I have a very hard time articulating what I want. Not to strangers. I can handle that. They have no emotional hold over me. But to people I love, people I trust, people I want to impress, ask me a direct question when I’m in the throes of anxiety, and you’ll be hard-pressed to get an answer.
What do you want? What don’t you want?
I’m not sure if it is as hard for others as it is for me to answer. Heavy duty religious pressure can squeeze the “wants and don’t wants” right out of a person. In the place of it is the monotonous “you should/you should not” kind of statements. Never mind what I want, I shouldn’t want it. Never mind that I don’t want to do it, I should do it anyway. And the worst thing is, I thought the people that refused to allow me to the question, “What do you want?” were my true friends. I thought they had my back. Unfortunately, they did not.
Because now, when I say (under much duress, mind you), “Um, you know, I don’t think that’s going to work for me,” I get astonished looks of “how dare you?” as if me stating the obvious “what I want” is an affront to their existence.
Believe me, those are not friends. When I have to be folded so that others can wipe their feet on me, I’m no longer interested.
But it still leaves me with the responsibility to my self. I have to answer the questions. I have to answer them a lot.
You should/should not . . .
You want/don’t want . . .
Believe me, I don’t think I’m alone here. I think a lot of us have a big problem with stating what we want or don’t want. We have undefined boundaries, tested constantly, and because we’re good people, we bend those boundaries to help, to be there for others we care about.
And then it’s really hard to put them back up when you get the shame that “you should” leave them down. You get shame when you say “I really want” and the people who love you are all “Woohoo! That’s right!” and those who you thought would be celebrating with you are standing there, reminding you again that “You shouldn’t.”
But I’m not here to start a pity party. I’m simply stating that an idea can be killed quickly by “you should/you shouldn’t” and an idea is much better caught (and held in love and acceptance) by “What do I want/don’t want?”
Have courage. For me, it’s a muscle needing to be strengthened. Practice. Practice. Practice.
“What do I want?”