What is a promise if not your hand in mine?
I spent last night on my driveway, staring at the moon, listening to the same four songs by Kacy Hill on a loop. There are things about the individual life I treasure and perhaps, selfishly, am not willing to surrender [yet]. My therapist and I have been working through my defects recently. All of which stem from a distorted sense of hyper-individualism and independence. Talking about a struggle after I've mastered it or come out on the other side isn't a form of vulnerability - it's re-packaged perfectionism. She asks why I carry particular things (sustained grief/chronic illness) alone, and I tell her it's easier for me to bear than to show someone else where they need to grasp or lift. Everyone is past their capacity, and I don't feel neglected. She asks me if that's denial or if I've just cut off the part that wants to be seen. I give her the side-eye, and we both start cackling. She knows I'll allow it, to an extent, by a select few. The problem is that I want to control the light that I'm seen by. Most of the time, I'd prefer to maintain my [sense of] independence and individualism and occasionally be coveted by a coterie of former/almost lovers than loved by someone new.
Bess rhetorically asks me if I've idolized Jane Eyre. We talk about that inward treasure [born with me], which has kept me alive when all extraneous delights were withheld or offered only at a price I could not afford to give. I ask her if she thinks I'm hoarding it like a dragon. She snorts. I feel a twinge of guilt in my chest. We return to Rilke's "I'm still alive, I have time to build My blood will outlast the rose." She knows when I first got sober, I needed time to build a life that wasn't painful to live. Then I met someone and started a life with them, only to have it crumble and rebuild (again). And I have spent half a decade building these marvelous rooms in this fourth house that are/were only meant for me. But now, I think I'm supposed to create rooms in my life that are meant to be shared - like a kitchen, sunroom, and greenhouse. And the problem is - deep down, part of me wants to build another private room.
She tells me that I have to decide what I want. I tell her I want to be left alone more than I want to be loved. She asks me if I'm willing for that to change - I tell her if my life has made me anything, it has made me that. But, of course, there are times that I desire being known so much that I feel disjointed - but I don't let it rip me apart. Ocean Vuong wrote that loneliness is still time spent with the world. I believe anything that goes on forever can be good, and when it's no longer good - it can still be useful ["The solitude into which you were cast so violently makes you capable of balancing out the loneliness of others to exactly the same degree"]. Esther Perel talks about how love wants us to see every facet of each other, but desire requires mystery. Maybe my problem is I'd prefer to remain a mystery. Only unlocked by someone more fated than I.
Want is a part of everything. We want - all the time. We are engines of want and desire. Sometimes I feel I'm a 6-ft gear turning over and over. "Please let this treatment work. Let me have this one thing." Every prayer is a form of desire, even in its most generous or selfless state [please bring another person healing or peace]. I think it's essential to name and talk about passion, need, and longing because when we do, we can begin to see if it's tormenting or refining us? Sometimes longing is a good thing, the longing to live, to feel good, to heal society, and sometimes longing is detrimental because we get on that hedonistic treadmill and can't get off. We want more and more and more. So I love interrogating desire as a way of exploring what I'm experiencing, sometimes it's true longing, and sometimes it's my way of making myself suffer for no reason. Sometimes I re-invent desire amid my suffering, so it feels tantric. But that can only last for so long before the pain bites back.
Which I feel is a place we're all back in, again. More prolonged and, at times, painful waiting. Keats called it negative capability, dwelling with uncertainty without grasping at - or crystalizing around an easy solution. Poems (by Rilke, Mary Oliver, & Gregory Orr) often ask us to live there, and it's unbearable, especially when we had no practice (till recently). Especially if we stopped reading or hadn't gone off by ourselves to sit alone for a while, even those who write and read all the time were rushing around before March of 2020. So this forced dwelling, semi-stagnation, not fully comprehending something instantly, is extraordinarily difficult. Because we have to allow these uncomfortable and challenging truths to marinate and perhaps- even pierce us while they transform us. And anything that pushes us into the depths of our being is tough to bear. I find it hard to reach those places entirely by myself. Sometimes I read an essay or poem so beautiful that I have to shut it or close my laptop and walk outside because it stakes me. Sometimes it touches something that has bruised me and I can't stand it. "Oh no! This is going to drive me into my heart." But, a few days later, I can say, "All right," and I surrender to it: "Do it to me. Go ahead. I want it. And when I no longer want it - keep doing it to me until my desire to be changed cleaves and grows like antlers, and I can begin - all over again."
Bess asks me what I want, and I tell her I want this pandemic to end. I want to be more revolutionary. I want to stop worrying about new variants and getting blood drawn every six weeks for immuno-response tests. I want healthcare that doesn't have me pay for experimental treatment out-of-pocket. She asks me what I want after that, and I tell her I have no idea (besides climbing another mountain and kissing someone in the rain) - but that enthralls me. I just want to get there. I want to be out of my own way for whenever the road clears.