“Addiction may oppress our desire, erode our wills, confound our motivations, and contaminate our judgement, but its bondage is never absolute.”
~Gerald May, Addiction and Grace~

You know what’s something that really bothered me about spring break? It’s that I had spent so much time of mine the week before engrossed with an article I read on the internet. This is my topic, the one that sucks me in and that I give myself over too. After the firestorm, after the TCG article debates and Twitter threads that probably burned holes in my prefrontal cortex from reading on my phone so much, I asked myself “WTH?”

For me it is several topics tied up into one. The topics of purity culture/biblical manhood and womanhood/various popular Christian teaching on marriage are all things I became involved with during times when I was seeking guidance. This guidance primarily came through books acquired from the local and now out of business Berean Bookstore. Purity culture was during my teens when I was looking for answers to the question of “how far is too far?” The marriage books were in preparation for and throughout our years of marriage in an attempt to understand more about relationships and the way men think. What makes a good wife? How do you have a godly marriage?

The biblical manhood and womanhood stuff is less clear to me. I still remember the day when I brought the book home from my husband’s office, which I reached for the blue cover standing out from the middle shelves. Often while out for a walk I’d take the kids by to visit him. I went through a phase where I liked to wear sundresses, where I ate oatmeal as an aphrodisiac hoping to bring my body back into balance. Debi Pearl’s Created to Be His Helpmeet was one my sister immediately rejected, but I felt challenged by it. Her words were sometimes harsh and came off at times sounding terribly prideful and self-righteous, but she had a beautiful, feminine, picture on the cover and I wanted to be seen as a wife like that.

He liked when I read that book and wore dresses. When I’d have his lunch ready for him when he’d come home, doing what I could to treat my man like the king of his castle. None of this was stuff he asked for me to do. We would fight sometimes about things, often when I would criticize the culture and women of our church. Why was I the only one who seemed to care about motherhood and womanhood in a biblical way? Why wasn’t there anyone here to teach me how to do this? He always said I could be too extreme with things. The biblical manhood and womanhood book was something he’d picked up in a seminary book giveaway pile. It was not an ideology that he had first ascribed to and then imposed upon me.

At one point I had a resurgent interest in marriage and housewifery which one again led me to reading more books, something to stimulate my mind in the midst of the everyday. This was all done for fun, and not because, that I can remember, we were experiencing any kind of pressing or particular marriage problems. It was true what they said about being a housewife. There was so much time to cultivate a life of domestic arts. You could express yourself in the decorations of your home, love your children and husband by having warm meals for them, experiment with baking, gardening, and cloth diapering for the sheer pleasure of serving loved ones alongside learning something new.

It’s weird. The more false beliefs are extracted from my mind, the more the experiences that were attached to those beliefs are also changed. So many of my experiences, attitudes, and pains were tied up in my marriage beliefs and desires. It annoyed me that I had wasted so much time on this article and the subsequent discussions and articles that followed. Instead of cleaning and straightening my room like I had planned, I ordered more Amazon books for “research”, that I do not even have time or energy to read right now, for my stash for when I write my own book someday.

And then it’s like, I think to myself, “Oh my gosh. This is crazy people behavior. Like, this really is crazy and this is what people do who don’t actually do anything.” And every time I fall into this there comes the airplane with the banner flying overhead with its bright bold letters: She Does Not Eat the Bread of Idleness. It’s the only bread I eat most days, except if I eat bagels when I give in and don’t care. There’s another one somewhere about women who go from house to house, speaking about things that they ought not to say.

I think this is the biggest addiction I have, the addiction of not giving a crap about myself, when I get too discouraged, give up, and quit caring about my life. There is a healthy and non-narcissistic form of self love, as foreign and cringy as it might sound to say it. That is a love we can all learn to walk in. I was actually really sad about the whole not writing books thing, like facing the fact that this just isn’t real, this is not my life. I have an essay to write that is due tomorrow, a book report that is also due Friday. I need to move on now.

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