Love, Loss and Longing: The Rebooting of a Feminist Heart By Cynthia Garrity-Bond


It has been said time heals all wounds, I do not agree.  The wounds remain, in time the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone.  Rose Kennedy

 This past Saturday, August 6, would have been my 34th wedding anniversary.  Next Saturday, August 13 will be the wedding of my once fiancé.  The former lasted 20 years, the latter 10.  I have recently begun the delicate dance of getting to know another man; continuing to second-guess myself as if I’m a schoolgirl with her first crush, only I’m not.  I’m a woman drawing upon 30 years of the good, the bad, and the ugly.    Without sounding like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and The City, I am asking myself what does a feminist relationship look like as it unfolds?  How do I trust another with a heart that is held together by Elmer’s glue?  And more importantly, how do I make myself present to another without past wounds surfacing and then projected onto the innocent?

In a recent post, XochitlAlvizo wrote on the difference, as she understands it, between sacrifice and love. All too often, argues Xochitl, we confuse the two, believing our sacrifice is what redeems us and others, when in reality, it is always love.  The distinction, while at times difficult to discern, is what can bring life to a healthy, loving relationship.  I can’t imagine not being steeped in a committed relationship without some sacrifice on my part.  But when does this practice of sacrifice become the support system for sustaining love?  How do I hold the balance of love and at times sacrifice for another without losing love of self?

Of course the obvious starting point is in the selection of the right person, (I seem to have missed this crucial point).  St. Augustine, in his autobiography Confessions, states that our single greatest desire is to love and be loved.  Each time we put ourselves out there, each time we risk pain and rejection, we embody Augustine’s insight.  The challenge, as I am confronted with again, is recognizing the right love, a love that affirms as well as believes I am part of the formula in my concrete reality.

In Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, Margaret Farley takes on the task of asking how does one recognize a “right or good love?  Farley acknowledges that not all of our loves are good, even though we throw ourselves into them.  Argues Farley, “There are wise loves and foolish loves, good loves and bad, true loves, and mistaken loves.  The question ultimately is, what is a right love, a good, just, and true love?” Farley asserts that there must be a poetic dance of relationality between the two, a continual building up of the other where each affirms the becoming of the other, “I want you to be, and to be full and firm in being.”

As I rebuild my life and heart, I’m attempting to understand the complexity of what went wrong.  What life-lessons must I grasp before I am able to move onto the next relationship empowered with knowledge of the self. I also want to incorporate what went right, what was beautiful and abundant in each relationship without distorting its reality.

Each morning I receive “A Note from the Universe,” a pithy insight into self, others and the bigger picture awaiting those who can hear and see it.  This is today’s reading:

Never regret love, Cynthia.  No matter how blind, it improved your worldview.  No matter how foolish, it made you wiser.                And no matter how generous, it made you more.

Now that is some kind of synchronicity with the Universe!



Categories: Ethics, Feminism, Feminist Awakenings, General

Tags: , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. Honest, beautiful, Thank you.

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  2. Thanks Catherine, I know you have been witness to most of this complexity. Let’s hope you can be witness to the beauty as well.

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  3. Cynthie,
    Your post here represents what I see as the best of personal essay writing/blogging. So vulnerable and beautiful. Thank you for sharing these insights.

    I just adore Margaret Farley. Her writing is like poetry, and so full of wisdom and truth.

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    • Caroline,
      Thank you for your response. I was very hesitant with this submission for all the obvious reasons, and yet, I do feel our blog must be both/and. Room for the personal struggles as they relate to the human condition, which for many of us, include our ideologies and all that make us vulnerable.

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  4. Thanks for your honesty. This is a tough one to figure out, for those of us caught in the middle of feminism and our upbringings–especially given that “a good man is hard to find.” However, I wonder if “sacrifice” should be a model for relationships. There is no doubt that parents often are called to give more than they receive, but even there I would be wary of asking anyone to sacrifice her or him self. In adult relationships, give-and-take and compromise are probably required, but sacrifice and self-sacrifice…I think those are dangerous ideas. Even in the case of Jesus I would say that he was willing to risk death but I would question the doctrines of self-sacrifice or sacrifice given by his father.

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  5. Carol,
    Both you and Xochitl offer important wisdom with regard to the subject of self-sacrifice. Still, I would not want to conflate Anselm’s soteriology of a Satisfaction Theory (Cur deus homo) with the concept of self-giving which may require sacrifice. In these terms, I do not see it as sexual complementarity but instead, epic love for the other.

    In what terms would we identify the work and death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose return to Germany from the US was a certain death sentence? Or, the lives and deaths of the El Salvadorian church women, raped and murdered in December of 1980? Yes, these are epic in terms of conditions, there deaths, I believe, are examples of sacrificial love in the midst of political strife. But equally the exchange that takes place between two individuals as they attempt to carve out a life together involves the quieting of ones ego and at times, personal needs for the sake of the other. Sacrifice or love? I see it as both/and.

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