Desire: According to dictionary.com, it is defined in this way:
The first is an internal experience—in the spaciousness of our minds.
The second is an external, action-oriented opportunity to have it met.
What happens between those two realms can spell the difference between satisfaction and frustration.
How do we traverse that chasm without falling in and fearing never landing?
Even though I teach this stuff, write about it, and counsel clients in therapy about it, this remains my growing edge. Don’t get me wrong, I ace the first part. I’m a champ when it comes to off the charts imagining my heart’s longing. I can close my eyes and use my other senses to call it into being. I can feel, taste, hear, touch and smell what it would be like to have what I want come to fruition. I am a master manna-fester who can seed plant and enjoy a bountiful harvest in all areas of my life.
I have brought in jobs, relationships, travel opportunities, perfect parking spots and money from seemingly out of nowhere.
So where do I sometimes stumble, tumble and fall? It is the asking part. For such a long time, I would almost always ask only for what I thought someone would say yes to, willingly and wholeheartedly. Not reluctantly. Not out of obligation. Not because they thought it would earn them brownie points with me. Not because they didn’t want me to think nasty things about them if they declined. I played it safe, as I rationalized that it was better to leave my desires unexpressed rather than risking being disappointed.
Sadly, each time I held back, a piece of my imagination and heart atrophied a bit more.
In 2006, I was certified to teach a workshop called Cuddle Party, which is a communication, boundary setting and safe, nurturing, non-sexual touch event for adults. Much of it is an experiment in being able to ask for what you want in life, not just around touch, but other aspects of relationship as well. I talk a good game while I am in leadership mode there about all of the benefits of stretching our comfort zones, but when it comes to living it out in my daily life, I often demur and hide behind the pseudo safety of keeping my desires under wraps.
And then there are times when I square my shoulders and say, “Enough already. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no and you will feel like the Little Match Girl with her nose pressed up against the window, watching everyone else have a good time.” And so, I wipe the dirt off my brow and the tears from my eyes and step up and ask. Sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes it is wait and see as events unfold. Sometimes it is chill and be patient, woman.
More often it is a resounding yes.
A brave thing to do. At times I do it with racing heart.
People in my life are generous souls who love to give. They are not, however, mind readers. Well, maybe some.
I also differentiate between initiating requests and responding if someone asks me if I have a preference about something. The first feels more challenging and yet, even when the second shows up and I am invited and even encouraged to ask for what I want, I still hesitate.
What IS that about?
In the past month, I have had four important men and two important women in my life ask me what I want and each time, I have tiptoed around their request that I make requests.
One asked me for a wish list and as I told him some of my thoughts, even then I hesitated and wished I had been more bold in asking for what I wanted. More recently, he reminded me to be direct with my requests of him, with a willingness to be vulnerable. Getting better at it.
When another laughed as I responded to his queries about whether I wanted to walk on the boardwalk or the beach in Atlantic City, or both and where I wanted to have dinner, with “That would be okay,” I realized how silly I was being. He persisted until I answered definitively.
The third occurred via an IM conversation on Facebook as another wonderful friend inquired what he could do for me to be of caring support since he lives several hours away.
The fourth was on a mini vacation in Las Vegas during which the friend who hosted me asked what sites on the infamous “strip” I wanted to visit in costume on Halloween. When I shrugged and told him that I was okay with wherever he wanted to go, he said ” I live here and can go wherever I want. You are a visitor. What do you want to do?”
Today, while I was lying on a massage table in receptivity mode, my oh so talented massage therapist friend asked about the order of the massage; whether I wanted her to finish the massage at my head or feet. My response was “It doesn’t matter.”
I caught myself falling back into the same pattern and expressed a preference.
Another dear friend has told me how delighted she is that I am taking the express lane to my heart’s desires. I still sometimes feel like I am caught in rush hour traffic with one foot on the accelerator and the other on the brake while other people are honking their horns around me getting their needs met.
I am blessed to have people who call me on my sh*t. They don’t let me off the hook.
They expect the best of me in this area in particular since they want the best for me. I can live with that.
Author: Edie Weinstein
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: distelfliege at Flickr