I grew up with a lot of strict ideas. Some of them were actually good ideas that somehow got twisted into a set of ironclad rules which (in light of the black-or-white, heaven-or-hell, do-this-or-else culture of my house that drilled them into my mind) haunt me to this day.
One of these ideas is that of “being satisfied with what you have.” Most of us could probably agree that at least part of the time this is a good idea (can I qualify that statement any more?). They way that this would work for me growing up, however, was that this “good idea” suddenly became law written in stone. Any feelings of dissatisfaction? WRONG, you should be content! Want what someone else has? SUPER WRONG, control your feelings you green-eyed-monster! Hoping for more out of your life? IF YOU REALLY BELIEVED IN GOD YOU WOULD BE HAPPY WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, you wretch.
Sounds fun, no?
Granted, it wasn’t generally presented in such a vociferous manner (lower case instead of all-caps, if you will), but I was trying really hard to do everything just right and if there was a rule, I was going to do my darnedest to follow it. (That’s how to stay safe, you know.)
I’ve been working on exorcising these old rules, and just recently became aware that this one was still hanging around.
“Be satisfied with what you have,” was somehow twisted into “want nothing.” Which is impossible, of course, but tell that to the voices in my head. They’ll just say I’m not trying hard enough.
I became aware of this old millstone rule lately because I’ve become much more aware of wanting.
Okay, I’ll say it, I want more in my life than I’ve got right now. I want love in my life, I want a partner, I want children.
And wanting is just about the scariest fucking thing ever.
I remember the last time I focused on wanting a child. That didn’t really turn out so well (but I guess going through fertility treatments with a crazy person means you’re pretty much set up for failure from the start).
I remember wanting to be in a relationship, wanting desperately to be married to this person who seemed so amazing. (We know how that turned out, don’t we?)
And so now I set up all these barriers between me and the things that I want. I tell myself I’m too fat to date, and then I do everything possible to make sure I don’t lose any weight. I tell myself I just need friends in my life, not a partner, and then I keep just about everyone at arm’s length, saying “no” to invitations much more than I say “yes.” (And so, instead of being out with friends, I’m at home, alone, on the computer on a Friday night.)
And I tell myself I should be satisfied with what I have. I tell myself I should be content. I tell myself all of those things that I heard so many times, and the end result is I push the wanting aside and then I can’t figure out why there’s a pain in my chest when I hear about someone’s new baby, and I don’t know why I suddenly want to cry when I consider some happy couple that I know.
Lately the wanting has been pushing back and I can no longer say that I am unaware that I want. I want, I want, I desperately want.
I’ve been avoiding writing this post for weeks because I don’t think we are any more vulnerable than when we are wanting, and I don’t want to be vulnerable. “If I don’t want, they can’t hurt me.” That’s rolling around in my head somewhere, or maybe it’s in my heart. Who really knows these days? If I want nothing, I have nothing to lose.
But I have already lost, and I am already losing. Every day that goes by that I hide in my cave, or hold others at a distance, or simply don’t try is a day of loss. Pretending it’s not really there doesn’t make the wanting go away.