Sleepwalking My Life

I have always felt like I lived in a World of No.  That I was not allowed, that whatever I wanted to do was somehow dangerous, wrong and irresponsible.  That if I got the chance, it would be taken from me.  That if someone was to get in trouble for something, it would be me, every time.

This has gotten a bit better as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been trying to give myself permission… I think my friend Chey telling me I had permission was super helpful and a big step in everything.  But still when I think of things I want to do I think “I’m not allowed”.  Nothing ever controverts that thought, in fact it is reinforced constantly.

When I got engaged I thought “I finally have permission!  I can have children, and write children’s books, and grow a garden and make art!”  but that turned out not to really be the case.  I had to pay bills, and put off having kids for my career (such as it was) and go to school so I can make more money to pay even more bills.  This is life, and it is what it is, I understand it.

This comes up because as I’ve been going to school I’ve hit this wall of exhaustion.  It’s been building for a while, I’ve felt the low level depression, like a low grade fever that you just work through because life has to continue. I was going to be a nurse, but I just can’t see taking a job (even one that I would love and be good at) that would swallow my life and not leave me time for anything else.  There are other things I can do with the schooling I have so far.  I have options.  I am (as everyone is so fond of telling me) young and smart and resourceful and hard working.

But I wonder if I’m really any of those things, or if I’ve just had to come up with it.

I want to cry a lot more than I let myself.  I want to say “No fair!”.

When people ask me what my dreams are I just respond with “I want to have a job to pay for the life I want”, but it’s not the truth.  In my head I have a whole big wide world of dreams, but I can’t even say most of them, because I feel like I’m Not Allowed.

My favorite time of day is after I’ve done my bedtime reading but before I go to sleep.  I get to imagine what I’d like to do, what I’d like to be doing, things I’d like to try, places I’d like to go,  stories I”d like to write down, compose songs… I can lie there for hours and work in my head on my other life.  I would love to actually DO any of those things, were I Allowed, but I’m not.  Also, the time I have to myself (namely whatever time I steal from sleep in the middle of the night) isn’t the best time to get things done.  It’s wasted time, but it affords me some sort of pleasure anyway.

I read my old journals and diaries and find that for the most part, I used to do quite a bit of the things that turned me on.  I suppose that is more than other people really do.

Just every once in a while I dream that something happens to me, that lets me slip quietly away from everything, that release me from all the people I love, all the responsibility and all the trappings of a life I’m uninterested in, and go do the rest of the things I dream about.  It’s a terrible, selfish dream, but if I don’t occasionally think about it during the day, I’ll dream it like five nights in a row.  I’ll dream that there was a fire while I was at work alone, and I just walk away and everyone thinks I’ve died but I just go walking until I get to the ocean.  It’s insane, it’s unlike me, really.

My friend Kezia reminds me that it’s okay to sometimes say things that aren’t positive, that I’m Allowed to have feelings even if they aren’t joyful and good.  I think if she hadn’t said that I would never write any of this.

If I try and think where this feeling of I’m Not Allowed comes from, I think it’s because my parents were really great at the “you could do or be anything”  line of parenting.  Which is great, and not many children have it.  But there was this other super controlled line of parenting too.  If I tried something, and it wasn’t perfect, it got read to filth.  So I started to think “I can do anything as long as it’s perfect and it doesn’t look like a kid did it and I had it all figured out to begin with”.  I know this was not their intention.  They wanted to give me me a sense of excellence, and a sense of I Can Do It.  But I think no one really realized how sensitive I was, or how much I analyzed things.  How I didn’t do things because if I couldn’t do it exactly right while people were there, I didn’t want to do it.  It’s taken me most of my adulthood so far to dismantle that.  Usually I have to actually say out loud “I’m a grownup, I’m Allowed”.

In reality, though, I’m not Allowed.  I am too far into school to just stop.  I don’t have the kind of life/support system to just work from home in a cottage business, write books, and have babies.  So.  We carry on.  But once in a while, in my tiny voice, I get to say out loud that even though I’m blessed and privileged and have a good life,  that I am sad that it’s not the one I was trying to build.


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