26 September 2010
I bring it back again-- the metaphor of the cactus tree, full and hollow, according to lovely Joni's words. I hope that you've had the chance to listen to the song, but in a nutshell, it's about a girl who avoids commitment in favor of self-actualization and freedom. I always come back to it: the idea of the beauties and treasures relationships can bring, but the paralysis they sometimes cause; the competing tensions of security and wanderlust. A heart that's full and hollow, indeed.
This image has borne down especially heavily upon me this weekend. Without revealing too much about myself, I'll say that this weekend marked the nupitals of one ex-best-friend from college, a toxic friend who caused me much insecurity in the past and is the major reason that I've resisted having an all-consuming "best friend" ever since. In college, I was the one who dreamed smaller and pictured myself settling down sooner rather than later; she dreamed of Ph.D.s and shining seas, a successful career and exotic locale. Then I introduced her to her now-husband. Then we had a falling-out when I realized the crushing nature of her friendship and her sabotage of several of my romantic relationships. Then I went abroad and grew and thrived, moved to Manhattan, then to DC, then back to the midwest, all the while dreaming about new lands to conquer and new adventures to be had. I loved and lost and finally loved myself more. My need for adventure outshone my desire for marriage, while she moved to the suburbs, abandoned professorship, taught the lower grades (when she'd always rebuked my desire to teach high school), got engaged and now married...to the man she would not have met were it not for me. Odd, huh?
Three things have preoccupied me in the last few days and have led to several soul-sucking nightmares. First of all, if I consider my wanderlust and dedication to my career a choice, than why do I consider her marriage a "good thing" that happened to a "bad person"? What does that say about me that despite everything I've achieved, I still consider my life to be incomplete because a ring "gives a woman's life value"? Second, assuming I've reconciled the "good thing" question, why do good things happen to bad people? Whatever happened to karma, and when will I get my due? The last few years may have been exciting, but they have never been easy or stable. Third, is a desire for adventure and travel and self-reliance incompatible with security and marriage? I keep having these nightmares that I get married but I know intuitively that it is wrong: either I can't fathom "forever," or I know I've chosen the wrong person, or I feel like I'm being untrue to myself by allying myself with somebody else. Still, despite these anxieties, I still find myself peering at other women's engagement rings and wondering if others judge me to be deficient in some way because I don't have a man. My best friends are all either married or in a serious relationship that will lead to marriage, and I often don't fit in with their discussions or gatherings. It's a tough battle to face, especially alone. And then I wonder whether my life is really that free...most of the time, my head seems absorbed with other people's concerns and more and more demands pressed upon my energy.
I wish these thoughts weren't on my mind. I wish that my ex-best-friend had gotten her karmic dose and fooled fewer people (even though I then feel terrible for wishing someone ill). I wish I found someone who would allow me my freedom. I wish that I were less drained of energy and could therefore force myself to see the beauty in my life. I wish that sleep soothed me instead of plaguing me. I just wish for answers and for a semblance of resolve that I have made the right choices and that good things are in my future.
"You don't want to love-- your eternal and abnormal craving is to be loved. You aren't positive, you're negative. You absorb, absorb, as if you must fill yourself up with love, because you've got a shortage somewhere."
"Let yourself fall in love, if you haven't done so already. You are wasting your life."
"I want to live my life so that my nights are not full of regret."