‘The Renaissance metaphysician Paracelsus said that we cannot love something without knowing it, or know something without loving it. When we feel deeply loved, we also know that we have been encountered authentically, that we have been true to ourselves in the presence of the other and found that truth fully embraced and accepted. When we tell the truth to a partner or friend, we are indeed vulnerable to being judged, blamed or rejected. If we hide the truth in favor of protecting ourselves and appearing in a certain way, however, we may retain an illusion of control but we lose the possibility of being known for who we really are, and hence of being loved’.
‘When you learn to speak the truth, you come to recognise that you have no special power over others to make them do your bidding. You cannot pressure or scare away others by speaking your desires. Other adults also have free will. We all have a responsibility to speak our own desires and to respect those of others’.
Polly Young-Eisendrath from Women and Desire.
There are books that change your life and Polly Young-Eisendraths ‘Women and Desire’ was one of those books for me. My copy is heavily underlined with asterisk’s and different pen marks, with notes made each time I have re-read it and found new or perhaps more pertinent insights.
Indeed it is a book written about women and their struggle to not only speak up for what they want but know intimately what they want, having spent many years being told to concentrate on the needs and wants of others. But I also think it’s a book for all human beings because I know so many that struggle to speak their truth.
Speaking your truth brings one of life’s oddest experiences, that of existing in an in-between place. For speaking up for what you want can make you feel both incredibly vulnerable and incredibly strong. By finding a voice for your desire you make yourself wide open, open to people rejecting you, saying no, being embarrassed by you …but it also brings the possibility of empowerment for you stand firm and grounded in what you want. From this place it is possible you could get it, that you could live the life you want. This isn’t possible if you keep your wants to yourself.
Investing in your wants isn’t selfish in the slightest, not in the way we have come to know and understand the meaning of this word anyway. Investing in the self, the true self, is about choosing a life that brings about the possibility of your full potential. From personal experience as much as through observing friends who’ve given this a go, when stepping forward, putting your hand up, saying yes to an experience that resonates with your core desire, it puts you in your element. From this place you are the most attractive person in the world because you are satisfied, have purpose and most often, beaming. This is a most healthy happy you and it is my belief that this state can inspire others to do the same, that it’s not only good for you but good for your immediate and wider community.
Investing in your wants can quite often also be investing in the health and happiness of others or things that have and do no harm such as the desire to see someone you care about. In expressing your want to see them you are simply saying ‘I like spending time with you’. Again there is nothing negative here.
But what stops us from saying this and other more difficult things is the fear of ‘no’. No from other, no from self. The other we have no control of and we humans often like to be in a place of control. We want to know before we take the risk, or worse, not take the risk at all because we have already envisioned the rejection.
The no from self is I think to do with shame – shame that we are not good enough to receive what we want. It is that loud voice that says ‘who am I to be brilliant?’ as Nelson Mandela quoted in his inaugural speech. We do not trust ourselves nor what we are capable of, and in doing this we risk not trusting others as they have the right to be. We give them a voice before they’ve even had the opportunity to respond, simply because in our fear, we don’t even ask.
But as the first quote above states, if we do not live our lives authentically how can we be truly loved for who we are? It is funny to think in this regard that one of the main instigators of not being authentic IS to be loved. We choose not to be open, not to be vulnerable, not to reveal the dag, the quirks and the eccentricities because we fear that they will not be accepted, that they will not fit in with the group or the larger world we live in.
If everyone followed the group then we would potentially be as Aldous Huxley reveals in Brave New World, nothing interesting. The individual would not prevail and the world as result would not be moved and shaken the way it needs to be in order for our survival and in order for life to be what it is supposed to be – an adventure, a journey and a path to learn, to grow, to change, to experience and to feel.
Wonder. Meant …that I must shout from the rooftops this moment that I love Star Wars, can quote the original trilogy almost in its entirety and still sleep in the t’shirt I had as a child. There. Done. Dag truly revealed.
…It also meant that with every day I try to give voice to what I want I am full of fear and vulnerability. At these times I want to ask for forgiveness, bashfull and blushing in my forthrightness. But I also want to know that no matter what the response, I have honored myself and the life I am fortunate enough to have the freedom to, in the most part, choose.
And so, I ask.