Judas my heart

12 10 2008

I’ve done it. I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.

And thus have failed.

Backstory (partial):

I have my moods. I know: don’t we all. That said, I have to pay attention to them, to make sure they don’t spin out of control. For a very long time, all they—I—did was spin out of control, but about 7 1/2 years ago I got hold of them.

(Seven and a-half years. Jesus. Has it really been that long? Even as I’ve gotten used to this equanimity, it still feels new, not yet broken in.)

The hold remains. Still, I swoon on occasion. This is normal, I tell myself: bad days, better days, days and days. But too long a swoon and I have to start looking to where the ground is, to make sure I don’t, once again, go spinning off. And I haven’t. The hold remains.

Still, I swoon. I recognized today a particularly wretched form of swoon, one most likely to occur in the fall: the wistful swoon. (Unlike, say, the spring swoon, which is irritable and full of dread of the upcoming heat, or the winter swoon, which is contemplative and not wholly unpleasant. I suppress summer swoons: summers were my worst times, before; I take no chances.)

So, the wistful swoon. This is where I consider the choices made and find them wanting. It is not so much about regret, as that would suggest that I actively considered, before rejecting, better alternatives, as it is an acute awareness of my lacks. What did I not think, not feel, not do. How did I fail to engage in my own life, to secure myself in this life. What have I wanted and not wanted, and what have I done with these wants. Have I allowed myself to want.

And this is where I pick up the story of failure: No, I haven’t allowed myself wants.

Yes, I’ve wanted chocolate and beer and coffee and more sleep, and gotten those. Things I could get for myself.

But wants from others? Nooooo. Hence, the accomplishment, and the failure: For too long I wanted from others what seemed like too much, a want that seemed outsized and overwhelming and frankly all out of proportion to what any reasonable person should want. Thus, I began to remake myself into this reasonable person, to separate my wants from myself, to pare down want and need until they were small and hard enough to expel from my being.

Not for me. That’s all. Not for me.

Thus the jokes about my bitter little heart, my small life, my unwillingness to date, how unsuited I am to long-term (romantic) relationships, my skill at getting in my own way. Ha ha ha.

Mostly I find these jokes harmless, or even a good way to keep myself from Taking Myself Too Seriously.

But there are days I turn that bitter little heart over in my hands and think, What a waste.

(And here I pause, uncertain of whether to proceed. All of these things, Not For Me, how can I discuss them? I can barely say the words aloud, knowing they will dissipate in the solitude of my room. To write them, to be read by others? Could I take them back. . . ?)

Contraband, these wants, smuggled back when my attention flagged. And so begins the swoon: surveillance weakens, and I am pummeled by desire.

Riding shotgun to desire is uncertainty: Was I wrong to banish such wants? Perhaps a fully human life is one less strict with desire, more generous regarding, even gentle with, the wish for others. Perhaps self-discipline, a means to an end, has crept too far into the end zone. Am I missing my own life?

Thus, the wistfulness: what am I missing?

And the swoon: I miss what I don’t even know I’m missing.