Working on an idea, but I’m only 10% of the way there. So we’ll put down what we can, then work with it as new thoughts come.
The idea is this: I do not know me.
This isn’t to say that I have amnesia, or that I’ve been living under an assumed identity, without free will. I have had my run of this place since 1981. And if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I am by no means basic, thoughtless, devoid of personality. Even so, there is a large part of me that just wants to fit in, to be liked. So when I do happen upon someone who likes me, I tend to let them call the shots, so long as it doesn’t hurt me. I just don’t feel that arguments over trivial matters are warranted – and when it comes down to it, much of life is trivial.
But all of this need to be agreeable in all things has led to a problem. Much like Jane Austen’s character Jane Bennet, in Pride and Prejudice, I so often capitulate to the whims of others that I find it hard to define what my natural likes and dislikes might be. Now that I’m single, and on my own 24/7, I am starting to listen more to my inner voice. It’s scary how often my initial thought on any given subject is “But what would X think?” or “How will I ever find anyone to love me if I do Y thing?”
It’s scary, but also funny, because the REAL me has an overabundance of balls, and tends to be screaming from the back bays that X can go fuck himself, and anyone who doesn’t think I’m amazing for doing Y can join him. I’ve just spent my entire life putting that person, the loud, brazen, angry weirdo, in the closet. So much of my life I spend being quiet and meek, good humored, sensible, a peacemaker. But the real me is something else.
The other night, an old acquaintance from college came into town, and asked me out for a drinks. He was staying at a fancy English-themed hotel, the kind of place that has afternoon tea. We were there well into the evening, so I had scotch instead of a nice darjeeling. After he went up to bed, I stopped by the ladies room, then left the hotel. I walked out with a tiny trashcan in my purse (yeah, I carry a big purse). About two blocks away, I rethought my trend towards kleptomania and brought the trashcan back. It was an intelligent decision. Who wants to go to jail for stealing a $10 trashcan? But I’m still disappointed in myself for not having the guts to keep walking. Not because I really give a shit about the trashcan, mind you, but because stealing it was something that I wanted to do, and for ONCE in so very long, I didn’t care if it impacted anyone else. I wanted it, so I did it. And then I realized that it was selfish and shortsighted and someone would get in trouble for not spotting the theft (yadda, yadda), and I walked back to the hotel and replaced the stupid trashcan.
Anyway, this is all to say that I can only want what I want for about two blocks when I’m drunk. Had I been sober, I wouldn’t have even tried. I wouldn’t have tried to want. I would have wondered what someone else wanted. The bartender, perhaps. The bathroom attendant. The front desk person. The cab driver I hadn’t yet met. Any number of people that I never see, but who still hold power over my life – my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles. The only way for me to get anything done for myself in my life is to actively flip an emotional switch to “off” and cut anyone I love out of my daily existence.
So, I guess I did figure something out, after all.
Anyway, I’m just exhausted and scared. I am 35, and still don’t feel like I have control over my life. Not because of the fates, but because of everyone around me. Because of you. And it’s not your fault, obviously. I just need to find a way to figure out which voice is really mine, and which one is the imaginary voice of the world that I need to reject.