“We talked about this. We decided. And you want to go back and revisit all our conversations?”
We stared at each other, my hands itching to fidget. He thinks I’m doing it on purpose. I’m going back and altering everything I agreed to, everything we shook hands on. I’m changing my mind and it’s not fair! But I didn’t know how to explain it to him.
“I stood in a room today. I saw two women. One who chose herself. She chose to be independent. She walked away from her marriage, choosing herself and her emotions above it. She’s lonely, of course. I see it in her eyes. But there’s also clarity. There’s a sense of satisfaction and she knows her life is her own. Opposite her sat another. A woman dependent since the day she was born and will be until she dies. On her parents, on her brothers, on her husband. Romance or rage, she had nowhere to run. She was always at the mercy of another. Her tears could not turn into motivation. Her intelligence never became her strength. And she exists. By reflex, not with excitement. She survives because her mind knows the routine. She’s not throwing her head back and laughing. She’s not stating her opinions with courage. She’s not living. She exists.
I’m the daughter of the latter. And in that weird way that science seems to work, I am almost exactly like her. I am weak where I know I can be strong. I am dependent with a need to break free from it. I am a reflection of who she is, constantly desiring to be different. And in some ways I am different. I’ve found my voice. But it’s not loud enough.
When we spoke about marriage, when we discussed the rules, I could see it. I could see you and me. A wonderful man and a woman in love. But then we established it. It’s going to happen. It’s reality. And suddenly, it wasn’t so clear. I was so confused. Not about us but about me. About my identity. So, let’s say we do it. We get married. Then what happens to me?
The woman by your side, you grin and introduce, “Oh! Have you met my wife?” ?
Is that who I become? I become your wife?
I worked so hard. I studied when I didn’t feel like it. I crammed when everyone around me partied. I worked 16 hour days to ensure I’ll be noticed as me. For what? To become someone’s ‘wife’? If that’s not it, then who am I?
You come to tell me about this big new thing you’re doing. I smile as I process how I feel about it. If I tell you I hate it and you listen, I become boss. If I tell you I hate it and you ignore it, I become irrelevant. So which one am I? How many times in my life will I have to ask myself this question? How many times will you disagree with me? On how many things?
Why didn’t I ever ask you that? Why didn’t I ask you what happens when we disagree on your life choices? Why didn’t I acknowledge how selfish it sounds when I say I don’t want your opinions on mine? That I want the freedom to make my choices and live my life outside of you and our little family, even when I’m 60 because I need to always remind myself that I am still an individual outside of your existence? But who lives like that? Who lives like they’re single and married at the same time? Who raises a family by showering them with absence? I won’t. I’m not that mother. I won’t leave my children with nannies. Never. But that leaves me tied to them. Every day for the rest of my life. A mother. A wife. Is that it? Is that my life?
It is so many other women’s. And that’s great for them. But I want more. I’ve always wanted more. I want to be that woman who stands there, smiling, her feet planted to the ground, her head held high for her accomplishments outside her family. I want to feel success. My success. Outside of us. To live a life that’s big. To walk into a room and not have to be introduced. And I want that for myself every moment for as long as I live. But is that okay?
They said you’ll be stubborn. I knew you were. My father is, too. A man who believes he can never be wrong. I see that in you. I see so many other things about him in you. In that creepy way they say a woman’s choice of husband almost always bears resemblance to the first man she knew. But that’s the scary part. If I am my mother and you are him, will our be marriage be theirs?
Will you be the man and I’ll just be there? Why didn’t we talk about that? Why was that never a conversation?
So I come up with alternatives that will never work. “We should live together,” like it’s a possibility without risking being disowned. But isn’t that the same? I’m still in a house. I’m still with you. I’m still making plans that revolve around us. So where’s me in all of that?
Who am I? As you wrap your arm around my waist and smile politely, will you say, “Meet the author, writer, artist and a human being with her own amazing life?”
Or pull me close, smile so gentle and go, “Have you met my wife?”