Nobody knows what a life and the living of it feels like but the person living it. Experience is everything. Although we are all writing a memoir as we work out the how-tos of each day, we often get ourselves fankled up in the tapestry of what A. N Other prepares beneath our feet. Finding our voice and then using it to speak out is not always easy. children have no such qualms, but somehow that confidence dissipates in the winds of time. We learn to conform for the sake of peace, the wrong sort of peace.
When a person decides to share this life, a whole load of stuff has to go. Singular decisions, for one. I becomes ‘We’ overnight. We like to do this, we like red furnishings, woodburners, pasta and pesto, dogs, hamsters, walking in the rain, burgundy,bouncing on a trampoline, and so on. I recall well that moment when ‘We’ anounced we didn’t like going to parties. I remember my eyeballs wide, my surprise complete. This ‘We’ thing tiptoed into life and the way it landed, the certainty with which it became a family member, rendered me wordless.
I suspect I am not alone. Morphing two into one is what all the love songs and poems and romantic stories are all about, after all. We can’t live without the other, we need to be ‘always by your side’, never alone, never singular again, for singledom means loveless, lonely, sad. Well isn’t that what they want us to believe?
Over time I have fought off ‘We’ but it is a persistent little so-and-so, especially as it moves in so quietly, weaving its tentacles around a shared life, hardly noticeable as it’s roots burrow in silence to a very great depth. It also offers security and the chance not to think at all about what I want in any given situation. So easy to be lazy, to be unsure enough not to challenge a ‘we’ moment when it just doesn’t fit. If a person has gone along with everything decided by one half of the ‘we’ for years and years, and never once considered rising up to make an ‘I’ choice, or too scared to even consider it, then why bother now? After all, hasn’t ‘we’ sort of worked till now?
The trouble is we are bigger than half of a whole. We are whole all by ourselves, or ourself. The trouble is that if it does limit our personal freedom of choice, of speech, of direction, we are never going to know who we really are, what our purpose is in this one life. What dreams we have can stay in dreamland if we refuse to bring them into the daylight, but they will not let us go; they will keep coming, nudging, whispering to us and it will sound like rebellion, red and fiery, dangerous, destructive.
Of course, it is none of those things in reality. It is simply a matter of challenging a ‘we’ when it feels wrong. It might have felt right, once, but not now, not now, because we all change all of the time, growing and learning, turning to face a new direction. Challenging a ‘we’ that was acceptable once, is enough to panic anyone. The other half might be upset. Will be upset. Expect it and keep going, gently, firmly, lovingly. None of us really welcome change and yet change is necessary or we just go backwards.
We are taught so much about how not to upset another human being. We bend over backwards to avoid it, paint ourselves into the background, accommodate and serve and there is everything wonderful about that, at times. But, must it deny a singular freedom whilst remaining one half of a whole? I say No, and No is a complete sentence. Finding a good way to untangle from an uncomfortable ‘we’ might not be achieved overnight, but if we are consistent and gentle and determined, it will, eventually, be accepted as the new norm.
I am often teased about being ornary and cussed as I challenge a ‘we’ but it is just teasing and not the end of the world. I found that facing down a fear, always imagined, led me to a singular freedom and yet I am not single. I am part of a ‘we’, but more, I am I.
I leave you with a wisdom.
‘If I am me because of who I am, then I am me. If you are you because of who you are, then you are you. But if I am me because of who you are, or you are you because of who I am, then I am not me, and you are not you.’