Auntie SparkNotes: My Morals Are Ruining Everything
I have this problem: I'm too...good. I know, I know what a horror. But my morals are getting in the way of everything. I'm seventeen and I have the conservative values of someone who's two hundred and six.
I'm straight edge, I'm extremely awkward and prude, and the mere mention of pornography sends me into fits. I'm a vegetarian and I take success in school seriously and I respect and love my parents. I don't party and I yell at people who park in handicapped spaces who aren't handicapped. So basically, I'm a monster. My family doesn't share my values, so while proud, they don't understand me and my problems.
Because of my strict morals and crazy ideology it's hard for me to keep friends. People talk with me and laugh with me and see that I know how to crack a funny joke, and its all going up hill- that is until they see how strict and conventional my values are. Suddenly we talk less and never hang out because I end up not wanting to be involved with so much of what they find fun. I feel lonely and upset, and what's worse is that I know I don't even want them as close friends, because we'll never connect on the emotional level I want to, because they're so much more rebellious and we just won't click.
I also have a boyfriend of two years, he's more morally conscious than any other guy I've met and he is my only friend. He's nineteen and I love him so much, he talks so highly of me and our family gets along and it's the whole shebang. We talk about everything, but then... here come my values. I can't get intimate with him, all the way. We talk about it a lot and he says he'll wait as long as I need, but I'm driving myself crazy thinking about it. I really regard my sexual tension as more of a fear. It took me five months to make out with the kid, and I've prepared for HND by getting on birth control and buying several thousand condoms. I refuse to see gynecologist and even speaking of genitals or masturbation makes me want to cry. There's no reason behind any of this, it just makes me incoherently uncomfortable. Like, crying-after-making-out-with-your-boyfriend uncomfortable, because you have no idea why you're so awkward. I'm so uncomfortable with the fact that other girls have less morals and he may see them and drool or think unconventionally about "banging". And that makes me hate him and go crazy and hate myself.
So, how do I keep my morals and personality without letting them ruin my life? I don't want to change to accommodate other people, but I want to live and be liked and most of all be more comfortable with the people and world around me.
Whoa, whoa, whoooooooooa. Crying after makeouts? Avoiding the gynecologist? Freaking out at the slightest mention of body parts or masturbation? Isolating yourself away from anyone or anything that might challenge the way you engage with the world?
Sweet pea, this doesn't sound like morality. It sounds like post-traumatic stress disorder.
And despite your best efforts, you don't sound like a person with a strong ethical center who's finding it difficult to reconcile her conservative value system with the free-wheeling world around her. You sound like a person who's seized on the specter of morally-superior piety as a last-ditch alternative to admitting that she's an emotional basket case.
Because this isn't a question of your "goodness," Sparkler. That might be the framework you've constructed to try to explain why you feel so lonely and crazy and scared, and to justify keeping those feelings unexamined, but it's not the foundation. And as long as you keep trying to deal with your hangups by cramming them into a box and writing "MORALS" on it, you're never going to feel any different than you do right now.
Which is why, first and foremost, I hope your next stop will be the office of a qualified therapist, counselor, or mental health professional who can tease out the roots of your various anxieties—and who will call you out on the justifications you're using to keep everyone at arms' length. (Hint: Read back through your letter and look at how much time you spend insisting that your values are inherently isolating and make it impossible for you to ever relate to or be understood by anyone else, even as it's excruciatingly clear that you're the one pushing people away. Why? What do you gain by that? What are you scared of?)
Your doctor, your parents, your pastor, or even the people at RAINN can point you in the direction of qualified help. Whatever the cause, the anxiety you feel about your own body is truly troubling; even if you decide not to become sexually active right now, you should be able to think about and discuss your sexuality without it being traumatic. Please don't wait to find someone to talk to. You deserve some peace.
And in the meantime, forget about your values—as in, let them be what they are, and let them become whatever they're going to be. Remember, too, that it's natural for values to evolve; your sense of who you are and how you should be is always evolving, getting better, incorporating new experiences and information. Even if you emerge from this period of self-examination with exactly the same vegetarian, straight-edge, tightly-laced, virgin sense of propriety as you have now, what matters is that it'll be coming from a healthy place — one of self-awareness and acceptance and understanding, not fear. And your morality will be what it's meant to be: the compass that guides you through the world, instead of a fortress you built to keep it out.
Morals? Hangups? Moral hangups? Tell us about 'em in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.