To be “good” or “bad”…that remains the question…

These terms continue to confuse me. And not for a lack of trying to sort it all out.

Look, I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re all mixed and that that necessarily is the case. Should one give into the so-called “dark side” or pursue “the Light”? I haven’t the foggiest clue anymore. Depends on what we mean by dark and light is all I can say on the matter at this time.

Plenty of which I’ve pursued during my life may be categorized by a good many as “bad,” as “dark”, as “self-destructive.” But I tend to take issue with this assumption, particularly when they’re merely offering some surface assessment. Is receiving money in exchange for sex and companionship always bad? Some say so, but I continue to disagree. Why is it morally more upstanding supposedly to marry a man for money? Or to have kids with a man so as to secure permanent access to his resources? Yet people do that all the time and aren’t condemned, likely because most aren’t direct and open about their motives. But I see what is happening out here in society and know enough people to be able to gauge what is deemed acceptable and what typically isn’t. While I can understand people’s hesitation in condoning promiscuity, and I grasp that just because it may compare with other “evils” in a way that demonstrates it’s more favorable doesn’t offer much of a defense — however, still, we’re left with this conundrum about judging people and their own personal choices that aren’t affecting others aside from those adults who consensually choose to be in a given situation with them. It all winds up looking rather sticky, undecided, indeterminable in some universal sense.

That’s not to say I favor moral relativism though, per se. Not sure how to get across my views at this time. I’m rather puzzled is the truth of the matter. What I am and how I’ve chosen to conduct my life tends to tick a lot of people off is all I know for certain. Even though they’re not directly impacted. And even if they’re involved in situations that I myself would prefer to avoid and can’t condone on my own accord. See, the judgment runs in all sorts of directions. Because a majority view may run some way doesn’t make that the definitive take on any given matter.

This isn’t so much about prostitution as it is about personal choice. My past is my past, and I’m not crying over it or requesting forgiveness since I am not sorry for the life that I’ve freely decided to live. That’s not the concern here. Just that there are some things I am ashamed of outside of that realm, yet one issue in particular I’m thinking of here is entirely common among the masses. I remain ashamed due to it violating my own standards of conduct, my own sense of right and wrong, and yet it is a perennial concern among most folks. At least half of us, whether male or female, have been guilty at one time or another of this crime I have in mind. Yet that still doesn’t make it justifiable since it proves damaging and painful to our loved ones. It causes us to break our promises and makes liars and hypocrites out of us.

In all honesty, escorting was far simpler and less devastating than that, at least on my end where no partner was being lied to or misled. And yet, many people find comfort in looking down upon the “working girl,” favorably contrasting themselves against us despite what else they have going on in their lives. As someone who obviously has been on all sides of the terrain, I can tell you that the personal injustices leave a far greater mark than the impersonal. Back then I had not made a vow, had not consented to a monogamous situation. But then later on when I had, it proved to be a wholly different ballgame, one which I admittedly fumbled in.

Some say that it’s a matter of deciding on your moral convictions and following through. I agree. However, life is messy. What I once was clashes with who I am choosing to be now. There was trouble in the transition. And I can’t help but continue to feel extremely guilty for how that impacted my loved one. The past is the past, yes, and I should move on and learn to forgive myself finally, yes. I agree. But isn’t atonement necessary? In my view it is. An innocent isn’t deserving of undue punishment, even if it was inflicted without conscious intent. So much as I am able to claim that anyway. Selfish disregard indeed is a certain form of conscious intent, is it not? And how many of us are guilty of this moral crime? I recognize that I am not in the minority here.

What does it take to let that go? To move beyond that? To cease torturing myself with the “what ifs”? I don’t rightly know. Four years and counting over here. Still suffering with my decisions and their outcome. And my anguish has admittedly compounded the problem so much further for all involved.

So what then? Where to go from there? Conventional wisdom dictates that you simply abandon those you’ve injured and try for a clean slate elsewhere, but that has not proven feasible. Largely my own fault there too, but not mine alone. Sometimes I think we must sit with the pain we inflict on ourselves and others, even that which we may not have intended. I get to thinking it must be a process, not something that simply can be hurried for expedience sake or so as to make others in our surroundings feel more comfortable. People tend to wish for you to learn from your experiences swiftly and move forward, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. Nor is it necessarily preferable, I’m coming to think.

But people might accuse you of being a masochist for being stuck in such a rut for what they judge to be too long. And to hell with them. Most folks don’t learn shit anyway, so who are they typically to say? Some may mean well, are wishing to provide aid and nurturance in your time of need, and that is very beneficial. But they too have to understand that one can disappoint him- or herself to such a great degree that it isn’t easy to walk off the harm done.

I can live with my past profession and whatever harm may have stemmed from that. And I can live with my past promiscuity. But once I opened a new chapter of my life and intended to engage in a new way and failed at doing so, that proved much harder to handle. So I suppose another chapter deserves to be opened, labeling that one as the difficulty with transitioning in one’s lifestyle and choices. And it’s this new chapter I’m wrestling with, trying to make sure I know what I’m doing going forward and can remain trustworthy so as not to disappoint myself or those I love once again. Considering old habits die hard and that what is expected in one environment doesn’t always translate into another. This being the divide between a totally independent lifestyle where I had only myself to think about and transitioning into couplehood where I must place the needs and desires of my partner as highly as I place my own. Call it selfishness but it appears that many struggle in similar ways. And this is a lesson I remain determined to confront and learn the ins and outs of. In fact, I’ve actually been making major progress over the last 2 years especially, at least in that respect. Though it’s taken a toll in other areas of my psyche. Who would’ve thought that such a transition would prove so incredibly painful and difficult to contend with? I sincerely wouldn’t have previously.

But such is life. That’s the way it can be sometimes. Personal reckoning is an unavoidable part of life. Some like to blow these matters off and cast them aside as trivial and unwarranted of so much attention. So be it. They will govern their lives as they see fit and I will govern mine. My loved ones are of supreme importance in my conception of reality, so this all feels unavoidably necessary, despite my turtle-like pace in working through this process. I am a turtle in nearly every area of my life so it shouldn’t be surprising that this ordeal proves no different. But people desire for you to bounce back, to find rejuvenation quickly, to get back on your feet again and quit crying over what’s come to pass. And I don’t know what to say to them. The mind will stew over and analyze what it feels it needs to, for as long as it must. But I can sense that I’m finally approaching that point where I will move on and do my best to pick up the pieces and go home.  The time has arrived. So now it’s a question of where to go from here.

Clashes in one’s lifestyles and habits can and do happen. I won’t pretend to have been graceful in handling my own. But I have been intently focused and concerned, at least over the last 2 years. This is not something I can tolerate repeating. Costs too much emotionally to all involved. And yet I continue to wonder about the boundaries, about what constitutes “good” versus “bad,” about what it means to remain true to myself without violating the consciences of those I care about. And that remains a tangled web I still have to sort out, that I can’t provide an easy answer to. I’m neither the “good guy” through and through nor the “bad guy.” But I have potential to do much damage, that much I’ve discovered. Though, too, I can bring much pleasure as well. These matters can’t help but be a sordid fiasco so far as I can tell. At least for me. Maybe others find it easier to navigate.

Sick and twisted puppies we, once again, admitted to being to one another last night, and that’s the truth on some level deep down. We each have issues, and our problems somehow lead us to attract toward one another despite all signs  saying “No, leave it be.” But this is my loved one and hence my challenge to figure out how to best serve us both going forward. Like a relentless dog with a bone, onward I persevere…

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One Response to To be “good” or “bad”…that remains the question…

  1. Wyrd Smythe says:

    “Should one give into the so-called ‘dark side’ or pursue ‘the Light’?”

    (Is the capital letter you used a Freudian slip of a clue? 🙂 ) On some level, if one is to be civilized, one never gives in and always pursues. That’s not to say one always catches it, but the point is where one stands and in which direction one faces.

    This may ultimately depend on whether one subscribes (as I do) to virtue ethics rather than deontology or consequentialism. As a virtue ethicist, personal virtue is an important property, and it’s crucial to pursue an ethical stance that’s organic. The whole point of virtue ethics is that one does dedicate to pursuing the Light.

    One defines the Light for themself; I like to use human history, especially as expressed in our art and literature, as my “text” for study. Our stories, from Grimm to the really good SF, like Dune or Brave New World, are filled with morality lessons.

    There are also various moral philosophers, but they can be very confusing. (Especially that central moral philosopher, Kant.) The stories are more fun. 🙂

    And, again, don’t confuse a moral stance, or a moral life, with the choices one makes. It’s a little like believing in God. Even if faith is very imperfect, it’s still faith. A spiritual life dedicates to a goal it can never quite reach (because, as they say, it’s a journey, not a destination). A moral life is the same way; a journey.

    I wish you could let go of your past. I wish you could forgive yourself.

    Keep repeating the Existentialist Mantra: Your past does not define you. You are who you choose to be today.

    Keeping that in mind, the question of whether being a working girl is “bad” or “good” rather depends on exactly what’s being asked and what’s meant by “bad” and “good.” The specific act of exchanging money (or services or boyfriending or husbanding) for sex (and presumably girlfriending or wiving) is pretty hard to define as morally wrong or morally right.

    As you point out, there’s a spectrum, and a great deal depends on the intentions of those involved.

    And it’s very hard to condemn any fair transaction agreed upon between two consenting, knowledgeable, adults.

    A far deeper question, the relevant one right now, is what choosing that lifestyle can do to a person, and it’s on that basis many define it as a bad choice. It’s not the transactions. It’s not even the life itself, per se. It’s what living it does to a person. Your struggles now are proof of that.

    But at worst, at absolute worst, you made a choice (that may not have been much of a choice so much as navigating between non-ideal options). You gained a lot of experience (good and bad) from that and you learned a lot about life (good and bad).

    That was then. This is now. Keep your eyes on the road ahead and stop looking in the damn rear view mirror so much. 🙂

    “But this is my loved one and hence my challenge to figure out how to best serve us both going forward.”

    No. That is not written in the stars in the Book of Love. That is a choice you’re making, and from where I sit it sure doesn’t look like a healthy one. It’s yours to make, of course, but every time you go back, I see you end up being tortured.

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