Not Corrupt

My love is not corrupt, no matter what I have been taught.  Fearing my love will be seen as corrupt keeps me from the power of love in my life.

Love is a powerful force in peoples lives.   When the dancers in “A Chorus Line” look back on what they did for love, they remember things that they would not have done for any other reason.  Love really does make us invincible, make us powerful, make us crazy.

To maintain social order, though, society needs to blunt that force of love, needs to channel it into nice, acceptable desire.

We get told that our love is corrupt, sick, perverted and are told what is acceptable for us to love.

In “The Red Shoes: On Torment and the Recovery of Soul Life,”  Clarissa Pinkola Estés discusses the old tale of the girl whose handmade red shoes were taken away from her as being not in the proper style and who then replaces those shoes with commercial shoes that take over her legs and begin to dance her to death until her feet are chopped off.

I first wrote about this in 1994 with TG & Clothing, and went deeper in 2006 with Conscious Womanhood and Staying Stupid. 

When the world tells us that our deep, pure, essential love is corrupt, we can’t choose not to love.  Rather, we can only choose to put that love into the permitted substitutes, the commercial and approved objects which were chosen to support the tame social structure while denying the wildness of handmade love.

So much of the deep inner power of gender has been harnessed like this, taken and twisted by smart marketers who want to convince us that using their product is the way we become a better woman or a better man.   Gender is twisted away from something essential to something social, away from a call of the heart to a demand of the culture.  This marketing twist makes gender feel oppressive and demanding rather than liberating and personal.

To do that, though, the first thing they have to teach us is that we don’t really know what we love, teach us that our love is corrupt if it doesn’t fall into approved and controlled lines.   If they can’t teach us not to trust our own love, they can’t teach us that their manufactured substitutes are the only things we should trust to get us what we need to fill our soul.

I often feel that call not to trust my love.   Decades of being trained to go into my head, to put walls around my tender and vulnerable heart have created powerful habits of defence and isolation.

To bond over love, I have to act on my love everyday.   As long as I keep what I love buried because I am sensitive to having my deep, powerful, inner love called corrupt & sick, I can  can never use that love to climb over obstacles, never create deep connections with others with love, bonding over the power of love in our lives.

To act on my love, my crazy and deep love, I need to feel affirmed in the idea that my love is not corrupt.  I need to know that it isn’t what I do out of love, like take care of my parents for a decade that makes my love tenable, rather it is the love itself, queer and feminine and raging that is beautiful and of value.

It’s not what I did for love that matters, it’s what I do from love that counts.  It’s what I do from the love that dare not speak its name, or at least dare not show its fashion sense.

If we all trusted our deep and authentic love, rather than trying to stuff that hole with manufactured simulations sold to us and that then own our soul, we might be able to trust that it is our content than counts and not the way we obey conventions.

My love is not corrupt.   I don’t need to hide it.  I feel better, more present and more alive when I don’t struggle to suppress it.

But changing the habits of a lifetime, well, that’s hard, especially with very skimpy support for that change.

Love is not rational.   But it is, I suspect, the essence of what makes us human, even more than the ability for thought, symbol manipulation and cooperation does.  After all, why do all that other stuff if not for love?

Subj: (TG-S) Stuff
Date: 08/08/96

In a message dated 96-08-07 03:42:23 EDT, xxx writes:

Perhaps one should discuss the deleterious effects of lust on the soul. where the spirit is forgotten in the lusting/craving of physical pleasures that bind one to the ground.

I guess I'm not really anti-passion -- or lust. I think some hot an heavy moments can create connection, communion -- dare I say intercourse? -- between people.

But I do get very uncomfortable with substitutions. I know that I have a tendency to "stuff" -- and that means to try to fill up the empty spaces inside of me with "stuff", to focus on "stuff" rather than life.

We all have ways we stuff things. For me, if I couldn't wear it, I could buy it -- and that carried on a tradition from my childhood where I grabbed stuff in any way I could to make me calm down, to buy people into liking me, to try to pretend that the stuff would make up for the love and support my narcissistic mom just couldn't give me. I find myself still holding onto stuff, grabbing more stuff -- even though I know now that stuff just keeps me grounded in the material world.

And other people stuff with people, with sex, stuffing it in, having it stuffed in. Sex replaces intimacy, spiritual contact rather than helps it along.

The material, physical is important. We need touch & sex, we express ourselves though symbols.

It's just when those symbols start substituting for meaning that I get crazy -- and I think other people do too. It's my guess that most greed comes from an addiction to stuff, thinking that more stuff will make people feel better -- when it is something else altogether they are lacking.

So sometimes we renounce all stuff to try to get balance back, and that's not bad, but it is limited. For alcoholics, who stuff with booze, they can live their life without another drink -- but for people with eating problems, they have to learn to eat sensibly, not to simply abstain from food.

I think it's the obsession with stuff and stuffing -- the attempt to mood alter without dealing with the key problems that gets us into trouble. It sure as hell is what gets me into trouble, both from running from stuff I am scared of and running to stuff that "should" make me happy -- when it's not the stuff that is the issue, it's how I feel, think and understand it.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés (author of "Women Who Run With The Wolves") tape "The Red Shoes," (Sounds Great) is about spiritual life and sorrow. She talks about leaving the "handmade life" and trying to replicate it with objects.

The theme story is of a girl who has no shoes, so she gathers scraps and makes some, dyed red with the juice of berries. She loves them. A rich woman takes her in, and cleans her up, but the woman decides the shoes are too odd, so she throws them in the fire.

The girl learns about society, but at her confirmation, she needs shoes. She sees red leather shoes, and buys them, and wears them when they are inappropriate, at church.

The woman tells her never to wear them again, but when she does, a soldier offers to dust them, and makes some incantation, saying "What wonderful dancing shoes!" But when she tries a step, the shoes take upon a life of their own, and dance her off, and she is only saved when her feet are cut off. Ms. Estés rendition is much more detailed and dramatic, and followed with a thorough and vivid analysis.

Pinkola Estés makes the point that what we hand make as a child, we lose in the process of socialization, then we try to fulfill again with objects, but eventually the objects overtake us and we lose what we love. Our issues are not with the objects, but in reclaiming the handmade feelings that we had to suppress, and that we tried to substitute the objects for.

It is a tape worth hearing.

Objects are just symbols, not replacements for meaning. Though I still have deep desires to stuff, both to stuff things I don't like away, and to fill the empty spaces in my heart with stuff, I do hope I can remember that stuff will never substitute for love.


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