Monday, 14 December 2009

Miss Independent, the obituary.

‘Miss Independent was laid to rest on 4th October 2008. She was a woman who sought no permission prior to making any decisions, beautifully driven and centred on carving her name into the pages of this life. She didn’t want to lose her life but knew that in order for her to live a better; she’d have to lay this one down.’
I come from a line of incredibly strong independent women; women whose backbone shatters the tenacity of the acrylic nails our generation adorn themselves with. Naturally, I have become a product of what I have seen; fiercely ambitious, aggressively focused and determined to often the point of stubbornness. I am surrounded by women who have refused to see the absence of a man (husband or father) as a handicap, excuse or limitation but who have used it as motivation instead. But this incredible strength that I so greatly admire has become a double edged sword. It has gradually formed the backdrop of my worst nightmare. For as many strong women I have seen, I have seen the men around them slowly shrinking to ‘yes’ men. These are men who have retreated to their wives shadows, whose ambitions have been ignored. Their opinions are the last their wives consult, their thoughts and feelings totally irrelevant to their beloved. I would hate for my husband to fall into this category, to hear whispers of ‘how does he cope with her?’ after I leave a room. I have all this in the forefront of my mind. I know that I am not supposed to wear the trousers in my marriage yet; there is a constant internal struggle with the spirit of independence. It’s like a drug that my mind has been hooked on and marriage is the process that is weaning me off it and onto co-dependency. It’s almost as if some issues in our marriage that came to light were a demonstration of my independence withdrawal symptoms.

It’s not easy making the transition from making decisions independently to co-dependently, especially when you have been in the driving seat for your whole life. Having to share your plans, dreams, ideas and decisions with someone else, can be challenging. It’s as though you acquire a back seat driver overnight, who you are happy to have as company but not as the navigator. Your plans, dreams, ideas and decisions can be quite personal and sharing them can make you feel extremely vulnerable. The fear of rejection plays on your mind and when you should open up, you close yourself down. There have been many times during our marriage when I would embark on projects without informing my hubby or asking for his opinion. I understand now, that this is wrong and if care is not taken we could very easily become intimate strangers. I don’t want us to be in a position where my colleagues at work and friends know more about my life than my beloved. I had formed a selfish habit and fear of rejection had totally consumed me. Alarm bells rang clearly when the sentence ‘you didn’t tell me that’ became my hubby’s mantra. Please understand that it is not that I need his permission to do anything, I am not under an oppressive regime as I live in a co-dependency state. I share my dreams and plans with my beloved because I respect him and want him to be part of them.

Submission in this day and age is a swear word, a phenomena. So much so that during wedding vows brides have said the words ‘obey’ and ‘submit’ through clenched teeth. I don’t blame them; they are merely a product of the environment they live in. It’s just a shame that we choose to see submission as an infringement of our human rights rather than a blessing. I understood the theory of submission sometime ago but the practical realisation of it eluded me until now. In theory it seems an unfair advantage to submit to another. If we look at it logically (yes, Miss Sometimes Emotional is daring to be logical), to submit can mean that you are willingly allow someone else to lead you and have absolute responsibility for the consequences of their actions. I know it is not always that easy or straightforward but surely there is a blessing in that. Miss Independent enjoyed having responsibility but sometimes felt weighed down with the number of decisions that needed to be made and things that needed to be done. Surely in a life where co-dependency and submission exists, there would be another set of capable shoulders to place responsibility onto.

This drought of submissive wives is not helped when we have seen the definition of submission distorted over time, its meaning has been abused and stretched. Submission in marriage is not simply ‘do what I say’. True submission is when a woman makes the choice to fulfil what her husband has asked or desired, above her own thoughts and opinions. It is a conscious decision and not the passive door mat mentally, some would lead us to think it is. It’s like when my hubby wants to watch an hour long documentary on the habitat of ‘South American Spotted Owl’ and I want to watch re runs of ‘Dragons Den’. I could argue that watching the daily activities of the spotted owl is not going to help me build my empire or just simply hand over the remote control. (Don’t let my hubby know but more often than not I do gain from the programmes, even if it just to be in wonder of the awesomeness of nature.) Some may see this as a trivial problem but it’s the small things that can build animosity. All of a sudden, my not allowing him to watch the owl picking up sticks in the Amazon can become ‘you always have to have things your way’. It can gradually build up a mindset in him that will be disruptive and ruin the balance of our marriage. That is not to say that we are permanently watching the discovery channel as, he also has a responsibility to not to abuse my gift of submission and demonstrate love (as that would be absolute punishment for me)! The test of real submission is not when you are not bothered with the outcome of an issue; it is when you have a real opinion concerning the outcome. Your ability to submit is proved when you believe wholeheartedly in your decision or opinion, when you are convinced that you are correct. If in those times you can submit, then you are truly exemplifying the character of the kind of co-dependency that exists in a wife of old.

There may be some women who read this that are raging, annoyed that I have abandoned the Destiny Childs ‘I bought it’ attitude. The truth is, I have many dreams and I have not put them on hold. I am only changing my focus. It’s time that I am just as driven and focused on his dreams as my own. It is not say that I won’t achieve them, I will. I just want my husband my side rather than in my shadows. It’s time that as Mary J Blige put ‘Share my world’. RIP Miss Independent, we had good times while they lasted.

‘As Miss Independent was lowered to the ground, a wife arose.’