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.