One of the big stories in my childhood is of never being chosen.
I was never anyone’s favourite, I was never picked for dodge ball (or any other team), I was never singled out as the ‘best’ at anything (second best, though – once. Deputy Wing Commander in Air Cadets). My mother chose her lovers, and my half brothers. My father chose the bottle. I chose (and chased) every lover I’ve ever had, and scrambled after them like my life depended on making them choose me back. They didn’t.
I have experienced some of the feeling of being chosen in the realm of my business. My students choose to work with me. Some of my very favourite mixed media art teachers have chosen to collaborate with me. I was chosen for training in something I badly wanted TWICE last year.
Some of my friends have chosen to be my friend, despite the difficulty inherent in befriending me. (I am armoured. I am slow to trust. I am hermity. I am often so wrapped up in orbit around my family that I prioritise their lives over and above my own, and when I had a lover, he was the be all to end all of my existence).
It’s been sweet to be chosen in the ways I’ve been chosen.
But that wound – that ‘pick me’ wound – is oozing lately. The death of my marriage came with the realisation that what I really want, what I’ve always wanted is to be *chosen*, to be wanted, to be desired, to be picked out of the vast array of available choices, to be settled upon in that way lovers settle upon one another, to be *included*, to be *valued* above work or video games or drugs, to belong to someone who isn’t obligated to claim me by virtue of genetics.
Having just come out of orbit around someone who spent twelve years actively *not* choosing me, actively choosing everything else *over* me, actively excluding me, I am feeling this wound very, very clearly.
The wound, though, wasn’t caused by him. I would hazard a guess, actually, that all my life, I have chosen to love (fiercely, desperately) people who will, for whatever reason, *not* chose me. I think there is something in me that has needed to reenact this original wound – this original story of having not been chosen (except as an object to be used for sexual gratification or to prop up someone’s stories about themselves), and the outcome I have desired in these choices is that they will *see me* and *value me* and *choose me* after I prove to them how worthy I am of being chosen.
I am worthy of being chosen. I know this in my head. But I’ve never chosen myself. Ever. No one ever showed me how to do that. No one ever chose me, protected me, put me on their wish list, honoured their promises or commitments to me. And I grew into womanhood having no earthly idea what being chosen felt like. And I grew into womanhood having no earthly idea how to choose myself.
This is the next thing, I think. This grappling with the subject of choosing and being chosen.
I wanted to stay friends with my ex because, (I think, I’m guessing at my own labyrinthine psychology) within the context of our friendship, he might still choose me. Meanwhile, I experienced all this longing and desire, this carnality, that meant that being in his presence was like sitting down before a banquet, starving, but wearing a ball gag I couldn’t remove. It was masochistic. A form of self-torture. Being ‘just friends’ meant I had to censor myself, tuck my hands between my knees, deny the very real, sexual desire I felt for him, deny the longing for the kind of intimacy that flows between lovers – the kind that means you *see* one another, know one another, *choose* one another…
It took me two and a half years to accept that this hifalutin goal of being ‘just friends’ was completely, utterly beyond me.
I choose not to do that to myself anymore. I choose to go where I don’t need to wear a ball gag at a banquet. I choose ‘alone’ over ‘fucking torture’ and unrequited love and longing.
I have no idea what comes next.
Which is why I’m writing today, even though I have no happy ending to share, and no wisdom to impart. I’m not writing this for an ‘audience’ or to edify you or embolden you or empower you.
I am not here in service to you today. I am here in service to myself.
I’m writing this is a way to choose myself – over my work, over my ‘audience’, over my sense of protectiveness and loyalty to someone who *never fucking chose me*.
This is where I am. I’ve had a very hard life. I have experienced an enormous amount of pain in the last year *alone*, let alone in the other 46 years of my life that have been marked and marred by violence of all the ways there are to experience violence. I have *been in pain* for most of my life. No word of a lie. And yet, I have risen. And yet, I have created beauty and meaning. And yet, I have kept on keeping on.
But I hadn’t yet done it *for myself*. I did it (I know this now) so someone should SEE me. I did it so someone would LOVE me and, finally, so someone would choose me.
I want to tell you that all changes today, but I have no idea.I know that my desire is that this dynamic change. I want to tell you that I will only ever work, create, serve from a place of self-love and self-possession. But I suspect, like every other way I’ve ever grown, that this will be a non-linear child’s scribble of a journey, and sometimes I’ll succeed, and sometimes, I’ll fail.
What I will promise, though (not you, though – me) is that my days will be spent asking myself this question: “Are you choosing yourself in this? Are you being present with yourself FOR yourself? Who is this for?”
And my mantra will be a continual reminder that I exist, that I *matter*, even when no one is looking.