When I think of polar opposites, I think of contradictory things: black/white, good/bad, tall/short. But when you think about it, that’s actually a misnomer. Because both polar points on Earth are ice cold.
Catie and I are quite different. More like polar ice and desert heat. She likes bright sun; I like rain. She likes salty/spicy; I like sweet. She needs to be grounded in life; I love getting lost in fantasy and daydreams.
One of the reasons I love having her in my life is because she challenges my way of thinking. She’ll make some comment and I’ll need to process it. Because what I thought I knew–like knew, as fact–is thrown out the window. I begin to question everything.
We are all raised with the core values our families instill in us. We are taught that X is right and Y is wrong. As children, we don’t really question it. It’s all we know.
I didn’t really start pushing back and arguing with my parents until I was in my teens. By then, a lot of things had been engraved into my psyche. (Side note, my mother was diagnosed as ‘bipolar with paranoid tendencies’ when I was in high school. Her behavior hadn’t changed; it was just given a name. I reiterate: by then, quite a lot of damage had been done. As an adult, I recognize it. I didn’t back then.)
Traditional Portuguese individuals are taught that a female grows up, goes to school, gets married, has babies, raises those babies while caring for aging family members, and then dies. In that order. I was taught that sex is something men and sluts enjoy. A proper woman doesn’t enjoy it. It’s done for procreation. That’s it. The only thing a woman enjoys about sex is the child that it brings.
(Another side note: For a long time, I thought my mother was a weirdo with philosophies of the dark ages. But I’ve watched The Portuguese Kids and realized that this is a culture thing, made worse by mental illness.)
Catie, on the other hand, grew up in an incredibly free family. I mean, literal hippies. With communes. I hear stories about how she was raised and it blows my mind.
I can’t imagine how it’d be, to grow up thinking that sex is a normal part of life. That, if done right, it’s a pleasurable experience for all involved. That there’s nothing wrong with enjoying sex. That there’s nothing wrong with you wanting it.
It took a long time for me to shrug this image, of being told that sex is sin, that sin equals damnation in hell for eternity.
Catie isn’t the reason I walked away from religion. Remember, Paul and I had a girlfriend before Catie came into our life. But her presence, her words, her way of thinking, challenges me. Every day.
Marriage is optional. Kids are optional. You don’t have to talk to your family if you don’t want to. You are allowed to be your own person.
What? No one told me marriage was optional. That having kids was, too. And I was taught that you care for your family – until death.
Don’t get me wrong. There are moments when I disagree with Catie’s beliefs/opinions/actions. But I stop and think about it. How does that belief differ from mine? Why do they differ? Would that action hurt anyone? Who? How? Etc. Once I’ve thought about it, I make my decision: Keep my own or adapt a new one (belief/opinion).
The moral of the story is to think for yourself. Do what makes you happy. And if that means welcoming someone else to your bed, go for it (as long as no one gets hurt.)
Hi there, Catie here! I’m very glad that no one has gotten hurt by having me in their bed lately 😉 But seriously, listening to the way Lena and Paul grew up baffles and annoys me sometimes. Then I remember that the way I grew up was probably fairly unique, I’m the different one, what a terrible thought, right? Who wants that?
Me. I’m okay with different. Different has worked out really well for me.
My mom is usually way ahead of her time (something about being an Aquarius) so by extension my dad is too. Like Lena though I didn’t notice that other people didn’t share my upbringing until I was in my teens. I didn’t always “get” the values of the people around me so my motto became “whatever.” After all, my parents and Sesame Street had taught me to be as non-judgmental as possible. As we all know though, we subconsciously judge the fuck out of each other all the time so the trick is really tolerance.
And that’s where Lena and Paul come in. As much as I love them they challenge my thought processes, beliefs and tolerance levels all the time. Its good because its always good to see another side of things. But to some degree being with them has made me a less tolerant person. Thoughts/ideas/concepts that I could shrug off before as things that didn’t affect me suddenly do. In theory I can say “whatever” and move on except….no. I’ll take a little time and give whatever the issue is some thought but if my brain just can’t deal then no. I’ll either fight tooth and nail to change it or I completely ignore it because “Not my monkey, not my circus.” Luckily, we’re all good at compromise and we’re all willing to agree to disagree and stay out of each others way.
At the end of the day, we love each other very, very much warts and all.