Imaginary Cage

Wednesday July 29, 2020

It was quite a little thing in the end.

It wasn’t the completion of the painting of my studio; it was buying a pressure washer.

We had been talking, my husband and I, for over a year, about getting a pressure washer. We had looked at them online, discussed which model and brand would be most appropriate, debated its uses and if, in the long run, it would be a good investment.

We would talk about it and then the subject would drop, and we didn’t get that pressure washer.

Then, about ten days ago, I looked at our moss-covered driveway.

“If I get down on my hands and knees with a scraper, it’s going to take at least five hours,” I thought. “And that’s only the start of it! Look at the lichen on the patio, the grime on the garden paths… If my clients are to walk through the garden to get to my studio, it needs to be clean.”

I found a good deal on a pressure-washer online and clicked the buy button. Oh, I did tell my husband: we have an agreement that we don’t spend more than £100 of joint money without informing the other; but I didn’t give him a choice. I had decided we would get that pressure washer and so we did.

I spent a thoroughly satisfying afternoon cleaning the driveway, the patio and the garden paths. At the end of the process, all that grime, moss and lichen had transferred itself to my person, but I didn’t care.

That small act made me realise something. Both my husband and I had been waiting for the other to decide and to act. I especially, had been waiting for his permission.

There are many, many things around the house that need attention; they frustrate me and make me uncomfortable. They are things however, that need time spent on them, and some money. We talk about them, but nothing ever gets done.

I thought about my childhood. I grew up in my autocratic grandfather’s household. Nothing was ever done without his permission; not on the farm; not in the house. He held tight purse-strings and tighter ideas on what was allowed. There were different rules for women. Women must not answer back, and women must know their place. I was terrified of him. We all were.

I realise now, in my fifties, I am treating my loving and gentle husband a little like my grandfather; I am still waiting for his permission to act. I have locked myself in an imaginary cage, and then get angry and frustrated with that cage.

An epiphany indeed!

I wonder if all of us have imaginary cages that hinder our freedom. As one of my friends said, “There is no cage other than that which we construct ourselves within our own mind.”

Then he added, “Well, unless it’s a real cage, of course – in which case it’s either very kinky, or a matter for the police!”

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