Have you ever had a love affair that took you through so many ups and downs, twists and turns, that you both wanted it to end but couldn't get enough? That kind of affair when the emotion runs high, and it feels like there's so much on the line. Good feelings followed by feelings of frustration or insecurity, wondering if this can go on or if you will have to throw in the towel? This is a great description of how I've related to authority throughout my life.
Torrid means something that is hot, high energy, or has a large emotional charge. I say love affair because I have loved authority- both receiving approval from it and rebelling against it. But in that back and forth between lusting for approval and a defiant stubbornness, I was left exhausted.
Lately I've uncovered a tricky maneuver that my mind likes to do with authority. I call it the good student syndrome. "I just want someone to tell me I'm good", it says quietly. "I want to know that what I'm doing is acceptable." This is innocent enough, eh? It comes from a place of wanting to feel safe and connected to others. But in my case I caught something insidious lurking below the surface.
Some part of me wants to get things perfect. What's harder to admit is that some part of me wants to be beyond reproach. And through engaging in this love affair with authority, I got to keep alive this desire to one day be an authority myself. To be above any criticism or challenges the world throws at me. Here I go swinging from a desperate plea to a fuck you.
I'm grateful to have uncovered this previously unconscious tendency because now I have a chance to let it go. While it remained hidden in the shadow of my mind, I wrestled with authority nonstop and drained a lot of energy that way.
Recently I was re-reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. When I read his passage about territory vs. hierarchy I felt he'd written it just for me. The gist is this: we can't get to our mission in life while we go around comparing ourselves to others. We have to claim our territory, rather than find our position in the hierarchy.
Me writing this blog and all the changes I'm going through in life are a reflection of me learning this lesson. I couldn't have done this at any previous point in my life, so I have no regrets. It just feels good to be ready. It feels good to have a sense of what my territory is. And it feels damn good to claim it.
“A little bit of rebellion is a good thing,”
Said the flower growing from a crack in the pavement.
“A little bit of defiance can be good,”
Said the broken heart protecting its wounds.
“We’re not going against anyone,”
They say together,
“We’re just claiming our territory.”