(image from www.cosmomovieawards.com)
These great, empowering words came from Elizabeth Taylor. They are the base from which I am currently drawing my strength.
When Euan proposed last spring I began a chick lit novel about the run up to the wedding. The proposal seemed so perfect that it inspired me to get scribbling for a competition. I’m not really a chick lit kinda gal – unless you count Austen – but for my Masters dissertation I wrote about women as writers and consumers, and alongside the Austens and Brontes, Eliots and Woolfs I felt I must cover chick lit and Mills and Boon. So I read lots of them and dissected their style and formula. And last spring I started scribbling.
Naturally, I didn’t get the book written before the competition deadline. I was busy throwing engagement parties, trying on wedding dresses, and considering venues. But it seems to me that the opening chapter I wrote back then could be a great opening chapter to be continued with my life now. So I’m back to writing. It won’t be quite the same as I initially intended – the wedding will not be the big finale, and the honeymoon will not be the epilogue. But it occurred to me that very few happily ever afters end with someone being strong and independent. So I plan to see whether that’s a possibility.
The original working title was Orange Peel, but my step-dad suggested Changing the Labels over the holidays when he saw me (somewhat spitefully) removing Euan’s name from the tags on all the Christmas gifts I had already wrapped and put under the tree. And I think it works well. I hope it will chronicle my label change – from “in a relationship” to “engaged” to “single”. I also hope to change the way I see these labels in the future. A lot of my self-esteem was caught up in my relationship status and in my having Euan. He made me feel valuable. I’m going to have to build that up from nowhere now, to prove my value to myself and others and grow into a person in my own right. I’m rebelling against every reassuring thing I’ve been spoon-fed over the last months, the ‘you’ll find someone better’, the ‘don’t worry, the right fit is out there somewhere’, the whole theory that we need someone else to complete us. After all, I don’t want to spend the next few years of my life looking for someone else. I want to spend them learning to enjoy me.
I was walking the dog through my parent’s village while at home and thinking how desperately I wanted to live somewhere like that. And I realised that if I want that dream to come true I have to make it happen. I want a nice country cottage with a good size kitchen. I want somewhere to display my tea sets in the dining room, somewhere to store my cook books and a full spice rack in the kitchen, and somewhere to display and store all my bags and shoes in the bedroom. And if I want that I have to strive for it.
Of course, the loudest voice in my head is the one screaming “I don’t WANT to strive for it, I want someone to help make my dreams come true, someone to share them with”. But hopefully, with work, that voice will dull to a whisper. And if or when I find someone to share them with, well, that’s when I’ll allow it to gain volume once again.
Today’s high point: doing something about finally getting some burlesque lessons. Or possibly writing this post.
Today’s low point: coming out of lunchtime meeting, a little deflated and automatically reaching for the phone to call Euan.