Three X’s in a row can mean a few things… a large clothing size… very sharp cheese… the name of a Vin Diesel movie… a ZZ Top album… or a very unpalatable, uncomfortable subject that many of us cringe at the mere mention of… nakedness. Well, I really am going to talk about the last one… although I don’t think it will be what you “expect.” We are in the middle of a series at Community of Hope called “Sex God” and yes… it is about sex. You might think that is odd, to talk about sex at church but as Joe Carmichael so wisely pointed out last Sunday in our opening week… God invented sex… He created us to be sexual beings… moreover, sex is a real problem these days… so why shouldn’t the church be talking about sex? I don’t think any of us really expect it will just go away if we ignore it.
As a young girl, I didn’t like to read very much. In fact, I was a terrible reader, so bad that I had to give up my recess time to go to reading lab. I remember one summer my parents enrolled me in a book club just to try to keep me reading. It was pure torture!!!! The next summer, my mom bought me a membership with a book club. I got a new book every week or so and they just kept coming in. One of the covers intrigued me because it had a cute boy on the cover. That was the only reason I decided to read it. It was about a nerdy high school freshman girl who had a huge crush on the senior football quarterback. She was poor and didn’t have many friends but somehow, against all odds… she landed the affections of Johnny Jockstrap. By the end of the book, they were walking into the sunset together holding hands. I remember actually getting “high” on the ending. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside and was filled with hope that someday I would be that girl walking into the sunset with the guy of my dreams. I wanted more so I picked up the next book. This time the girl was crippled and confined to a wheelchair but by the end of the book, she was holding on tight to Rippling Rob as they soared through the countryside together on horseback. I felt “high” again and got hooked. I’m not sure how many of them I read or even how many times I read each of them but one thing was for sure… I knew for certain exactly what love was going to be like when my prince appeared.
Huh… yeah right. Part of the story line was fulfilled easily… I was a nerdy girl with very few friends… but as for the rest of the script… pure poppycock. I spent my entire adolescence waiting for my Johnny Jockstrap or Rippling Rob to save me from loneliness. I was completely disillusioned! I grew up though, and dated around a bit.
My first experience with this unpalatable, uncomfortable, nakedness subject was in New York City. A boyfriend of mine wanted to go into one of those “XXX” stores. What totally disgusted me became an obsession for him. He would rent those movies every week and I would stand by completely grossed out and baffled at how someone I liked could like “that.” We grew apart for many reasons, that surely being one of them. I thought he had a low value for women because of his fascination with it, like we were just sexual objects meant for physical pleasure. Ewww… where was the love? Where was the emotional fulfillment? It seemed all those movies did was cheapen sex and give an unrealistic expectation of bedroom bliss…to me it seemed like sexual poison. The average woman wouldn’t be willing to do half the stuff those “actors” and “actresses” did. Ewwwww! How unfair! After that, one of my criteria for dating a guy was that he not be into porn… and yes, I did ask before our first date. Of course asking didn’t prevent me being lied to.
About two years before I got sober I began a major slide into my personal hell. I was extremely unhappy with just about every aspect of my life. I was married and pregnant but I had convinced myself that my husband didn’t love me. I remember watching the movie “13 Going on 30” and getting really mad. I mean, I was livid!!!! I remember thinking how unfair it was that this girl in the movie had two guys that loved her so much. And the fact she got to go back in time and fix a mistake she had made, well that made me even more mad (as if that were realistic in any way shape or form). How come I couldn’t have that? Why didn’t anyone love me the way she was loved???? In fact, that movie spawned my complete hatred for Jennifer Garner that is still hovering over me even today. After that I was even more convinced my husband didn’t love me. I wanted what I saw on the silver screen… no… I believed I deserved what I saw on the silver screen; love, real love, the type of love that moved mountains and stayed hot and heavy at all time. That’s right, I wanted MOVIE LOVE!!!! Movie love was the real thing and I deserved it.
Well, I’ve been sober for over two years now and a lot has changed. Yes, I still hate "those" movies but after all my husband and I have gone through together, no one can ever tell me he doesn’t love me. I know he does, for if he didn’t, he never would have put up with what I dragged him through in the process of wrecking my life and then getting sober. Our trip to hell and back is what showed me exactly what love really is.
One weekend, the movie “The Notebook” was on television and for some unexplained reason I started to watch it. See, that is another thing that changed with my sobriety. I came to despise chick flicks that painted such an unrealistic picture of what love was supposed to be. As I watched this horrendous movie, I went to my imaginary bucket with violent dry heaves at least 100 times. I was seriously nauseous as I watched it. Now, don’t get me wrong… it’s okay to like a good love story… as long as you realize that it is a bunch of unrealistic crap. If you can watch it, let your heart swoon and bawl your eyes out then get right back into reality afterwards… go for it. But for me, and I’m sure many other ladies out there who don’t have even a pinky toe dipped in reality…these movies are emotional poison that set up unrealistic expectations of love. These movies ruin perfectly good relationships every day.
So here is my point, as much as I hate the triple X industry and don’t understand it, I was once very guilty of partaking in the same addiction. It’s just that my high was achieved from the emotional variety instead of the sexual. My movies gave me unrealistic emotional expectations of my spouse. It gave me an illusion that he wasn’t being all he could be, that he wasn’t ever going to love me the way I deserved to be loved. Basically, he couldn’t do anything right, especially after a fresh viewing of “Titanic.” Lord help him! One step worse was this… I not only watched emotional "porn" and let it seep into my soul… I also wrote an emotional XXX book and passed it on to others. When I was wrote DESCO, I was at my expectational worst!
I think one of the biggest things that contributed to my unhappiness up until the age of 34 (that’s a lot of years of misery) was the fact that I had majorly distorted and unrealistic expectations of everything. A big part of that was just that I was born with a brain that doesn’t think the way it should, but there were other factors that contributed over the years. Reading books and watching movies that gave me that “high” certainly didn’t help. Drinking booze helped me numb all the disappointment I felt over everything in my life. In my 20’s I thought I had gotten a little bit better with my expectations by simply hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. While it may have been slightly healthier than expecting the world on a silver platter… I learned later, that mantra was just as bad for me.
The best way for me to live life is to try and have no expectations at all. When that approach was first brought to my attention, I rejected it completely. Why? Because I thought it was a negative way to walk around. In reality, having no expectations keeps things going upward no matter what. I have a great trick to learning how to have zero expectations… so if you’re interested… ask me and I’ll share it with you.
In closing I’d like to say, if you are a person who watches “The Notebook” and then goes on with life happily, able to make love to your husband without pretending he is Ryan Gosling, then I think you’re safe. But if you’re a person who adores “The Notebook” but feels totally unfulfilled by your totally normal, generally good natured spouse just because they don’t make you feel the way the movie makes you feel… you might be suffering from unrealistic expectation syndrome… and you just may have a little unhealthy addiction of your own.
Let me be clear… movie love is not real love. In addition, no person can or will ever fulfill you completely. While porn (sexual or emotional) can be visually stimulating, physically arousing and enjoyable in the moment, it is fleeting and leads to dangerously unrealistic expectations of others.
Only God can fulfill us. His love can make you feel true joy. His love is real and therefore never fleeting. I believe with all my heart that we were meant to feel as though a piece of us is missing when we don’t allow Him to complete us. If that seems unrealistic to you then I have a question… how’s what you’re doing right now working for you? Enjoy your triple X theater, whatever variety it may be. Just remember who will be there waiting for you when all the credits have rolled and you’re stuck with that horribly empty, frustrated, unfulfilled feeling… God will be waiting.