me + Richard Armitage + fandom + desire

I had a truly honest, remarkable conversation today that developed into an email exchange, about the problem of wanting something that’s out of reach, and the unexpected feelings that it generates in one. As the conversation developed, and I offered some unsolicited advice via email, I realized that I was talking to myself. And a bunch of things slid into place. This post probably isn’t going to be all that intelligible to many readers and I am not going to explain but I am going to put it here because it seems like part of this blog.


What I said this afternoon:

Unsolicited advice, written from the viewpoint of someone who has stupidly and pointlessly done a lot of this in the last ten years: I don’t think it helps to be angry at oneself for wanting things (even things one can’t have; in my case, happily ever after with ex-SO, or tenure, or my mother). It seems to make sense to want things, then be sad that one can’t have some things one wants. But the anger at oneself for wanting things one can’t have that may arise in these situations leads to depression (as opposed to simple sadness) — it is poisonous and paralyzing. (This is what my superego always does, for what it’s worth, and I think my upbringing trained it to do that as a way of putting a quicker end to emotion that seemed lengthy, unproductive and distracting).


Austin therapist, to me, Fall 2008:

A feeling of physical nausea seems to be an indication that you are experiencing a feeling. You don’t have to avoid or suppress that. You can note it and respect it, even if you don’t know exactly what the feeling is.


Austin therapist, to me, Fall 2009, a month or two before the onset of Armitagemania:

I know you don’t even believe there is such a thing as an inner child. However, after a year of therapy, it is my opinion that the reason you are not writing is that your inner child, or whatever term you want to use for that part of your personality, is extremely angry about being denied something that she wanted then very badly and thus wants now, and since this book is so tied up with your childhood, if she decides to withhold, she will get what she wants — even if she has to destroy your career to get your attention.

Me (angrily):

Even if I have an inner child, she does not get to decide. I decide.

Therapist (gently):

Why can’t you just decide to write, then?


Richard Armitage both legitimates certain kinds of wants (as he’s the unattainable object) and through the wanting he generates in me, makes it possible for me to think about painful things. He is the character of desire, although to me it’s more than romantic or sexual desire. Much more. If that is all I learned, I think …

This is why fandom without snark is useful — because it allows me to be honest, to simply feel, to desire without having to be ironic about it.


UK Expat to me, fall 2012:

Why can’t you admit you want things? What is so hard about that?


UK Expat to me, spring 2013:

It must be rough to be an F and not know what you’re feeling.


This afternoon, ch. 5 of this story pops into my email:

Screen shot 2014-09-08 at 4.28.03 PM***

Screen shot 2014-09-08 at 6.21.39 PM***

and most importantly:

Screen shot 2014-09-08 at 5.06.26 PM***

And this afternoon I open a new window on screen, and I start to make a list of everything I’ve ever wanted, that I can remember, or at least the big things, that were out of reach, that I did not get — I try to think of what that little girl, inner child, might have wanted and not gotten, and you can see how imperfect this is, I’m ashamed to say these things, they sound so maudlin and pitiful, and of course I have gotten so much from life, and naturally there’s nothing special about them, and stop qualifying Serv, but: I wanted a loving G-d to actually exist and truly love me; I wanted the unconditional positive regard of my parents; I wanted to be normal, so badly I wanted to be normal, or at least to be able to hide all of my abnormality; I wanted my father to stop drinking; I wanted to be pretty; I wanted my grandfather not to die; I wanted to compose music; I wanted to be loved by specific people in specific ways; I wanted to write a great book; I wanted so often not to be in so much emotional pain. I wanted to turn off my brain. I wanted to accept who I am. I wanted not to care so much. I wanted so much and it was never okay to say that I wanted things; I could only pursue them, winding myself around corners. I could only say them when I was drunk — or not at all. Why wasn’t it okay to say I wanted those things? Why did I have to hate myself for wanting them?


Seeing this and wanting: to do the same, mutatis mutandis. To move people to joy, to tears, to change their views of their lives, to laugh at themselves, through the prism of my words. Can I say that I want it? I want it.

~ by Servetus on September 9, 2014.

14 Responses to “me + Richard Armitage + fandom + desire”

  1. In tears again.


  2. Du bringst mein träges Gehirn immer wieder in Bewegung, vielen Dank. Ganz grosses Thema, wie gehe ich mit meinen Wünschen und Sehnsüchten um. Und warum ist es so schwer, diese zu akzeptieren, ohne sich schlecht, falsch oder was auch immer zu fühlen. Zu verstehen, dass es sinnvoll ist, etwas zu wollen, zu wünschen. Und sich nicht zu grämen und in einer Depression zu landen. Das treibt mich auch ganz schrecklich um. Danke fürs Auseinandersetzen mit dem Thema.


  3. Very thought provoking post. I think I might try to list everything I ever wanted and didn’t get or they’re now gone. I’m of the age where I now have to accept that certain things will never happen. I get frustrated because I feel I know what I want but sometimes things happen that prevent the outcome I desire. Without giving too much away I have been in a soul-destroying relationship for years. I recently started a new job which I enjoy only for my new boss to rubbish my efforts. But I don’t give up easily but having to ‘fight back’ can be very tiring and draining.


  4. Yes.


  5. You have it !


  6. I wanted the unconditional positive regard of my parents; (…)
    I wanted my father to stop drinking; (…)
    I wanted so often not to be in so much emotional pain.

    You wouldn’t believe how glad I am to read this!
    I don’t know you. But this … Es gibt mir das Gefühl, dass du auf dem richtigen Weg bist.

    hugs (in Gedanken)


  7. Wow, all those years I spent in counselling, and you nailed it in a single post. Thank you. Since to want is somehow shameful, to ask for what I want is shameful in the extreme. I am so undeserving. Hence, everything I have (and I’m privileged to have a great deal of what I’ve ever wanted) I have because of some compact between me and the universe, or G*d, or whatever oversees these negotiations. I have it because I’ve worked and sacrificed in order to deserve it. But the things I’ve wanted and have never had – a husband who would put me first above hyper-critical family, a lover who would choose me rather than the “needy” ex-girlfriend (god forbid that I ever needed him for anything – my stricture, not his) – these have required me to accept that I want, to articulate that I want, to ask, to expose to another human being my shameful and undeserving wanting. And I’ve never felt able to do that. Why? Why, when I see others asking, and getting? I need to think about this some more. I have a brilliant full moon rising and an empty evening to fill with thinking, but I wanted to dash off a quick thank you. I know you largely write this kind of post for yourself, but you do so much for others in writing it. Thank you. Bless you.


  8. “To move people to joy, to tears, to change their views of their lives, to laugh at themselves, through the prism of my words. Can I say that I want it? I want it.” You have it, in spades.
    This post made me very happy and sad at the same time, we are both very human, and that is in fact, OK. <<>>


  9. Wow…see, now this is complete validation to me that things happen, things are said at a particular place, in a particular time for a greater reason than is perhaps immediately clear. Pax mihi.


  10. What more can I say except that you’ve been reading in my mind… and as an authentic scorpio I destroy and rebuilt on and on my life…”Dum Spiro Spero” sentence seems so appropriate right now! Thanks for that so reassuring post!


  11. At least you know what you want. And I think you may’ve gotten that last thing you listed. .


  12. For some reason James 4:2 ran across my screen last night, which is really applicable to a lot of things that have happened lately and ends with “you do not have because you do not ask.”

    Thanks everyone for all of these lovely comments — I’ve sat down to answer them several times and get teary each time. Please know that I appreciate them no end, along with every time my writing means something to you.


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