in which there is internal conflict

I have a night of bad Korean horror planned, but before that: the public airing.

I've been struggling with this sense that I want the wrong things.

It's a ridiculous idea, really: to want the wrong things. I mean it's possible, certainly- you can want to smoke, or want to punch your boss, or want to cut off your pinky finger, all three of which seem (to me, at least) unhealthy or excessively risky things to want. On the whole, though, wants are wants; they just are. The things I want aren't strange or excessive; they aren't unhealthy or risky, either. They're just wants. I want a life that looks radically different from the life I've been working towards/ living.

Digging back through old, old journals, I came across an exercise in simplification from 2005- the last time I considered dropping out of a breadwinner role. (I'd forgotten that this was something I'd gone through before- the pull to be out of it all. Why?)

Somewhere between my stepfather and Marcus Aurelius I learned that the majority of my problems can be solved through simplifying them into clean facts. And so:

State the conflict:
I feel torn and guilty about stepping down from a breadwinner role.


It's familiar- I've been doing this for the last 17 years. Also, I take satisfaction out of feeling self- sufficient. Making more money than my partner leaves me an easy out should things get messy. And my domestic fantasies make me feel like some Little Sally Homemaker submissive type.

Are things messy?

No. And they're probably not going to get messy. It's been 10 years. If it got messy, I know I can make enough money to be safe. So that train of thought is pretty much dead in the water. Next?

What makes familiarity better than a new direction?

Stagnation feels safe, especially is if comes with a big paycheck. Not that the paycheck makes me happy; it doesn't. It just makes for excess. Also, that big paycheck makes me feel obligated to further increase my paycheck, thus increasing my misery. I think American society calls that last bit "personal progression."

Why it domesticity threatening?

It implies a smaller world. It also implies a level of dependency, financially, which I'm uncomfortable with. But I'll be making money and I'll have interests outside of my home- I'll be running a small business- which means financial dependency is a false idea.

What's wrong with a smaller world?

You can get stuck in it. Tied down. Of course, I've been taking baby steps towards this for a while now: taking a local job, buying a house, meeting people where I live, investing in the idea of Baltimore. Allowing myself to pass beyond letting a place become familiar and beginning to feel at home. Maybe I want to be tied down. Maybe tied down = invested, rather than trapped. And I do believe in the simpler life; I strongly feel that is a healthier way to live, and that mandates involvement in the world directly around me.

Maybe it all comes down to the easy weirdness of a completely foreign idea, down to something as simple as an earlier sentence: I want a life that looks radically different from the life I've been working towards/ living. Change is disconcerting. Maybe that's all there is to that.


Still- and still bothersome- why the reductive attitude towards the desire to care for my home and family? Why does that make me so uncomfortable? Why do I feel the urge to dismiss those desires as somehow improper, or embarrassing? What's so disempowering about the idea? I'm a third- wave feminist, damnit: I believe in the legitimacy of all healthy human choices and the innate ability of each individual to decide what that is for their own personal set of circumstances. Or- here's an uncomfortable thought- maybe I don't, so much. Maybe I want to believe in that, but what I've really been thinking is, That is a legitimate and honorable choice… for her.

Well, that's ugly.

With that nasty bit of self- revelation behind me- and leaving it written, for accountability- I'm off to my electric blanket and some bad horror + knitting.

  One thought on “in which there is internal conflict

  1. mel
    December 12, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Hear, hear. I know this is quite personal, so I hope I am not intruding, but I found myself nodding along… I realized this for myself a few years ago and am on the path to make a big change even though it will be some time. I hope that you get to a point where you are well & truly comfortable (and ultimately satisfied – happy really!) with this. Best of luck.

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