My son said something to me recently, that made me sad. He was talking about something that was difficult, or undesirable; not something that would hurt or kill him, but a common situation he just didn’t want to experience in the future.
“Well, that would make it so I had to (do this bothersome/uncomfortable thing) so I’m definitely not going to do that!”
While I would normally applaud him for making a decision to avoid an undesirable outcome, I did not teach him to live in fear of feeling or experiencing things that aren’t necessarily ideal. I have lived through many things that were dark and scary, and when I look back, I realize those situations could have ended in my death. Several times. But I went through them, and I made more bad decisions, and I experienced more hurt and loss and sadness and failure, and I went back and did it again. I wasn’t afraid to feel those things, because they’re necessary.
I have been completely broke and starving, staying awake all night in my car, because I didn’t want to be late to bring my daughter to school the next day… and at other times, I have also had more money than I could spend.
I have lived in my car, I have lived in a trailer, and I have lived in a beautiful split-level ranch. I have lived with my parents, as an adult. I have lived with toxic people who I depended on for help. I have lived with people who I had no idea were keeping me hostage.
I have felt like I had nowhere to turn, and I have had enormous support all around me. I have felt smothered by attention, from those who love me, and those who don’t.
I have submitted countless pieces of my writing, and had them all be rejected. To this day, I have not been paid for one word I have written, and I continue to write for free.
I goofed around in school and got poor grades, and I went to college at 26. I dropped out of college, and went to work. I have quit jobs, been fired, and been promoted, only to then be laid-off indefinitely.
I have been married, I have been divorced. Twice each. Stalked countless times. I’ve been “loved” in ways that terrified me.
I have been very overweight, and I have been severely underweight. Both because of choices I made, to not care for myself.
I have loved myself, and hated myself. I have contemplated suicide, and I have been grateful for resisting the urge to do so.
I have been in trouble that was so bad, I thought it had to be a dream. I have been in situations that were less than ideal, and if I had known they were coming, I may have said “I’m definitely not doing that!” But I went out and lived those shitty things, because that is where you grow.
The idea that my son thinks he can pick and choose what he can feel in his life, or what he will experience, is unfathomable. I realize he is trying to make as smooth of a path as possible for himself, but he needs to let things happen: good AND bad. He needs to go for things that lie beyond the destruction of his ideal picture. He needs to be brave. He needs to be scared, and do it anyway. He needs to feel sad, bored, and let down, because that is life, and we grow from the pain. The happy times are beautiful, and should be cherished, but they do nothing to bolster our fight. I want him to fight.