I have not written for a while. In the main this genuinely is because life took a frantically busy turn, post publication of ” Women and Problem Gambling” and I realised that the quiet of publication day had in actual fact been the proverbial “calm before the storm” of media interest. I noticed however that having been away from my blog for so long that an element of procrastination was stealthily creeping in .Doing another load of laundry to test out my new washing powder was of course disguising the fact that I was anxiously avoiding the keyboard. Certainly the problem was not having nothing to write, in fact events of recent weeks have given birth to many an idea. I have held a variety of topics in mind where they flew around like busy little birds, with me not reaching out to bring a single one of them to ground as I considered “erm, is this one saying too much…? Or perhaps this one is just not saying enough…?”
Today I had a conversation with a woman I know well and have great respect for. She is accomplished, funny wise, attractive and sophisticated and yet fearing she is” not enough” for her husband because she imagines she does not meet his standards for what it is to be an independent and successful career woman.
At a party a week ago, I spoke with another woman. In her thirties, intelligent, able to speak three languages, ambitious and excelling in her City career. She became tearful speaking of her fear – that she was” too much” for her boyfriend who was exhibiting signs of being threatened by her success.
Now, please, do not worry, I am not about to launch into a militant feminist rant about the awfulness of men and the lack of true emancipation for women. I use the above because they are two recent examples which I have encountered.I do know that men suffer similarly and could illustrate this same point with examples of at least three men I know well, who, in order to try to steady the boat of their stormy relationships have become unrecognisable to themselves in an attempt to please their partners. Again fearing being too much, or not being enough. And for each of us when we do so – and sadly so very often we do so- the underlying motivation is fear based. Fear of confrontation, rejection, abandonment and all of the mess made in out internal worlds and external worlds that goes with that.
But is there really any avoiding the mess? If we allow ourselves to be formed by our fears of the opinions of others, we are more than likely to take a pancake- flat, one dimensional shape. To become dry and grey like the overworked ball of clay we have allowed ourselves to become. We are reduced to nothing but someone else’s work of art, created in whatever might be their image of perfection. If we do not allow ourselves to take our true shape, do we not feel we are a mess, no matter how beautiful we might be to the eyes of the person who shaped us? Often that’s when we have a go at pretending we don’t see the mess, that it does not really matter anyway, by drinking, smoking, gambling, watching pornography etc etc just a little bit too much. Perpetuating the process of reducing ourselves.
Baroness Thatcher of course has died since I last wrote here. Even the rigidly moulded and” not for turning” form of the Iron Lady was not beyond being weighed up in terms of whether she had been too much or not enough. A Radio 4 programme had two women guests discussing the Thatcher era; one putting forward that she had been too forceful, too powerful, an unrealistic role model for women of the time. Another – of course- counter arguing that she had not done not nearly enough to encourage women’s aspirations…