I often have the sense that I’m writing into the ether, because I don’t check my statcounter. That’s a comforting thought for someone like me. I’m pretty tightly wound but I regularly lay open my emotional life on the internet. But I’ve been hearing from you, and I’m hearing interesting things. I’m hearing that ambivalence is common. I’m hearing deep gratitude for children and partners but that they come with constraints that sometimes are overwhelming. I’m hearing that there is greater acceptance for women seeking to balance lucrative careers with family, but if you’re thinking about doing something that’s less about money and more about passion, forget it. I’m hearing that even with respect to lucrative careers that came as a result of hard work and expensive education, your partner’s career still seems to come first, at least if it’s more lucrative or time-consuming. From some of you I hear the reverse — that if you’re in a high-paying but dull career and your partner is in his lower-paying dream job, you feel stuck in yours. I’m hearing that the women who have devoted their lives to their families and children are deeply grateful for those years, but now have trouble hitting the reset button to pursue their own lives and prerogatives. I’m hearing that people without those pressures still feel an internal resistance to changes that would satisfy deeply but also shake things up immensely.
I’m hearing that years go by quickly, and chronic confusion seems to hasten the passage of time. I’m hearing that it’s still difficult to do what my therapist calls “acting on your own behalf.” In other words, I’m hearing that many of you feel the same things I have. I’m hearing tales of deep longing, and it amazes me how few of us consider that longing a healthy signal, instead of an indication that we are somehow deficient.
But best of all, I’m hearing that you are making changes anyway, confronting fears, questioning accepted narratives about what lives should look like, and purposely doing what you want and what pleases you. Some of these things are long term plans, some are the work of an afternoon. With every comment made here about a choice to pursue one’s own life, it seems another person reading is pushed a bit more in their own direction. Information comes in all forms, from the words of a therapist to the insight of a medium to the sharing of a random blogger schooled in the art of human longing.
Whatever the source, I’m noticing that choices about living do seem contagious.
I’m going back to Florida next weekend.