“I couldn’t commit to the couch,” a friend told me. “I seriously think I have a phobia about new furniture.”
“You didn’t buy it?” I asked.
“No,” said my friend. “I went back to World Market and sat on it again. And, I measured it again. But, I just couldn’t buy it! [Pause] I did buy a bottle of wine and a couple of cool martini glasses, though.”
I laughed. This was me at IKEA a couple weeks ago. Only it wasn’t a couch I couldn’t commit to, it was a mirror to hang over my couch. I was with another friend of mine who, in response to my indecisiveness as to whether to buy a mirror or framed artwork – or some combination of both – stopped abruptly in the middle of the home décor department, looked at me, and said, “You know what your problem is? You are afraid you haven’t found the perfect thing for over your couch, so you have nothing.”
I stood there, listening. She went on. “Isn’t it better to try something, and if you don’t like it you can always take it down and put up something you love better? But, if you don’t start somewhere, how will you ever know what you want hanging over your couch?”
It occurred to me that perhaps my friend’s fear of selecting new furniture and my fear of choosing décor is one big metaphor for our fear of relationships. I mean, think about it – after a marriage that didn’t end happily-ever-after and many unsuccessful attempts at relationships over the course of my lifetime, why would I be able to easily choose artwork for my living room? How can my friend possibly select a couch for her house? What if we choose the wrong one? Again.
Granted, getting rid of a couch or some framed artwork is usually not as messy as divorcing your spouse. But, the fact that you have to change something out again just feels like a bunch of extra work to those of us that invested time, energy and money picking out that couch/painting/husband that didn’t work out the first time. Isn’t it just easier to live without a couch or a mirror or a partner at this point?
Clearly, this indecisiveness is a theme in my life. When I was eight years old, I played pony league baseball. I was the only girl on the team and I stunk. Every time it was my turn at bat, I would stand there waiting for the perfect pitch, never swinging at the ball for fear I wouldn’t hit it. Finally, my father said to me, “Wouldn’t it be better to strike out swinging than to strike out just standing there every time?” Even when I was eight, this made perfect sense. So, the very next game, I confidently walked up to the plate and took a swing at the first pitch. To my surprise, the bat made contact with the ball and I hit a foul.
“Way to get a piece of it, Karla!” my coach cheered me on. I held my breath, bat poised, waiting for the next pitch. The little redheaded boy on the pitcher’s mound wound up, threw the ball and hit me smack in the face. With a broken nose and two black eyes, that was the end of my baseball career. When my dad arrived at the hospital, he looked at me and said enthusiastically, “Well, at least you struck out swinging!”
The other night at IKEA, I took a swing and brought home some mirrors that I promptly decided looked terrible over my couch. So I hung them in my hallway instead. And I didn’t even get hurt in the process. Maybe next time I have the guts to step up to the plate in a relationship, I’ll knock one out of the park.