Finished Grace Burrow's The Captive
trilogy. I happen to like her writing style and it's snappiness, though the way the books trail off to a "happily ever after" 3rd person objective view in the last 3 or so paragraphs do annoy me a little. Anna Campbell does something similar, but moreso with epilogues where people have more opportunity to marinate in the emotional juices of the scene (if you pardon the gastronomic analogy) much longer. I feel they could have been a lot heavier emotionally if she had a writing style more similar to Balogh, where there is very minute attention paid to subtle changes in thought and perspective that the writing style makes you sit with. In spite of that though, thoughts and accompanying emotions are triggered just the same.
In spite of this, the heaviness of the subject matter in the trilogy was a cut above, dealing with survivors of torture and abuse, as well as sharing a glimpse into the emotional life of people who have participated in abuse, either as a reluctant person roped into it (like in Ordinary Men
) or as someone who is inherently pathological. The last, The Laird, definitely had the heaviest subject matter of the three of them, and meandering down into the climax of the story was a very taxing emotional workout. Aside from that, the strongest emotional reactions I got were from Christian in The Captive and Sebastian in The Traitor surrounding a duel, and their meditations on leaving their romantic interest behind, wondering what flowers they would decorate their graves... something about Sebastian being a condemned man seemed to resonate with a sense of hopelessness I've felt at times.
This came back as well during my reading of Tremaine's True Love as well, with the female protagonist Nita visiting Addy's brood of often-sick children to practice medicine. The early courtship and dance of emotions and interest between Nita and Tremaine gave me butterflies and made me feel all fuzzy inside; ditto with the B-romance between George and Elsie. Some parts were angering, such as Nita's misleading of Tremaine and almost using him sexually/emotionally even after discovering there are deeper problems with their compatibility. I did admire the courage it took for her to finally break off the engagement though, since she stopped lying to herself about their compatibility in a critical aspect. I also was frustrated with her disregard for her own well-being when caring for others, even though I did feel some parts of the martyr program tugging at me through the pages. Ultimately she did get a dose what it felt like to be on the receiving end of this via a duel held to defend her honor.
After reading Tremaine's True Love
and looking back at the thread I was a little perturbed at some of the references made here to the secondary male protagonist (George) being gay. His attraction to both men and women is remarked upon and demonstrated clearly on many occasions, and he even falls in love with and marries a woman and remarks that he has had very little emotional connection to men.
It's kind of misleading to refer to bisexual people as gay or lesbian, and also not altogether respectful.
I've only experienced the intellectual rapport to explore the level of relationship mentioned in the previous paragraph once, and I was really too young to know what I was dealing with. I lost that and the subject of relationships became pure torment for a number of years. I do not want to repeat that experience.
Once bitten, twice shy. We've all been there, and I think a part of my own problem was the level of importance I ascribed to my relationship and the role it played in my own life and development. The fact that I wasn't able to learn the lessons properly from it just meant I was forever still tormented by it, and always under its thumb. Even if I swore other relationships and closeness off (and I did) I was still just as trapped as if I was still in it. It's like pendulums; if you ascribe too much negative importance to something, it's going to keep you in its orbit. In your case this may be the catastrophizing about how an imperfect union is simply, categorically, ruinous. No union is perfect. A good relationship Guru I listened to once said this way. You're not forming one relationship with one person, you are forming a series of relationships between different versions of you and your significant other as you both change over time. Are you and the other person both moving in the same direction, i.e. toward truth, love, virtue, acceptance, etc? Soul mates are not things you and some random person walking around out there are
, they are things you become
as you both engage in The Work (Romance is what Mouravieff called the Fifth Way).
As for reading about other people's relationship troubles, they are students in a school. Romance is probably the most demanding and taxing set of lessons to learn in 3D, and since we are all students opening any person's workbook is going to find pages of incorrect answers, edits, addendums, etc that they are trying to improve upon. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong
with the student, or what they're doing. They're in 3D, and their lives are constructed to facilitate these lessons. It is up to you how you learn
those lessons ultimately, and reading is a good way to maybe help clear some of the karma around those hangups. Even if you do try to form a relationship and a union with someone and it ends after a few years, or even a few months or weeks, that doesn't mean it wasn't a productive interaction and instructive in numerous levels. Perhaps there can be discomfort or some sadness around a relationship's dissolution, but really, that's not the end of the world, especially when you consider the upside of exploring something romantic with someone has no upward bound.
Since starting the romantic reading project, I feel a lot less stress when going on dates and meeting people, and at the same time less interested in physical gratification and more able to see where compatibility is and isn't with certain people, and more able to see (and say) what my true feelings are. Before in the back of my head I was always comparing my own feelings in the moment with a relatively impoverished repertoire of relationships and interactions I've had, and consequently had so much anxious emotional charge around it. The romance was a game-changer in that regard, seeing many interactions I've had in real life, and comparing them to other scenarios, can see things from different angles and be more objective. The constant happy endings continually reinforce faith in the fact that acting with love always leads to a better world. I'm not giving advice to keep looking or keep being celibate - I guess my main concern is that if you're making a decision one way or another, I just hope it's not based on fear (whether of loneliness, or of the messiness of human relationships).