Do you ever get to a point in your personal growth where you’re like, “This is ridiculous. Plenty of people lead seemingly decent lives with way less awakening. I could have easily found a suitable life if I’d stopped long ago. Look at [person], who still gets to do [xyz toxic behaviors] and makes it seem just fine. Why did I sign up for this. Why me. What is it about me that makes me have to keep going.”
I dug up something I’m still processing this week. About a year ago I uncovered a cluster of core wounds so deep they seemed inextricable from my very identity, so central that I didn’t know who I’d be without them. I remember defending them, saying “I have done so much work on myself, for fucks’ sake, can’t I please keep just this one thing?? Can’t I please be worthy of love even if I don’t think that I am?” And in that moment, I thought that I could. I thought that would be enough.
During my last appointment with my therapist in NYC before I moved west, she asked me one final question: “Are you ever going to find peace with the fact that nobody rescued you from your father? Is it ever going to be enough for you that you rescued yourself?”
And I replied, “Nope. I’m gonna be mad about that til the day I die.”
It seems like it was so possible for so many people in this world to hop off this train ride several stops ago and find happiness there. There are so many wounded people in the world who seem to have found a life they’re happy with without having to heal this deeply, whose sexualities are still driven by their traumas, whose core narratives are still skewed by the ways they were hurt by their caretakers. There are authors who were able to finish their books only because they were being supported by their partners. There are submissives in what appear to be healthy relationships. There are people in the world who were rescued by somebody other than themselves.
I’m not complaining – well maybe I am a little bit – but it feels really weird that apparently I couldn’t fit this bill. I don’t understand why I couldn’t find a satisfying life within the framework of my problematic fantasies.
It’s a weird feeling. I could argue that I’m an overachiever, or I could front like it’s part of some divine life purpose or brag that I’m meant for some important destiny or something. But honestly I don’t know, and I can’t explain it, and I’m worried about the possibility of turning bitter over just how much I feel I’m being asked to give up. And that’s what’s weirding me out right now.
* * * *
I should probably clarify something – I don’t actually feel bitter about this, although I recognize that flavor having come up for me before, and yeah bitterness is a pitfall I need to watch out for but it’s not one I’m feeling in particular danger of, given how far I’ve already come. A bit of it cropped up in this post but it’s really there to serve as a reference point for how weird and out of the ordinary this feels. Obviously being called to continue doing the work will entail releasing that bitterness because that’s part of what it means to move forward.
The reframe that’s happening in my head now is that maybe this does have something to do with a life purpose, that maybe I’m doing all this work because I’m meant for something awesome that’s just around the corner – and I guess it’s that curiosity and the hope of that possibility that’s keeping me going.
At the risk of sounding entirely off my rocker, in the last six weeks it’s started to feel like I’m remembering who I was before I was born. That’s how deep this is getting. And it’s fuckin weird and scary but it’s also kinda cool? And so maybe this is about why I’m on this planet, and if that’s the case, that’s a mystery worth solving.
I think I avoided leaning into that too much in the original post because that sounds like the biggest and most obnoxious spiritual humblebrag, and I didn’t want to alienate people by whining “but whyyyyyy am I so special.” Certainly there’s two echelons of consciousness here – one where I’m pissed at all the work I’ve had to do, and one where I feel exceptional for it. As you can probably tell, my elevator is currently between those two floors, which is making it difficult to even express my feelings about it.
But overall I feel ok. I just feel confused.
* * * *
I don’t miss the bad tv and McDonald’s, personally. For me what’s especially coming up is that last year I was called to give up being sexually submissive, an orientation that once defined me, when I realized it was standing in the way of my worthiness – in short, if I truly felt worthy of a partner, would I still want to be submissive, and if I no longer wanted to be submissive, would I lose my greatest (and sometimes only) source of pleasure? As soon as I saw how that was functioning, the kink I’d loudly held for over a decade very suddenly ceased to turn me on. I don’t want to be one of those people who turns around and says that all Dom/sub relationships are unhealthy because I’d be betraying a community I belonged to for a long time, but then if that’s not true, why couldn’t I be one of the people who found a D/s relationship that was healthy?
Similarly, lots of people have been rescued from abusive situations – why did I have to rescue myself, and why do I continue to have to rescue myself as an adult so that I don’t keep recreating my trauma by unconsciously manufacturing situations from which I need to be rescued?
Years ago I got incredibly angry reading an article by a woman who suggested “letting someone love you” was the best way to complete the book you want to write – because for her, she was able to write her book with the emotional, financial, and editorial help of her boyfriend, while I had written my book while financially supporting a boyfriend who was abusing me. It’s being presented to me now that I need to give up the hope of getting my work done because I have the support of a partner and that I need to just do it myself.
So the questions I’m facing now are: if there are people out there who can be submissive in relationships, can be rescued from their abusers, and can achieve their creative work by utilizing the space created by a supportive partner, then what about not having those things I wanted so badly is better? What is better about having a relationship of equals, rescuing myself, and achieving faith in my work independently?
I don’t know the answers yet but I definitely feel like those are the right questions.
* * * *
The growth seems to happen inevitably as each realization is presented to me.
Right now the way it’s being presented to me is that unconsciously seeking to be rescued causes me to approach relationships from a position of imbalance by using my submission as a plea-bargain in exchange for protection, and that the essence of that plea-bargain is a core unworthiness narrative that being with me isn’t “worth it” unless I’m serving/submitting/consciously being pleasing. And that subsequently it’s impossible to manifest a healthy sustainable relationship if I don’t think I’m worth it without that – as my carefully curating my partners’ experience of me to be convenient for them at all times not only blocks emotional intimacy but also scares off people who think I’m too good to be true and instead attracts narcissists who enjoy free labor. So the only way to fix that is to rescue myself, which includes giving up the idea that only within relationship will I find the emotional support and stability to fully transition into creative work that fulfills me so I can give up the work I unconsciously want to be rescued from. Ugh so complicated.
I’m not sure that path needs to be objectively better than the alternative but it seems wise to view it as at least better for me, or that there is some kind of happiness waiting for me there that I wouldn’t have found in the behavioral patterns I described above. It’s also entirely possible that I’m making that up in order to sour-grapes mythologize never being able to achieve the healing I wanted through another person. But it seems to make logical sense that a relationship begun from a place of fullness and worthiness would somehow be healthier than one begun out of plea-bargaining and need, so I’m going with that.