I have a lot of conflicts in me, as my therapist likes to point out. One of them I’ve recognized for a while now is related to having done a really good job having a life unlike almost anyone I know: I didn’t want to be in the rat race because I wanted time and freedom. And after being married, I decided I didn’t agree with the institution and nixed that idea too. I also decided I didn’t want kids. And I really don’t want these things. I don’t think I do. But all of this means that my entire life has no structure, let alone stereotypical structure. I don’t fit in a box- and I never wanted to. As my high school teacher likes to say, I’ve always been oppositional.
But then I feel these weird twinges come up when I see people getting married, buying houses, and having kids. Especially my brother and my long-past friends where our lives have diverged very far from each other, never to return again. Sometimes, it’s like looking into one universe and seeing all the parallel universes that could have existed with one decision. In terms of my brother, he bought a house not long ago. He’s two years younger than me. It’s the typical house, ya know. Suburbs. White picket fence. HOA. Way more bedrooms than needed for the two people living in it. One bedroom specifically devoted to a virtual reality system. Ya know, typical. 😉 He also owns a Tesla. And has a doctorate in physical therapy. And my family loves to call him “doctor” because that’s what my family prefers everyone to be. Because doctors make money. Because doctors have fancy houses and fancy cars and can provide for their parents when they’re old. Doctors, in my family’s perspective, also put their families second and themselves third below their careers. Because they’re “helping people.” This is how my family justifies things. It’s okay to give up your health (mental and physical) if you’re making big bucks doing it and get to have the American dream, right? And don’t do anything outside of one’s comfort zone or risk losing your money or your spouse. Not cool.
So I have some bitterness. A lot actually. And when I really try to put my finger on it, of course, I just come up with projections of my own shit. You see, there is still a part of me that wants a carved path that I can follow without questioning. There is still a part of me that thinks I made my life unendingly difficult by always insisting on the path less traveled. There is a part of me that feels like though the 9-5 job is generally soul-sucking, maybe too many options in my life create dissatisfaction for me. I have a lot of time. Which is both amazing and puts me in a weird place of feeling like I *should* be filling it with amazing things. It’s why I made this life, after all. To explore. To do the things people in 9-5 jobs can’t. To make something bigger for myself that I wouldn’t have time or energy for otherwise. But I still feel stagnant…or lost. Something.
In terms of bitterness about marriage, there is still a part of me that wants to believe in stability and forever. And after my own experience and seeing so many people as cuddle clients, seeing how lonely many of them are within their own marriages, I have a sour taste in my mouth with the ideas that are the proposed foundation of marriage. For example:
– Loyalty – aka forsaking one’s self and needs for the good of the relationship itself.
– Love – aka exclusive to only one and loving another (with or without sex) is strictly verboten. emotions for others and time with others is strictly verboten.
– Forever – aka growing is not allowed, or only allowed if the other person grows with you. wanting to leave is going against your promise and a sin to many.
– Constant companionship – aka over the years, without others in one’s life, it becomes quite lonely with just the two of us (especially if one of you dies)
Are there people who are married who are actually *happy* in this arrangement. Sure, I guess. I’ve only met a few. Most people, I feel like, say they are and in reality, underneath the facade, they are anything but. They choose marriage as a default. They choose marriage because they believe the assumption that being betrothed will fix everything. Especially their own issues and sadness. But some are. And some part of me wanted to be that.
The bitterness, I guess, is that I was down that path – the sacred path everyone speaks of being the solution to all of one’s problems. And it fucked me royally. Sometimes, I wonder if it would have if I had had a more happy and healthy relationship. Sometimes, I wonder if it would have if I actually enjoyed my 9-5 job. Maybe I’d still be happy as punch living my life day to day with only person beside me, working the same job every day with 2 weeks of vacation time a year. And, again, there is a part of me that wishes that was the case. That wishes I could have just stayed the course and gotten paid off in retirement like everyone else. But it doesn’t matter. Because it all exploded. Is it that I chose something else out of a sour grapes idiom? Like a “that fucked me over, so let’s believe I want this other thing?” Would I have ever been happy with the white picket fence and the 2.5 kids and the man going to work while I worked remotely and tended to the kids? No..I don’t think I was made of that cloth. But I look at those people who are (like my brother and many of my old friends) and it makes me wish sometimes that I could have been made of that stuff, whatever it is. That I could have found fulfillment in a path that wasn’t so different, solitary, and unrelatable to most.
I am the epitome of what people hate and love about the millennial generation. I chose the red pill, so to speak. I rebelled my parents’ generation. I embarked on a path I would bushwhack if I needed to. And (some) people look up to me for this. Because most of them are stuck in the rat race still, wanting to get out, but unsure how to under the pile of debt and doubt in their hands. They want to make their own way. They want to have a job where people listen to them and hear them – and that their words mean something. That they aren’t just peons. That they can have adequate vacation time to just “be” and not feel burned out. I do have that in spades.
But it turns out that when you put the “I’ll be happy if…” sentence in front of anything, once you get there, you often realize that wasn’t exactly what you were looking for. It was something different, but you can’t put your finger on it. Because once you get there, you realize there is no path in front of you – only behind, the one you left with your own footprints. You have all the freedom. You can go in all the directions. In front of you spans fields, mountains, meadows, lakes, oceans, and forest. It is a choose your own adventure game, but it’s your life. You did it! You reached the (assumed) peak of existence. But when you smile in this place, you also realize you have no one else to smile with.