Q: I have fallen madly in love with Sarah Palin. Some of my friends - especially the more liberal of them - are appalled. But I want to see Sarah all the time. I want to find out everything she likes. I want to know more about everything she believes. I want her to know about me and I think - really I do -that we could be friends. I'm sure we'd be on the same wavelength and with her around, I'd never feel again like the odd man out -actually, woman -- in any group. We would have each other.
I fantasize that with Sarah at my side, I'd be able to stand up to my family. I would be able to stand up for my beliefs no matter how much my father berates me. I'd talk with Sarah after one of these visits and we'd turn the tables on them - my family - and poke fun at them. I'd be a part of a team that stands tall and our team would add other members, too. Sarah empowers. Really, she does.
My friends think I'm nuts. Am I?
A: Well, I am happy for you. It is certainly a good feeling to fantasize about gaining strength and standing up for your beliefs. If you are doing this already on account of Sarah, more power to you -and, I suppose, to her. This is a worthy goal -to be confident and strong in our beliefs and seek the company of others who feel the same way.
But -- and unfortunately this is a big BUT-- your goal ought to be to find this strength in yourself, not in someone else. This is particularly the case when that someone else is a quasi-mythical character about whom we still know very little. You goal should be to feel secure in your own beliefs. And when you have this strong security, then it doesn't matter so much if others agree. You will accept that others will think you're wrong. That's okay. What's not okay is when you feel berated or stupid just because someone shakes their head no. In fact, you may even be able to listen to someone else's point of view without it feeling like an attack on you.
Truth to tell, you sound like a high school student. During adolescence, we strive to separate from our parents and sometimes the path to that independence is paved with the need to reject everything they stand for. We become quite aware that our family has values that we don't share. We yearn to yell at them (and a lot of times we do) and to tell them how stupid they are. We become adults when we accept our parents as real people with a life of their own, one that preceded ours and helped shape their values. We become adults when we compassionately try to understand who they are and love them accordingly -not for who we want them to be, but for who they are.
High school kids tend to fall in love very quickly. Not for them the recommended path of discovery. Who is this person? No, frequently for kids, this person is a template of someone else -maybe themselves. The "new girl in town" is basically a blank slate. On that slate we can write anything we went -- all kinds of characteristics and beliefs. That passion -and boy, we are talking real passion here - is reserved for an idealized someone who is exactly like us, a worthy ally in all of life's battles. We don't want anything to do with reality. Nosiree! What does the new girl in town actually believe? How does she treat others? How does she resolve problems? What does she most cherish?
It is only when we know the answer to those questions can we really talk about love - about a feeling that transcends passion and grows with time. It is only with patience and time that we determine if this new love is actually a candidate for a fulfilling long-term relationship. It is only after we have fully discovered ourselves, thrown away our childish need to rebel, and found out about the other new love that we can really enjoy a good love.
I know that you and many other women (also men) have fallen in love with Sarah Palin. I understand. She's strong and vital and vibrant -and you want her to be your champion. But take a moment and think what your love really means. You've fallen in love with the woman you want to be not the woman Sarah Palin is. In fact, we don't have any idea who that really is.