Two quotes and a song have been running through my head today on a loop.
This is the song:
This is the first quote:
“When others asked the truth of me, I was convinced it was not the truth they wanted, but an illusion they could bear to live with.” — Anais Nin
And this is the second quote:
“When you can’t go forward and you can’t go backward and you can’t stay where you are without killing off what is deep and vital in yourself, you are on the edge of creation.” — Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine, p. 83
Over the past couple weeks, it has become increasingly clear that I can’t maintain the surface of things the way they are, and, below the surface, I haven’t been maintaining them for quite some time.
Every time someone here asks how I am, I want to tell them that I am bone-deep tired of the way my life is going. I want to tell them that I am not entirely who they think I am.
I want to tell them that I can’t sleep well most nights because my job and family pressure to “settle down” are giving me nightmares. I want to tell them that I really just want to get in my car and drive and never look back. Depending on who’s asking, I may want to tell them that I am sick of being jerked around, knowing that an ax or an anvil is going to fall sometime but I don’t know when, knowing that the occupational ship I’m on is sinking, but having no idea how quickly or slowly or when it’s going to hit bottom. I may want to tell them that I will, under no circumstances, be made to be their scapegoat ever again, that I am not theirs to control or to offer up as a sacrifice to those who would have their ass on a silver platter. I want to tell them that this nearly 6′ tall body aches after spending each day at work in a desk made for the average-sized female secretary of the 1980s, who was, I am convinced, approximately 5’4″.
I want to tell them that I am tired of being lambasted for trying to form and maintain healthy boundaries. I want to tell them that I’m sick of bearing snide comments with Mona Lisa’s smile because I don’t have a boyfriend, fiance, or husband. I want to tell them that I am tired of being compared unfavorably to my younger sister, just because I’m not a social butterfly or because I don’t attract the appreciative stares of men. I want to tell them that it isn’t that I’m not interested in men, just that the ones that have interested me are not interested in me. I want to tell them that I can’t bear to even pretend anymore that I’m remotely close to being a card-carrying Southern Baptist or Non-Denominational, “Religious Right” Evangelical (depending on which family member is asking).
At times, I want to tell them I’m exhausted, frustrated, confused, indecisive, angry, or scared…But I don’t. In the end, my mouth is ahead of my mind with a non-committal answer and a half smile.
After all, as Anais Nin said, “they want an illusion they can bear to live with.”
I am at that point Sue Monk Kidd describes in the quote above. I can’t go forward just yet, because I have loose ends grabbing at my ankles that need to be tied up, most importantly the question of where to go and what to do next. I can’t go backward and pretend I don’t know what I know: first and foremost that this way of life, these beliefs, this place and culture, are not healthy for me. And, no, I can’t stay here without killing a deep and vital part of myself. I really do hope that is the edge of creation. I think it is.
All the while I have that song up there, “Plasticine,” running in a loop in my head, reminding me, “Don’t forget to be the way you are.”
I won’t forget. I can’t forget. Something is rising. Soon I am going to have to climb out on that limb and take a leap of faith into the direction of that life that haunts my good dreams, day and night, even if it means rejection from those around me here. There’s always the chance they could surprise me and accept it, or even, maybe, help me along, but I can’t count on that, which makes me hesitate at this precipice. It makes me hesitate, but I don’t think it will hold me back much longer. I have to try. I owe it to myself. I don’t want to be the person who wakes up in their elder years on their deathbed and regrets the things they didn’t do, regrets not taking the chance to go out and experience the wider world, or regrets that they spent their life being someone other than themselves in order to maintain security or to be liked. So I will breathe while I am on the edge of creation, then I will forge ahead like my ocean-crossing ancestors who came to this country on a ship ticket and a prayer for a better life.