A Gilded Cage

There’s a fine line we all walk in relationships, romantic or platonic, between changing ourselves to fit someone else’s idea of perfection, beauty or acceptability, and changing and growing into a better and more self-aware version of ourselves because we want to, and to some extent we have to in order satisfy our lust for happiness.

It requires a lot of checking in with yourself, and asking if what you’re doing is to please someone else’s desires and needs. Or if it’s you revisiting past bad habits. Or if it’s because it’s what you want and need to do.

For me, the only way I can describe the experience is like to a detox; sweating out all that bad and scary stuff. The intimacy issues, the trust issues, the daddy issues, all that shit I’ve buried so deep, is finally coming to the surface, and I’m being forced to look it in the eye and deal with it if I’m ever going to push forward. It’s uncomfortable, frustrating and painful. There are parts of my self that I didn’t know existed or that I thought I had dealt with a long, long time ago. Each one, jostling for my attention and each one running the risk of turning self-exploration into a runaway horse.

I don’t think you can only necessarily identify the latter as being comfortable and safe, and the former only being uncomfortable and scary. Sometimes the most beneficial and worthwhile things we can ever do can hurt like hell and scare you to the point of throwing in the towel. And the most seemingly comfortable and secure circumstances can bring the most amount of pain and suffering.

There’s a piece of dialogue in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s that has always stood out for me, and now even more than ever. Spoken by George Peppard’s character to Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly at the end of the film in the rain. He tells her,

“You know what’s wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? Your chicken, you’ve got no guts. You’re afraid to stick out your chin and say, “Okay, life’s a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance anybody’s got for real happiness.” You call yourself a free spirit, a “wild thing,” and you’re terrified somebody’s gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it’s not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.”

Apart from being a very heavy and vulnerable piece of dialogue, which is not only the film’s crescendo but also the moment at which Holly has to choose between repeating the same old learned habits that leave her waking up in the same unhappy place, to making the choice to face up to her issues and break out of this holding pattern or cage that she’s created herself. And though it’s terrifying and uncomfortable, it will lead ultimately to growth, freedom, and love.

I believe the same can be applied to my current circumstances. I am forcing myself to push my own boundaries even though it absolutely terrifies me and forces me out of my comfort zone. There’s a push-pull happening within myself and for whatever reason, I know that it or rather he, is worth all the growing pains and being uncomfortable and feeling completely out of my depth. But parallel to this road of new discoveries, I am also checking in with myself and asking what I want and what I need, and trying not to suppress feelings that are new or the ones that are old but aren’t necessarily useful. Feeling it all is the key.


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