As I sat down at my computer today, I suddenly began to think about the bird in the gilded cage and what exactly that means in terms of human beings. I have often thought of myself as an eagle soaring freely in the sky just doing its thing. In relationships I used to think that I was doing what I wanted with whom I wanted and that I was in control, but I now wonder if the others half’s acquiescence was not a door opening and then closing behind me once I entered a gilded cage?
What is it in human beings that allows a person to get lost in another and give up all that they are, or maybe better put all that they want, just to make another person happy and just why is it that the other person never quite sees it that way? From big things to little things one person always seems to give up more than the other and it seems like it is all taken for granted. Men and women alike expect that once you enter a relationship that all other relationships that can not be enjoined to vanish. No matter if it is a friendship from birth if they can not be shared they must go. Family ties are at best begrudgingly allowed to remain, but in some extreme cases they must go as well. No matter they all will be met with hostility and will become a source of stress on the relationship. I understand the things that we will be asked to give up, but I do not know why we do it to each other?
Is it love to self mutilate ones ambitions, to give up the dream job to make a spouse happy, to stop watching sports, to stop playing sports say for a man, although these all could be noted in a woman’s case. Is it love that a woman gives up her education, a chance at a career and becomes dependant on a man for all that she needs, to birth his children, raise them virtually alone and become her man’s maid? I do not think so, but this is what happens and we all smile and pretend that we are happy, but we are as happy as a bird in a gilded cage.
People walk by our cage and see it full of food and things that we need as two love birds to survive and make the comment of what a lovely home we have and what a loving couple we are and how lucky we are in these times of divorce and breakups to have maintained such a happy relationship and I wonder are we really the lucky ones, or are we just the ones who have not quite figured out how to escape the gilded cage?
Does this syndrome begin with the word compromise and its implied meaning? From an early age we are taught to compromise, or to set aside what we really want for the good of another, or to make a deal, giving up some of what we want, giving up just enough of it to make the other person happy. We do this with friends, parents, siblings, teachers, bosses, and our mates and children, but is this good for us and is this the subtle training that allows us in time to enter the gilded cage and stay there feeling not quite fulfilled, but a better person for it?
Some would argue that without compromise we would be involved in never-ending disputes, but I do not feel that way. I think that a compromise is a lie, a non truth and is a band-aid solution. It means that I am not sold and that I am doing something to keep something and once I do, I will never be able to stop and neither will you. We will be forever trapped within a relationship that is based on partially getting what we want and the cage door swings closed on our gilded cage.
What is so wrong about saying no, or I do not agree, or I do not feel that way and then sticking to ones guns? Why should this have to lead to a break up and if it does is it perhaps for the best? Should we be staying with the person anyway in spite of our differences, if it mean losing ourselves in the process? Is it okay to be different, a lot different and should not these difference be respected if an honest relationship is to flourish equally? I do not know the answer, but I do know that the truth is a fast dying reality, or requirement to having and keeping a lasting relationship. In today’s world the truth is like an unwanted relative in our houses, but one we allow entrance to keep up appearances, but do not allow to partake in anything of importance in our daily lives. To be honest may mean giving up something that we do not want, or can not afford to give up and this is out of the question.
The alternative we seek then is to make the other person as miserable as we are or have been in drips, like slow water torture. I have watched a person lose themselves to another like water flowing steadily across a piece of rock with jagged edges. The rock will be worn smooth by the water and none of what it originally was will remain, its individuality gone replaced by a smooth facade like all the other rocks that have been drawn into the water’s existence.
I say stand up and be counted and always be the best that you can be, anyone that asks you to be less is not worthy of you. Love someone yes but do not give in to their insecurities, or they will consume you both. Think hard before you start pecking away and following the seed trail that leads inside that cage, because once you have entered and the door is closed you will find that a gilded cage is no less a prison than one of lesser craftsmanship. One does not have to love one’s jailer to survive a life sentence, one only has to abide by their jailer’s rules to survive and do the easiest of time.
Look around you, what has compromise got us to date? There are wars raging all over the world because we have compromised what we know is right to get what we want. Relationships do not last, because we settle for what we do not want in hopes that the person will change and they rarely do. We must open the gilded cage again and learn to soar like the eagle once again, tell the truth again and shame the devil. There are no nice prisons, there are only prisons whether they be made of concrete and bars, or thoughts, traditions, or implied threats. Tell the truth today and set yourself free.