Monday, January 16, 2006
To thine own self be true
Being a (somewhat) feisty middle-aged mom, OmegaMom has little trouble speaking her mind. After a certain age, you become well aware of what makes you tick, what things are important to you, what you think is Good and Right. You no longer worry too much about what other people think of you; you no longer worry too much about your fashion style; and it takes a particularly egregious (isn't that a cool word? "Egregious". Yummy.) faux pas to make you feel embarrassed any more. Like, say, accidentally getting your skirt caught in your underwear after a visit to the ladies' room, so you're baring your ample ass to all and sundry. Or being fool enough to try to play the stereotypical "Für Elise" in the piano Master Class with the visiting master pianist, when you've just started playing it a week ago, couldn't play it properly if your life depended on it, and you have a perfectly good other piece ready and waiting (not that OmegaMom has done this, oh, no). In your teens and twenties, though, that supreme knowledge of who you are and what you stand for is often missing. Little things that other people say--often not even aimed at you--can send you off, cheeks burning, tummy tumbling, and thoughts churning. OmegaMom had sense enough not to make any commitments to another adult human being while she was still in that stage. She certainly would never agree to marry someone who had, as conditions, that she should turn her back on things important to her. Alas, this is not true of everyone. A friend on a board I frequent recently told a story of a young lady she works with, who is getting married soon. This young lady is a born teacher, one of those people who parents wish populated each and every school out there. She infuses her children's lesson plans with interest and discovery; her students love learning in her class. She loves her career with a passion. But she also loves this man, who she is marrying. Her husband-to-be, a conservative religious type, has commanded that she stop working as soon as she marries him. Her in-laws-to-be, also conservative religious types, back him up. She wept on my friend's shoulder as she told this story. Ah, God, this makes OmegaMom's heart break. How can this be love? Children, come sit by OmegaMom. Yes, right there. (She pats the sofa beside her.) If you are single still, and someone is becoming the apple of your eye, you have a passion, and the AOYE tries to force you into a choice ("It's either me or that"), stop. Think. Think long and hard. Is this the type of person you want to spend your life with? If this person dismisses your passions so quickly and easily, what other areas of your life will this person want to control? Will you be allowed to make your own choices, or will you be treated as a child (a loveable child, but a child nonetheless) in this relationship forever? Shakespeare said, "This above all: To thine own self be true." It can be taken too far. You can subsume yourself in your own passions--but then it is your choice. But do not let someone else, someone who purports to love you, constrain you like that. Is it better to be a bird with clipped wings, just so someone will love you? OmegaMom had a few relationships in her youth where she felt she was hiding herself, felt she had to toe the line to still be worthy of her AOYE's love. But, luckily, it made her so uncomfortable, so not herself, that she realized, in the depths of the night, that this other person didn't love her, but his idea of her. And though it took a while, she was able to find The Man who took her as she was, loved her warts and all. Don't settle for anything less. Edited to remove the "lonely hawk". Waaay too cliche.