Saturday, February 12, 2011
I'd seen a piece of furniture I really thought we could use -- an old-fashioned oak wardrobe, with an oval mirror on it; the sort of piece I'd been looking at and admiring in antique stores for years -- and the price was irresistible; less than half what most such things were going for.
So I told him -- since he was going into town anyway -- to stop by and have a look. But when I came home later that evening, and asked what he'd thought of it, he said he'd never gotten around to it.
He hadn't gotten around to walking the dog either, though it was almost 10 pm, so I did that and went up to bed and started reading myself to sleep.
But sleep just wouldn't come. And I had to face the fact that I was hurt he hadn't bothered to look. And maybe I'd been daydreaming a little -- that, having told him I liked something, he'd get all indulgent and just buy it for me; you know, surprise me.
Silly, I told myself. Greedy. You don't even need it (though you've thought for years something like that would make a perfect closet for the guest room.) And stupid, too, to have wanted it in the first place -- it's not a perfect specimen of the breed, not as enchanting as some I've seen over the years. And things like that don't happen to girls like you. Wait. What was that voice? Where did that come from, that last remark?
Having heard that one, I began backtracking, and noticed the other voices, too: the ones that called me silly, and stupid. For wanting something; for wanting someone to notice that I wanted something. And I could hear echoes from my childhood; times when I wanted things and was told I was stupid, the thing I wanted was tacky, or silly. And then, the kicker: don't be so greedy. And that old saw -- only children are such spoiled brats. You don't want to be one of THEM.
They'd always been there, those voices. And of course I heard echoes of them in that failed first marriage. My way of dealing with the voices -- when I got the courage, finally, to extricate myself -- was to vow not to count on someone else to treat me well: I'd take care of my own needs; I would never again ask someone else to do that. And I did -- I got a good job, and learned to listen to that voice that wanted.
But of course I built in my own parent, installed voices in my own head to say don't be stupid, or greedy, or silly. Learned to cut corners and make do; to compromise -- it's silly to want that, it's foolish to want this; you're already so fortunate -- you don't need that: think of all the starving people in the world. Or you'll never find that, they don't make stuff like that for people like you. Here, this'll do just fine. Settle. Some part of me was always telling me to settle; that I was foolish and greedy to want whatever it was I wanted. Don't make such a fuss about not getting what you want. Those are wants, not needs. And of course, I didn't want to be one of those people with entitlement issues. One of THOSE people.
Sometimes I got my courage up, stifled the voices, asked for what I needed, or felt I deserved -- even got it. But that would always launch these desperate people-pleasing behaviors afterward -- because I felt so guilty, not just for asking, but for getting.
So there I was, lying there, in the dark, trying to sleep and feeling all those echoes from the past wash over me. And of course that mature adult parent voice started to kick in, saying don't be silly. But I heard it this time. I was listening for it. And then I could hear another voice, underneath that one. And it said, Wait! That was a feeling you were feeling. Feelings are good. Keep feeling that.
And as I felt my throat starting to close up, I could hear Brene Brown's words -- which I published here just 3 days ago -- about the numbing thing: that if we numb our feelings at the sad end of the spectrum, we numb them at the other end, too. Don't do it, I thought; don't shut down. Feel the hurt -- even if it is stupid or silly. I couldn't outshout that other voice. But I could try to stay with the feeling.
Because it's just important to listen. Because the heart wants what it wants. Why not just let it want? Wanting is okay. Sad for not getting is okay. But it's not stupid. And wanting doesn't make us greedy. Why are we so embarrassed to want?
So then, because I was afraid I might forget, and go back into the numbness, I came downstairs to write. Some part of me was already accusing: see, you're running away. Running to words, instead of staying with the feeling. But I've grown so forgetful lately -- and feelings, and their triggers, have a way of disappearing before I have a chance to look at them, acknowledge and honor them. So I decided it would be good to write. But of course if I'm going to blog, I need a picture.
And look what I found. It tells me just what I needed to hear -- what everyone needs to hear.
"You are the best thing."
Really you are.
Posted by Diane Walker at 9:03 AM