The thing I’m realizing most about life these days is: There is no script. None.
We’d all like to think there is. It makes us feel good to think we know what it is. It makes us feel safe to know where we are on “the path” with its clear milestones. We can mark our trajectory and see we are making “progress.”
But then…when something goes awry and we are no longer on a clear place on the “path,” what do we do? We think we did something wrong, that’s we’ve gone backwards or regressed somehow. In the beginning, it’s effing scary and the first inclination is to figure out a last ditch effort to getting back to the path. Then, we realize the path fucked us. Fuck the path! Then, the struggle becomes more real when we realize what it will take to take an entirely different uncharted road. Eventually, we have faith that our way of being is no one else’s and our future is not predictable and that’s okay – even preferable (and freeing).
The most obvious way I did this was after divorcing, but my career has also gone that way. I lost my job – the stable 40-hour-a-week soul-sucking, but wallet-padding job. The stable job my parents always wanted for me. The first inclination was to run to find another full-time job. But then I leaped. I said “Wait a second. Breathe. You’re okay right now. And you have the best opportunity ever to try to actually step off this cliff and figure out a different way. The full-time job thing will always be there if you want it at some point. But please try a different path. It’ll be okay.”
It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. And there were many moments of looking for contract work that I wanted so badly to find a full-time job (I even did apply for a couple)….and then I made a promise to myself that I would see this through. I would step into the door fully and close it behind me and sit in the present and in the fear and ambiguity, not halfway in ready to run out the doorway for the next full-time stability I could find.
I did the very same in relationships. I diversified – feeling unsafe with trusting in one person, putting all my emotional eggs in one basket. I ran from the “path” because the path fucked me royally. And then…I began moving back towards wanting a deeper connection, something more solid and “predictable.” Even now, my current situation is very monogamish-looking from the outside. And many moments, I want to fall back into the illusion of safety, the illusion of the “path”: aka “real” monogamy. I want to put a label on it, define it, tie it with a bow. I want to stop *working* at this thing called a relationship (as though you do in whatever structure relationship you have) and my brain full of fears and insecurities of being replaced, abandoned, alone. I want to expand into the illusionary *knowing* of what this and the future looks like. And then there is this other part of me – the part that desperately wants (for him and I) freedom and love and to expand into *me* and the *present* with everything I’ve got. They are at odds and constantly wage war inside of me.
The war may wage forever. I believe there is something deeply engrained in all of us that wants a set path and also wants to forge our own. We want to know that when we forge our own, there is still a possibility for going back to the safety of what people have given us to believe – even if we no longer believe it. That is what is so interesting observing in me – the very specific lack of belief that there is such a thing as security at all and yet wanting security so very badly. In the today version of Nikki, if my current romantic partner asked me to marry him, I’d have multiple very polar reactions: Well, one would be confusion because both of us have stated never wanting to be married again and technically he’s not even divorced officially yet. Another would be “What the fuck is marriage? Why do we need a legal paper to bind us together?” I would feel stuck…and on the other hand comforted. While also believing the paper means nothing.
In fact, A and I have talked about marriage. Not actually about doing it. But that there was this feeling in both of us that we should be proposing to each other – to show how committed we are. Because we realized we have no language in our society besides a vow and rings and a ceremony to show that we care a fuck-ton about a human being and want to be around them for…as long as is healthy. Not till death do us part. Not as a ball and chain. Not as a promise for forever.
And oddly enough, even writing that puts a lump in my throat. Because there is still a part of me that wants the statement of “forever” even if nothing in me believes there is such a thing. A part of me that wants the manifestation of the script. A part of me that wants to talk about growing old and gray with someone without the other part of me screaming “I call BS!”
How does one reconcile the desire to feel safe in the future with knowing the truth that change is the only constant (and kind of liking that story too)?