My brother and I have been emailing, lately. Heís been telling me about his indecisiveness about life, and it seems like his indecision is dragging on forever. Of course, heís indecision is the same indecision that Iím facing, and Adamís facing. The only person I havenít heard from, and doesnít seem to be facing the problem, is my brotherís girlfriend. Itís all about the question of commitment. Do you make a lifelong commitment? If so, who? When?
I donít know if itís a generational thing or if it just affects people from messed up childhoods? Or maybe, any person in their right mind would question the whole idea.
Anyway, even though Iím suffering from the same indecision, after hearing him waffle back and forth on this for awhile, I started thinking, ďGeez! Just make a decision already!Ē If his girlfriend hasnít killed him, yet, maybe she is the one.
It reminds me of how indecisive my dad is. Considering his indecisiveness, itís a wonder that today, weíre still not standing in the middle of some Southern Californian sidewalk waiting for him to decide which taco truck to visit. Thereís only one reason weíre not. Thatís me. At some point in my childhood, Iíd had enough. When indecisiveness halted us, Iíd make the decision, not because of any desire to have control, but just to get us moving.
Even I scored as a very high ďPĒ on the myers-briggs type indicator. If I was driven to make family decisions as a 7 year old, that has to be an indication of just how indecisive that man was.
As an adult, I havenít shared a lot of meals with my dad, maybe a dozen or so. For the first several years, he wouldnít look at a menu. He refused to even try to make a decision about his own food. Heíd wait for someone else to order, and say, ďMake that two!Ē It was usually my brother.
Iíve probably mentioned that before. It sounded familiar to me.
Anyway, my brothers recent indecisiveness about his relationship suddenly reminded me of our dad. In a way, itís not really fair. My brother is unsure about making a life long commitment to a long-term girlfriend, and there are a lot of extenuating circumstances.
I canít point fingers at him without pointing them at myself, too. Although, for the majority of my relationship, I never had any intention of making a lifelong commitment. It wasnít even in the ďsomedayĒ pile.
So, let me shift the focus to myself here, since ethics dictates to me that my extenuating circumstances are the ones I should be writing about.
It first came up in therapy, probably almost a year ago. Yes, weíve analyzed our relationship more than most married couples out there. Basically, the therapist was confused about why we seemed intent on fixing a relationship that was so informal in the first place. No contracts, no kids, no shared property, no long-term plans, and no desire to make any.
While we didnít see it as a weird place to work from, he seemed to see it that way, and often mentioned it. After it was clear that our relationship had improved, he started pushing us about long-term plans. Actually, assigned us homework to discuss long-term plans.
While weíve put the issue on the table, we havenít done much with it, except to say, itís on the table. It might have stayed there indefinitely, but then I started having insomnia, again.
I did pretty well for the first few weeks, but last week, I reached my breaking point. I couldnít keep up with my fun, but distracting, exercise and diet routine, and I started feeling sick. Pretty soon, I was cranky as hell.
Cranky as hell turned into, ďWait a minute! Iím supporting this guy through graduate school, making sacrifices left and right, for some vague, un-established, un-guaranteed future payoff?Ē
Suddenly, I wanted to know exactly where, when and how I was going to get my due. The commitment issue, which had gotten small, lost, and brushed off the table, suddenly turned massive, and flopped right back up there.
Iím not against commitments. My sticking point is that commitments donít guarantee anything. It indicates intent, but what do humans know about intent? The power of intention is something I think about a lot, and what I donít know about intent could fill volumes.
So, while I cherish the intention, I abhor the possibility of disappointment. Most of the time, Iíd rather labor away, assuming that my sacrifices will float off into the clouds, and never be acknowledged, than labor under an expectation, but terrified the whole time that Iíll be disappointed.
That goes back to something my brother said that struck me. He said that it took him a long time to get over believing that he was not deserving enough to get the same benefits as others.
It stuck out to me because I had assumed that was a predominately female problem. Women are socialized to believe that we donít matter, so it stands to reason, that when a woman is raised with a deficit of love, on top of being treated like a nobody, sheíll believe that itís the nature of the universe to always screw her over.
It seems that some people, regardless of fortune or circumstance, canít seem to shake the idea that they donít deserve good things. Only because I experience this problem have I realized the extent of it. No matter how you try to trick it; you can give it sacrifices, you can give it labor, you can rip away your expectations, and you can do the opposite. You can indulge yourself, make declarations and demands, but that voice is like an immortal virus.
As soon as you turn your head, itís back. When something bad happens, it says, ďHah! See, I told you! ItĎs the nature of the universe to take from you.Ē When something good happens, it says, ďJust you wait! YouĎre being set up for an even bigger, nastier disappointment!Ē Itís even more than that, when things are good, there isnít just the threat of disappointment, but the nagging feeling that the universe isnít balanced. Things arenít comfortable, they donít feel right when nothing is wrong. That feeling alone can destroy a personís sense of peace.
Thatís what it is. Itís not that we donít have faith in the people we love, itís that, to us, thatís the nature of the universe. No matter how heroic someone might be, they will never be heroic enough to unbalance a universe thatís balanced on hurting us.
I donít know if my brother has taken it quite this far, like I said, I consider this to be primarily a female affliction. Women can work with this emotion like other artists might work with oil paints, they can weave great tapestries about it.
I donít know what a man can do with it, as this is the first time Iíve ever heard about it in a man.
Oy. Itís midnight, time to go pretend like Iím sleeping.
|Wednesday, Apr. 27, 2011 at 12:06 AM|