On the Fence?
We are all living on the fence. Think about it – we all want it to be this or that, but it is often (I’d say always) this and that. I was in my therapist’s office the other day asking what she thinks of procrastination “Do you think it is laziness or fear?” She has this way of never giving me an answer because she too believes it is always both this and that. She says, “Why can’t it be many things that cause one to procrastinate?” Well – because you are the doctor and I want answers!
I then go on to talk about the anxiety. How for many years I never felt my skin crawl with pins and needles, or the lump in my throat that blocks the air to my brain, or the racing thoughts at 4 a.m. I ask her, “is it all the grief, is it the fear of raising teen girls after experiencing a horrendous teen girl adolescence myself, or is it menopause that heightens anxiety.” Again she responds, “It seems like you have many things to explain the anxiety.”
We seem to come to the same conclusion in each session – life is living on the fence. It is being the mom of a newborn and being brought to tears by so much love and gratitude, while at the same time needing sleep or a shower so badly that you feel intense anger and resentment against that same precious newborn.
And what a set up that is! How many women instead of allowing themselves to feel this anger and resentment (because what would people think!?), instead screams at her partner or blames hormones, or in-laws for the anger? What would happen if we just started saying, “Yes, I love my kids, but some days I really want to run away from home.”
Why do I get such weird looks when I talk about how difficult it is living with teens, and that I am looking forward to them finding their way in the world. This doesn’t mean my kids are bad, or mean, or even obnoxious for that matter. It doesn’t even mean I won’t feel blue when they actually do leave home. Mostly it means I have learned that at this point, I can’t do much to control, soothe or help them, and that is an incredibly uncomfortable fence on which to sit. I need to hang here until they pass through this phase. I heard a great analogy for parenting teens: “You want to stand far enough away so that when they crash you don’t get hit by the shrapnel, and just close enough so that when they crash (not if), you can go in to help them.”
Isn’t that why new love is so grand, because we lean into the euphoria that clouds any humanness and we get hooked into only goodness? Then once our relationship transitions from the new, euphoric stage into the adolescent stage, we realize our beloved is actually human. . .well divorce seems the cultural answer. When really our partners are both lovely and hideous. Most people who leave a relationship because they get uncomfortable about not being loved or appreciated enough – or sometimes being loved too much – being smothered. Our partner doesn’t act the way he or she should, we can’t get what we want when we want it so we leave for a new relationship. Then, voila within a few months or a few years there we are struggling in a different relationship with the same stuff trying to find comfort in our own skin – on the fence – sitting with the good and the bad.
The beauty of being on the fence is that it is very uncomfortable. However, the more we can simply live with the uncomfortableness until it passes, because it ALWAYS passes, then we don’t have to react. We wait on the fence until we reach a place that doesn’t feel so desperate, and then we make a decision. Sometimes the decision is to remain on the fence.