The future is an opening — but an opening to what? If someone had asked me that last year, I would have said — the abyss. The idea of an absolute contingency, of waiting upon an as yet indeterminate event, would have only elicited in me a sense of fear. I would have construed it as an uncertainty — and I hate uncertainties. Uncertainty makes me feel afraid, and makes me withdraw into a corner. Once I start thinking about the possible outcomes, what I see are only risks, pitfalls, failures. The prospect of not having any control over what will unfold is frightening.
But as I’ve come to think about where my analysis might be heading — what awaits me — curiously, I’m not so overwhelmed with fear any more. Of course, the future is uncertain, and I might come off worse than I am now. But somehow, I see now a space for improvement and the thought that I might have better relationships, be no longer alone, and other positive ideas now colour what I see as the future. The opening now seems not one into the abyss, but one into infinite possibility.
I don’t have to see the future as something that has control over me, that it is an engulfing darkness, from which I have flee, find shelter. Instead, I can control the future, use its power of possibility to construct a path, one on which I can walk with confidence. I can choose to listen to my desire, than accommodate the desire of others.
The latter is precisely what I would’ve done were I to be confronted with choices. The choice could be, “Fish or chicken?” or, “Pub or bar?” — but whatever it was, I felt overcome by anxiety when it was me that had to decide, when I had to ask what I wanted. Anxiety is pure horror — it’s there, but you can’t see it, and it’s not just somewhere, it’s everywhere. It’s not localised, but consumes every part of your body. And it comes suddenly, from outside as if a mysterious substance envelops you, but also from inside as if another mysterious substance grows outwards from within. With anxiety, there is no escape. It’s there. It announces itself, but without motives, without demands. It’s a pure thereness. Il y a.
So, when I’m confronted by a choice, I’ll throw it back onto the other, so that I don’t have to feel that anxiety. “Erm . . . what do you want? Seriously, I’m fine with either! Choose whatever’s convenient for you.”
There, anxiety avoided.
Certainly, there is enjoyment in sticking to what others want. First of all, I don’t have to feel that anxiety, so that’s definitely a relief. Besides, I like helping others. If someone asks for my help, they’ve got it. If I think someone needs my help, they’ve got it — saves them the bother of asking!
Someone needs a place to stay? No problem! Okay, I should clean the house, get a fresh towel, cook them a welcome meal . . . All this is quite enjoyable.
I act on behalf of someone else’s desire. But when it comes to my desire, what I want, that’s a no-go area. I mean, who cares about my desire anyway? It’s not worth your time. Don’t look here, you’ll only be disappointed.
But why do I enjoy helping others? I don’t know. Maybe the other wants me to help because only I can give it to them, thereby confirming that I’m needed, that I’m not nothing? But, wait, wasn’t it that I don’t like others asking what I want, because I feel it’s not worth their time? So, what, I think I’m nothing, but I want the other to say that, in fact, I am not? That I’m worthy of their love? So that I can feel maybe, maybe their satisfaction is a sign of their love? Could it be that I do it, in the hope that this could be true, that: they need me, because they love me?
Before my analysis, I never asked these questions. I hated thinking or talking about myself. “Oh, I’m boring. Let’s talk about something else . . .” But since I started my analysis, I’ve come to think about them, about how some of these tendencies could’ve contributed to the broken friendships, the loneliness, the depression . . .
I never saw the indecision and what I do when confronted with choices, in terms of desire. As I start to see connections between how I respond to desire, and my inhibitions, symptoms and anxieties, I can glimpse a light, a path, that could lead me from the corner to which I’ve withdrawn myself. I don’t have to be stuck — there is room for change, for improvement . . .
This is why I now see the future in a brighter light. I can move, I can oppose the darkness to which my desire was confined. I don’t have to belittle my desire, to throw it down to the depths. Instead, I can throw it up to the heavens. To act on behalf of the desire of others does not mean I have to throw away mine. They’re equally valuable.
I can assume my desire, take responsibility for my desire, and choose what I am to become — a choice not grounded in what the They wants, but in my desire and mine alone.
Maybe this is what Lacan meant by ne pas céder sur son désir.