A Contradictory Heart

“It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there is no answer to the question ‘who am I’ except the voice inside herself.”  Betty Friedan.

“What person is for himself, what abides with him in his loneliness and isolation, and what no one can give or take away from him, this is obviously more essential to him than everything that he possesses or what he may be in the eyes of others”  Schopenhauer

This is going to be one of my long rambling posts where I think about life that nobody reads and I’m okay with that.  I decided a couple of weeks ago that I’m happy with what I write and that is most important. It is my blog after all.

…but it may be helpful to someone out there so read and ponder along with me. 🙂

Sometimes I feel confused about myself.  I am a creature full of contradictions, and at times it feels like God wants it that way.  Today is a perfect example.  I went visiting teaching and felt so connected to my girls.  I really felt like I made 2 new friends, cultivated an existing friendship, and shared a message all 4 of us needed to hear. Days like today I feel like I have a way of creating friends and interacting with others that not everyone can. I’m not saying this to boast but ever since my days of being bullied I have never had a hard time making friends.

I actually enjoy public speaking and teaching and it seems like I can usually find a way to reach my audience.  Someone told me today ‘I really enjoyed your talk you gave a while back’.  This was a talk given in March and he remembered it.  I found that to be amazing. 9 months and he remembered it. I’ve also had great experiences putting together parties, swimfests, bookclubs, a writing group and any number of other group activities. I’m a natural leader and gatherer.

Even on twitter I have made wonderful dear friends and felt a comfort level around strangers which most people do not share.  This blog is certainly abundant proof of that!

I’m also a very loyal person and most of my friends stay friends for years.  In fact, loyalty and honesty are essential to me in any friendship. I have friends from high school, college, people I’ve traveled with, been in wards with (pretty much all of them girls…don’t know why that is the case), swim friends (some of them are guys!), and just so  many treasured relationships.  I feel so grateful and have certainly not done anything that warrants such a blessing from God.

Here’s where the contradiction comes in…

After visiting teaching I put up Christmas decor myself, cooked a meal for one,  and went to meet with the bishop alone.  We talked about my individual scripture study and how I can do better.  We talked about my life and how independent I have to be.  How I have to stay motivated and be persistent or it will not happen.  There is nobody to push me along and challenge me to read scriptures everyday, go to the temple, exercise, or whatever worthy goal I am trying to accomplish in my life.  It’s all on me…

I am probably the most independent person I know.  Ever since I was little, and I mean little, I wanted to do things in my way, under my control.  I hated being a kid.  I hated being told what to do and  how to do it.

It was my dream to have my own place, my own space, my own life.  I never remember dreaming about what kind of husband or kids I would have.  In fact, for years while being open to love I was antagonistic about the idea of having a family.  To me it was a giant life and freedom suck. I’d seen how hard it was to have little kids and I wanted none of it. (Sorry but I grew out of it.  I promise!)

I don’t know many other Mormon girls that grew up wanting to be independent and free but that’s the way it was for me and that’s the way it has turned out.  I’ve always been a bit mystified by love and the dependence couples seem to have on each other. I’ve grown to a point where I want it but still don’t really understand the innate human need for it and yet…

I am lost without friendships and human bonding.  So maybe it is just love that confuses me?  Romantic love?  I don’t know.

I remember one time on my mission my trainer and I were talking about marriage and life.  I told her I didn’t know if I wanted to take my husband’s last name.  I like my name.  She said “This from the woman who wears a pink sweater every day” (and I really did wear a pink sweater a lot on mission.  Look at the photos!).  And yet both statements were equally true.  A contradiction….I feel like I have lot of those in my life.

Today I realized that in many ways the last 2 years have made me even more independent.  I didn’t think it was possible but it’s true. I am now a homeowner, I lived alone for 3 years happily before that, spent holidays alone, traveled alone and my spiritual sustenance is now maintained alone. Any leaning I was doing on another’s faith has had to be replaced with my own knowledge and strong conviction.  I don’t know anyone else that has been forced to be independent in more ways than I have.

Sometimes it seems like God wants me to be more independent and self reliant but in other ways he puts more people in my path to help and nurture.  People who need me and I desperately need them.   This is a good thing but it can leave me vulnerable to the lonely moments, which you would think someone who is so independent wouldn’t have.  Yep, still have them…

How can one human being need people so badly yet fundamentally resist them as part of my nature?  I truly have both yearnings and always have.

So, the giant Rachel tug of war will probably always continue.  One side needing and thriving on community and love, and the other needing isolation and freedom from what other people have planned for my life.

A contradiction…Does this make sense to any of you?  Do you see these 2 sides in your own life? Can any of you relate?

indexbtw- this is my 750th post!

5 thoughts on “A Contradictory Heart

  1. Re: marital name change. When I was married, I dropped my middle name and put my maiden name in its place (I did not hyphenate). When I stopped being married, I resumed my full maiden name. If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t have changed it when I married. Not all cultures follow the female name change tradition. I have a complicated-looking French name that a lot of persons won’t even try to pronounce, but interestingly enough, when my youngest son turned 18, he went to court and legally changed his surname to mine.

    1. I love it! You are such an interesting person! Do you ever feel like you’re a bit of a contradiction? Could you relate? I’m an incredibly dependent and independent person and sometimes I feel conflicted by both desires.

  2. Thank you, Rachel. You’re an interesting person, too.

    RE: your questions and conflict. I’ve pondered them for a long time, tonight, and have drafted an equally lengthy reply, but this is your blog, and I don’t want to take it over, so an e-mail may be more appropriate.

    But for now, a suggestion: Read the last paragraph in Chapter 32 of “Irish Firebrands” (should be at the bottom of page 437).

    1. Thanks for being so thoughtful. I think there are questions you always ponder, that there are no hard and fast answers for.

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