Believe what you will but let me believe what I will

[pure off the cuff, spur of the moment fiction, by ~burning woman~ ]

“No, no!” I said. “Stop beating me up with it, I thought we had agreed we were not going to discuss this. I know what you believe and it doesn’t bother me, it’s your choice. By the same token, you know what I believe and it’s my choice.”

We were sitting at the table in the dining nook, me at the window facing west, he across from me. I had a glass of white wine, he his strong, dark beer. It was already late, of a Summer Sunday evening, and I just wanted to enjoy the darkening skies and the fading colour from the clouds hovering near the horizon.

This is how it started:

“I am going to watch for meteors,” I said. “Make a wish, you know?”

“That’s pure superstition,” he replied, looking up from his book and taking another sip of beer, “when are you going to give up that childish nonsense? It’s embarrassing.” He looked at me with his mouth turned down, making it obvious how displeased he was with me at that moment.

Only he wasn’t talking about my wishing upon a shooting star, he was talking about my belief in the spirit world and particularly in my insistence that I was fully aware of past and future lives.

We had agreed, before we decided to live together that our differences in those areas we would accept from each other and only broach the subject philosophically, in a “what if” sort of way. It wasn’t supposed to become another patriarchal relationship in which he, the man, decided the correct way we, meaning me, the woman, should believe, or think for that matter.

When it came to beliefs, as far as I was concerned, there never had been and never would be a “we” in the equation. I didn’t care what he believed or believed in. He was (still is!) handsome, kind in his own way, supportive most of the time, great in the sex department, an important aspect of the relationship to me, and I must admit that I loved him, well, sort of. Is it love when there is no passion in it, just an easy comfort?

But does that mean I have to give him my mind so he can fill it with his own ideas while excluding mine? Not on your life. I’m not made to take things that way; to be taken for granted, or thought of as the little trophy woman who bats her eyelashes and exclaims, ‘Oh, but you’re always so right, dear!’ No, he’s not right, not when his “right” needs to supersede, or cancel my “right” as it does when I express myself in what he calls a superstitious way.

This isn’t about who’s right, who’s not. This is about who is free, who is not. I didn’t sign up to have my ideas replaced by someone else’s. Not that I signed anything to get into this relationship mind, but you know what I mean.

So I countered: “When you buy a lotto ticket, what do you call that feeling it gives you? You don’t buy a ticket without some hope that you could win, even win the jackpot. What do you call that hope, if not a form of superstition? Logically it’s patently ridiculous for anyone to buy a lottery ticket because the odds are so against you. So in that moment you override your logical thinking and allow yourself a wild moment of magical thinking. You allow yourself to be pulled into that shameful realm of illogic.”

“It’s not the same thing,” he replies. “I don’t believe in the lottery as if it was some spirit force, some divine being, an angel or the Great Pumpkin. It’s just a game.” He did enjoy mocking me with that reference to the Charlie Brown cartoon super being of Linus’ he called the Great Pumpkin.

“But it’s a game of chance!”

“So?”

“It’s a game of luck!”

“And?”

I could feel myself becoming frustrated and upset. “It’s superstition, honey. The other morning, when you came storming back in the apartment and said, ‘God, I went and locked my keys in the truck last night,’ were you subconsciously praying to some superbeing you say you do not believe in because you were in a tight spot, in a hurry and didn’t remember where you kept you spare set of keys? Instead of invoking some deity neither of us believes in you could have said, ‘Karin, do you know where my spare set of keys is?’ and I would have told you. I told you anyways but you didn’t ask me. You addressed the problem through a kind of superstition of your own which you justify with excuses and that hurts. Do you think I’m so stupid I don’t notice these things?

“It’s late, I’m going to bed and I’m sleeping in the spare room. We’re both working tomorrow, I’ve got a pile of reports to check over before my first class so I’ll be off early. I’ll eat on the way, you make your own breakfast, or not. Tomorrow evening I want you to apologize to me and reaffirm our agreement to enjoy each other and leave our beliefs as sacred and private to each other. If you cannot do that, and do it sincerely, I’ll be leaving by next weekend.”

“Where will you go?”

“That’s a really stupid question. Since we’ve been together I’ve been propositioned at least a dozen times, the last one was just a week ago. I travel light as you know and there are a lot of lonely beds out there whose sheets will eagerly part to let me slip in. Don’t self-blind Rico or think I need you because no one else will have me!”

I was getting angry and hated the feeling.

“You’ll miss me.”

“Of course I’ll miss you, you don’t have to state the obvious. But that too shall pass because I choose intellectual integrity over a great fuck.”

“Is that all I am to you, a great fuck?”

“That doesn’t please you?”

“Well, yeah, but isn’t there more for you?”

“Of course there is, or there could be but not when you try to emasculate my choices. My feelings for you cool very fast then.”

“So I’m wrong then?”

“I’m tired and I’m not going around this mulberry bush with you Rico. Good night.”

That was a year ago, probably why I remembered it today. He didn’t apologize, he said he couldn’t see that there was anything to apologize for so I left him that weekend, I could tell he was going to try to talk his way around the problem but I was having none of it. I’ve seen him a couple of times since; he bought me a drink the last time. How are you doing? Fine, you? Oh, OK, I’ve got a girlfriend, Nina, she’s Italian. Good for you. Our team lost again. Yeah, too bad. I had her change the drapes in the bedroom; they reminded me too much of us. Good idea, no point dwelling on the past. That was about it. I suppose it never was what you’d call a deep relationship, more of a convenience.

It’s not the way I prefer them but it’s the only way to keep my options open. I’m sort of living with a guy too but I saw no point in mentioning that, he’d already assume I was or he’d already know that through his male gossip circle. I know the pub where the circle meets and what is talked about there.

You know what? I need to find another direction for my life, I feel I’m on treadmill if not on a dead-end street. I don’t like myself much these days and I used to feel so sure and so proud of what I’d accomplished for myself. I feel that the more I insist on my independence, or perhaps the way I go about it, it’s making me increasingly self-centered and selfish. That never used to be me and I’m certainly not blaming the men in my life for this quandary of mine. If this was another girl’s story I’d end it with: “Get a life, woman!”

20 thoughts on “Believe what you will but let me believe what I will

  1. Woebegone but Hopeful

    A well crafted, expertly woven tale Sha-Tara, sad and poignant. Hoorah for the woman ditching him. The guy was a self-important pompous ass…..’If you want to wish on a star, you go and wish on a star kiddo’
    Got me involved see.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks Roger, great comment and insight. Some people can’t help trying to make themselves look “bigger” in their own eyes by making another smaller. Perhaps that was the underlying theme.

      Reply
      1. Woebegone but Hopeful

        I did get that impression Sha’ Tara. The male character is the sort who when losing an argument starts to nit-pick over the meaning or use of one word. They both really came alive….
        I keep thinking ‘You look for that shooting star kiddo, you make your wish!’

  2. nickweechblog

    Quite sad too. Both need room to grow in a relationship- but aren’t they all alike? in Nora’s “Harry Met Sally”, when Billy says : We can’t ever be friends bcos the sex thing always gets in the way. Always an issue somehow.
    Without the great sex you might never have hooked up atall with Rico this guy. It seems there’s no place big enough so both pov’s can be ok without either being somehow the “better” one. Tx for sharing it with us

    Reply
  3. Lisa R. Palmer

    I personally love the ending best: “get a life, girl!” If we spend too much time defining our beliefs and selves in relation to others’ beliefs and selves (as in “I’m not…” or “I don’t…), we are bound to feel the chafing of co-dependency; after all, we then “require” another (any other, really) to define our boundaries. Much more empowering to say “I am…” and “I do…”, though they are not always welcomed by others…

    Great write, Sha’Tara!

    Reply
  4. jim-

    This was amazingly accurate. No shame on you for keeping your mind your own. Too many couples are basically male and female versions of the same idea. I for one, celebrate the differences and the variety of life. My wife is her own and I like it!

    Reply
  5. stolzyblog

    mars: I love your body but not your thinking.
    venus: Then you do not love me.
    mars: What? Are you your body or your thoughts?
    venus: Neither. But which do you suppose is more intimate within me?
    mars: Hmm. I was going to answer nipples — but I suspect that is mistaken.
    venus: It’s ok. Your thinking is difficult for me to love as well.
    mars: Ah! So you admit it the! Double standard.
    venus. Not at all. The difference is: I try. I keep open. I look for a bridge. You simply judge categorically and then assume all should be well. So… we cannot actually make love; we can only have sex.
    mars: Semantics.
    venus: Farewell.

    Reply
  6. Phil Huston

    If we believe it enough, it becomes a fact. Maybe not outside our own universe, but then outside of that, does it matter? Black cats and fairy godmothers and wishing on a star and somewhere over the rainbow and petals in the stream. Three gods in one, transubstantiation, warp power, seedless watermelons and Wookies. It’s not what the facts really might be, it’s the facts we build based on what we believe factual.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for that comment, Phil, and I agree with you, as does the woman protagonist in my story, I believe! 🙂

      Reply
  7. rawgod

    Women don’t need guys. They may want a guy, or whoever, but they don’t need us. Most guys need women, it’s bred into us. It starts with our mothers who make themselves indispensible, and then it gets passed on to the women who allow us to need them. They watched their mothers too.
    But this is not a good way to live, for either sex, or gender as the case may be.
    When my wife first said, she didn’t need me, it blew my mind. Her exact words, “I love you, but I don’t need you.” I didn’t understand. It confused me. Aren’t we supposed to need each other. We split up a few months later, my fault. I wasn’t ready to know how to accept her words.
    Now I know. Now I understand. It’s probably what turned me from the shyest guy around into a very gregarious person. And I thank her every time I think of her, which is not seldom. I learned from her. She helped me become the man she always wanted me to be. I don’t know if she knows that. But we paid a high price. It cost us “us.”
    The moral of my story: guys can learn. The corollary is: guys can change. But we pretty much need help from women to get us there….
    That is the sad part.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, rawgod. It is an unequal yoking, isn’t it. I wonder why that is… well, not really, I know the inside story on that but it’s the kind of “knowing” neither men nor women want to hear – it upsets their sensitivities… that is the sad part…

      Reply
      1. rawgod

        Until mothers teach boychildren to defy the yoke, men are forever yoked, unless they get the kind of help I did. Why it belongs to women, probably because men think themselves in charge, is that what you were thinking? You (women) teach us (men) to think that way. Are you ready to give that up? Power is a powerful tool to not use. Can you live without that power?

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        As an individual, to your last two questions, my answer is a categorical “Yes!” I’ve always had, deep, deep down, the troubling thought that patriarchal control of women is much aided and abetted by women in how they “manage” their men. I don’t want that power, in fact, I hate it, and I don’t want to be one of those who would replace men, or take their power either. As you say (if I understand your comment) I personally want the power of non-power. That is a kind of compassion, would you agree?

      3. rawgod

        Very much so. Non-use of power IS the ultimate use of power. To have it, and refuse to use it, that is powerful. But you are one, and I am but one. Many are needed. Someday we will be many…

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