Monday, 12 March 2012

Being More Seraphic

Oh, poppets. Such running around. Later this week I am going back to Canada to see my family and my old friends and my Canadian publisher and my Canadian editors, and complicating all this is that I hate crossing the Atlantic. When I was Single, I loved it, but now that I'm married and Europe-based, the vastness of the ocean freaks me out.

Brr-rr-rr-rr. I'm not going to think about it.

There were a number of suggestions for a post, especially a new episode of the Vocations Discernment Partner saga, but I can't do that at the moment, for the wickedness of the villainess (like the vastness of the Atlantic) freaks me out a bit. I will have to get down to it when I am in a more tranquil state of mind.

So instead I will give out some suggestions about how to be more seraphic as a Single person. I think I have a list of them in my book, which--new readers, take note--I wrote when I was still Single. So if these following suggestions, don't sound very authoritative, coming as they do from a Married Lady, see the book.

1. Let go of the idea of being seraphic all the time. The Psalms run the gamut of human emotions, including "Why me? Huh, Lord? Why me?" They even say to the Lord, "Get up! Why are you sleeping, Lord?" which seems a bit rude, but it's right there in Psalm 43. To be a human being means to be sad and to weep as well as to laugh and be happy. There is nothing wrong with you if every once in a while Life all seems Too Much and you need a little weep or to pummel a punching bag.

If you feel terrible all or most of the time, of course, it is time to talk to a professional.

2. Don't moan endlessly to non-professionals. I read somewhere or other recently, that it is actually BAD for teenage girls to talk about their problems. Apparently teenage girls feel worse, not better, the more they talk about their woes. They need to be distracted by happy thoughts and, my Inner Child adds, trips to the mall.

But adult women certainly feel a sense of relief from a good gripe. The problem with this, though, is that nobody likes hearing tons and tons of gripe. Friends sort of owe each other: I gripe to my pal on THIS occasion, and she gets to gripe to me on THAT occasion. It's only fair, but there is a delicate balance. If you need to gripe and gripe and gripe, especially about old hurts, you should consider paying someone, i.e. a trustworthy and Christian-positive therapist, to listen to you. Depending on your background, you might get a vague thrill from dropping the words "My shrink says" into conversations with pals.

But there are three People to Whom you can gripe to for free and with impunity: the Blessed Trinity. The Old Testament, especially the aforementioned Psalms, include a lot of stories about griping to the Most High. Look at Job--one long, friend-scandalizing complaint, and instead of blasting him with more boils, the Lord says "My Servant Job has spoken well of me." Jacob wrestled with an angel--and some say that this angel was not just an angel but the Most High Himself. And then there are women, like Jacob's mother, who demand of the Lord, "If this is true, why do I live?"

Then in the New Testament, there is a lot of shouting at, and demanding of, the Lord going on. People want stuff from Him, and they're not afraid to ask. And He says we shouldn't be afraid to ask either.

3. Don't beat up on yourself. I'm often amazed at how people can beat up on themselves for stuff that really doesn't matter while seemingly oblivious to stuff that does. For example, saying something you later though was dumb to some new guy at a party doesn't matter. Yelling "I'm so stupid! I'm so stupid!" while banging your head into a wall really upsets the bystanders. Don't do that. Incidentally, women muttering, "Nice going, IDIOT" to themselves is one of my pet peeves. When you're feeling down, talk to yourself as if you were your best friend.

You (inwardly): "Am I just stupid?"
You (in reply): "Of course not. You're one of the most intelligent women I know."

Every time you catch yourself insulting yourself, you must say, "No, I might make mistakes, but essentially I'm fantastic." Recall incidents that give evidence for this. Save all the mea culpas for Mass and confession and apologies to other people.

4. Read inspirational stories, particularly inspirational stories about Single women. Happily for us Catholics, there are a LOT of famous, inspirational unmarried women in our communion. So, okay, a lot of them were nuns. But did you know that Edith Stein did not become a nun until she was in her 40s? And Simone Weil, who is in many ways a difficult heroine, didn't become a nun. Both Edith Stein and Simone Weil were intellectual powerhouses who would probably have been confused by and then dismissive of my dictum that "Men are the caffeine in the cappuccino of life."

Me: Men are the caffeine in the cappuccino of life!

Simone Weil: Could you run and fetch me an eraser?

Edith Stein: Say, I could use a coffee. Could you get me a coffee while you're out?

Edith Sitwell might have agreed with me, though. This fascinating, perpetually Single woman became incredibly popular with younger men who revered her as a Grande Dame. And of course there have also been great Single women of other Christian denominations, other religions and none, for whom the whole business of sex and marriage meant not a lot. I don't know anything about the love life of perpetually Single Lise Meitner, but I do know that she discovered nuclear fission.

5. Exercise. Really, I do not know how I would have got along if I had not burned off so much energy and frustration in my 20s at the gym and early 30s. As hobbies go, nutrition, running and weight-training are fantastic. They are harder to keep up when you are married, though, unless you marry a fellow gym rat. :-( Meanwhile, exercise--especially aerobic exercise--- creates a natural high. I used to skip rope for whole half hours at a time. Total aerobic bliss.

6. But also eat yummy things. Good yummy things, though, that you make yourself from a recipe out of a cookbook. Not store-bought packaged crap that might have been made a year ago.

7. If a man stops talking to you, and you have no idea why, and no way or no inclination to find out, assume that it is because he is overwhelmed with a wrongful passion for you. This is just as likely to be true as anything else, and more true than his possible abduction by aliens, so why not make that your official story to yourself? It has always worked for me. Poor him. How he must suffer. Tra la!


Jam said...

I read Barbara Pym's Excellent Women recently which I thought was a great book for singles. At least I giggled through the whole thing. And it's one of those rare books where the single heroine ends the book as still a single heroine.

Jen D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen D said...

Great list; I love #7 especially! :)

Young Canadian RC Male said...

Hello Seraphic. I was wondering if while you are in Canada, are you going to be doing any visits outside of your family, say maybe a book visit, something with the Register, a pub crawl? You know something where people outside of your family can come and see you in person?

BTW, how long is the visit? If you are staying longer than a month here (say till after the 15th April) there's a special TLM mass I got word of from someone I know of being held on Divine Mercy Sunday.

Seraphic said...

No, I have no public appearances planned! Unless my publisher organizes something, this is strictly a family-and-friends visit.

Young Canadian RC Male said...

Awwww :(. And I was so looking forward to meeting you and revealing my true identity to you.

Just another Catholic Girl said...

I think one day we need to schedule a Seraphic Single meet-up/ get together. I would love to meet you Auntie and all the other singles that follow your blog. I think it would be great fun! :-)

Seraphic said...

Unless on public business or at a party thrown by a mutual friend, women generally don't like being approached by men to whom they have never been introduced.

One of the difficulties of writing is that it can inculcate a false sense of intimacy between the writer and the reader. This does not matter very much between women, for women can usually read social signals more easily than men and infinitely more easily than men who suffer from any of the many common forms of autism.

Because of the very personal topics discussed on this blog, if I could somehow restrict it to women readers, I would. Male readers should not take this as a slight, and I am conscious that I met my husband through my comments box. However, I have also had problems with male readers who crossed the line of normal social discourse to meet me.

In private life, I prefer not to meet men to whom I have not been introduced by a mutual friend or acquaintance.

Seraphic said...

My comment crossed yours, Just Another! As a matter of fact, I have been invited to make public appearances in both Poland and Austria this year. Last year I met readers at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Readers came not just from Notre Dame but from nearby states.

So I do make public appearances; it all depends on where I am invited.

healthily sanguine said...

I love Barbara Pym! Good medicine right there. And these are great suggestions--#7 is my favorite. :)

Anonymous for this one said...

I had one of your readers approach me at a yearly get together. I was uncomfortable the first time we met, but the hobby that attracts people to this yearly event is one that tends to draw more socially awkward folks (myself included...) so I brushed it off as nothing more than that. A year later, he made a beeline for me and greeted me using my (full) name. While I recognized his face, a year is a very long time to remember a name or any other personal details. From what I understand, the name and details were known because he made it to my blog from yours (I suppose following the link on a comment I left). It was uncomfortable because we didn't have any connection other than this one yearly event (and the thoughts I blast to the universe at large) and his familiarity with me was therefore entirely unwarranted. It was also uncomfortable because I always attend said event with my (now) husband. His familiarity implied that he hadn't noticed or didn't care that I was spoken for.

(Sidenote: As men cannot read social situations as easily as women, and as my husband didn't (and doesn't) know who I do and do not know in this circle of hobbyists, he didn't know to come to my rescue until after the fact. An encouragement that being married doesn't completely protect one from unwanted male attention.)

Young Canadian RC Male said...

Seraphic, I'm not 100% socially dense (maybe more like 50% dense lol!), I know you are married. It's more that I enjoy your work as a blogger and also are pro-TLM as well and have seen the best and worst of your fair city Theologically with your academic past. And you keep abrest with what's going on theologically and socially in the Church as a whole. And not to forget, you are one of the reasons I don't mind the Catholic Register and I tell people it's become more neutral over the years. The coverage Nonato, Gyapong, You, Fr. De Souza and Coren provide, you have made the paper better and balanced. That's why I wanted to meet you.

Seraphic said...

Dear Anonymous for This One, I'm very sorry that happened. I can well imagine how uncomfortable you felt because I feel a shock when even men in my social circle say "I read your blog."

Once, rather horribly for me, a man approached the now-husband of one of my friends and said "I recognized your girlfriend on Seraphic Singles!" And the now-husband said, crushingly, "But that's a blog FOR GIRLS." That was the end of that conversation.

In general, when men tell me they read this blog, I tell them that this is a blog for girls. Being a woman, I don't feel competent commenting on the Single Life of men, and all I can do is recommend, again and again, that Single men talk to a good priest who is himself a Single man.

YCRCM, thank you for your appreciation of my work. I know you know I'm married, but it's not about that. It's about not talking to men to whom I have not been introduced by a mutual friend. As I am not making public appearances on this trip, I don't want to be caught in awkward conversations with male strangers. I have been hunted down by a male reader before, and it was not a pleasant experience. It was quite frightening, actually.

That said, it is not at all unlikely that we know some of the same people, so perhaps we will be introduced after all.

healthily sanguine said...

If you want it to be for girls, maybe you should change the color scheme to pink! What man would want to be caught reading a pink blog?

Young Canadian RC Male said...

Glad we understand each other then. I do however, patiently await, in future, a public appearance where one day I can meet you. YCRCM.

Marcus said...

Is chitchat with a stranger in a public setting so threatening it requires a rescue?