There isn’t much to this. I mean, it’s one of those thoughts that comes to you when you’re sitting in your bathing suit after your kids’ swim lesson, just this passing deep thought: my life could be so different. The role I play… I could play its opposite. We, each of us, fall into our habits, our particular roles, submissive, dominant, “You know you’re so much better at that than I am, sweetie” roles—that I don’t know how much we challenge them. We simply accept the role we chose once upon a time ago. Because questions lead to problems, or at the very least, to someone rolling his eyes and saying, “Drama.”
And that’s what it is. A drama with parts we assign ourselves, whatever seems the most natural at the time. We accept the roles because it’s easier than confrontation, or we simply forget to bother questioning things. We assume the label they gave us, that we assigned ourselves, was dead on, and unchanging. "I’m the bad driver, the one afraid of horror films, the shy one, the non-planner, the one with a bad relationship with her family." Sometimes we play the part for so many years that we never stop to question its origin or authenticity. Until we’re forced to. Or until we have a mid-life crisis.
And then, suddenly, we realize we can play different parts. There’s actually an option. We can turn our backs on all that we said we were, and insist that we’ve changed, that we want to try something new, or to at least have the option. We want the ability, to remind ourselves that we needn’t be type-cast, that we could, if we wanted, lead a very different life.
The thought doesn’t come to me after couples therapy. There has been no fight. I simply, for the first time in as long as I can remember, decided that instead of watching his DVR’d TV, I’d put in a movie. And I thought, “There are people who don’t do this.” Who don’t ever watch sitcoms just because it’s what’s on. There are people who don’t bother with TV at all. I could be living a life of just movies, or of no movies at all.
It’s a small thought, yes. But it’s also big. Because just the contemplation that I could be living so differently plants questions into my head. I can choose to live any life I want. Anything at all. Is this what I want to be living? Sure, I made all these small decisions that lead me here, but is this where I want to be living? In this role: the one who’s not so good at convincing health care professionals to consider things in network? The one who’s… not so sure what role she plays other than trying to not lose herself. The one who tiptoes but then shouts over his shouts, asking him to please stop shouting. I realize, in this moment, that I don’t have to live this life. And I can stay, and still not live it. I can make changes without letting go. It’s all about rituals, habits, and repetition. I can carve new pathways, set different expectations, and challenge myself, to understudy the woman I want to become. I could wear red.