Confusion, I have noticed, does not suit me well. It is something I have yet to learn how to wear gracefully. Instead it hangs off of me like the kind of ill-fitting garb that is off-putting to anyone who doesn’t understand the heart beneath it. It frustrates me, it angers me, it even emboldens me to do things that I normally would not. What it never does, however, is instill a sense of identity in me. Who am I if I cannot tell you how I feel or what I want? I keep thinking about that day on the park bench so so many years ago. It was, perhaps, one of my darkest moments when confusion consumed me and delivered me back colder and harder than the concrete slab I was slumped on. After years of feeling dense and weighed down by the things I was dealing with I suddenly felt a sense of emptiness. It was relieving in a way because, simply put, it was different. It was change. And it was at that numb, heartless, hopeless moment that I was able to define the period of life that I had just left behind. It was a sort of subdued “aha” moment, if you will. It wasn’t clarity, necessarily. It was just a sudden awareness of my state of confusion. And it was that simple notion of definability that turned me around to face the light and prepare myself to move forward, out of my previously endless, lifeless catatonia. I wasn’t happy – far from it – but I was most certainly fairly somewhat kind of aware that such thing might exist.
(Hey, it was a step!)
And that alone was one less piece to life’s puzzle that I had to deal with. It had a place in some unknown bigger picture. It just didn’t have any connecting pieces yet.
Today, there are lots of connecting pieces. There are patches of them fitted together everywhere. I even have a bit of a romanticized mental illustration of what the bigger picture might be. It really is a beautiful thing. But that illustration is ever changing because, as luck would have it, confusion has never left me. No, in fact, it’s been quite loyal. I sometimes converse with it – weighing the pros and cons of various situations.
I ask it about life. Why am I here? Why do I experience the things I do? What do I have to keep me going? Why doesn't my life seem to come in the pretty little simple package that others come in? These are all things I was asking myself on that park bench. Things I have yet to answer - or even entertain a logical thought of. I only managed to begin re-building myself on the premise that these questions might never be answered. That life may not have logic. And that I was going to have to make the most of my little tattered, undone package.
I ask it about my career. Is this fulfilling? Do we know what we want? Can we get there from here? To which I would respond accordingly: No, yes and absolutely. To which confusion replies: You’re just ungrateful, you want too much and you really probably cannot get there from here. Not without lots of painful, draining sacrificial displays of worthiness to the cookie-cutter corporate life. (I don’t want that, by the way. Freedom is a big word in my vocabulary lately.)
I ask it about my friendships. Are they valuable? Do I know how to be a good friend? Do I have enough? My answers would be slightly less confident for this topic. I don’t know if all of them are valuable. Though, I have done a very good job recently of shedding those that seem toxic. I certainly have no idea if I’m a good one or not but again, I am becoming more aware of the needs that are present in my friendships and am getting better at catering to them. And “enough” is an ever changing number that is slowly morphing into just a feeling.
Finally (and this is where confusion really has its way with me) I ask it about love. Have I ever felt it? How do I know? Is it everything in life? What if I end up alone, can I live without it? When will I find it and with who and how long will it take to know? And most importantly…will it hurt so much so that it sends me back to that cold, emotionless concrete park bench? I have no idea how to even approach these questions. I start my answers with: yes. I do believe I have felt love or at least various versions of it. I don’t know how I know except that I just do. I struggle between the ideas that love is intuitive and that love is emotional but I lean toward intuitive. Emotions are ever-changing. Intuition is not. I would so like to believe that I could live without it; that I can roam this world on my own and be my own companion. I would like to believe that confiding in pen and paper can be just as fulfilling as confiding in a best friend. I would like to believe that I, alone, am enough to warm the sheets at night or provide a sense of validity and deep, intrinsic connection; that I, alone, can provide enough conversation for myself (as is fairly evident, I come pretty damn close!). I would like to believe that sharing the adventures I dream of is simply not as important as just experiencing them. But I am terrible at convincing myself of any of these things. The next question is even harder to answer and the only way I know how is to pose another question. In my relationships, when will I reach the point at which I know whether or not it is worth pursuing, working and waiting for? To answer the last question is simply impossible. This is what sends me spiraling downward in my catch-22 of a love-life that I’ve been living. I don’t let go, I don’t give in, I don’t get close. And it’s all for fear that in doing so, I will make myself vulnerable. That I will lose control of those pieces that I have so haphazardly managed to puzzle together over the past decade of my life. Love is the thing that I both want and fear the most. In essence, I suppose I will know love when it feels like it fortifies that big picture life I’ve been putting together. When it encourages my freedom and makes me feel like a whole person on my own; when it becomes my most mastered friendship. It won’t be easy; It will be work, but it will be a job that I am eternally grateful to have to wake up for every morning. And among all of this confusion I can be certain that even if it is staring me right in the face I will not know right away.
Love manifests itself from all of the confusion that precedes it.
So until that moment in time (when my “aha” is more than just subdued) I will just have to throw that confusion around my shoulders and wear it like the prettiest little thing that has ever graced my skin. I will embrace it. I will live in the moment. I will take happiness at whatever time and in whatever form that it presents itself to me. And I’ll keep doing what I’m doing until I decide that it is no longer good for that beautiful little puzzle I’m building.