Being human is so confusing.
Some people are raised with the assumption that dance is foreplay. That kind of assumption makes it hard for men to dance with men, or women to dance with women, without people feeling perverted.
When I was young, there was an undercurrent in the popular literature/culture around West Texas, that physical interaction with other people was implicitly sexual. It made it hard to talk about rape as a crime of violence, because violence itself was sexual.
What do you mean, crime of violence, not passion? Violence is passion. Passion is violent.I thought at the time that it was something that we were brought up with. If one is taught when young, that physical interaction is always sexual, it's hard to untangle sex and violence.
There was also a similar undercurrent that tenderness was a sexual emotion.
But if one is taught that the only "real" love is the kind that makes babies, one is at a loss to explain friendship.
I have since observed that the confusion is not simply intellectual.
The various systems in the unborn baby must go through a process called differentiation, or the organs never form. I read somewhere that, in many cases, the differentiation is not complete at birth. In particular, the circulatory, lymphatic, and endocrine systems tend to remain tangled, even in adults.
And a light came on. The understanding came a little late, but looking back I see that my own systems were still tangled up until sometime after I was married. (Still aren't completely untangled.)
I had a hard time in social situations when I was a teenager precisely because my adrenalin and hormone systems would kick into gear at the same time. Where the psychiatrists talk about fight-or-flight, I found other stimulations present when I was under stress. Some of those felt sexual in nature, which was embarrassing to me.
With experience, the stimuli have mostly sorted themselves out. I couldn't talk with girls about almost anything at all when I was around twelve to fourteen, because my system was charged with feelings that I had been taught I must not let loose. Physical exercise was often difficult for similar reasons. Answering the teachers' questions in class was sometimes difficult for the exact same reasons.
Learning to run longer than a few hundred yards at a stretch helped me straighten some of those out, although I would find myself fighting with a variety of confusing stimuli after about five minutes on pace. Taking modern dance classes at college was even more help. Dating helped, too, not to burn the hormones off, but to help me sort out which stimuli were real and which were artifacts of the tangling.
Dropping out of college for six or seven years to make an attempt on the OS challenge that Linus Torvalds finally succeeded on might have been another of the things that helped me get untangled.
Believing that the systems could be straightened out was essential. That belief is derived from my belief in the teachings of Jesus -- repentance.
(And repentance, itself, can be really confusing.)
[Update: 001: 20120109.0925]
So I woke up this morning about five, to exercise, and I realized that I left something unsaid that probably needs to be said.
I never knew anyone who had the systems untangled during their teens. Near as I can tell, it's a life-long pursuit for most of us.
And, I guess, one more thing I should say, since I don't have time to make another blog today, getting things untangled will help us accept and be accepted in society better, but it does not make us conform to any particular social norms. We all have talents, and having talents requires non-conformance, and part of the business of living is learning to use those talents well instead of running from them.
In fact, part of getting untangled seems to involve first accepting yourself as you are at the moment, for the moment. Once you have done that, you can get a good start on the day. And I will have to continue this sometime.