Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Monday, December 06, 2004


I've been spending a lot of time this past week semi-obsessively pondering something my therapist said to me. I was bitching and moaning about how trapped I feel, how much I want to work from/stay at home, how much I resent the position I'm in, etc., and she said that I needed to stop seeing my situation as something beyond my control, but rather as a choice I've made.

I protested. After all, we can't really run a household with NO steady income, right? Someone has to work. Someone has to provide. And Baroy won't or can't do it.

Well, she countered, that's not entirely true. You can survive on no steady income; you just don't survive in any kind of lifestyle you'd be willing to have. Plus, if you quit your job to stay home, it might just put Baroy in the position of HAVING to get a real job. It's your choice not to do that. And because you're making that choice, you can't resent Baroy for it. You're doing it to yourself.

Semantically, that's an argument I can totally accept. Realistically, I'm not sure. I don't want to say it's bullshit, because it's clearly not. But there are two main problems with it, as far as I'm concerned.

For one, I don't think it's a choice. Not now, at least. Not with two children in the picture. Doing something that could render us homeless in a fairly short period of time may be something I could choose by definition of the word choice, but it's certainly not a real choice.

The time when I could think only about myself, and make choices based on that, is gone. Yes, it was a choice to have children. Fine. But that choice is made, and can't be undone. (Not that I would. Not in a million years. The mere thought is heartbreaking.) And that means that now all the so-called choices I supposedly have to make aren't really choices. Because most of the options aren't really options.

Let me see if I can make my undoubtedly twisted line of logic a little more clear here. If you think of everything you ever do as a choice, yes, I have a lot of choices I can make on a daily basis. I could actually strangle Baroy during one of our arguments, I suppose. I mean, I do have to make a choice not to, right? But, really, it's not a choice. Not a real choice. Just as choosing not to feed or house or clothe or educate my children aren't real choices. They're not really available to me. They are in theory, but they're not in reality. And with that in mind, choosing not to work any more is not a real choice. Because feeing, housing, clothing and educating my children wouldn't be possible soon after making such a 'choice.'

Which brings me to the second part of my issue with my therapist's assertion: the idea that, if it is a choice, I can no longer resent Baroy because of it.

That, I can only laugh at. I mean, let's say that I eventually accept the argument that I'm making a choice by continuing to work. That still doesn't mean that I'm not being coerced into making that choice. It's not a free choice. It's a choice based on the needs and expectations of others. And yes, I resent that. Mostly, I resent Baroy, because he has the means to get me out of here. Or, at he has the theoretical means. (He's a playwright and TV writer; stable jobs are few and very far between.) But sometimes, yes, I resent the kids--or, rather, their needs and the way those needs bind me to my job. I wouldn't want it any other way, of course--I love them, love caring for them, love being a mother. Hell, that's why I'm so resentful in the first place, because I want more time to be with my children, to be a mother. It's kind of ironic, if you think about it.

And so, the whole idea that making a choice then prohibits me from being resentful about its consequences is beyond me. I can do both, easily. Is it immature? Sure. Is it illogical? Certainly. Is it hypocritical? Absolutely. But is it impossible? Absolutely not. The question is, how do I get past it? And here's a hint: The answer is not "because you have no right to feel that way."

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