Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Tilt.
The last time I felt this particular sense of oppression, I was in my early 20â€™s. I had forgotten Â this feeling, Â or why, but now it comes back with the strength of anything powerful thatâ€™s been buried for an entire adult lifetime.
Iâ€™m suddenly 21 again, and in love with a boy who lives in another town. He says heâ€™s ambitious, and yet, heâ€™s never strayed far from his mother and heâ€™s ended up back in his hometown. If he has dreams, he doesnâ€™t share them, but I love him anyway.
Iâ€™m graduating from college and I can go anywhere. Iâ€™m Â a Â free Â spirit. I Â have Â no Â husband, Â no Â children, Â no debts, no mortgages, no car payments, nothing. I can go anywhere in the world, be anything I like. I have a job offer in Connecticut and another near Houston, but I wonâ€™t leave and go that far away. I know what will happen if I do.
If I leave, Iâ€™ll never see him again. Heâ€™s not the kind of man who would come after me. Even if I wonâ€™t admit that to myself.
If I want a future with the man I love, then itâ€™s imperative that I not leave the area. Or at least not go any farther away than weâ€™ve been during the last of my college years.
So I donâ€™t even glance at careers that are elsewhere. I focus strictly on jobs close to where he lives so that I can be with him, so that we can be together, because unless I make that sacrifice, thereâ€™ll be no being together.
So I take minimum wage jobs and temp jobs. I move in with his sister and pay the cheap rent, but I canâ€™t get enough work in my field or any field here to pay the rent and buy my groceries.
And my boyfriend has no qualms because Iâ€™m here,
living in his town, where his parents and his siblings and his friends and his job and his community and everything heâ€™s known all his life are.
And Iâ€™m here now,Â too. And thereâ€™s Â no reason for him to go anywhere else or to want anything else.
I would Â rather Â that Â we Â had Â gone Â off Â together Â and started a new life in a new place together, where neither of us knew anyone or anything Â there except to learn it together, Â a Â place Â where Â he Â had no Â prior Â attachments. Even if he had gone a few months ahead and I had followed at the end of college, the move would have been about us doing it together Â and not about me getting assimilated into an existing world.
But this is where he chooses to be.
Eventually, I run out of money and can no longer ask my mother to keep sending me money for food, so I re- turn to my hometown and move in with my parents and start rebuilding my savings. I take a job that Â isnâ€™t in my field and not what I want to do with my life, but itâ€™s a temporary job until I can get back on my feetâ€¦and itâ€™s also not that far Â from him so I can still see him on the weekends.
But where I go and what I want to do with my life is still tied to him and to the place where he chooses to live.
At Â 24, I marry him and move back to his hometown.
I take a job thatâ€™s been misrepresented to me by the Vice- President of Â Finance and it means dipping into my savings. Itâ€™s not the job I was promised Â or the pay I was promised, but even less than I was making in my last job. Itâ€™s not in my field as promised.
I hate the job. From day one, when my reason for being there and my bossâ€™ promises all unravel. I hate it but Iâ€™m trapped. Or think I am.
On my first day on the job, I meet and am befriended by a woman who is utterly shocked when I tell her the position Â Iâ€™ve Â been Â hired forâ€”because Â itâ€™s Â her Â position and our boss hired me to take her job over once he could figure out how to get rid of her but didnâ€™t have the balls or the reason to fire her.
So Iâ€™m relegated to a clerical position for an office of 13 accountant typesâ€¦after Iâ€™ve moved and canâ€™t find another job in the Â area that isnâ€™t waiting Â tables or selling vacuum cleaners. Most of them treat me like shit because Iâ€™m their secretary, even though I have more Â education than 10 of them, a fact they donâ€™t discover until around the time I leave the job a few years later when I finally get the next opportunity.
But heâ€™s here, and Iâ€™m with him. Thereâ€™s a deep resentment underneath but I swallow it. I squelch it, hide it in darkness. I feel wrong for feeling this way. Why canâ€™t I just be happy here because heâ€™s happy here?
I try to talk to him about it a few times, but he does not understand. He cannot understand. This is his home, where his parents are, his brothers and sisters, his friends, his job, Â hisÂ co-workers, Â his everything. Â He Â knows Â this place Â like Â the Â back Â of Â his Â hand, Â andÂ heâ€™sÂ comfortable here. He loves it here and whatâ€™s wrong with me that I donâ€™t? And I have left behind my parents, my siblings, my friends, and everything that I have known and am comfortable with to come be on his turf just to be with him and to keep from losing him.
The new job is better and we eventually Â settle into a home in a country club communityâ€”his Â one big com- promise. I want to live in Bluewater Bay not because itâ€™s a country club community but because, well, because there are trees there. Its undeveloped areas remind me of home and what Iâ€™ve left behind.
This is not my choice for the place I want to be and itâ€™s not my choice for the life I want or the career I want, but I choose it to be with him and for no other reason. I feel that I am giving up my identity to move here, to be here with him, and that Iâ€™m taking on everything that is his and all the Lorna that was before is now gone, incorporated into his world with none remaining.
Fast Â forward Â to Â a Â conference Â in Â May Â in Â Daytona Beach, and those deep feelings from long ago rise to the surface, rumbling from underneath and shaking me to the core. Iâ€™ve spent Â my entire Â adult Â life in Â a job that sup- ported a lifestyle but didnâ€™t support me emotionally. Not for very long. Iâ€™ve been the good girl, falling in line and doing what was expected and what I had to do. Sowing my dreams on the side but never straight-forward Â or out front. Weaving them into my life where I could because I had based where I wanted to be and what I had to do on where someone else wanted to be and wanted to do.
We never Â built Â this Â life together, Â from Â scratch. Â We build it on a foundation that had already been established, someone elseâ€™s foundation.
It really wasnâ€™t about place but about identity and sacrificing too much. And now I have some of those same feelings of being trapped here, tied to a job that, even though technology would allow me to perform 95% of it barefoot with a laptop and a good wireless connection on a private beach somewhere, Â keeps me tied to a specific desk in a Â specific office because of an outdated attitude that employees must have assigned desks and be there at assigned hours.
Technology Â allows me the freedom Â to go anywhere and do Â anything, and it opens up so many choices that werenâ€™t there before.
But the choices arenâ€™t available in my current career field and so I feel trapped again. Oppressed.
My only solution is to look to my dreams and make a plan so I can throw off this heaviness.