Over 35 years ago, I wrote a weekly column entitled, “Etcetera, etc.” As a follow up on my last post, “It’s All About Me, Me, Me…Effie,” I’m including it here. This should prove that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Though I’ve matured in my thinking over the years, I see that my core belief regarding personal identity remains constant.
“Once upon a time I was me: Effie Alean Groves.
Then I became my husband’s wife to be followed by our children’s mother. My role in life blended into the needs and desires of others like a malt of ice-cream and milk all shook-up: make meals, wash diapers, go shopping, entertain strangers, & a host of dutiful chores. My own interests were shoved into the corner where they collected dust until I cleaned house during an identity crisis at my 30th birthday (I’ll never reveal how long ago that might be). Suddenly, I saw my life half past. I wondered about a lot of things. Since, I’ve come to some startling conclusions.
“Now I know why for years I signed my name Mrs. (substituting my mate’s first name where mine belonged) Gross. It was a habit formed from becoming a part of someone rather than being a whole person sharing common direction. So you won’t misunderstand, I don’ mind using my married name at all, nor my husband’s name at appropriate times such as forging a check signature. but seriously, to nearly forget my own first name for lack of use was unforgiveable. This light showed me I’d lived in a dark shadow. At high noon there is no shadow. I’m glad I learned in time.
“I learned everyone is born with a separate personality, individual set of genes, and position in life. To deny oneself development in any of these areas is to commit personal growth suicide. Unhappy persons make unhappy partners, parents, and peers.
“Well-meaning ladies (more than gents) frequently say, “I owe my life to my spouse and especially the children.” If the speaker is content, fine; however, a self-sacrificing miserable life isn’t worth handing anyone.
“Those who give time to themselves for self-indulgence in expanding an education, joining a bowling league, cultivating a talent, doing community volunteer work, signing up for an exercise class, going to work, and etc. find the quality of their person greatly improved. Others in the home notice and benefit as well.
“Because my family are dear and important to me…so am I. I am among other things, wife, mother housekeeper, errand girl, bookkeeper, baker, counselor, hobbyist, reader, writer: HAPPY. I’m an individualist. I have an identity. I’m Effie. Who are you?”
In the days ahead, I plan to include other columns from “Etcetera, etc.” What is your identity crisis story? Gold chains, long hair, or depression? Let me know how our stories are similar or different.