I am in the middle of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and enjoying it far more than I expected I would. I had read a review of the book a few months ago, and got rather irritated with the author in advance. To leave a marriage and a stable life for what seemed frivolous reasons was the height of something in my eyes. I’ve been all over the world and seen some very poor people living in some very stringent circumstances, and it is hard to be sympathetic with someone who feels that a nice home and a good income is unimportant, or should be left behind because you are feeling unhappy for a short period. I’ve seen families busted up over childish nonsense. I’ve had discussions of a heated nature over what constitutes a decent living. A fellow student mentioned that he could ‘only’ expect to make about 50k starting out as a teacher. I replied that there are thousands of families all over the United States that would feel so blessed to bring fifty thousand dollars into the household.
As I read further though, I can see that it wasn’t all childish nonsense on the author’s part; there were issues she chose not to share with her readers. Many of the issues were hers alone. Sometimes she sounds bipolar; I personally would never be inclined to share my personal space with someone who is bipolar, or especially needy. I’ve worked all the neediness out of my system, and being raised with my sister was enough to cure me of ever wanting to even deal with the former. Ms. Gilbert writes well and movingly though; I can understand much of her pain. I would never reveal that much of myself in print, but I have to admire her courage in doing so.
I related to her pages talking about losing herself in the man she loves. A friend even mentioned she begins to look like the significant men in her life! She started dating and having sex when she was very young and never found the time to be alone, to find out what she likes, what she wants. When you are with someone you have to interact; you have to consider someone else’s needs and wants. In a previous post I talked about buried gifts; losing yourself in another person is one reason gifts get buried. My nieces-in-law, both not even nineteen, one barely seventeen, have gotten married and both are expecting. Neither married someone financially prepared to even rent a home of their own; they are living with a mother or a father and their families. Neither decided to go to community college to see what they may like to do for a living, or take classes to prepare for a better future. Neither has health insurance, but both are getting Medicaid. When I became so upset over what I(admittedly)judgmentally called the ‘end’ of their lives when I heard they were getting married, my hubby completely disagreed with me. He’s right, of course. It isn’t the end of their lives, but it is the end of their adolescence, and the end of any hope that they will be able to go on and discover something of the world and themselves before settling down and having children. Young women, without benefit of a wiser mother, truly believe that marriage and a baby will hold a man in their life. Instead, it’s like that cheap brand of glue that dries after a period of time and the pieces fall apart. I have a wall hanging that must be forty years old. Recently, one of the squares just fell out and broke into many pieces. The glues just gave out. Granted, it took forty years, and men aren’t pottery pieces. No, men can’t be glued at all.
I found a way to do the things I wanted to do when I was younger. Even so, I ended up giving up many important things when I entered my first serious relationship. I gave up making friends, and gave up spending much time with the friends I did have. I spent far too much time keeping my house clean, and I had to defer to someone else’s wishes when it came to where I wanted to live, and what kind of home I wanted to buy. My mother gave up skating for pleasure for eighteen years; my aunt gave up traveling to places she wanted to see, rather than just going to the same place year after year because my uncle wanted it. It’s not just the older generation either; one friend never does anything with just me, we always go together with her husband.
That’s why I hate to see a girl give up herself to a man and children so young. If we have a tendency to lose ourselves simply because we’re women, we are much more likely to become completely lost if we start too young. My nieces had plans and dreams; one talked of being a marine biologist when she was fourteen. What chance is there now of that ever happening?
The author speaks of never having lived alone; living alone will let you know yourself better than any book or course.