A life of achievement

Possibly I should not compare myself to Rachel or Caroline, but to Louise.

I would not say life has been easy for Rachel, but she has what I might like- good job, house, partner, children, pension fund… Her husband was joshing her son, who is going to Princeton, that he should call up Harvard, explain Princeton’s offer and ask if they could do better. This matters. These are good things. Comparing myself to Rachel makes me feel wholly inadequate. I was weeping about it this morning again: the dual matter of my wasted life, 49 years and so many experiences missed, and my precarious position- how will I support myself, now? I am sad, frightened, resentful, strong emotions in response to the real situation.

Life has not been easy for Louise, either. She has been in a wheelchair in institutions since childhood, being pushed around, washed and dressed. She can feed herself. I have not spoken to her much. Once, when Richard and I were in missed communication in part from my pomposity, her laughter pricked that bubble- I feel amused and rueful. I would not judge her for not having house, car, savings etc.

What do I WANT? I want security. Safety. That desire has led me to push away uncertainty and responsibility, without which gaining partner, children, pension fund is impossible. I have achieved what I wanted, whether I judge that a rational desire or not- time alone with low levels of stimulation has destressed me to the level of tolerable stress I feel now.

H absolved me, early Saturday evening. My absolution of myself is what matters: without it hers is insufficient, and with it, unnecessary- but it is nice. I had too much wine to remember exactly, but it was around four years being entirely reasonable to take time out for healing.

Life has not been easy for me. I don’t know what other life I might want. Being a solicitor in Edinburgh with a wife and children- would I have transitioned, and if not would that be bearable? Probably not. Down the road I did not take, through the door I did not open, I am not sure there is anything which I now would find preferable.

Cranach, Judith and Holofernes, his head

My achievement has been to become conscious of my bonds, and to loosen them. I have found how I fear and resist all my emotions. I have learned to be conscious of emotion as it happens, and am learning to accept it without resistance. Being hypersensitive, this is huge. Fighting myself less, I might-

who knows what I might do? I have no idea. My overwhelming desire for safety picks on a steady income, has no idea how to achieve that, and feels anxiety. My other desires, for heartfelt human connection, and to be the centre of attention on stage, with the adulation of crowds, seem equally impossible. I am so disconnected from my desires that I find out what I want when I observe what I do.

However on Saturday I achieved something Wonderful, after a two year effort.

Cranach, Judith and Holofernes

2 thoughts on “A life of achievement

  1. What a thoroughly odd painting! From the rings to the expression on her face. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. You have your own unique life. So many people live the same predictable life as everyone else, and I just can’t see how it could be fulfilling. We’re ants as it is, but if we’re doing the same as all the other worker ants it’s just frightening!


    • Gentileschi, Judith and HolofernesThe painting is Judith and Holofernes by Lucas Cranach. He painted the subject again and again: same redhead, different hats, different jewellery but always chunky, different facial expressions. It is nothing like Artemisia Gentileschi’s version, left, an actual murder: it is a picture of a power relationship. He painted it, with little relevance to the Apocrypha story, over and over again.

      Some comparisons are reassuring. They are a means to an end.


All comments welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.