The World in Which I Live

Musings from my life – poetry and prose

Day 19

Yeah, I skipped a day…again. All week, I’ve felt wiped out at 4 pm and yesterday was particularly rough. I really just needed to lay down, so I did, and voila it’s this afternoon already.

If you’re just joining in this experiment of mine this is my second post trying to excavate, dissect. analyze, and rewrite the stories I’ve been telling myself, that have simply not been serving me well. My goal is to be honest, find the source and figure out how to work through it or around it. I’m finding that real honesty requires writing things that are blaming, judgemental, and maybe even self-pitying. Trust me when I say that I don’t pity myself, and I’ve always considered most of the things I write about well behind me. But, I do know that I am still blocked, so I’m going to try to get through this exercise and maybe have the experience of the wall I’ve built to protect myself come tumbling down.

In the first part of this exercise I got through the first five of a total of ten stories I tell myself. I’ve decided to do one at a time to really get to the truth. My highest hope is that this helps me rewrite at least some of these stories and then I can save the tough ones to crack for another time.

6. My desires aren’t as important as the desires of others – Just thinking about that sentence has me perplexed. Is this something unique to me, or is this true for “everywoman”. By that, I don’t mean every woman, because I know for sure there are some women who think only their desires matter. What I do mean is that there is a cultural and social construct that dictates that women are meant to be nurturers, caretakers, endlessly martyred. The roles we are assigned at birth are strong, and there seems to always be someone there to reinforce what and who we’re supposed to be. And I was born a girl.

I was born a girl on the cusp of the Baby Boomer era and Gen X. Being born in December placed me on the Boomer side of the line, but as I got older and learned about the difference of the two groups, I do believe I fall solidly into Gen X, except for one thing. The person I most related to in the world was my mother.

I was so emotionally enmeshed with my mother, I sometimes couldn’t tell us apart. As an example, the day she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, my first instinctual thought was, “Oh my God, I am going to die.” Yeah, not that SHE was going to die, that I was.

My mother taught me to cook, bake, and sew. I was in constant basic training to become a great wife and mother. All this was happening while the fight for women’s rights was happening, and so the mixed messages I was receiving were mind-numbing. On one hand, the greatest work I could ever hope to aspire to is that of having a husband and children to take care of, and on the other, I am woman, hear me ROAR. I could be whatever I wanted to be. I was an excellent homemaker and a feminist all wrapped up into one, and at the time I didn’t know how to make them meet in the middle.

I had aspirations that I didn’t know where to put, I did want babies, lots of them, but I also wanted to write “the great American novel”, live life as an ex-pat in Paris, travel the world, be a Broadway star and a prolific Opera singer.

Instead, I got married before I was even 21. I didn’t have children, and based on the marriage I was in, learned not to expect any. But damn, if I wasn’t a great wife, I made 3 meals a day, cooked, cleaned, iron my husband’s clothes and mine, and worked a 40 – 60 hours a week just like my husband, who never offered to make dinner or iron my clothes. I was a Stepford Wife of the highest order. I sneakily wrote poetry from time to time and lived my fantasy life in books knowing none of the aspirations of my youth would be met.

His desire for the perfect wife was more important than anything I wanted. I knew my place in the world, for I had been well trained.

That marriage ended, but every relationship that followed, I found myself falling back into the same pattern, cooking, cleaning sewing, fulfilling the whims of the man I was with, being the perfect girlfriend, wife, lover, pretending I needed nothing but to be loved, but in truth, it left me resentful and hurt.

No one can go on and on, meeting the needs of everyone around them without having their needs met as well. We break, we fall apart, we burn everything around us to the ground.

My needs, wants, desires, and aspirations are every bit as important as everyone else’s. Not more than, but equal.

I wrote this many year’s ago, I and I need to remind myself more often…

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