What I Really Want

“We don’t always know what makes us happy. We know, instead, what we think should. We are baffled and confused when our attempts at happiness fail…we are mute when it comes to naming accurately our own preferences, delights, gifts, talents. The voice of our original self is often muted, overwhelmed, even strangled, by the voices of other people’s expectations. The tongue of the original self is the language of the heart.”

–Julia Cameron

What I really want, even if it’s hard to admit.


  1. Laura says

    What I really want is more passion in my life. I have discovered that this can be found in many forms: letting my creative spirit flow more freely (and frequently!), expressing my beliefs even when others may not support them, and finding a partner. I’m sure there are more. The hardest one for me to admit is that I want a partner in my life. I have to stop myself when I label this as “needy” because part of me knows that it is a normal human desire and need to have a partner. I have to catch myself when I see expressing my creative self as “indulgent” or “self-absorbed” And I try not to see myself as a “troublemaker” when I voice my beliefs.

    • Hazel Muller says

      Sometimes partners come from rather obtuse angles. I have a wonderful partnership with my daughter. It is a partnership of sharing ideas and conversations, and we have real conversations. Conversations on many subjects. We are supportive of each other in our endeavors and we are very honest with each other. When we can manage to be together physically we enjoy long lunches, exploring new places both out in the woods and stores in town. We were apart for a long time and there were many negative things that happened during that time so when we decided to have a relationship, we talked about it and what we wanted out of it. We first had to develop trust. Because we really knew how to push each other’s buttons it made for a long time. But it was worth it. Now, we just have so much fun together. So, I think you can have a partnership in a different way than what everyone thinks of initially. At age 76, I would have avery difficult time living by myself. I am thankful for my husband, he is kind, helpful, and intelligent, but we don’t seem to speak the same language most of the time and it is more than that his mother tongue was German.

      • says

        Hazel, thanks for sharing the story of your reconciliation with your daughter. Luckily for me, I have been able to achieve the same with my mother and am very grateful to have found a way past our challenges back into each other’s lives again.

    • says

      Acknowledging what you want is the first step in creating the space for it to happen. I applaud your courage in putting it in words, here, so others can witness your wish for a partner.

    • Debbie says

      Laura – it takes a lot of courage to make a statement of what you want. There is an implied risk of naming the “want” but never meeting the need. I applaud your courage!

    • Ginger Fernandez says

      There is no doubt in my mind what I really want. Many a time I wished for things. Thirty eight years ago I prayed to God to give me children. I resigned my life to being the best mother I knew how… and that I did that. For the next 30 years I devoted my life to raising my children. I promised God, what ever it entailed I did it. I couldn’t remain with the father because he was a batterer. I wasn’t having any of that so I left him and did what I had to do.

      I worked hard by myself to raise my children. I did what ever I had to get the job done. While I was out working my daughter slipped up and got pregnant. So what I worked that out too. I let her bring the father into my house to help her while I worked.

      If he had been any kind of man he would have been out looking for work, but no all he did was lay up on his behind and suck up everything I gave my daughter. Finally after giving birth to three children she went out and got a job. Still the lazy bastard refused to get up off his butt and do anything.

      When I got tired of him laying up on me sucking up my life’s blood I did them another favor. I went out found them a place paid their first months rent and deposit. I gave them everything I had and moved away with my youngest son. Boyfriend still resigned to living off someone else ended up getting their huse fire bombed. Again they had to move in with me.

      I asked them not to have their friends over while I was working, but do you think they listened to me? No in on time at all they got me evicted from my flat. I was forced to live with them until I found me another apartment. I made it a point to do that immediately. Within three months I was set up in another apartment.

      I just kept going through crap with my daughter and her family. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to keep things going.

      Oh well the years have passed and baby-girl lost her house and is back in my house again. This move was suppose to be temporary, like a few months. Four years later she is still up in my house stealing away the few years I have left. She has a home of her own my son saw to that… my youngest son gave her a house so she could get the hell out of mine.

      Her kids are no longer kids, they are lazy adults just as lazy as their old man. Out of the five people she has moved into my home she is the only one working. They are destroying my home and robbing me the last few remaining years I have left. I is refusing to pay rent. She had not given me a dime since March of 2012. They don’t clean house and I just can’t take it any more.

      I know what i want and I have done everything short of eviction to get her out of here. She is forcing my hand. I am going to have to go down to 26th. district court and file for an eviction. I don’t really want to but she has pushed my hand to the limit. I am going to do it first thing Monday Morning. I want my freedom and I am willing to do what ever it takes to get it. She can hate me if she wants to be that petty. I don’t care anymore.

  2. Fran Stekoll says

    What I really want is to be pampered. I want someone else to make reservations. I want someone to shop and cook healthy meals for me.
    I want to be respected, admired, loved, and cherished. All my life I’ve been the
    one to care for others. It’s now time to receive. I find myself projecting and dreaming for someone to treat me equally; yet no one ever seems to fill my blueprint. Maybe my expectations are too complicated to fill. Are my requirements impossible. Is there anyone out there who will bring me flowers, write a poem for me, sing me a love song? Am I living “The Impossible Dream”? Maybe I expect too much. No one is perfect. What am I willing to compromise? Maybe I should quit expecting, dreaming, anticipating . Maybe I’m so full of my own desires and creative juices that I really don’t need another to complete me. Maybe, for the first time in my 78 years I’m really O K to just be who I am and it’s O K to be alone with myself.

    • Ilana says

      Fran- I so hear you. You’ve stated so eloquently something that I struggle with too. I wouldn’t be surprised if we weren’t the only ones. Thank you for sharing. IM

    • Debbie says

      I remember reading on post on this blog that brought me up face to face with my previously unknown desired to be rescued. Sometimes it felt a lot like how you started out – wanting to be pampered and have someone else do for me. Perhaps both sentiments can live within as the same time? Knowing we are okay, amazing as we are and yet still hoping for a bouquet of flowers?

  3. Hazel Muller says


    It didn’t happen in a great storm,
    angry words crashing about our heads,
    lightening flashes of sharp accusations
    cutting each other’s egos to bits.
    No, it was more like
    the wind spilled from our sails
    just died mid-voyage
    and the sea grew calm –
    too calm –
    We waited and watched.
    Doldrums. Nothing –
    day, after
    day, after
    day. . .

    Once an albatross soared past
    without a glance in our direction,
    didn’t consider us worthy of a sniff.
    It was, however, a momentary
    excitement that quickly deliquesced.

    We cast our lines which become
    hopelessly tangled like thick ropes
    of seaweed, in a life sometime ago.
    Words like worms soon drown;
    shred themselves into such quiet
    it makes our ears ring.

    We glimpse ghost ships – dreams
    once as bright and clear
    as the North Star – faded into
    insubstantial shadows
    that evaporate on the horizon.
    We wrap ourselves in separate
    shrouds of silent feelings;
    each says a separate prayer
    to Neptune, to Zeus, to Jesus. . .
    for some kind of rescue –
    a brisk breeze –
    anything strong enough to stir us
    to begin mending the tattered sheets;
    climb the rigging;
    hoist the sail; set the rudder;
    to search from the crows nest
    for another ship-of-dreams;
    to plot a new course
    using our old, reliable compass.
    Yes, what I really want is for my husband and I to find a new passion we can share. Now that we are older things are too calculated and we seem to be stuck. We do things by rote. I need him as I cannot even get dressed without his help and he is very willing to help me. I just feel like, “is that all there is?” There must be more of something.

    • beverly Boyd says

      In this really well crafted poem you have expressed to clearly what happens in so many long term relationships. I think some of the younger folks don’t stay together long enough, as our generation and those before us did, to experience this. In some ways I wish I had been able to, but other elements of our relationship were killing me (at least my spirit). I am grateful that we are able to enjoy our children and grandchildren together and have congenial family gatherings with both of us present.

    • Ilana says

      Wow Hazel-This is so beautiful. I love your imagery and rhythm. I am only 38; have been with Zander 14 years but I recognize a lot of what you are saying. Have hope. There is so much beauty in you. Perhaps that can stir the breeze you are praying for. IM

    • says

      Hazel, believe me, I completely understand that wish for “more.” And the question, “Is this all there is?” You stated it very well for all of us to muse on for ourselves.

    • Debbie says

      Hazel – I really liked this piece. I felt like you were describing what happened to me, in my relationship. Your descriptions were so vivid and l so enjoyed the ship metaphor. Well Done!
      P.S. I also hope you find what you are looking for!

    • Terry Gibson says

      Hazel, this poem echoes the situations of most couples at one time or another I imagine. The imagery is so fine. Like Vicki said, I too am so very happy you write. Take good care of yourself.

  4. Liz F. says

    I know what I want, and have felt the sting of expectations from other people too. And a great example came to mind as I read this prompt after opening it from my e-mail.

    Just the other day, I was out shopping at Macy’s for clothes for a conference I was going to be attending, and was with a couple of other gals. No big deal. Out shopping sort of thing with the gals, and it was fun. I knew what kind of clothes I wanted too, and when I spotted a dress and a blazer that looked like they would work, I got them and headed for the dressing room. The gals I was with however, had other clothes ideas –for me! Now, I know what I want; especially when it comes to clothes, and no one is going to get in the way of that. But I felt the uneasiness of their expectations. Perhaps because I didn’t want to be rude or disrespectful, which are societal pleasantries I suppose– But those feelings were there, and it was not comfortable.

    I did buy the clothes I had picked though without too much explanation. I really didn’t have to explain, but we were out and we talked, and the clothes were both comfortable and looked good; things that I really believe in. I listened to their ideas though, but at the end of the day, I did what I wanted, and felt good about it. And it wasn’t a matter of: “oh you’re just doing what you want;” like it was a bad thing. It was more a matter of knowing what I wanted, and acting on it.

    • beverly Boyd says

      I’m glad that “at the end of the day you did what you wanted!” And I’m glad you were able to listen to your friends ideas.
      When my son got married, I bought an outfit I did not particularly like. It was mauve, one of colors recent years cars were coming out in. It was so clear that my friends who helped me shop thought it looked good on me and was appropriate for the occasion that I bought it. One suggested I think of if as my “mother of the groom costume”. As it turned out I wore and enjoyed it for several years: went to many a wedding, graduation and other special events and always felt good in it. I gave it away with some regret, but I never want to gain back the thirty pounds it would take to fit me. So be it!

    • Ilana says

      Thank you for sharing this, Liz- Reading it gave me peace; the reminder that my decisions are my own and I owe no one an explanation. IM

      • Liz F. says

        I am so glad this gave you peace Ilana, and even for me it was a good reminder. I do know what I want, and can get what I want; even if others want something else for me. And I know that they were just trying to be helpful in making the suggestions they had in the situation we were in.

      • Liz F. says

        I’d love to post a picture and show them off! They were good looking and comfy. And I felt good wearing them at the conference too…

  5. Ana says

    What I really want…
    to no longer work in an office/the corporate world
    more passion in my life
    stop letting myself be paralyzed by negative voices
    freedom to create every day without constraints
    see more of the world
    save my sadness in a mason jar for another day
    love life and people more
    avoid disappointments by staying true to my-self
    stop doing what’s not working
    go on a quest/pilgrimage
    honor my own ideas

    Between planning a wedding, getting married and being on my honeymoon/vacation, I’ve been out of the loop for a while…so grateful to be back.

    • Ilana says

      Ana- Welcome back and congratulations. Great list but it’s a tall order. I hope you give yourself time to accomplish it. 😉 IM

    • Debbie says

      Hi Ana – welcome back. This line blew me away “save my sadness in a mason jar for another day”. I will be thinking about this one as I make my way to the hardware store to buy some jars!

      • Ana says

        Thanks ladies, it’s good to be back. And your right, one accomplishment at a time. Yesterday I took another step towards being a recovering corporate employee.

  6. Vicki says

    What I really want is to be alone. Maybe in Nova Scotia, on a low hill by the sea. My writing desk would be in front of a large window overlooking the ocean. If I opened my window, I could hear the crashing waves below. When I need food or supplies, I can walk down the dirt road about 1/4 mile to the small village. I wouldn’t have a phone or computer, but they’d be available in town, in case I needed them. Bookshelves on my walls would be filled, floor to ceiling, with books. Mostly history books so that I could learn about the world. I would have a special room filled with maps…the older the better. And a huge globe on a stand on the floor that had wheels. My small, cozy bed would have a feather bed and a soft, down comforter. My little bathroom would have a bathtub that fit me perfectly. I imagine that I’d love tea (I don’t) and that I’d have a lovely little teapot with a cozy on it. And a tray for my tea and cookies that I could carry to my writing table. My dishware would be simple, but pleasing to my eyes. I would learn to bake and when I wasn’t reading, writing or looking at maps, I’d bake things. The house would always smell good. In the spring, a gardener would come and plant lovely little flower gardens for me to enjoy. I would take pleasure in keeping everything clean and orderly, but dust wouldn’t be much of a bother. My life would be very simple. I’d go to bed when I was tired. Eat when I was hungry, write when I wanted to. I would get to know myself.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Vicki, I love the images of your little house by the sea in Nova Scotia; I know someone else who has the same dream and destination. I see and love all the detail–the floor standing globe, teapot, shelves of books, feather bed, down comforter, and the little garden outside. I also love the idea of sleeping when tired, eating when hungry, and just being the rest of the time. Thanks for this.

    • says

      I’ve given an exercise periodically to my students where I lead a long guided meditation about being given a year for your creativity–in which you can do and be anywhere with no negative implications in your current life–it’s as if the rest of your world and your people would stay in suspended animation and be just the same upon your return. Your piece reminds me of many of the responses to that exercise. It was delicious and I wanted to see you there!

      • Vicki says

        A year with everything in suspended animation sounds PERFECT! I don’t want to leave my family, work or life but I DO wish I could have that year alone. Since I can’t have that particular year, I’m trying to create bits and pieces for myself that will help me for the rest of my life. Sounds like an excellent exercise :) Thank you!

    • Debbie says

      Sounds lovely – are you accepting short term guests?? Your descriptions were so inviting, comforting and renewing. Thanks for sharing this special “place” with us.

    • Ana says

      Vicki — I just loved this – having just returned from Prince Edward Island, a stone’s throw away from Nova Scotia, I could see every bit of this landscape. Wow, with such a clear vision, I can’t see how it could not be possible. Thanks for this.

      • Vicki says

        Debbie and Ana, Thank you for your responses. Ahhh…what a wonderful dream. My great great grandparents named their daughter Nova after visiting Nova Scotia and thinking it was beautiful. Not a common name in the 1860’s! Maybe some day…

  7. Lee Senior says

    I first read the play “Our Town” many years ago, and had difficulty
    understanding why it was a great play.
    Later, while in a graduate theatre class at the University of Southern California,the subject of “Our Town” came up. I raised my hand. “I
    have never understood why it is a great play,” I said.
    “Have you ever lived in a small town?” he asked me.
    “No,” I replied.
    “That’s why,” he told me.
    For the past 17 years, I have lived in a small town. Certainly, it has
    helped me understand “Our Town”, but, I don’t like living here.
    While most of the people I have met here, love it, and some are good
    friends, I cannot connect to a town, where when you say something at one end, it is almost immediately discussed at the other end. Where everyone knows everyone else’s business. And, if you are involved in any group activity, with the advent of e-mail, you can read what they are saying about you behind your back. I sometimes wonder whether they even consider that the person they are talking about is also receiving their comments. Or, whether they even care. I have separated myself from this situation by staying away from most of these groups. And, don’t get me wrong, there are many people I like and get along with. But, what I really want, is to get out of this town and return to places where I am comfortable, big cities where I have spent the greater part of my life, where friends are really your friends and it is a pleasure to be with them. Unfortunately, picking up your life
    and moving is always difficult , but I am working on it. Unfortunately,
    it takes time.

    • says

      Lee, I feel we all have a place or places where we can put down roots and really thrive. I know in my life there was about a decade when I lived in places that didn’t “fit” me and I couldn’t wait to leave. Now I live in a place that feels like home–and have for the past 30 years. I really hope you can get back to a place that feeds your soul and your spirit. It can make such a difference.

    • Debbie says

      Lee, I lived for six years in a lovely, small town in NE Indiana. I, like you, never got used to having my business “on the street”. I was uncomfortable with the homogeneity of the inhabitants, and never really felt I fit in. Your piece captures the essence of all of those feelings well. Good luck on finding your way back “home”.

    • Hazel Muller says

      I couldn’t help thinking of the old adage “look before you leap” when I read your piece, and even that doesn’t work sometimes. Or sometimes we think we want something and we really didn’t know about all the sharks swimming just beneath the water we were leaping into. Either way, a good plan with some built in flexibility seems to be the way to go. You will make it if “out” is what you really want.


  8. Sangeeta S. says

    What I really want is love. I know it’s out there, in fact it’s all around me. I have friends, neighbors, collegues and a whole city and region of people who probably could, or perhaps maybe even already do love me. I think my problem is allowing it– i’m not exactly sure how to do that!

    You see, I think I grew up with a sort of love–but not really. It was a love that often times tested–and failed–the parameters of human decency. I grew up being told how to love; whom to love; where to love; and even what to love. I grew up being told what to do, who to be, how to be. I grew up being acted upon rather than being able to take my own destiny in my hands. So now it’s no joke that I am extremely overprotective of me, my space and my needs. Since noone protected those things growing up, I’m able to do it now. I just wish I could stop. I’m like a freight train run amok: I’ve carried all the goods to their destination but I refuse to get off!
    After all, if I get off, what awaits me on the other side: love, hate, or worst of all, apathy? If I get off, who will be there to greet me- friends, neighbors, people from my past, nobody? And worst of all, if I get off, why all the empty stares and looks of shock from people who can’t really believe who I am? I guess all I can do is keep waiting, for now… I’ve already driven the train to its destination, and soon I’ll have to get off–or else I won’t be seen or heard from again for probably another 10 years.


    • Ilana says

      Sangeeta- So well written. I can hear and feel your frustration. The image of the train is so great and I love the way you carried it through. I feel the need to share with you what someone said to me when I expressed frustration at my inability to weep tears that have been in me for so long. She said, “I wish you could believe you will when you are ready.” You’ll get off that train, when you are ready. IM

    • says

      I agree with Ilana. It’s so hard to be patient when we’re deeply engrossing in a healing process in which it feels like things are sometimes getting worse (because we’re feeling them), and it can seem like we will never get to live our “real” lives again or grow into the new person we are slowly becoming. But it will happen. And not just for others. It will happen for you, too.

  9. Asma says

    I really want to remove the inner invisible cloak of irritability that I wear under my skin at all times. I struggle daily to function serenely despite the constant pricks and prods and sometimes even lacerations from it.
    I really want to remove that inner skin which is a cause of my constant irritability with some and on occasion many people around me.

    Loved the poem by Hazel Muller, it reminded me of Bathsheba in Thomas Hardy’s “Far from the madding crowd”.

    • Debbie says

      Asma – loved your imagery
      ” to remove that inner skin which is a cause of my constant irritability”
      That is a great line. Welcome to the blog!

    • Hazel Muller says


      Most of us think of our “hard outer shell” as something we must “crack” or “shed” but it is really our (to quote you) “prickly inner skin” that makes it so hard to change. Thank you for the new perspective.

      I feel that I have an outer shell that has been molded by my parents, teachers, experienceand, etc., but in my inner shell, behind my eyes, is the real me. It sounds schizophrenic, and maybe eve paranoid but I think we have to be a bit that way to survive this plane. But, you made me think about how very prickly I have become and the comments I make to myself in that inner space. I have become aware of it lately and am working on becoming softer.

      Thank you for sharing.

  10. Ilana says

    I Want a Brother

    (This was hard to admit. Painful, shameful and scary. I am embarrassed but I trust this safe community not to be too hard on me. Thank you, IM)

    I want a brother; someone who is going to look at me with caring, love, loyalty and a deep need to protect me. I want someone to look at my broken heart with rage and hate the people who hurt me, my real brothers. I want someone strong and powerful to seethe for me. In my fantasy he will bristle with anger at how I was treated throughout my childhood. Then he will put his strong arms around me and let me cry for as long as I need to. He will whisper, gently. “I know it hurts. Don’t apologize. Just cry until you’re done. I’m in no hurry.”

    He will hold me until I’ve cried myself dry, ‘til I’m exhausted. Then he’ll get up to brew a pot of tea. But first he will cover me with a warm blanket and encourage me to rest. When the tea is ready he will bring me a cup, sit down next to me with his own and listen while I tell him every disgusting gory detail of my abusive childhood; clean it out, confess, tell the truth. He will be horrified at what I endured and he’ll call me a hero for surviving it. I will tell him about the shame, the guilt, the worthlessness and the self blame. He will listen, maybe cry a little himself and then assure me over and over again that it wasn’t my fault. “You didn’t deserve to be treated that way. You were a beautiful, precious child who should have been loved, revered and adored.” He’ll tell me that I’m not ugly and disgusting, not damaged goods. “Disgusting things were done to you but you are not disgusting.”

    I know what you’re thinking. “Why, Ilana? Why do you need this, you have Zander. The amazing wonderful Zander who you’ve gone on about so much.” Because I want a brother. Zander is my husband. He is my lover, my partner and the father of my children. He has a stake in this and he has needs. At the end of a day when nothing gets accomplished because flashbacks or PTSD got in the way it’s his laundry that didn’t get done, his house that didn’t get cleaned and his dinner that didn’t get cooked. He’s the one who has to pick up the slack. He comes home from a long day at work to find that I didn’t hold up my end. What if he’s having a rough time? What if someone was cruel to him at work? He can’t come home and blow off some steam talking crap about them to me if I’m too fragile.

    When I’m depressed or checking out because the memories are too much for me he’s the one who has to live with a depressed woman. He’s the one who has to watch the children when I go to therapy or my support group, when I do the things I need to do to overcome this. He gets tired. It’s not his fault. He’s only human and sometimes the grief and pain seem endless.

    Then of course there’s the intimacy issue. When I flashback during sex and have to push him away, he’s left feeling rejected and unattractive. I want a brother. I want someone who I did not commit to share my life with, who doesn’t depend on me to do all the things it takes to make this household run smoothly, someone I do not have a sexual relationship with. I want a brother.

    Last week I had the most wonderful dream about Zander’s brother, Jack. Now Jack is not someone I want to depend upon. He is extremely focused and sometimes it renders him unable to be sensitive to other people’s feelings. He’s danced all his life; ballroom, ballet everything but for the last ten years or so it’s been aerial. That’s aerial as in up in the air, hanging from ropes, ribbons, trapezes and other things that are attached to the ceiling. So here’s the dream. I’m learning a really amazing trick on the Spanish web. That’s the act in the circus where a dancer hangs from a single rope with a loop on it. She twists and spins dangling from one ankle, wrist or knee. So there I am, hanging in the most graceful elegant pose and Jack is right there cheering me on. I’m upside down, so even though I’m pretty high up my head is still close enough to hear him. He’s poised to catch me if I should fall but I won’t because I’m getting it right. And there’s Jack with this big smile on his face. “You did it, Ilana! I’m so proud of you. I can’t believe how great you look!” I can hear his voice but his face keeps flashing past me because he’s begun twirl the rope causing me to spin. I feel amazing. I have learned this great trick and Jack is proud of me.

    Matt, my own brother, hasn’t uttered those words to me in so long that I can’t remember if he ever has at all. Even if he has the hundreds of cruel evaluations and judgments have stamped it out. But in the dream, for this one moment, Jack is proud of me. I told Zander about the dream, how I am savoring it, thriving on it even though Jack is completely ignorant of it. “That sounds like something Jack would do.” He smiled. It is something Jack would do for me, if we were ever in the same part of the country long enough. By saying that, Zander made it real. I can enjoy the sweetness of a moment I never got because the real Jack would have done just that, given the opportunity.

    So I guess it’s not just about the incest that my older brother inflicted upon me, my parents’ need to downplay it, ignore it and blame me. It’s not about my younger brother’s abandoning me because the memories of our shared abuse are too painful. It’s something even deeper than that. I want a brother; someone to be happy for me when things go right, proud of me when I accomplish something, broken hearted for me when I get hurt. I want someone to adore me, love me and yes, protect me, just because I’m his sister; a loving, worthwhile sister.

    “A worthwhile sister.” Hmm, strange that I chose that wording. I’ve done so much for Matt over the years, searching for a simple “Thank you.” Like a pathetic little puppy begging for attention. I wonder if he’s realized yet that I finally gave up. Who am I kidding? It hasn’t mattered to him, one way or the other in over 20 years.

    Subconsciously, I went searching for a brother. Unconsciously, too, if you count that dream about Jack. One day, a truly horrible day, I snapped at a close friend of mine in a very public place. A man, Eddie is several years older than me, kind and caring. Presto, instant older brother. I went back to where he was conversing with someone I did not know and apologized. He smiled and put his arms around me. In that instant, I felt safe. I wanted to cling to him and sob but it wasn’t the right time. It wasn’t the right place and I think that would have been too much for Eddie. There are other examples of me wanting to ask more of my male friends, wishing they could be more to me. It’s something I shouldn’t be doing and I’m trying to stop. A man cannot be put into a role simply because I need him there.

    For now, this is going to have to be enough; the freedom to verbalize, in this safe place, what I want and will never have. My mother gave birth to two sons but I do not have a brother; just two men who, each in his own way, has damaged me beyond repair. I know I’m being dramatic, selfish even, but that’s exactly how it feels. In my soul there is a deep loss, a deep emptiness that I am certain will never be filled.

    I know that one day this will end. One day, I will heal from what happened to my childhood. The constant pain will be gone, the fear, the self hatred and the desperate need for approval from others. I’ve got an amazing husband and three incredible children. I don’t take them for granted. I never will.

    I know what I need to do. I need to take Matt’s advice. As he has said to me every time I wanted something or wanted to say something that he thought was wrong or inconsequential; “Let it go, Ilana. Let it go.” But I can’t. I want a brother.

    • says

      Ilana, I love this piece. Clarifying who the fantasy brother would be is an imperative step in coming to terms with the brother you have–and grieving for the huge gap between the reality and the fantasy. This piece, to me, represents an important stage in your healing. I commend you for writing it.

    • Debbie says

      Ilana – the content of your writing has changed while you continue to express yourself beautifully.
      Do you notice it, too? You are more clear in your thoughts. You are stating what YOU need. You are really expressing a full range of feelings.
      I kept going back to what you wrote about the dream – to this part
      ” So there I am, hanging in the most graceful elegant pose and Jack is right there cheering me on. I’m upside down, so even though I’m pretty high up my head is still close enough to hear . him. He’s poised to catch me if I should fall but I won’t because I’m getting it right.”
      You described yourself as graceful, elegant. There is encouragement you are able to hear and feel. You are getting it right!

      • Ilana says

        Thank you Debbie- I had noticed a difference in my writing but did not understand the growth it spoke to until I read yours and Laura’s comments on this post. It seems I may get there someday, after all…. sIMz

    • Terry Gibson says

      Ilana, I also see the changes Debbie mentioned. I always value what you do but your work has been even richer in the last couple of months. I like Jack and your fantasy brother. I know it’s healthy for me to admit that I still want a brother. I celebrate that for you as well and, as always, cheer you on.

  11. Jennifer Ire says

    I am happiest when I am out in the natural world with plants animals, insects – even though mosquitoes are brutal to me – and the nature spirits. That is when I feel alive and connected to life. There are no words needed although I love to talk to plants and whoever is there. I feel totally at ease, there is no discomfort in communicating me. It is pure communion without constraints when I am in that world, and I feel totally at home and in joy.

    I have been asking for a home somewhere on this planet where I can live like that. Today I read that members of a tribe in Brazil are committing suicide one by one because the government had ordered them to leave their sacred homeland. The tribe prefers to die than abandon the land from which they have come, the land is their life. I understand that so deeply.

    What I really want is a piece of land I can love and share with another human with peculiarities similar to mine. I want space and the time where communion with the worlds is so sweet that our humanness does not hinder us from finding a similar connection between us. I want to live in a place where words are remembered as the gifts they are, the means to go beyond the wordless beauty and magic of deep connection into another level of loving life and each other.

    • Debbie says

      Jennifer – I could relate to your special bond with the natural world. In my darkest days of late, it is mother nature who comes to soothe my troubled soul. This place is out there for you somewhere.

      • Ilana says

        Yes, Debbie, I think you’re right. I think a big part of it is that I felt your tears across the miles and they touched me. In addition, I think I was admiring, appreciating, revering… you pick a word, they all fit, the beauty of a sibling relationship that allows that kind of mourning for the other’s pain. Thank you for sharing that beauty with me. sIMz

  12. Debbie says

    Do you know the story of the princess and the pea?

    A young woman so sensitive that she could not rest at all?
    Even though she had a dozen of the softest feather beds, sleep would not come. There was something that kept her awake at night, tossing and turning. So restless that she finally threw aside all of the beds until she discovered the source of her discomfort, a single pea. Buried underneath all the trappings of royalty and creature comforts was the voice of her original self, whispering in her ear in that sacred space just before the descent into unconsciousness each night.

    I want the chorus of voices in my head to grow silent
    I want all of the judgments to be suspended
    I want all of the self-doubt to evaporate
    I want to feel sensual, sexual – I want to feel alive in my body
    I want to laugh, belly laugh, long and hard until tears come
    I want to hold the hand of a friend who knows me so well, no words are needed
    I want to feel good enough, so I can stop trying so hard
    I want to be able to live in this moment, this precious, imperfect, unique space of now
    I want to feel pretty
    I want to let down the walls that keep intimacy just out of reach
    I want a hug from my father, long dead these twenty seven years
    I want to take away my newly widowed brother’s gut wrenching pain
    I want to make a difference, a positive difference in the world

    I want to swallow the pea, digest it, no longer separate – now part of me, sustaining me
    I want to lie down and rest, curled around my authentic voice
    Hugging close delights, gifts and talents
    And awaken in the morning, a princess
    A princess who swallowed her pea.

    • Ilana says

      Wow! That was amazing, Debbie. I love the way you balanced the old story with your story. Well done. To the list of “I want…” my response was a whispered, “Me too.” The whole thing was beautiful but there was on line that I felt compelled to read twice. “…to take away my newly widowed brother’s gut wrenching pain.” I can’t put my finger on what exactly it is but there is something singularly beautiful in that line. Bravo, Debbie! sIMz

      • Debbie says

        Ilana – maybe it was the tears with which it was written. Had to pause there for a moment, and let my sorrow flow. Thank you.

      • Terry Gibson says

        Fantastic job, Debbie. I love this. Especially that you ate your greens no matter how small or crushed they may have been from that imposter princess. :)) Love your creativity.

        • Terry Gibson says

          Debbie, don’t mind me. You deserve so much more than I gave you here. This is so beautiful! Eloquent. I am enthralled by your writing.

  13. Terry Gibson says

    I want to keep taking risks with people I care about. And, more than anything in the world, I want to be passed my nervous ways so people can see just how laid back I really am. Those fears are transitional but still so powerful.

    I want my medical problems dealt with. I don’t want to be sent away because I am not viewed as an important part of society, or because I speak quietly and therefore cannot convey what the issues are. People get knee replacements, help for their backs, etc. My upper back was originally hurt during an assault long ago but never really got better.

    I want to be in a community of people who may know about me (although not a requirement) but don’t dwell on it. Women with whom I feel safe–and they, in turn, with me–and can just be myself. Laugh. Be silly. Enjoy and adore other people’s babies and children.

    I want to be respected for who I am. For how hard I had to work to get here and for the fact that I don’t believe in an eye for an eye. People hurt and damaged me, and ripped me off regularly, but I still live by integrity and a ‘Terry code,’ so to speak. That is–I respect good people for who they are and will always hold them safe and intact inside my being.

    I want to trust myself more. To know my mind and recognize that most emotions as fleeting. I also want to be comfortable with the mind-body synergy.

    I want to express myself better in person. I don’t do this as much as I used to but I can still become hyper self-conscious and avoid words in conversation that usually exaggerate my slight lisp. I’ll either franticly search for another word or just won’t answer a question, making me seem rude or like someone who can’t retain a whole sentence (which I often can’t.

    I want a partner in two ways. It would be so amazing to mesh with someone of similar values, hopes, and aspirations. Business-wise. I’d devote myself wholeheartedly. Second, I always want to share my life with someone I love; life is way too short.

    I want and will court passion all of my days. I love reading words that shimmer, cajole, dare me to try, give me sight, a good kick in the butt, double dog dare me to risk it, that pinch me on the cheek and say: “You’re a good kiddo, Terry. Keep at it.”

    Part Two – A Poem

    I want to approach you
    naked in my musings
    and black jeans.
    To join you,
    and share a laugh
    Without invading you.
    To hang with you
    Listening, attuned
    To be your friend
    Without smothering you.
    To love you and
    Caress you
    With no skin touching.
    To watch the flowers
    through the window
    Shudder in the wind
    As the rain beckons us
    Water beads
    Tap tap tapping on
    the window in code
    While I kiss the fine hair
    Dotting the length of your spine
    I want to wrap myself around you
    Twice — like I’m six feet tall
    Make you moan
    As the wind howls, a wolf
    There, raging, writhing
    but hardly noticed
    Like our cries in the night.

    • Debbie says

      Terri – you took a risk here. You were bold in introducing lust and longing into this space where some of us may have experienced it more as coercion that caress. Yes, you took a risk and we reaped the benefit in the beautiful musings that you shared. It felt like the poem was manifesting the very words from your paragraph above ….
      “I want and will court passion all of my days. I love reading words that shimmer, cajole, dare me to try, give me sight, a good kick in the butt, double dog dare me to risk it,”

      You are brave. You are alive. Thank you for sharing this with us.

      • Terry Gibson says

        Debbie, thanks so much! I’ve been so embarrassed since posting this. It’s not easy to do and I wonder if I unwittingly crossed a line. That poem just fell like huge drops of hail onto my screen. It said a lot of stuff I’ve been feeling for awhile. I saw a quote yesterday that said something like: It’s not about the sex. It’s the LOVER.” Expressing the feelings of a Lover is exactly what I wanted to do–conveying the passion in all things, not just the physical.

  14. Jim Dowling says

    Some tangible evidence
    That it was important
    Worth the struggle
    The agony and the ecstasy
    That indeed
    I left the stage
    Better than I found it

    • says

      Jim, just from your writing her on the blog, I can say you’ve already accomplished this. Sometimes we just can’t turn around and see ourselves–or our footprint in this world–objectively. But we can hold up a mirror for you. I say you’ve already arrived. The world is a better place for you having been here.

    • Debbie says

      Tangible evidence…. validation from world outside of us that we were, we existed and left it better for that being. Sometimes even those held touted as paragons of virtue can not see this in themselves, as their private writings reveal. Maybe the answer is in learning to believe in the man in the mirror. The mirror held by those who care for you, so you can see yourself as they see you.

  15. Terry Gibson says

    I want to say a little more.

    I want to say that I’m so lonely inside. I miss the connection I had with Steve and the great fun we used to have when I visited him in Kingston. He could still talk and walk then and I enjoyed the night we went to a little pub for dinner and a beer. He could make me belly laugh with no trouble at all.

    I want the depression that has overwhelmed me during the last six weeks to lessen. I want to say out loud that it is still there and I’m crying just having written it down, acknowledging it.

    I want to say that I don’t know if I can beat where I came from. I’m trying so hard but it may just win after all. I am not getting younger and I simply can’t go back twenty years when people might’ve wanted to hire me or give me a chance. How do I be marketable and convince someone what a great worker I am when I don’t believe in myself?

    I want my stress to lessen so I don’t get really sick. I can’t seem to quiet it though. How can I possibly do that when I’m writing about my past? Feeling it all again?

    I want the memoir done so I can toss it to the sky, the world, and give one last hurrah over all of those who hurt me. And then start a brand new life on my own and free.

    I want to travel a lot and, maybe one day, be someone who does retreats, teaches writing. The first thing I wanted to be when I was a kid was a teacher. I’m kicking myself now that I didn’t pursue a Bachelor of Education when I had the chance.

    I want to be happy, content, and feel loved. I want to help people close to me feel the exact same thing.

    • Debbie says

      Terry – for some reason this post made me think of two recent quotes I had seen. I share them with you tonight, sent with kind energy and caring…

      “Transformation always involves the falling away of things we have relied on, and we are left with a feeling that the world as we know it is coming to an end, because it is.”

      “When we can free up our sense of needing to arrive in a certain place, we lessen the weight of being lost. And once beneath arriving and beneath our fear of failing to arrive, the real journey begins.”
      – Mark Nepo

      I don’t know who the heck this guy is – but these two quotes make me want to find out! Bloggers – do any of you know this writer?

      • Terry Gibson says

        Thanks Laura. I guess I know that but it’s the legitimacy of it, the credibility gained. But I believe you. Thank you for the encouragement. It means a lot!

        • says

          Credibility, schmedibility. Training because it prepares you to teach is one thing–but knowing in your heart you have something to offer that people need–and that it’s your mission to give it–that and on the job training–it’s what you need. If you want to go back to school for you, that’s great, but not just to get a piece of paper. Unless you want to teach in universities–then you need the paper for sure.

          • Terry Gibson says

            Yay Laura. See? I love words that give me a kick in the butt. I consider myself kicked in a fiesty but kind way and love it! Thank you so much! :)

    • says

      Terry, it is a great challenge to write about past trauma without going under. I remember writing The Courage to Heal and my other books and how much I suffered as I wrote. I had to keep telling myself that this remembering–the remembering for writing–was different–that it was a creative decision that I was making so that I could transform that trauma into something of use. There are also strategies we could talk about for compartmentalizing the writing from the rest of life, so it doesn’t bleed through and contaminate everything–but that doesn’t mean that what you’re doing now isn’t very, very, very hard. My hat off to you for being willing to go deep into that deep painful well on a daily basis. You just have to put equal effort into maintaining all the things that nurture you. That’s the only way to complete the journey.

      • Terry Gibson says

        I just found this Laura. Thanks so much! It means a great deal to me. Last night I was asked if I should be doing something entirely different. I wanted to say yes to ease the pain I’m causing but couldn’t. The uncertain future is just that and it would be the other way too (sticking primarily to funny writing). So I go on. It has already had a huge toll but keep on.What else is there?

  16. beverly Boyd says

    What do I want? All week I have been puzzling about this. It seems simple enough and many of the things you all have written about I have thought would be nice to have. Was I in denial…too afraid I wouldn’t get what I want that I didn’t even want to tempt myself with possibilities? The truth is there is very little that I want…that I really want…that I don’t already have or have experienced.

    It would be nice to live in a house where others cared enough to keep their things picked up. It would be nice if they didn’t leave Christmas decorations and camping gear piled up in the living room until the next season; kept their clothes in their own bedrooms and actually did the piles of laundry in the downstairs hall; did the dishes before the cupboards were completely empty of bowls and plates of every size. Those things would be nice, but even as frustrating, as it is to live in such chaos, it is not enough of a deal breaker for me not to want to live there.
    I hope that I can get back to my serious writing projects after taking a year to really get rid of the extra stuff I have accumulated over the years, especially those things that need to be left in better order for my family. I do really want that and I am doing something about.

    Today it hit me! I WANT A BIRTHDAY PARTY!
    As I had the thought, I felt an excitement that rise up in my chest at the possibility. A party with decorations: tacky stuff like crepe paper streamers and party hats; a gold foil crown for me; raucous party whistles and as many friends and family as they can round up. I don’t want it to be a surprise: I want to have the excitement of the plans and anticipation. In my entire life I only remember two birthday parties. One was a surprise and not much of a party really. My mother got a friend to take me on a bicycle ride and keep me out all afternoon. It was a beautiful warm December afternoon, even in upstate New York, and we rode all over the place. Finally as it was getting dark we arrived back home. Mother had cleared her projects off the dining room table and set it as we sometimes did on Sundays and special holidays, with her prized crocheted tablecloth.

    SURPRISE!! A table full of people shouted. It was my family, Mom and Dad, three brothers and a sister and two of my friends who had been invited at the last minute. There were no party hats or streamers. I did get two very nice presents: A “paid off” note from Western Auto where I had been buying a bicycle on lay-a-way and a lovely ring with my birthstone. The ring was too small. When I tried it on I couldn’t get it back off. We tried soap on my finger and putting my hand in ice water, but as my finger swelled even more, finally called the jeweler friend who had sold them the ring. He agreed to meet us at the store to cut the ring off. So just about the time the party was starting to be fun, we had an emergency and somehow it never got any traction after I got home. Then the next day I was told, as I had been each year since I learned the truth about Santa Clause and understood that my parents footed that bill, not to expect a big present at Christmas because they had already spent what they could that month. That is the plight of many December babies with their birthday falling between two big holidays. In all fairness I will have to say, Mother loved to bake and decorate cakes, so she always managed a nice dinner, often in the dining room and a masterful cake for everyone’s birthday.

    The other party was one that I planned with a Japanese student and his wife who were living with me. His birthday was two days after mine. We prepared a table full of Sushi and other finger foods and invited about forty of our friends. It was a great party and we enjoyed left over sushi for three days afterward.

    For the years before my second husband died we frequently went to a favorite Mexican restaurant with a few friends including a good friend, Jill, whose birthday was a week after mine. Paul would always remember her birthday and sais we needed to go to La Mexicana and celebrate Jill’s birthday. He always seemed surprised when I reminded him that it was also my birthday. I absolutely knew he loved me but it always hurt that he could remember Jill’s birthday and not mine. Now I still get together once a month with Jill and some of those same friends. We always have something a little special to mark the birthdays. They too always seem to remember that December is Jill’s birthday month and I have to remind them that is mine two. Do I just have bad birthday Karma?

    Last year, I turned seventy-five. My ex-husband, the father of my seven children, also turned seventy-five in January. I was told that the family was making plans to have a party for him with our sons and his sister, who lived out of state coming for the event. Since both of us usually celebrate holiday meals with our children and grandchildren, I suggested that we schedule a party in June or July: not so close to the year end holidays, for both of us so the out of state folks would not have to make another trip in December for a party for me. That idea had some traction until my ex told them he really didn’t want a party and all that attention! I suggested doing it for me on Mother’s day…another day that my family tends to forget…I get a couple of cards and a phone call…the other four forget. A real Mother’s Day gathering sounded good. Nope, they had their other regular annual gatherings with their partner’s families and couldn’t disappoint them. So my seventy-fifth birthday almost came and went as they usually do with no fanfare.
    I say almost. Last year my birthday was on a Sunday. The choir sang, so I let them know as we gathered before the service that it was my actual birthday and asked them to sing the birthday song. One of the other women spoke up. It was her birthday too. A third woman sitting in the sanctuary listening to our rehearsal also spoke up. Can you believe it? Of about eighty people there were three of us who had the same birthday. That afternoon there was an annual gathering for the pledge partners. Someone instigated the birthday song again for all of us…and…yet another person in the room qualified to join us.

    If you sense disappointment, even some resentment, here you are right. It is hard to go year after year and have people you know really love you seem so forgetful of days when our culture celebrates someone special.

    But this year…I REALLY WANT A PARTY! I’d like it if my family had one for me, but now I have three friends I can celebrate with. If I have to plan it myself, I will have my party. It won’t be a surprise. I won’t settle for a seven candle and a five candle. I will have seventy-five candles, all lit…with another at the side for the extra year I had to wait!

    • Terry Gibson says

      Beverly, With every muscle, ligament and tendon in me, I want you to have your birthday party. Reading this got me so excited about the prospect for you. You deserve it! We all deserve to have our lives celebrated on the day we were born. I hope you will let us know all about it too.
      To Everyone. Just wishing and hoping that everyone is safe, dry and warm tonight.

    • says

      You go for it Beverly. Seventy five candles–you bet! Don’t wait for someone else to do it…you do it. It sounds wonderful and you deserve exactly the celebration you want!

  17. Beverly Boyd says

    Well, my birthday came and went without the party I said I wanted. I realized that this year, even with my heart-felt resolve, I was too busy, too tired and it was too late to do it myself.

    Thank you, Terry and Laura and any of the rest of you who may have felt that for me. It really helped me feel that it was “okay” for me to want it.

    Even if I didn’t get the party, at least six of my seven kids remembered (that’s twice as many as usual!) and I got emails and card from siblings and friends. Grateful to have them. And…my daughter is suggesting doing something next year. I will try to hold her to it!

    • Laura Davis says

      Thanks for sharing honestly your very human journey with the longings of the human heart for acknowledgment, recognition, and your special time in the sun. May it come to pass next year.

      • Beverly Boyd says

        I have been trying for four days so respond to your simple response and expression of support. I find myself sobbing instead.
        As the oldest of five and the mother of seven with a husband in the military I had so much fall on me to do (and I did it well): everyone else’s birthdays and special days, etc. I guess I never learned to expect it from others.

        • says

          Obviously this has touched a deep nerve for you. And yet when we set our hearts out and expect others to fulfill our wishes–to give us something we never got in childhood or ever–we inevitably suffer. We all carry certain holes in our lives and our psyches and I believe that the deepest most painful ones can only be filled by us–or for those with the benefit of faith–by God.

        • Beverly Boyd says

          Laura and Terry
          I was having trouble with my new computer and somehow my reply got incorrectly applied. I meant to say “so true” to Laura’s comment and to thank you both for your stalwart support. Yes, this did hit a painful spot and I will probably need to make my wishes more clearly known to those I know love me but continue to see me as self sufficient.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Beverly, I’m sorry things didn’t work out the way you (and we) wanted for your birthday. I did the same for my family, never missed one, sent cards, gifts for the kids, etc. But nobody ever cared enough to do it for me.Such a small but huge thing! So glad you got more of a response from your kids. If next year is too far off, pick an unbirthday and party hearty, woman. Take good care of yourself.

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