Why You’re Not Getting What You Want
Matching Actions With Intentions
I read Shannon Ashley’s piece about balance on Friday and then went into a complete bender over the weekend. Perhaps I’m feeling slightly reactive…
OK, maybe not bender, but I made more than a few choices that I wouldn’t have made if I’d refused that first drink. Two drinks and a one night stand and some staying out till 3:00am and more drinks and concerts and dinners out and not much sleep and suddenly I feel, well, contemplative.
Drinks and boys and staying out late make me feel more than a little childish nowadays. This particular combination tends to drag up the responsible adult part of my brain that firmly repeats — ”We’re too old for this. We just spent $50 on alcohol that could’ve gone towards groceries tomorrow.” Don’t get me wrong, one or two drinks makes me feel SEXY and POWERFUL and like I’m more than worthy of everyone’s attention. Too bad it’s an expensive and fleeting high that distorts my discern want from need.
Now I’m left wondering how to find balance between the kid/teenager who feels powerful and glamorous when she acts 21 again, and the adult who I’m becoming. The grown up me wants a partnership she can show up in completely sober, along with a normal sleep schedule, a healthy diet, a regular yoga class, a budget that she can actually stick to, a strong community of friends, a writing partner/group, a good relationship with her mother — is that too much to ask for?
While I pondered my weekend choices over leftover dessert from the night before, I realized that I may say I want these things, but I’m not actually committing to wanting them.
I’m still hoping that some magical adulting fairy will swoop into my life and give me the good guy who just happens to look like a supermodel and encourage me to eat my leafy greens and help me stick to that monthly gym membership and gently remind me that it’s past my bedtime and softly wake me up with the sunrise while keeping my checkbook perfectly balanced with some extra to spare.
I’ve written in the past about how self-care is less about giving ourselves what we want and more about listening to what we need. Taking that a step further, I now realize that my behavior has to focus on putting what I need in place, so I can practice wanting from a more stable and realistic vantage point.
Yes, I may want that $1,500 YSL denim shearling jacket that I’ve been eyeing for over a year now, but I need to pay for new ergonomic office equipment so my wrists don’t want to kill me every time I sit down to write. I may want to spend that entire paycheck in one go, but I need to make it last the entire month. I need to let my money take care of all these necessary expenses that calm the chaos instead of creating it.
Yeah, it may feel GREAT to be having sex again after a relatively dry six months, but what I need is to find a partner that I can feel comfortable with when I’m sober. For now, I may just want to feel wanted, and let that be enough. In time, I’ll remember that I need a relationship that I feel safe showing up in no matter what I’m experiencing. That me feeling sexy and powerful and in control are not precursors for a successful partnership.
I also want to use that money to pay for ungodly amounts of takeout. Even when I know that this food will make me feel sick and antisocial and ashamed of my bad choices. Again, what I really, truly want, is to be able to trust that the food already sitting in my fridge will be enough to take care of me. Regardless of whether or not it’s satisfying that anxious craving I’m having for OG Sour Patch Kids.
The theme here is trusting that I already have everything I need, and committing to supporting that, so I can start practicing what I truly want. Because not only do I need to identify what I want, I need to commit to it.
If I want a sober relationship, I get to show up dry and anxious and uncomfortable and really listen to myself in the moment. If I can get past the initial excruciating awkwardness of a sober first date, I’ll have a much more accurate picture of my feelings toward this potential partner.
If I want to stick to a budget, I actually have to make one that’s realistic for what I need. It has to cover all of my monthly expenses and leave a little room for savings. If it doesn’t, I need to cut some expenses. If I can get over the initial high and consequential panic of finally having money to spend, I can let it support the lifestyle that I say I want, instead of the one I’m currently living.
If I want to treat my body with respect and love, I get to acknowledge that this fear that I’ll somehow be restricted or run out of food is FALSE. Maybe I can start practicing some faith in my own ability to take care of myself, and give my body what it deserves, instead of what I think it needs to quell the rising panic.
“Everything is going to be fine in the end.
If it’s not fine it’s not the end.” — Oscar Wilde
This past week, I was completely broke, AKA negative bank account balance and no credit, for five whole days. There were multiple points in which I felt like I might actually die of shame and irresponsibility. I rationalized that I couldn’t leave the house because I couldn’t pay for parking or gas or coffee or that drink with that boy that I’m not sure I really like. I holed up with my computer and my dog and — conveniently — the healthy food delivery service that I had set up the week before.
Here’s the thing: I made it through. I didn’t die. I didn’t go into any debt. I didn’t drink alcohol. I didn’t eat anything that wasn’t relatively good for me. I didn’t starve. I slept relatively well. I felt the panic, and the despair, and the overwhelming anxiety that comes with changing any major habits. Then I moved through it.
All of my needs were met and taken care of, because previous me had already taken care of them.
I want more of that feeling.
I admit, the difference between making an intention and taking action on it is a big and particularly scary one. That I may actually need to change my habits in addition to identifying what I want is, surprisingly, news! I have to accept that there may be hard, daily work involved to overcome the intense resistance that I feel anytime I embrace change. That’s A-OK. Because I know that as soon as I start committing to these changes I want to make, I’ll finally start getting what I truly want: to be safe, to be loved, and to trust myself.