Friday, September 16, 2011

Identity in Family - "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, ch. 30

"To create a family with a spouse is one of the most fundamental ways a person can find continuity and meaning in American (or any) society.  I rediscover this truth every time I go to a big reunion of my mother's family in Minnesota and I see how everyone is held so reassuringly in their positions over the years.  First you are a child, then you are a teenager, then you are a young married person, then you are a parent, then you are retired, then you are a grandparent - at every stage you know who you are, you know what your duty is and you know where to sit at the reunion.  You sit with the other children, or teenagers, or young parents, or retirees.  Until at last you are sitting with the ninety-year-olds in the shade, watching over your progeny with satisfaction.  Who are you?  No problem - you're the person who created all this.  The satisfaction of this knowledge is immediate, and moreover, it's universally recognized.  How many people have I heard claim their children as the greatest accomplishment and comfort of their lives?  It's the thing they can always lean on during a metaphysical crisis, or the moment of doubt about their relevancy - If I have done nothing else in this life, then at least I have raised my children well." - "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, ch. 30, pg. 94-95

This is really a great thought and I would have to say that I agree with it...even though one of my first posts ever stated that my relationships don't define who I am.  I mean, they don't...but, at the same time, they actually do.  I'd like to think that I'm this totally independent, not-tied-to-any-particular-label, do-whatever-I-want-because-I'm-totally-focused-on-what-makes-me-feel-fulfilled kind of gal.  But, really...who am I kidding?  A lot of who I am IS the choices I have made...the people I've chosen. 

This is how I know this to be true:  every time I try to clear my mind and think, "Who am I...really?" It always leads to THE question, "Well, what do I live for?"  And the answer is always the same.  This is the answer:

For awhile, when I was feeling so unhappy with my marriage and such, this didn't always feel like "enough" for me.  Surely, this can't be the only thing I'm living for??? There must be more than this!  And all the other "grass is greener" scenarios were flashing in my head (and, honestly, sometimes they still do). 

But, now that I'm on meds at a better place in life, I'm finding over and over that if I look at things family really IS fulfilling and gives me a wonderful sense of self.  See, the problem never was that they weren't enough for was that my level of appreciation for them wasn't high enough. As much as I sometimes complain, I'm working each day on doing my best to appreciate them and all the joy they bring to my life...and giving them grace for any of their grief.  And, when it comes down to it, wouldn't you be flattered to be partially defined by such an adorable, constant-source-of-laughter kind of group?

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