They were a present, a pair of earrings sent to cheer me in a time of personal trial, several years ago. A little gold heart dangles from a little gold ball. I never wore them, because I couldn’t get the backs off. I figured it was something wrong with my hands, or alternatively that this was the reason the earrings had landed in a resale store or a yard sale (the giver being a famous thrifter, for which I admire her).
They sat on a little Wedgwood tray on my my dresser, a special location. Every now and then I would consider wearing them, but face the same problem.
I brought them with me to Pennsylvania. Again, they sat on my dresser. I loved the memory of my friend thinking kindly of me and sending them, but I had long since given up on wearing them.
This morning, choosing jewelry, I looked at them again. I picked them up. I looked at the backs. I tugged on one and again failed to move it.
I directed my gaze through a different portion of my progressive lenses.
I tried to wiggle one of the backs. No luck.
I changed my viewing angle one more time.
And then I realized the problem.
These pierced earrings are screw backs.
I didn’t even know pierced earrings could *have* screw backs.
How many other things do I look at over and over, tug on and try to master, when I simply don’t understand how they work in the first place?
This applies to many, many situations in life, but especially to emotional conditioning. I lived many years thinking there was only one way to put on an earring, only one way to be a success at womanhood, only one way to please the people I believed I needed to please in order to be loved.
When you believe there is only one way to be right, it leaves myriad ways to be wrong. Trying to avoid all the wrong ways can become an obsession so deep it’s unconscious. The thing we have committed to seems obvious.
Just like the earring backs. Obviously, they were meant to be pulled off and pushed back.
No. They unscrewed. “Lefty loosey,” I told myself, and the backs were in my hands.
I’ve been unscrewing myself from old ideas and beliefs about myself for the same several years I have not been able to wear my earrings. I’ve been working hard at it, seeking a deeper understanding. I spent three months this winter writing about my life, to help myself get clearer about how I could have missed something so true. How did I manage to see it — to see myself — so wrongly?
By making sure I was right.
Those things are better, but the way I assume others might feel about me, the way I expect to be perceived by the world, the treatment I anticipate receiving really has not changed much. I’m still expecting push back.
Perhaps the lesson of the earrings is to take a different view of the world — to look for a little more lefty loosey, a little less pushing back.