I want to have sex with her. But I’m also afraid she’ll think I’m no good at it and tell all her friends. Or that I’ll get performance anxiety and FML. Or that we’ll do it and it will be great, but my Catholic guilt will set in because maybe God doesn’t want me doing this and now I’m a bad person.
I want to look and feel really good and be healthy. But I’m so tired and I’ll never feel good without adequate sleep, so I’ll skip this morning’s workout. And I don’t have time to go to the store right now for fresh produce, so I’ll just order a pizza. And Easter candy tastes good. And a couple beers can’t hurt.
I want to never stress about money again and I want to maximize my personal income. But I don’t have time to budget right now. And it’s fine that I eat out all the time because I’m spending less money at the grocery store. And I can always work on that thing that might make me more money tomorrow.
There’s always an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.
There’s always a yin and a yang.
There’s always a tradeoff or compromise that needs made.
I was an only child.
I was really good at entertaining myself. I always enjoyed books and movies and video games, and I had a great imagination and could have fun alone.
I also loved going to play with my friends. There’s nothing I enjoyed more than laughing and playing and having fun with other kids.
But sometimes, I had to compromise because I was at their house and needed to go along to get along. Sometimes, all of my friends didn’t do what I wanted to do, and maybe we had fun anyway, but maybe sometimes I didn’t because their idea might have been crappier than mine.
Sometimes friends would be at my house and it would be great, but then at some point, they were infringing on my time and space and I didn’t really mind when they left because then I could do whatever I wanted again.
Of course, at some point, I always missed them and wanted them to come back.
I got laid off from my job on Jan. 1, 2010 somewhat unexpectedly, and prior to my divorce, that was easily the most difficult thing that ever happened to me.
Not having a job when you want one is hard. You lose self-confidence. Your shame level increases. Your wife starts thinking you’re pathetic. Your friends probably do, too, but they never say so because they’re your friends.
I’ve always liked my jobs in the context of “having to go to work.” Some people have to stand in front of machines or do really hard manual labor or clean up poop and pee all day.
I’ve always been paid to write stories. Regardless, going to work is a drag when you don’t really want to. I like writing stories, but I don’t always like writing stories in this specific location at this specific time and about this specific subject. I don’t always like doing what other people tell me to do.
But then one day, I was 30 and unemployed, and it lasted 18 months and I was totally miserable, not counting the valuable time I had with my son at home.
I will NEVER take my job for granted again!, I vowed.
But four years later, I pretty much take my job for granted and wish I didn’t have to sit in a cubicle all day.
Being single again and not in constant emotional agony has been an interesting experience.
Like with pretty much everything in life, there are things about it that are good, and parts that aren’t so good.
I’m a little bit like that only child again. I have a lot of freedom to do what I want, when I want.
And that’s good! I still have a good imagination, and I’m still capable of entertaining myself.
But you get lonely, too.
And I don’t mean Boo-freaking-hoo, I’m lonely and crying on the couch. I’m not doing that. But sometimes, you’re watching a ball game or a movie or reading a book while your son is asleep upstairs at 9:15 p.m. on Friday, and you think: Hmm. Life sure would be better right now if I had someone to spend this time with.
Do I crave conversation? Yes.
Physical intimacy? Of course.
Shared experiences? Best way to build connections.
But then I wonder if maybe she is around whether I’ll secretly wish she would just go home sometimes like I did back when a friend maybe annoyed me while playing in the backyard or on my bedroom floor.
I loved my wife very much. I was a lousy husband when I declined invitations to go to bed, or ignored her in favor of online poker or 24 marathons on Netflix, or because I was more interested in Monday Night Football. But I did love the woman in the same way I feel love about my family members and close friends.
And I was still capable of making her sad and miserable by intentionally choosing to do things that I wanted to do.
We’re capable of terrible things.
It’s okay to be selfish when you’re single. I need to be unselfish for my son, of course, but in the context of adult romantic relationships, I can do whatever I want and needn’t feel the least bit guilty about it.
And I guess that’s nice.
But we’re humans and we crave connection. I don’t mean crave like I really want it!
I mean crave, like we really need it.
We all want to be a part of something. To connect mentally, emotionally, spiritually with like-minded people and groups to achieve some end.
It’s why you buy the products you do. It’s why you live in the neighborhood you live in. It’s why you work where you do. It’s why you’re involved in your various hobbies and social groups and team sports and churches and relationships.
But it’s not okay to be selfish when you’re a couple. When you’re part of something greater than yourself. I know this as well as or better than most.
What if I’m always that selfish only child who doesn’t always like to share?
Of course I crave it now.
I don’t have it.
We always want what we don’t or can’t have.
But I’ll probably have it someday.
And what then? When the shiny newness is gone? When I think a quiet Friday night with my son sleeping upstairs and a book or movie alone is sounding pretty good?
I want her.
But I’m afraid of her.
I want it.
But what if I don’t always?
I want everything that I don’t have because that’s what’s missing! and if we fill the voids then we can finally be happy!!!
I think maybe we’re all a little bit broken on the inside. And I think that brokenness keeps us constantly filling “voids” only to discover that something’s missing feeling never actually goes away.
I am selfish.
I want, want, want.
Me, me, me.
“It’s always about what Matt wants,” she often said. The truth hurts.
The common denominator in all of my life pursuits that never ultimately brought me satisfaction is that I wanted things, acquired them, and still felt dissatisfied.
The common thread was selfishness. I want more.
Over and over again. Rinse, wash, repeat. I want. I need. Give me.
And it hasn’t worked yet. Not one time in 36 years.
What if we tried giving?