No more unlived history for me. I’m in the last chapter of my life. Which means my last opportunity to live a full life instead of the half-life I’ve often pursued as a good girl/woman.
First, in honor of my mother, I owe myself at least two changes:
- I must fall in love with myself. For better and for worse; in sickness and in health; for as long as my life shall last; honoring and respecting myself; cherishing my body and honoring my spirit.
I think of it as marrying myself. Loving myself the way God loves me—just as I am. And the way D promised to love me—just as I am. If I can’t do this, my ability to love my neighbors as I love myself is greatly impaired if not dealt the kiss of death.
- I must relentlessly pursue my dream of being a writer. Not past dreams, but my dream for right now. For this last chapter of my life.
All my adult l life I believed in my skills to help others attain their dreams. I did not believe in my ability to go for large dreams of my own. I was ‘too busy.’ Especially when it came to writing. I was busy giving in to fear, disbelief, and the call of tasks needing to be done.
My mother’s later years included several strange episodes during which she lashed out against my father with language I didn’t know she possessed. To my shock, he backed down. I’m hanging onto those few brilliant moments when I believe my mother put her own well-being and her own wishes first and communicated this in no uncertain terms.
I don’t foresee a fight like this with D. I do, however, foresee standoffs with myself for which I’ll need grit and guts.
Second, I must do for myself what I did for all those 15 boys and men I wanted to impress.
For years, beginning as early as 5th grade, I offered them a list of invaluable services. No cost and no contracts. Why? Because I desperately wanted to feel needed, alive, appreciated, attractive (at least not repulsive), and less lonely.
So what did that look like?
- A listening ear, empathy and feedback
- A sounding board for men’s ideas
- Interest in their lives and their dreams
- Affection and emotional support
- Admiration and affirmation of their importance
- New ideas—mine—free of charge!
- Proofreading and editing skills
- Feedback on how to improve their arguments, their writing, their sermons
- Uncounted smiles and nods of agreement and understanding
In other words, like millions of other women, I gave away what I desperately needed for myself.
Ironically, even though these men affirmed me, I didn’t believe them. Not because they weren’t telling the truth, but because I didn’t believe that in the long-run, what I had to say or write really mattered that much.
Today I’m offering and making available to myself the same tangible and intangible services. Yes, I still have D. His love and loyalty are in place. The missing person in this picture isn’t D. It’s Elouise.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 February 2018
Image found at njculibrary.wordpress.com