In the process of moving, most everything one owns goes into boxes. My least favorite answer to “where in the heck is my fill-in-the-blank?” is “in a box”. All of my books are (ulch) in-a-box and I had nothing to read after moving from one side of the state to the other. Thankfully, I was able to borrow a few novels so that I had something – anything – to read. Some of them were old friends I was well acquainted with and some were books I might never have read on my own. I usually read detective and adventure novels – fiction that distracts. I have joked and said that I didn’t want enlightenment, just entertainment. The book that fate placed in my hands was “Eat Pray Love”, written by Elizabeth Gilbert. I swear she and I must be related somewhere way back. She has never attended a family reunion, but I’m sure she will one day. Obviously, quite a few other people feel the same exact way, hence the popularity of her book and the movie that followed.
I was never big on “find yourself” books or “self-improvement” books. I always felt that they were expensive self-discipline wrapped in a pretty cover. I make myself do all kinds of things that I don’t necessarily feel like doing at the time – without a book. I make my bed, take out the trash, oh and let’s not forget the never ending chore of laundry. I manage to do all of this without some book reassuring me that I am
A. A good person if I don’t accomplish these chores
B. One that tells me how to do these chores
C. One that slams me for not wanting to do these chores.
I try to be understanding and compassionate. So far, I have managed to keep from killing anyone in traffic or in line at the grocery store, even when they clearly have more than 10 items in the express line.
At any rate, I started reading “Eat Pray Love” because I didn’t many other options. I began the book expecting proselytizing, complete boredom, or cavities in my teeth from too much sweetness and light. Much to my surprise, the introduction was so conversational that I almost forgot that I was reading…. so I kept reading. I felt as if an old friend had sent me a letter. I enjoyed every delicious adjective and beautifully worded description. I adore Italy, having traveled there with my parents as a child. I was completely enchanted by the scenery, the warm, liltingly spoken people, and the glorious food while I was there. My new friend, Elizabeth Gilbert, liked all the same things I did and I ate up the pages like a sumptuous meal. Then I got to page 65.
Excerpted from “Eat Pray Love”;
“Moreover, I have boundary issues with men. Or maybe that’s not fair to say. To have issues with boundaries, one must have boundaries in the first place, right? But I disappear into the person I love. I am the permeable membrane. If I love you, you can have everything. You can have my time, my devotion, my ass, my money, my family, my dog, my dog’s money, my dog’s time – everything. If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you from your own insecurity, I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family. I will give you a sun check and a rain check. I will give you all this and more, until I get so exhausted and depleted that the only way I can recover my energy is by becoming infatuated with someone else”.
I would like to add here, that rather than becoming infatuated with someone else, I would talk and talk and talk to which-ever-him it was and we would resolve that we would try again, and I would be filled with new resolve – again, and the object of my affections would become attracted again, and the cycle would start all over again. I couldn’t understand how such seemingly different people would all end up treating me with the same lack of regard, sometimes even cruelty, never mind treating me as a priority. I did know however that the common denominator was … me.
I was more concerned with that specific someone else’s opinion of me than my own opinion of me. Someone else loving me meant that I was worthy of love. The only value I had was that which someone else determined and bestowed upon me. Everything I did was for someone else’s approval… to get a good grade on the girlfriend report card.
Fortunately for me, I have managed to be a good friend to my good friends. I was rescued by my best friend when she came for a visit. She saw the awful reality of the situation. She asked me questions that in answering, forced me to see what was really going on. Only by enumerating for her, the step by step diminishment of my own self-esteem was I able to see what had happened.I was re-introduced to my self by someone who loved me and I was compelled to re-examine me.
You know what happened? I think I kind of like me. I think I need to treat myself as I would one of my close friends. I think I need to love me. Not in that condescending I-am-wonderful-and-divine-even-when-I’m-acting-like-a-jackass” kind of way. I mean that I need to be nicer to and more respectful of me.I need to acknowledge my victories, not just my failures. My favorite line of any song ever is “…and in the end only kindness matters”, and I am going to apply that to me too.This is emphatically NOT a blame game. If I am to have a bit of credit for improving, even if it is my opinion of my own self, I must accept responsibility for needing that change.
Now, that is Off My Chest.