I saw my therapist last week. God, I am so grateful I found her, though I wish she took insurance so I could see her more than once a month. I spent the first 10 minutes going through the litany of what all the “others” in my life want me to do – move back north, to be closer to my ailing parents; find another job to support myself; actually live once again with the man I have loved for the past 8 years (we see each other once a month now, due to our geographical distance); my landlords wanting us to buy the property I am living in; etc. etc. etc. Finally, when I was spent, out of breath, she simply said to me “what do YOU want? You need to make a list and begin each sentence with I WANT.” As I said, I love this woman.
And so I sat down and wrote something quickly that I am carrying in my wallet. I am sure as time goes by, the list will change, but for this week, at least, here it is:
- I want to be a writer (a dream of 20 years), who is successful and gets paid for the work I do.
- I want my words to have meaning and to resonate with others.
- I want to hear back from the places I’ve interviewed with, to at least have closure, but mostly because I want an invitation for an in-person interview.
- I want out of academia.
- I want my partner’s company to succeed and make him proud of his success (as well as financially comfortable).
- I want my mother to be allowed to enjoy a good quality of life as she battles the horror of Alzheimer’s and that her last years are good ones.
- I want my father to get out of the way of getting her help. I want him to stop being in denial, and start taking care of the woman who took care of all of us – including him – for so many years.
- I want more places to contact me for interviews, and I want to shine.
- I want to live with my partner – he is a rock to me, as I am to him, and the distance of miles between us is harder than either one of us expected.
- I want to make enough money to live comfortably, to be able to travel whenever I want, but I do not need excessive amounts.
I have never been a patient person, so some of the items on this list make me gnash my teeth because I have to wait – and these things are out of my control. The OCD side of me hates not having control.
But I also want to get back in touch with who I am. I am slowly feeling like I can leave the traumatic events of 13 years ago behind me. I will always be scarred by them, but I want to remember the good, and not wallow in the shadows of grief. I want to find the girl I was who believed she would be a writer, who used to spend hours playing with words in her journal, banging out poems and short stories on her 1910 Underwood typewriter. I want to build my body’s strength back up, and I want to be more resilient. This last one may be harder to accomplish, simply because I am bipolar with numerous comorbid conditions that go along with it. Recently, my mood has been stable, some days even “up” but not manic. I miss my mania, especially when I need a kick in the pants to get out of bed, or shower, or even finish a project.
But to be a writer, I know I have to practice. And I have to practice every day (which I have lapsed on). I need to journal, to get the junk out of my head to allow for the flow to happen – that magical experience when everything disappears, including time, and all the pieces fall into place. This is something I can do. But it takes discipline, and I have to find time in my day to do this. To shut out the noise in my head and simply write.
My wonderful mother always told me growing up that I could be anything I wanted to be. Her words have allowed me to travel to every corner of the globe. I have set out on adventures without a map, not knowing where I may land, but confident that it will always be on my feet. I lost that somewhere along the way, but with practice, I know I can find it again.
Ultimately, what do “I” want? To be happy. To be fulfilled. To share my stories with others and try to help them understand the ups and downs of life, as well as this disease that will always be with me, like my shadow. And so, I have to tune out my siblings, my partner, my boss and everyone else and focus on me. Today marks that beginning. I do not know where the next chapter will lead. I have learned that life is short, and if we always wait for “tomorrow”, our dreams will never manifest. Yes, Scarlett, tomorrow is another day, but if I wait until then, nothing may happen. My dreams will be pushed aside once more in a vain attempt to please all the “others” out there. And goddamit, I am tired of pleasing them all and not following my own path.
The last thing my therapist left me with (until I see her next month) was her own story of how she manifested what she wanted out of life. She started with a list, specifically regarding opening a private practice with others sharing space in the building – massage therapists, talk therapists, etc. Then she created a collage of exactly how she wanted it to look, down to the furniture she wished to acquire for her space. I used to spend hours with my late husband creating collages, so this touched me deeply. She said she hung it on her wall where she would see it every day. Slowly, piece by piece, it all came together. I was a testament to this, as I sat on a couch in the office that was the manifestation of her dreams.
Nothing is impossible, or beyond the realm of your desires. The only thing that will hold you back is doubt – the enemy of forward progress. And so, I am giving this a go. I am putting it out there into the world, just as I will put it on my wall where I can see it every day. And I will write. And we will see what manifests…
© Sorrow & Kindness