Early Marriage | Part 5
Today I’m taking a short break and a deep breath. When I began this series on Early Marriage, I wasn’t sure I would survive writing these posts. That may be a bit over the top. Nonetheless….
Writing about Courtship and Engagement was a lark. Fun, with hardly any anxiety. But this is different. It’s more difficult to find the right words, partly because I’ve kept the truth hidden for so long. But also because words convey more than facts.
When I think about my past, there are any number of Elouises in my life. Each has a different age and outlook on life and what it means to be who I am. In a way, writing these posts means getting to know myself again. Almost as though I were a stranger to myself.
For years I was hard on myself. Even harsh. My self-talk was along the lines of “You stupid so-and-so (fill in the blank)!” I didn’t know what it meant to be an ally. Not just for other people, but for myself over against my inner critic.
Writing about my past is about more than simply ‘telling the truth’ about myself. It’s also about how I now perceive myself back then. Am I still my own worst critic? Or might I be changing into my own best ally, or at least making progress in that direction.
It seems this is connected to the way I write about my past self. Am I writing in a way that welcomes and has compassion on myself back then? I don’t need to justify myself; I do, however, need and want to empathize with myself in the past.
Is it possible for me to become the ally I didn’t have back then? Can I talk with that girl or that young married woman and let her know I’m standing with her?
I’m not talking about a general ‘wouldn’t-it-be-nice’ need to become my own ally. I’m talking about immersing myself in the specifics of each post and actually empathizing with the child or young woman I was then. What would I say and do if I saw her today? And what tone of voice would I use?
This is already happening. How do I know? I don’t feel the shame and embarrassment I used to feel when I write. I still struggle with some of it, but I also feel empathy and compassion for the woman, teenager or child I was then. Sometimes I have conversations with myself in my head, telling myself what I desperately needed to hear back then.
I’m not saying this makes everything wonderful and OK. It doesn’t. Instead, it puts me at ease, no matter what age I might be remembering. It’s OK. I can tell that girl or young married woman that I’m present, and I’m on her side.
This includes standing up for myself right now. It’s strange to describe an inner world that only I experienced, while my outer world often seemed to be totally functional. I can’t point to readily visible damage that would ‘explain’ or make acceptable the level of dysfunction within me.
I can, however, stand calmly and confidently with myself, even when others don’t understand what I’m pointing to, or why it was disruptive and damaging in my life. I don’t need to prove anything. I need to find the best words I can to describe my inner world, and to comfort the young woman or small child who already lived through it all.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to write in this way, especially at this time of my life. Somewhere back there and in ‘here’ a little girl or young married woman is laughing and crying a bit. I think she’s overjoyed because I finally found and acknowledged her.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 April 2015