From beneath the calm and compromising surface, the id arises, roaring. It beats its balled fists against its swelling chest, and cries out: “I just wanted an hour of peace to read my fucking book!”
My therapist thinks I need to express what I want more often.
This is not a deep insight. After all, this whole blog was prompted by a desire to be more honest, more open.
Yet I question whether it’s always possible to do what you want. We are all encouraged to “just say no”, but I am fairly certain that in many cases I am prevented from declining by my employment contract or child neglect legislation.
Between kids and emails and mobility scooters that won’t stop breaking down, it seems there is a whole big bunch of ‘need to’s and ‘ought to’s before I get to any ‘want to’s.
At least that’s what I tell myself. In reality, I normally choose not to say anything. From stating a preference for which movie we watch, to exposing my most fundamental desires, I tell myself ‘no’ before anyone else has the chance.
When we express what is most core to us, we are most vulnerable. We don’t tell people what scares us most, we don’t admit our unpopular feelings, we don’t voice our most extreme desires. For most of my life, I was afraid to let people read anything I wrote, terrified of critique, that it wouldn’t be good enough, certain they would find my ambitions laughable.
But I am selective about what I express for good reason? After all, rejection is a very real possibility. Am I right to worry that such confessions and insistences will lead me to be shunned by my family and friends? The id, that primal expression of want, is often characterised as the devil on the shoulder. Writing my first book took several months of studied selfishness and letting others down. We constantly condemn people for putting themselves first.
Therapist: “Is it so important to be liked?”
Me: “I’m going to go with yes!”
It’s this fear of judgement, this expectation of conflict that stops me time and time again from expressing myself.
In a world full of haters, we are surrounded by every day acts of bravery, when people express who they are. I admire people who are come out, and women who don’t worry about how they look, those who sacrifice money to pursue jobs that they love, people who offer their art for review, heroes who send back their food without fear of the chef’s spit, those who stand up to the greatest dangers just to be themselves. All these people who love themselves, without worrying if everyone else will.
So I’ve been trying to say what I really really want, without stressing about the outcome and without feeling guilty.
On a short holiday in Cornwall recently, I was determined to do my therapist proud. With my sister, two nephews, my son and his girlfriend, it was going to be tough. On the third and final day, I said I’d prefer to just hang out and read my book, quintessential adult relaxing time. So naturally, I went to a fun park with my nephews instead (because they were so cute when they asked). I planned to spend some of the afternoon reading, so when we got back from the park, we all went for cream tea (because you can’t visit Cornwall and not have a scone). Finally, I went down to beach to read my book. By then it was late afternoon and the wind was bloody freezing, but my id needed a little run out. Twenty minutes later, my son appeared and asked me to come and watch them in the water. And of course I went.
I made those choices. I was happy with those choices. But my neglected little id was not well fed that day. I can’t say that my other attempts, over the last couple of weeks, have been more successful. But I am trying, and it’s no surprise that my id has Bambi legs.
This is what I have learnt so far:
- Most of the time, I don’t know what I want.
- Expressing what you want can feel good.
- In most cases, it does not change the actual outcome, not one fucking bit.