Yesterday I watched an amazing video-talk on TED – Brenee Brown’s: The Power of Vulnerability. It’s funny, deeply poignant and produced several bright light-bulb moments that made me see myself in a new light! If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it. I now understand why and how I’m mutating back into the girl I was at 12. That girl is my most authentic self; she’s the Cari who defiantly wore her heart (dreams, feelings, agonies) on her face with her head upright because she knew it was harder than pretending otherwise. She was wasn’t always kind or happy (she whined endlessly about not feeling well – some things never change), but she tried to be kind and tried to focus on the positive. From the outside her life prospects appeared grim, but she was always busy dreaming up impossible adventures (a number of which we’ve actually accomplished). I want to be that me and over the last few months I have felt more like her. One can’t go backwards, but we all have an authentic self buried under whatever fears we’ve allowed to warp us out of recognition.
I can now see that this desire has been unfolding for some years. I know because Dancing the Maypole, the novel I finished early in 2013 (which took about five years to unfold onto the page), is about two adults forced to rediscover their authentic younger selves before they can actually love each other. The hero in particular (Peter Smirke) has his carefully constructed self-image viciously stripped away – one layer at a time, but that has to happen. We can never truly love someone else if we don’t love ourselves first. How can we love ourselves when we’re pretending to be someone we’re not?
True love always contains an element of sacrifice. The other evening I finished reading Ibsen’s play, ‘The Doll House’ (you can download a free copy or read it on line here). The wife, Nora, has been waiting ten years or so for her husband to reveal he truly loves her by doing “something wonderful” (ie by making a grand gesture of sacrifice – which will prove that he truly loves her – that she isn’t just his plaything – his doll). When Torvald, the husband, (who has assured Nora he’d die for her) is given an opportunity to sacrifice his pride and personal honor for his wife he fails with a phenomenal FAIL! It’s clear he’s never really loved her; that she’s just his beautiful play thing. He’s long lost his authentic self and lives to enhance his preferred self-image. He desperately wants the community to think he’s upstanding and worthy of praise; though he admits in a heated moment that to win Nora he had to lie about her father’s worthiness (her father was a local politician accused of some minor indiscretions – Torvald was sent to investigate and prove or disprove). He’s not the man he thinks he is!
Dolls have been on my mind – a lot! Why does almost every generation create dolls (of one sort or other) for adults? Why do I like dolls? I’ve been trying to fathom those questions when I’m not trying to figure out the fastest way I can own a male 24″ BJD (ball jointed doll). I suspect it will be to make one out of paperclay. There is one particular 17th century rake hell I’d LOVE to have as a doll ( Romantic Agent 1680!). He spent most of his adult life as the King’s monkey-doll (and he hated it). It would amuse me to make him period clothes and take his photo doing stupid non Rake-hellish things. I’d then have to make a doll of his wife to keep him company. That’s a small fortune spent on paper clay! Still…it’s a pity all the dolls I want are stupidly expensive (and they only make a small number of them). Buying one would be like winning the lottery. The 12 year old in me says, “People win the lottery everyday – I want one – Hurry up!”
I love this post! My best friend and I were talking recently about how we loved being 12 or 13 — you do so much magical thinking then. We should all keep a little of our 12 year-old selves around.
I agree! Some people seem to think growing up means leaving behind their personality and becoming a stiff robot going through the motions of life. Some people manage to hang onto that magical wonder and they never truly grow old. I hope I’m in the latter category. 🙂