Confessions of a Young Woman

Posted on 07 September 2004

Yesterday Gillian started a public journal called Confessions of a Young Woman.

In it she asks if she can be honest and ruthless: “Is it dangerous to post my heart and soul this publicly?”

I have asked myself the same question many times and I think, in most cases, that being open might feel dangerous (more often frightening) but it’s good for the soul. I feel this even more stongly after the two writing workshops this summer where I understood, perhaps for the first time, that reading aloud one’s raw thoughts, exposing oneself, saying, in a way, that “this is who I am” pushes one’s boundaries, is liberating in the sense that when I admit to my “small” thoughts (often those I call pathetic) I learn that such thoughts exist in others and so am kinder to myself.

Now having said that, I don’t know how to continue.

“Your thoughts these days are too private,” I tell myself. “They’re too filled with scenes from childhood.” Do I have to make all public? No. I do not have to tell all but I do want to write about some issues that I feel are universal. (In this realm, Nancy Mairs is my hero.) I’m not trying to be fancy, far from it, but there are things that we – okay, first person – I don’t talk about – that were forbidden in childhood – that need to be talked about. At present, these taboos are relationship issues and money.

These taboos are unhealthy. I was raised in a house where anything that happened, especially discord, between family members was to be kept quiet. Outsiders were to think that we lived in perfect harmony. In fact, my parents were vicious and cruel to each other when they fought, which they did often, and most of their fights were about money.

As a child, I hated their raised voices. I cowered in corners, thinking that they would hurt each other, especially when my father threw things (but, as far as I know, he never physically touched or hurt my mother. I realized, a few years ago, that after they got their meanness out, they were nice to each other.) Still these battles made me shy away from fighting.

Rob and I seldom fight. When he arrived back from Spain, he was unhappy. He said that we had grown apart, that we lived separate lives. He saw this (or did) as negative. I see it in a positive light. We are different people. I do not want to live in his pocket or by his side, day after day. I want to do things for my Self by myself. And when we come together I want both of us to be tolerant, if not agreeable, to the things the other chooses to do. Encouragement would be good. Support even better. Susan, once said, that if married people could look on each other as friends, marriage relationships would be healthier. One would encourage the other to live his or her dreams.

Why is this so difficult? Simone de Beauvoir said she refused marriage and children and in doing so her life was easier than women who accept one or both. With the titles “husband” and “wife” come prescriptions for living together and I think these so called prescriptions or remedies for two are out of date. Why, I wonder, is it more difficult to talk to Rob than a female friend. And I realize as I write this that we are too important to the other, and so both of us are defensive with the other. I say “you think this” and he says “you think that” until I want to scream “we have to stop thinking for the other.” Because, quite often, what he thinks I’m thinking is not what I’m thinking. And most likely I am wrong too. But to find out what we’re projecting on the other, candid conversation is necessary.

And both of us are trying. I am watching myself, speaking carefully, making sure what I say is what I feel and not colouring any thought to make me sweeter or slant it for his approval. I am taking a deep breathe when I feel my ideas are being ridiculed. (Note, the “I feel”.)

And we’re liking each other more. The other day I bought a new perfume called “In Love Again.”

My other taboo is money.

Rob wants to work less, to write. I think this wonderful. But when he says “we must budget”, I feel defensive because I hear my father’s voice. To say my father was frugal is an understatement. He hated spending, loved saving (not necessary negative) but what was bad was that he kept my mother on a strict budget. If she wanted more, she had to beg or borrow while he never asked her if he wanted something – even big-ticket items like the Jaguar he bought when he already owned two vehicles.

As I write this, I realize that I’m feeling my mother’s anger and helplessness. No need. I work and earn and Rob has never in our life together ever questioned me about the way I choose to spend “our” money. I wonder if it’s present guilt (although guilt may not be the right word) that is making me uncomfortable when money is mentioned. I have just done something larger than I’ve ever done: I’ve accepted a space in the Marion Woodman Bodysoul Intensive and the cost is 1600 American dollars (thank you Vaughan).

As I get deeper and deeper into “Dancing in the Flames”, I feel somehow that I’m moving in the right direction. “It takes great resolve to enter into the darkness of our own chaos, to give up the familiar path and begin to trust our own experience.”

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