Telling the little things

Posted on 23 September 2005

Okay, back to the little things. I keep thinking of that damn cliche “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” (Rob noted that I do not have a “comment” feature on my blog. I said that if he wants to respond to yesterday’s blog, I will publish it.) I wonder if he is lucky or unlucky to be married to a woman who publicly tells the “little things” of the marriage. I remember once when I was writing about my mother, he criticized me, said that I was being cruel. “But it actually happened,” I said. “If we keep all the little things, the meat of the situation, to ourselves and everyone else does too, we would never say anything important, we would live in a world of platitudes.” One of the most honest and bravest writers of relationship I have read, who tells the personal details of her marriage, is Nancy Mairs. (I have just pulled “Voice Lessons” from my book shelf and as I skim through it to find a passage, that must be in another book, I see that it is time to read this book again.)

I see too that anyone can talk about marriage, love, lust, in generalities but when a writer tells of holding her husband’s soft penis in her hand, of the pain that steals her breath when he tells her of his affair, as Mairs does, I am all ears and I love her for confirming that life, relationship, is not a fairytale, that I am not alone…

I wander. In “Conscious Femininity” Woodman writes about a competent woman, “very professional, highly respected” who wants to bring her a muffin in her analytic hour but thinks it foolish and then finds herself in such a state that she goes and buys the muffin and eventually gives it to Woodman who receives it, breaks it in half and they both enjoy it. Woodman explains that the muffin emotion stems from the woman’s childhood and her state from her fear of rejection. And Woodman tells this “simple story” to illustrate that little things can have greater ramifications. And, in my mind, she gives us permission to do or talk about the things that may appear, at first, irrational, especially those that evoke strong emotion – like having someone close a window – because it eases a past injury and fulfills some need.

What triggered these thoughts is the question I wrote to Wednesday evening “What do I know about my “individual standpoint?” I can not assume a person (Rob, in the instance I gave) understands my standpoint. He was not raised by Irish immigrants nor was he the second daughter of six children and so on and so on, nor did he have a tyrannical father. If I do not communicate my thoughts, I leave him at a disadvantage and I betray myself. I am learning, and it’s hard going, to speak my mind.

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