Originally, I was going to title this post, “The problem with purity rings.” But then I did a quick Google search and saw that that post had already been written…a couple hundred times. Disappointed that I wasn’t the only clever – or jaded – person with a blog, I scanned the Google results to see what my cleverly jaded cohorts came up with.
“Five Reasons Purity Rings and Pledges Don’t Work”
“Three Problems with Sexual Purity”
“The Problem with Purity”
“How Purity Can Become a Problem”
“The Problem with Promise Rings, Virginity Pledges and Purity Balls”
And on and on and on.
First of all, I didn’t even know “purity balls” were a thing. Secondly, I didn’t know that that many people are just as over purity paraphernalia as I am. Thirdly, I do know why I became purity-pooped.
There I was: A people-pleasing, perfectionist protestant, sitting in a high school gymnasium populated by hundreds of people – and God – promising these people – and God – that I would preserve my virginal purity until it was plucked by my wedded prince. Amen. Ahem. It was just as pointless for me to inject that many P’s into this paragraph as it was for me to take that purity pledge, because a couple of years later, I pitched it. (Cue “Hakuna Matata.”)
“…And oh, the shame (she was ashamed),
Thought of changing my name (oh, what’s in a name?),
And I got downhearted (how did you feel?)…”
I felt like shit, Timon.
I was a liar, a disgrace, a despicable sight in holy eyes. I had let my abhorrent human nature get the better of my angelic vow to people – and God – and I felt like shit. Still, that shitty feeling didn’t stop me from having sex; it just made me regret it afterward.
How is it that something that makes me feel so good also makes me feel like shit? I wondered time and time again.
It took me years and years – and half a year of life coach training – before I was finally able to arrive at a solid answer: When I listen to myself, having sex makes me feel good; when I listen to hundreds of people in a high school gymnasium, having sex makes me feel like shit. Eureka! I will stop listening to the voices of hundreds of people and I will stop feeling like shit.
Hmm. Like many theories, this one was easier said than applied. The harder I tried to mute those dissenting voices, the louder their dissent grew. Nonetheless, like many theories, I eventually found that with a tweak here and the assistance of expert technicians there, I was able to see it come to life.
The tweak was that the dissenting voices weren’t really coming from outside of me; they were coming from inside me. True, I was prompted by other people to put sex down until “The One” put a ring on it. But over time, my voice had absorbed their voices to the point that I was hearing myself dissent with myself. This phenomenon was shown to me by my expert technicians, Alan Cohen, Eve Hogan, and the contributors to the documentary, Finding Joe. They also helped me see that the more I fought myself, the longer the fight would continue.
Q: So, what was the technicians’ solution for self-fighting?
The technicians referred to this mixture of raucous outer and inner voices as the ego. In many circles, the ego is often given a bad rap. Yet, my technician Eve was able to shed another light on this villain that gave it another, more heroic perspective.
“The ego isn’t trying to sabotage your life, it wants to save your life. The ego sees itself as helping you, like an overprotective parent would. So when your true, authentic self wants to do something that the ego thinks is bad, the ego will sound the alarm, go bananas, do anything to stop you because…the ego loves you. It only wants to protect you.”
Wow, I thought. The manic, dissenting voices in my head love me?
“Yes. And you should show your appreciation to the ego for its love. Thank it for caring for you and wanting to protect you. Then acknowledge that you heard and appreciate its concerns, and it will calm down.”
I’ve been testing Technician Eve’s theory for about a year, and I have happily seen it come to life for me. Now, when my authentic self wants to think, say, or do
someone something that my ego is at odds with, I take deep breaths, acknowledge its presence, listen, thank it for sharing, then proceed to do who what I want to.
As a result, I have learned – and am learning – the power of listening to and trusting in my own authentic purity…and there are no amount of rings, pledges or people that can do that for me.
Copyright © 2014-2015 Stephanie Rochelle Redd. All rights reserved.