I am myself.
When I take “gender-role” tests, I come up “casually masculine.” What does that mean? It means I wear pants. I like pants. I do well in pants. Ain’t nobody gonna take my pants.
Seriously though – there was a moment, ten years ago, when someone offered me a vision of the future. It posited me as “wife” and “hostess.” As I listened to this suggested vision, I felt my stomach knot. I saw myself wearing glittering dresses and smiling, saying the right thing at the right moment to get a laugh as I ushered people to the dinner table, and closed deals with subtle “feminine” suggestion.
In short, I imagined myself becoming an empty alcoholic with a bevy of cabana boys on the side (because with that much money, power, and misery, why not?).
I could have been a trophy wife. I had the option – several times. I have all the culture, skills, and aesthetic sense to manage it quite well, but I would be miserable. It would go against everything in my being.
Because I’m not the trophy. I’m not an object. I’m not a possession.
I’m a person. I have my own wants and needs. I have my own dreams. I have my own pain and sadness.
But it goes beyond the obvious – it goes beyond simply knowing that I am a person. Many people feel comfortable acknowledging that. It’s the second piece that’s harder.
I am a person without reference to others.
There’s not room for the both of us.
When I was younger, I dated a lot. I did this in part because I love people and in part because I wanted to figure out what I wanted through experience. I realized early on, I could not be in partnership with someone who needed to be “the star.”
I was a star. That’s how I saw myself. Now, I realize it is more nuanced than this – I need the possibility to be the star sometimes, and the possibility to be a wallflower at others (although, maybe I’m always the star – you’d have to ask someone else about this).
There’s a balance that happens in life – the tension between the relational and individual must be addressed. What is good for the individual must be good for the relational and vice versa. If it is not, then the whole project collapses.
Therefore, if I’m doing something, it is good for both (as intentional living requires this must be true). If I didn’t do this work – this blog, my Intentional Writer Interviews, The Heart Unboxed class, coaching, or The Compassion Letter, I would not be me. If I was not being authentic and honoring myself, it would be bad for my marriage. It would be bad for my parenting. It would be super poopy all around.
I am more than my relationships. My relationships are important – don’t get me wrong. But my relationships do not make me. My identities don’t make me. I am a person. I am human in my own right – possessing that Divine spark that makes me worthy of consideration and deserving of good things.
All this is to say, there is no point in asking what my husband thinks. His vote was determined when he chose to marry me. This is me – this is the package. We’re still married. He supports me because he is my husband and he loves me – just as I support him because I am his wife and I love him.
That’s the deal. There’s nothing more to understand or see there.
I wouldn’t ask someone this question unless what someone was doing was really off – really out of sync with the rest of their life. I’m not sure men ever get asked this question, but I know powerful women are often asked this question.
But the answer is always the same.
“If my partner wasn’t okay with it, they wouldn’t have married me.”
The road to accepting other people – to accepting the choices they make and the differences they show takes conscious thought. If we feel uncertain about something someone else is doing, we must stop and ask ourselves:
Why do I feel uncertain?
What is the root in me that makes me feel this way?
Only after asking ourselves these questions, can we come to some peace about what another person is doing. Only then are we able to let go of sexist questions like, “What does your husband think?”
Have you done things that were outside the accepted? Or have you found others to be unacceptable? Share a comment below!
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