Ever been attached to someone so fiercely you "couldn't live without them"? In my journey with SSA, I have often discovered that this emotion creeps up on me and seizes my self-confidence. Not to mention my joy, self-fulfillment, personal pursuits, etc. All of them go down the drain, and I sit around and wonder in my depressed state, "What the heck went wrong? Am I truly that undesirable, broken, or negative?" Over time, however, I have realized something. I cannot draw my fulfillment, joy, fulfillment, or anything else positive for me from other people. Since Heavenly Father and the Savior love me for me, just like one friend loves another, I can draw joy out of those relationships. On my journey with SSA, I've often said with different men that I felt like I couldn't live a full life without them, or that I needed male friends to be happy. I have said in the past that I didn't believe men needed male affection, and I meant that. However, I only meant it in the sense that it is not essential to man's survival, physically and spiritually speaking. As for his mental and emotional survival, yes, I do believe that. I have found, though, that defining a clear, obvious line between healthy & unhealthy friendship and affection always turns out for the better.
One essential component, though many exist, to having such a boundary is learning how to be emotionally independent. As I journey with my SSA and my bipolar simultaneously, I have to carefully lay down firm boundaries related to that emotional independence. For example, if someone is acting manipulative - including me - I stop that person and assertively tell them that I do not go along with that kind of behavior. I also am very firm about taking time off for myself. If I'm going somewhere alone, I'm going alone. If I go somewhere to relax, nobody is going to bother me because my cell phone will be off. And if people mock, reject, or otherwise try to hurt me, I do my very best to simply brush it off, while assertively letting the person know that their behavior is not acceptable and I'm distancing myself/saying goodbye. Giving myself permission to relax and be happy, while also standing up for myself, has empowered me countless times to enjoy the power of being emotionally independent.
1. Emotional independence gives you power to make wise decisions primarily based on logic, versus just going off of emotion and acting rashly. In other words, people do not control your actions for any reason- you do. Think of the significance. In faith crises, hours of loneliness, positive changes in belief towards gospel principles (i.e., chastity, sanctity of celestial marriage, etc.), and more all carry weight for your journey with SSA. If someone is able to push buttons and sway such crucial areas in your life, it may be time to rethink emotional independence in your life.
2. This great perspective also enables you to objectively view male relationships of any kind, and at any developmental point, regardless of religious belief or personal background. How? By taking control of your emotions, you are allowing your spirit to have dominance over your flesh. Let me explain. If I can see x guy who I'm attracted to objectively, I can stand back and rein my emotions in. Then I can persuade my spirit to win over, and I'll see him as he is in every aspect, instead of an object for lustful desire or even just a pursuit of infatuation. Now, this is my experience. I'm not necessarily saying it will be for everyone. However, I have found it is the case for me.
3. Finally, such a viewpoint also clarifies the obvious and not-so-obvious boundaries of "acting on SSA". When you are emotionally independent, others do not sway your emotions at their discretion, as we discussed. A byproduct of such a mindset is that you are in control of your emotions, and therefore know where your sexual and romantic boundaries lie. Some things are obvious. Sex or sensuality of any kind is not permissible under the Lord's standards, and it is not determined by our perception. God's word establishes truth, and we are merely the actors and actresses playing it out or ignoring it. But for the not-so-obvious boundaries, such as holding hands or very lengthy hugs, that is within the individual's determination, because such depend on the individual. Some may trigger sexual/romantic feelings, others, not as much. God knows our hearts, and will judge us by our actions and our intentions.
As a side note, I have at times experienced physical affection or friendship that I thought was healthy, but afterward felt unfulfilled and simply craved more. Such is unhealthy, because typically I've found I go at such friendship or affection with that craving desire to begin with. However, when I am in an emotionally independent place, considering the other person's boundaries as well, I find that it is a beautiful, intimate, and sometimes even sacred experience. Healthy male friendship and affection happen as gifts of God, provided they are done in the right context. As such, I would encourage everyone reading this to foster emotionally independence. You'll discover the power it creates for you in your journey with SSA. I promise. Until next time, everyone... hope you find joy and fulfillment in healthy friendship and affection. Love you all! :)