In a way this post is a bit of a cheat, because I started writing it last week. I finished that post about following up and did not feel satisfied, and even while I was writing, something about it felt forced. I had a few minutes to think about it while I was driving here or there, picking up and dropping off children, and I realized it’s probably because I’ve been trying to fit my writing into tiny pre-determined periods of time, with little time to transition my brain from total chaos to thoughtful and reflective. I’ve been trying to do some of my writing while the kids nap, so that when my husband comes home from work and the kids are in bed, we have some time together. Thankfully, or not, depending on perspective, he has been so busy at work, and with work at home, that won’t be an issue for a while, and I will have plenty of time to write at night, after I have time to quiet my mind. The Real Housewives can wait a few hours or a few days.
Sometimes it works better to just start writing, and thinking about it too much is a mistake, but I don’t want to feel like I have to get something typed right this second, or this project is going to become something else entirely.
While I was driving around I thought about some of the reasons writing is challenging for me sometimes, aside from the obvious fact that I have eight million children. I’ve written about this before, and all of that remains true. There is something about writing that leaves me feeling raw and exposed in all of the best ways, but sometimes that’s scary, partially because it reminds me of times I felt raw and exposed in ways that were not so great.
It takes me a long time to let people in. Why? I would never want to admit this to someone I know, but somehow it feels ok to write to strangers, but it’s because people terrify me. I’m a fairly sensitive person, and I don’t want to get hurt.* To take it one step further, it’s actually not the hurt that I’m afraid of, it’s fear that the hurt will somehow cripple me, or prevent me from doing everything I want and need to do. To take it one step further than that, I imagine the fear is that if I’m not able to do what I want and need to do, that would confirm some deep, lurking fear that I am like my father, some deep fear that I am bad, or some deep lurking fear that I am not strong enough. Look, I said what I said about Dr. Quack and I meant it, but fear can explain many, many things.
On this same drive, I set my iPhone to shuffle through my playlist, and a song came on I hadn’t heard in several years, or long enough ago to feel like it came from a different lifetime. The song, “If I Wanted Someone,” made me think years ago about what or who I wanted in my life. This in particular, “If I wanted someone to clean me up/I’d find myself a maid/If I wanted someone to spend my money/I wouldn’t need to get paid/If I wanted someone to understand me/I’d have so much more to say/I want you to make the days move easy” always stuck out.
At the time, someone to make the days move easy seemed like the best I could hope for, and that was disheartening. I had been emotionally beat up pretty seriously, and in a sense, what I really wanted was to be left alone. Not alone alone, but mostly alone. I think those words spoke to me because I wasn’t sure I would ever have a love interest, but I thought if I did, I would want and need some distance. Because there was no way I would ever be stupid enough to let someone in again.**
But one line always stuck, one line never quite sat right, “If I wanted someone to understand me/I’d have so much more to say.” Because even back then, I had this best friend, who did understand me, and that didn’t quite fit the rest of the narrative. We actually talked about this song once, and he thought it made perfect sense. He said something like, “I don’t need to date a girl who understands me, that’s why I have you.” That probably should have been a sign to both of us, but somehow it made perfect sense.
I think different people are comfortable with different levels of intimacy. For me, finding someone to keep at arms length, who would simply “make the days move easy,” would have been a relatively easy thing to do. Letting someone in, letting someone know me and understand me, that’s what was hard, and that’s what took a lot of work. HW likes to tell me that not everything good has to be hard, or rather I don’t have to suffer and bleed in order to deserve something nice. I take his point, but I think when it comes to relationships, you get what you put in, and if you want a deep relationship, you have to dig, and sometimes digging is painful, especially if your yard is full of rocks and land mines. Dig anyway. If you want to.
I don’t often think about those days, but once in a while a song will come on, or a name from the past comes up somehow, and I think what life would have been like if we had both tried to simply find a way to make the days move easy. Would we still be best friends? Would we have eventually found ourselves in relationships with other people, but run away with each other? Would we have had one passionate affair every year in Tijuana and go back to our normal lives after?
Thankfully I will never know, because we managed to identify the level of intimacy we wanted, and committed to working at it every day. And we do. And life is good.
How did we get here? Stay tuned.
*It’s interesting because I committed yesterday to writing about intimacy, and it’s a three part post, and last night I got another email concerning future litigation. There are so many things I would like to say about that, and would be tempted to say, but I have already committed to writing about this, and other than explaining that many of my fears about intimacy are related, tangentially, to the litigation, I can’t make writing about it fit, which is probably a blessing.
**I have to imagine it would be frustrating for someone to read this, to read my vague assertions that some bad things happened to me, without any deeper explanation. I get that. I would be annoyed and frustrated too, maybe enough to stop reading. Still, I’m not ready to write about all of that just yet, and not just because I don’t want to deal with two law suits at once.