myself. I'm closing business, I'm getting female attention (admittedly NOT from the one quarter I want, but hey).

I like feeling like this. Half in love with myself, full of life, bordering on that brink between self confidence and arrogance.
Because I'm doing nothing I disapprove of and I don't feel that the way I like to see myself is being sullied or harmed.

I look at myself in the mirror again and what I see looking back doesn't feel sullied or degraded.
There is pride in those eyes. The pride of a free man who cannot be shamed because they have nothing to be ashamed of.

I see fire in those twinkling eyes, I see lustre in those curls, I see a haughty disdain in those lips. I see the knowledge that I'm going out into the world to strike 'em dead.

And I can see those around me see it, back to the old me, Prince of Darkness meets Dorian Gray, the lover and leaver, the shameless exhibitionist, honey tongued in their bluntness, brilliant in their logical deductions, full of themselves and will move aside anyone who gets in their way.

Hated by the moralists, loved by the hedonists, champion of the free, enemy of the system.

Yearning to die a martyr and come back for their own funeral out of sheer vanity.

I look in the mirror and once again I see the person I LOVE seeing. I wouldn't want to have been born anyone else. Because when I die, I'll have it all figured out.

I walk in to the pub, and no longer is my hand shaking as I order a Guiness and a Double Jameson's chaser. I no longer stand there staring, rapt, at the drip trays, stroking the glass.

I'm back. I walk in, shoulders swinging, purring 'Usual, hon', and I arch my shoulders back as I swing my eyes round to see what the savannah has to offer. Because I know, once again, that the world is there. There. For those with the guts to grab it.

I can feel it again. LIFE. EXISTING. The rush of the universe towards the end of time, carrying us all with us like seeds in a river, carrying us onward. I feel the rush of being IN it, part of it.

Back, at the eye of the storm.

Love me. Or hate me. You'll never erase me. And you'll never own me.


Anonymous said...

So you finally answered the question? What if the one you finally love wanted exclusivity?

You should have been an actor Crushed or can you only play the one part?

Anonymous said...

Ok so this was a big post crushie and as soon as I thought you'd finish you'd start up on something new!

The first bits I really really enjoyed, I was nodding my head in agreement thinking 'oh I do that too!' with being candid and laying it all on the line with my writing and stuff.
But I just don't agree with your sentence here:

I don't lie about it, but if no agreement has been reached yet on an open relationship (which it rarely is), I consider that least I haven't broken any promises and what the eye don't see the heart won't grieve over.

Nup, I don't think I could do that. And that is the main reason why I won't have sex with just anyone -ever again. I'm done with giving my body to a man who may or may not think it special and sacred enough to shag something better if she comes along and then if I find out cry, "but I didn't know we were exclusive!"
But I'm pretty old fashioned and conservative...no matter how liberal my views on other stuff I just can't get over the sex thing.

I'm glad you have a spring in your step again - the world just feels better when we get ourselves back.

Anonymous said...

"Yearning to die a martyr and come back for their own funeral out of sheer vanity."

Yupp, that sure sounds like you alright ;)

Welcome back from the dead mate!

Anonymous said...

jmb- She'd get it.

She'd be enough :)

I'm actually a very good actor, believe it or not, though I guess I'm better at certain roles.

I'm generally best playing variants of myself, or characters I can relate to, somehow.

Kate- Well, I guess this one really was written for my benefit.

Things I had to get out of system, so to speak.

The points about what I was descring is love has to be FREE.

It shouldn't be tied down by these boxes.

Yes, if you TRULY love someone, maybe you wouldn't want anyone else.

But that should be because you love them, not because of a rule.

Love shouldn't have rules.

It feels great, yes :)

Crashie- Ah, you see if I added to my little aphorism, improved it :)

It's me all over. I really am one of those people who worry about how MANY people will be at my funeral.

It worries me that no one went to Jay Gatsby's...

Self indulgent post, people. It really was.

But thanks for reading it all the same.

Anonymous said...

Hey, it was still interesting! self indulgent is ok.

Anonymous said...

Blimey mate.. thats a loooonnnnngggg post... Its OK I cant get a shag either...

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. There's so much here that parts of it has me a little confused as to where you actually stand. For example, the part about about what a partner doesn't know won't hurt them doesn't apply when an STD is involved--although I agree that there should be no shame in having an STD. But then again, if having sex while in another relationship is nothing to be ashamed of, then why not simply declare it after the deed is done? Why wait to divulge the situation unless directly asked? Because the other person in the relationship might be, I don't know, hurt? Simply unenlightened? Is it a question of manners (you know, discretion)?

I do believe that monogamy has caused quite a bit of grief, and serves well as an instrument of control. I also see a difference between sex, love, commitment, et cetera. But I don't think that society champions monogomy simply out of Biblical law. It's not just authority that requires it, after all. I think, in a post like this, I would have an easier time understanding your point of view were you to address the need for monogamy more deeply, rather than go into hypothetical situations. As it's worded now, I see a lot of pitfalls for the type of free love that you're advocating, and that raises questions as to why it would actually be more advantageous than simple mongamy.

And this comes from someone, BTW, who actually believes in free love and polyamory.

Anonymous said...

Kate- I suppose it beats talking to yourself :)

Seriously, I just needed to get it out of my system..

Mutley- It was. Took hours.

Well, you are going to the wrong places, clearly.

Sex is never hard to get.

Meaningful sex, now that's another story.

X-dell- The post was more me getting things out my system. the use of the term hypothetically may possibly very well be a euphemism for 'this actually happened'.

Or it may not. I leave it your judgement. ;)

I was actually pointinf out some of the problems you face as an advocate of Free Love in a society where it is a minority point of view. Most noticeably that very realistic fact you may very well fall head over heals with someone who does not share those views.

And out of simple ethics, the only solution I can find there- if I truly loved them would be me to commit, but not expect them to. Because in all ethics, I could never ask that of someone. Even if they asked it of me.

Kind of, the 'turn the other cheek' approach to free love.:)

I suppose I just wanted to use this post to exorcise a certain residual frustration about certain things.

Anonymous said...

*slows smile*
I understand ;-)
but as you've said; doesn't mean I condone it...lol *grins*

Anonymous said...

I find it frightening how many people look to their morals as categorical, as the only choice, without considering the why's behind them. I would trust a person a million times more with an "atypical" sense of morality reached via careful consideration than one with a traditional sense merely because it is the "right" thing to do.