Figure out what you want. Then go get it. Because you shouldn’t live like that for the rest of your life.
We live in such a contradictory culture it sometimes makes my head spin.
We’re encouraged to buy buy buy, consume and spend. The smallest, most insignificant need is probably covered by some product out there that can do it all for you, or satisfy it, or whatever. We’re supposed to strive for being able to fulfill our every whim, especially material whims, through mindless and meaningless work.
But there’s another message that comes in once you’re in a relationship (especially for women): you should give up your wants and your needs so that your significant other (mostly men) can have what THEY want and what THEY need. I’ve seen it happen to men, too, who give up so much of their own self to make sure their partners are satisfied. These men are usually the good ones, the ones who are attuned to their feelings and who feel compassion and responsibility for others around them.
In any case, this isn’t really about who’s got it worse. This is about dealing with the fact that yes, there are things that you want, and yes, you’re allowed to have them. This is about ending the suffering that comes from the wrong kind of self-sacrifice.
You are not a martyr. You deserve to be happy.
The lie in the model
Last Friday I connected with my best friend from high school. She read last week’s post and felt it connected with her very much.
And then she told me her story, which is very much like mine. Sexless relationship. Feelings of meaninglessness and resentment. Decision to separate.
We live parallel lives, it seems.
When I go back to my story, and when I listen to hers, and so many others’, what I hear is
I’ve tried the model that I was taught: find a man, buy a house, make babies. Your career? Not really important as long as you make enough to support your kids, often through underpaid service jobs. Your man can have a fulfilling career and you can be happy for him.
Your dreams? Meh, you can follow them when you retire. It’s not like it’s proper for a woman to go trekking around Europe for a month with her daughter and leave her man behind. How is he going to feed himself?
Your sex life? Well, it’s normal that it goes down after a while. It’s okay though, because women don’t like sex that much anyway. You should allow your man to have a mistress if you don’t want to put out.
And then so many women in their 30s wake up to the lie of this model, of self-sacrifice and womanly reserve and diffidence, and throw it all up in the air.
Because fuck it.
I’ve seen my own mother give up on so much potential and ambition for the benefit of her husband(s), her kids. She could have been a renowned scientist, a doctor, a lawyer, anything; she became a married-single-married mom of two-three with an ordinary career in a field that didn’t really interest her. And I suspect that although she loves her children very much, if she could turn back she would do many things differently.
And I wouldn’t blame her for that, for wanting to reach her full potential and fulfill the dreams she has given up on so early and so utterly in her life that it is now too late to change any of it.
So you wanna get what you want
As a woman (and sometimes man), at one point you will want something. Maybe going back to school, or traveling, or an extended phase of part-time work so you can write your novel, cook your heart out or read every book you’ve been putting on your “to-read” list.
Sometimes it’s just good sex. For women, it often is good sex, with an affectionate man who listens to her and doesn’t treat her as a child-rearing chef and house cleaner. (Lovers are really good for that.)
You want these things, often so bad that you can’t contain yourself. You get angry. You drink, or do drugs, or self-medicate in one way or another to repress those feelings. Because you’re not allowed to want things for yourself if they don’t go towards maintaining the status quo of your (monogamous, heterosexual) relationship. If they don’t go towards supporting your partner while he reaches his goals.
A lot of people will make you feel bad for wanting what you want—maybe it’s because they want it too, or because they think wanting it gets in the way of them getting something else. Maybe it’s because they’ve been told, just like you have, that you wanting these things is wrong.
But what is wrong with wanting to grow as a human being? What is wrong with wanting to have control over your own life, to stop living for others with no reward or thanks?
It’s time we get mad and start asking for… nay, GETTING! what we really want.
At this point in my life, I say FUCK IT.
I will get what I want. I will do what (and who) I want.
Because it’s okay to get what you want. Because nobody should give up essential parts of themselves even for the sake of a relationship.
If you’re in a relationship and feel like you are disappearing, you’re not alone. So many people have gone through the same thing and found themselves.
You’re not obliged to feel that way for the rest of your life.
So wake up, make the hard choices, and go get what you want.
Because, yes, you fucking deserve it.