What Happens When You Confuse Desire With Belief?

How long did you believe in Santa? Before you finally accepted the truth, did you have that one year where questions started to arise but you so desperately yearned for the big jolly man to be real that you convinced yourself that he was the one leaving the gifts under the tree?

It’s so difficult for me now to understand how I could have been in the dark about my ex husband’s hidden life. It all seems so obvious to me now, clarity arising from the passage time and the draining of emotion.

But back then? I was in the dark.

Completely and utterly blind.

I remember the fury that would arise in me when others postulated that I must have known something was going on, that I must have had at least some suspicion.

I didn’t blame them for their assumptions (I would have thought the same at that time, had the roles been reversed). Yet their questions angered me beyond my ability to feign politeness. I would retort with a laundry list of the lies he told and the clever acts he committed to hide his deceptions.

But I never told them about me. About my own part in my blindness.

About how I confused desire with belief.

And how wanting something to be true made me convinced that it was.

There are a variety of motivations behind our desperate desires.

That child, grasping onto Santa, is reluctant to release the idea that magic is real and that their parents are not some bastions of truth. That the world is both more and less mysterious than the storybooks would have us believe.

And then that child grows older. Falls in love. Becomes convinced that the emotions must be both stronger and truer than those felt by others. The desire for that love to be true love results in a sloughing off of any niggling doubts, arising both from others and from some protected recesses of their own mind. That dream for perfect love is strong.

Decisions are made. Paths are chosen. Desires are expressed and forgotten as alternate paths fade into the background. A need emerges, rooted in fear, to believe that the chosen path was the right one. Judgement may further obfuscate other options in an attempt to keep questioning at bay.

Desire confused with belief.

A wish mistaken for truth.

That child, upon the realization of santa’s fictional status, may be devastated. There may be anger directed at those that maintained the fantasy. After all, when belief is shattered with truth, there are always cuts. But later, with growth and reflection, that same child may well realize that parents who cared enough to nurture and protect a child’s fantasy are more important than a rotund man with a penchant for red velvet.

The one who loved so deeply, upon experiencing heartbreak for the first time, will learn that love may not be as simple and pure as fiction would have us believe, but that it can be even more powerful. And that love is more about what it asks from us than what it gives to us.

And when one is able to look back at life’s decisions with an open mind, an acceptance of paths chosen while also admitting that they may have been made in error, there is opportunity. A chance for clarity.

Belief recognized as desire.

Like many (if not most) people, I entered into my first marriage with a strong desire to be accepted and protected. I wanted security and I thought that he provided it. I wanted a promise on companionship and I was under the impression that he would furnish it. I wished for a lifetime of marriage and I expected we would have it.

I wanted these things so badly that I believed that I had them. When small questions started to bubble up in my marriage like the first signs of a pancake ready to turn, I quickly popped them and carefully avoided looking underneath. On some level, convinced that if I wanted it badly enough to be true, it would be my reality.

My belief held strong, fortified by fear, until it was torn away in one bloody swipe. My hopes, my dreams shattered.

It was only later, fortified with time and distance, that I realized that those desires posing as belief had held me back. Kept me quiet. Resulted in opportunities lost and risks never taken.

Made me blinded with fear.

And I made a decision to never again close my eyes and make a wish.

But instead to keep my eyes open and never again to confuse desire with belief.


Thank you for sharing!

20 thoughts on “What Happens When You Confuse Desire With Belief?

  1. steeliedave – There is a journey that most guys are on. Trying to discover who they are amid a world that doesn't really like men. I am also a dad to four, a fly fisherman, artist, armchair theologian, and all around crazy person. The Bitterroot Valley of Western Montana is where I call home
    steeliedave says:

    “And when one is able to look back at life’s decisions with an open mind, an acceptance of paths chosen while also admitting that they may have been made in error, there is opportunity. A chance for clarity.”

    I loved that. It seems fleeting when the moment of clarity begins to bubble up into our waking thought but it is seismic in its flow. Great piece.

  2. VJ – Ontario, Canada – Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.
    V.J. says:

    Great insight. I also think that we only face things when we are ready, and equipped to deal with them. Love the comparison to Santa Clause – I too, wanted so much for it all to be real.

  3. Lisa, a truly insightful and real post. Our perceptions are not always reality. It takes kindness of self and calmness of heart to see what “is.” Mindfulness will keep oneself rooted in truth. Many blessings to you, Lisa. And to everyone.

  4. Being a member of the dissolution club is not fun but we are in a far better place. Merry Christmas! I hope your day is filled with new memories and happiness.

  5. Wow. Yes. All of this. All of me for YEARS wishing for my desires I believed in to be valid & true versus what I was really hearing & sometimes seeing but allowing myself to still believe the lies told to cover up what I’d been seeing in the light of day along with in the strangest of places they took us at times it was as simple as black & white what I was seeing in the dark shadows to be what I never wanted to believe. And to later tell those “tales” to certain people as if I were still believing them & myself for telling them & what I saw to be somehow ok in all of its impossibility because even my own eyes saw it wasn’t but I was listening to the mouth (his), telling me things were my imagination & the beginning of my “craziness” as a wife/victim to a first class narcissist.
    This was said perfectly as it related to myself & just how badly I wanted to believe, Lisa.
    Some scenes & episodes as I call them, really make me wonder just how myself & many of us do make it through so much. We are all in fact, stronger than most of us ever imagined ourselves to be. Thanks for perfect clarity here for me as well.

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