this scene is my throwback thursday. we were young, my cousin and I, guffawing in ecstasy as we threw our hands back with sheer amusement. Once we caught our breath again, we would then press rewind with fingers crossed that the video tape wouldn’t get stuck in our dusty VCR and replay.
and now, here I am. married. most days, it still comes as a shock. other days, it seems wearisome and binding. others still, it’s exciting and invigorating. and then I wake up. lol! but no, on a more serious note, they say you must be nothing but eternally ecstatic that you are married. that you must be over-the-moon all the time. you must be jumping up and down, exhilirated and renewed. your husband is your raison d’etre who must be held high up on a pedestle and submitted to. you must forget yourself, your dreams, your desires, your wishes and succumb to the institution. for otherwise, he may leave, abandoning you for another, more submissive and timid than you. you cannot be overtly strong, you cannot be outspoken, you cannot be direct… you essentially do not exist in this whole and the oneness is essentially you submerging yourself in him.
and then I wonder, where do I hear these voices from? I realise they are there, in the subtleties of the language. they are there in the voices of the elders. they are there in the feedback I hear. they are there in the advice I am given. buried like greyness between the lines of black and white, they play this tune in the background, saying, “you cannot exist without him”.
I look glance back and realise I never heard these voices when I was growing up. my own father told me that I did not have to get married. He also told my now-husband not to clear the plates because that was my duty. So, rather fickle in nature, but he did not tell me to forget myself. my mother was very much a clear and separate entity from my father, so I cannot have gotten it from her. my siblings, all ferociously intelligent individuals, sharing the same family trait of outspoken, informed sass. so where, in this path of life, did i pick up the notion that marriage meant I was fighting a war for my sense of self.
my husband, like most men, anticipated someone like his mother. and i like his mother, so i really take that as a compliment, however, he accepted very quickly that “no, i ain’t yo mama, nooo”. he doesn’t enable the battle, rather he tries frantically to douse the flames when they leap up to consume me.
so still, it baffles me. where did I pick up this notion that as a wife, I must lose my sense of self. and why has that become my battle? why have I picked up this gauntlet where I have become uncomfortable in my own skin and prickly with others? this battle in my mind for some intangible ideal of what being a wife means… of what my life should look like to others? of where I must be silent and not reflect emotion beyond dignified contentment?
and yet, every day, I come out fighting this new title. Abrasive and brash, putting my foot down on everything, being difficult and losing my chill. Somewhere, along the way, I conformed to an imagined notion that I cannot be myself and be married. That perhaps, I am not worthy of marriage. That anything imperfect in us is because we are not worthy or good enough.
I love being married to my husband though. It is humbling and exhilirating experience. We are like two peas in a pod, working together, living together and laughing together. there is a comfortable ease with which we operate, when I am not this other person. He compliments me, as I do him. We literally grow into better people, with each step in this journey together. So where does this other version of me come in? Where does this fear originate? When will I again be comfortable in my new identity? This extra layer on the multi-faceted experience that is my personality… why is it this layer that I struggle the most with…
It may just be that time that my father left my mother because they were no longer one… in search of something that he thought he lost. her pushing him away when the pain became too heavy. only for both to eventually come back to where they started. that pain still lives in me… and i fear remaking their mistakes, but they are in me and I am of them…
so at what point do I forgive them, thus myself and be free…