I’m still slowly working my way through Carolyn Bushong’s Loving Him Without Losing You. I’m up to a section called Create A Vision. I’m supposed to imagine my life the way it would be if it was perfect. Imagine my fantasy life. I’m struggling.
Most of my adult life I survived by visualizing how I wanted my life to be. Its what kept me sane. I visualized a life where I was in charge. I visualized a life where I had the freedom to do the things I had wanted to do for years like hiking, volunteering, getting together with friends, attending social activities, cross country skiing, trying new things without my motives being questioned or being humiliated or being outright forbidden to do something. I visualized a world where I wasn’t held responsible for everything that went wrong in someone else’s life.
Meanwhile I was living the exact opposite. I allowed a man to dictate what I would do with my free time. I allowed him to humiliate me into submission. My memories are fading but I try to hang onto them. One that comes to mind is when I acquired a pair of rollerblades in my twenties. At work we had a reward program. If you were written up by colleagues for good work you were awarded points that you could accumulate to ‘buy’ things from a prize catalog. I remember accumulating my points to buy a pair of rollerblades. Finally I had enough. I sent in for the prize and waited anxiously for them to arrive. They came and I was nervous and excited. I put them on and practiced in the basement. Then I graduated to the driveway. I remember him first trying to humiliate me into giving up. “You look so stupid. You can barely stand. You are going to break your neck. Who do you think you are? Do you realize you look like a fool? You are just about the most awkward person I’ve ever met.” Then when that didn’t work it turned to rage. “YOU ARE SUCH A FUCKING STUPID BITCH. YOU ARE GOING TO BREAK SOMETHING AND THEN WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? DO YOU THINK I WILL HELP YOU? HA DON’T EXPECT IT. YOU ARE A FUCKING EMBARRASSMENT.” I felt utterly alone. It was easier to give them up. I was already a little afraid and very unsure of myself and this harassment only made me more self-conscious. So the rollerblades were set aside and eventually given away. Of course this only led to more put downs and another pile of evidence that I was everything he said I was and wasn’t. “I told you that you couldn’t do it. You’re so stupid for even thinking you could.”
Finally I made a plan and achieved that freedom that I had visualized. Next I started doing all the things I’d only talked about doing in the past. Including rollerblading. It took a lot of energy to push aside all that negative force that was placed on my brain. But I did it. So now that life I imagined IS my life. I am independent, I try new things all the time, I get to hike regularly, I’ve become a decent xc skier, I volunteer for causes that are important to me. I have a full and rich life.
Now as I try to visualize my fantasy life, I come up empty. I’m unsure if that means I’m living my fantasy or if I’ve become complacent. Isn’t there always room for improvement? Its been two days now that I’ve been trying to figure out what my next dream should be. Sure I have a bucket list of things I want to do. But none of them seem like dream/fantasy material. They are simply more things I want to try, places I want to see, experiences I want to have. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a big life changing dream or fantasy like in my past. Maybe its just the sum of all the things on my bucket list. Maybe I’m just not in the same place that the readers of this book would be in. I’m just not sure. I’m going to spend some time over the next weeks just thinking about what my next move is in this world.
But perhaps my life is pretty darn good and I am livin’ the dream.