Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Freedom of Body. Freedom of Mind.

My husband says that every married person is free. Free to do what they want and who they want. These are choices that they have, just like single people. They also have the choice to stay in their marriage and stay faithful to their spouses. However, he feels that spouses have a responsibility as fellow human beings to let their partners know if they have decided to step outside the marriage. Everyone has a right to know what kind of relationship they're in, he says. And everyone has a right to be in the kind of relationship they want.

"I don't own you," he says.

Having been cheated on in a relationship, this attitude is eye opening for me. When I first got out of that relationship I was filled with rage and a sense of injustice. I wanted everyone to know what a bad man he was. I wanted everyone to know that I was good and he was evil. I raged and hated him for years. I could not believe that he had done this to me and with such impunity too. When I chose to leave our relationship, he was confounded. He couldn't believe I was leaving him without proof of his affairs. But I knew. I had enough proof for me. I was enraged that he hadn't allowed me the right to know what kind of relationship I was in. I felt like that was the worst betrayal of all.

But the fact of the matter is, he was indeed free to do all of that. I did not own him. I only wish he had let me know and let me exit the relationship more gracefully. All of this seems so reasonable in hindsight, of course. We all know I would have burned his house down.

My point is, everyone is free to live the life they want to live. I believe that and I am married to someone who believes that. My husband and I choose to be married to one another and we choose to be faithful. We choose this life. In that way, we are free. No one wants to feel trapped and we certainly don't.

I feel the same way about employment. Everyone is free to choose their employment. I know we always hear about how an employer is free to fire you at any time with or without cause. The funny thing is, I think that we forget that as employees, we are free to leave at any time we want. Sure, two weeks' notice is considered the polite thing to do. But our employer doesn't have to give us two weeks' notice. I've never understood why that isn't considered impolite or unprofessional?

Everyone is also free to say what they want. You can say hurtful things, racist things, rude things and profane things. And everyone else is also free to tell you that you're a jerk for saying it. But it doesn't mean you have to stop. Well, I guess you can't scream "Fire" in a movie theater because you could injure people, but you know what I mean. You are free to say what you want and other people are free to criticize you for it.

As a writer, I struggle with wanting more freedom. So often I don't feel free to say what I want. For instance, the other day I mentioned that I didn't find working in advertising intrinsically rewarding. That I don't feel like I'm helping anyone or making the world a better place. I really debated posting that. I mean, I could lose my job because of that, right? I could totally get Dooced over it.

But I'm still free to write it. So I am, in fact, free. I may wind up unemployed, but I feel like I'll be less imprisoned by opening up and writing about what I feel on this blog. I want to say what I mean and what I think. I've felt so repressed and limited for years. It's why I don't post much or why so many of my posts go unpublished. I mean, what's the point if I can't be myself?

I also struggle with the freedom to write my book the way I want. I want it to be totally honest and real. I want it to feel as though you are sitting down at a table with me and I am telling you my deepest, darkest secrets. I want to be ribald and over-the-top. I want to be sincere and impassioned. I want to be everything on the page that I am in my closest friendships and in my marriage. I want you to know the real me, not some phony version of me. And I want you to know that if you've ever had any of these thoughts or done any of these things, that you are not alone.

But I struggle with a fear of what will people think? Not everyone wants to be my friend. Not everyone will relate to me. Lord knows, I'm bound to offend some people. I debate toning myself down in order to make myself for palatable to the general public. Maybe I shouldn't swear so much? Maybe I shouldn't write what horrible things I thought or did as a teenager? Or if I write about sex as openly and honestly as I write about heartbreak ... will that make my book suddenly prurient and base?

Can you be literary and also sexual? Can you be serious and ridiculous? Can you say the things that you think in the deepest and darkest parts of your mind and heart ... and still be a respectable person? Do you really care?

I struggle with that.

I want to be free. I want to be myself and damn the consequences. I find it pretty depressing to try to tow the line, to be honest.

Because the truth is, I am free. Free to write what I want. Free to go where I want. Free to do what I want. This life is a choice. You can accept the consequences for your actions but never forget that you do indeed have a choice. You are free, dammit!

I feel like William Wallace right now.

I have to remind myself over and over again that I am free to write my book the way I want. In a way, I find the book is paving a path to freedom. I'm trying not to worry too much about what might come next. Some people may not like me. Some people might not like my book. I'll probably get slammed for the sexual content. And maybe I'll admit some unpleasant things about myself that you're not supposed to admit.

But that's who I am.

It's all a part of my life.

And I will write about it as freely as I want.

52 comments:

  1. LOVE this on so many levels. I think we often forget how truly free we are, and I am very guilty of this as well. Thank you for opening my eyes this morning. You always do.

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    1. Thanks! And I love how optimistic all of your comments are!

      ;-)

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    3. This blog reminds me that most assumptions I make about people are usually pretty accurate. :)

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  2. I often feel the same exact way about work, writing, etc. We DO have more choice than we admit to having, but it's just that the consequences of those choices might not be as desirable as the consequences of taking a more traditional, "safe" route. You have to weigh those consequences and decide what will leave you feeling the most fulfilled. Sometimes responsibility takes over the restlessness, but sometimes the risk is most certainly worth the reward.

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    1. It's certainly a delicate balance. Sometimes I just want to throw caution to the wind.

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  3. The more I read from you, the more I like you, Mandy. Dare I say, it's tiptoeing into the adoration phase.

    I also struggle with being myself when I write. I have a manuscript being edited, and as practice I've sent out about ten query letters. I've received about 6 rejection emails. The first couple hurt, I'll admit that. I wanted to write back, "WHY DON'T YOU LIKE ME?".

    Slowly but surely I am coming to the realization that like Stuart Smalley, I am good enough. And smart enough. And some people like me.

    Not everyone is going to like everything we say or reveal about ourselves. Putting your genuine self out there is a bold and badass and crazy thing to do, but it's necessary. It culls the herd, kind of.

    You are a gifted writer. I love your words and when I read them, it truly is like we are sitting down and gabbing over a cocktail or a coffee. Preferably a cocktail.

    Oh and the sex stuff? Pffft. Haters gonna hate, you know. I wrote about a date who liked anal beads and it's one of my most popular posts. Go figure.

    Keep on doing what you're doing, Mandy. It works!

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    1. You wrote "anal beads" and we became best friends. The end.

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    1. Sounds like you need to work on that. Find some little area of your life where you can carve out some freedom. Even a little freedom can help us bear with the rest of it.

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  5. So you tried and convicted your ex without the benefit of listening to his side of the story because you "knew" he was guilty. Nice! You were free to be as unfair and judgmental as you wanted to be and you used that freedom.

    He's better off.

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    1. That's not what happened but I am very sorry if that's what happened to you. I know it must be very painful to be treated unfairly in a relationship.

      He is indeed better off as am I.

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    2. Woh, The Mandy,. Come and get some , haha sorry
      That is true . If two people are not compatible ,better to stay clear.

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    3. Just like you are free to unfairly judge her choices based on the little information she provided about the situation.

      I'd say both people are better off if the relationship wasn't compatible. But nice try.

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    4. Sorry, you didn't like being judged unfairly did you? There is no way I could judge you fairly from just a few posts.

      Mandy Fish: I was leaving him without proof of his affairs. But I knew. I had enough proof for me.

      You wanted to be free of him very badly, didn't you? So you imagined or rationalized or did what you had to do to make it a "good vs evil" situation to justify leaving a good man simply to regain your freedom.

      If you wanted your freedom that bad, you are both better off apart but,,,,,

      Somewhere there is a guy who still loves you who thinks a couple of times a day about the time you two were together and he wonders what went wrong. He wonders what he did wrong.

      You should call him and apologize and tell him you simply needed your freedom. He deserves to hear it from you.

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    5. Enough proof for me = emails, phone calls, text messages, etc. from other women, slips of papers with other women's phone numbers in his pockets, people telling me that they saw him out with other women, etc.

      Not enough proof for him= Not catching them naked in bed together.

      So there you go.

      And lastly, he admitted it to me after we broke up. Long after it was over, when it didn't really matter any more. So I can't say I had any resolution from that. Thinking you want to hear something from someone many years later when you're over it is really not as useful as you think it's going to be. People move on.

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  6. Post what you want and you'll attract the people who want to be around the real you. I learned years ago, I'd rather be me and not be friends with the entire world if it meant I was trying to get you to like me. I don't want to have to be in the position to 'please' people to just hang out with me. You either do or don't.

    Your husband is right about the marriage/cheating comment -- however, I will add the caveat that if you marry someone, you made the decision to respect them and do need to tell them if you cheat.

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    1. Agreed on both accounts.

      I think that's a good reminder that being yourself is almost a way of culling the herd and filtering out the people who wouldn't really like the real you.

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  7. Worrying about what people will think is pointless. I have learned that the great majority of the time, people will think what they will of you, with or without evidence.

    So unless you're going to open a meth distribution center or commit murder, I say go for it. Just make sure you refrain from turning your book into an exercise in revenge (no matter how tempting that might be).

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    1. Damn. There goes my meth lab retirement plans.

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  8. Early on, my husband cultivated the attitude, "What's the worst they can do, fire me?" They did, three times, and he always ended up with something much better. As a practical matter, I think in the writing phase a person should be totally free and not waste time debating what's in and what's out. The editing phase lets you make decisions based on how the risky parts fit into the whole piece.

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    1. Absolutely!

      And I agree. Sometimes getting fired can be very liberating. Especially if you can still keep the roof over your head.

      ;-)

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  9. Write it as you'd speak it. Be three dimensional, fearlessly. It'll be awesome. Just you wait and see.

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    1. Okay. You're going to owe me a beer if you're wrong.

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  10. I am such an advocate for writing it like it happened. If you don't, there will be something missing, and your readers will know it. So many authors leave out the really gritty, titillating details out of fear, but I think doing that does a disservice to their work.

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    1. I agree. I feel that "something's missing" from certain blogs and I'm not as quick to read them. But those folks who keep it real, I'm hurrying to get over there as fast as they post. Like you. I obviously adore your blog, I'm all over it.

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    2. Totally agree. Unless someone shows something "real" from time to time, I get bored. If I want fiction or the same cookie cutter copy, I can get that anywhere. Show me what makes you YOU and I'll stick around (for what it's worth.)

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  11. so timely for me today....I posted a bunch of "REAL" talk and racy videos in a red wine fueled tangent that I deleted when I woke up because co-workers will side-eye me...I KNOW you can be serious and ridiculous and sexual and kindhearted and potty mouthed all at once cause I'm all those things...Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. Dammit how'd I miss that? Sounds like fun.

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  12. Wow. I think I need to think twice about always expressing my freedom to be me.

    And I'm glad you're letting your hair down, and becoming more open to really saying what you think, what you want, and for sharing your true self with the world. YAY!

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    1. Maybe you don't need to think twice, Maybe you're already doing it right?

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  13. Be audacious in the way that only you can be. Whether people agree with your approach or not, the people who really know you and love you will respect it. The rest don't matter. They have the freedom to walk away or close the book. If you filter your writing, it stifles the beautiful, emotive and unique voice you bring to the table.

    We all have thought or have done "horrible" things. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable by sharing those stories, it frees other people, giving them permission to be vulnerable too. Maybe their stories are different, but writing about these things helps so many people feel like they're not alone. That's a beautiful gift you shouldn't hold back on giving in its fullest.

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    1. Exactly. I want to commune with the universe and have us all feel less alone on this big rock in an empty sky, ya know?

      Or I may have had too much caffeine this afternoon.

      *INTERNET HUGS FOR ERR'BODY!*

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  14. I think the freedom comes with truth. You're living and writing your truth - and as I see it, you can't go wrong with that.

    Martha Beck talks about "empty elevator syndrome" - how when we start being totally true to ourselves and revealing ourselves, some people who were "on the elevator" with us will get off. And at some point, we might be standing in there alone. But eventually new people will get on and they'll be the kind of people who align with who we are. They'll be the kind of people we want by our sides.

    I can't wait to read your book. And I'm sure it won't make me exit the elevator.

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    1. I love this!

      Get off my elevator, People Who Don't Like Me!

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    2. I had a woman call me trash and some other vulgar names because I offended her religion by saying "Jesus was having sex with Mary Magdalene " She went Nuts, over that? People should grow up and get a sense of humor and stop being self important. Nothing is more annoying than people sometimes. Why spend a second of a precious day to be on the defensive , I don't have time for unhappy :)

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    3. And I'm not trash. It was very hurtful to be attacked with such contempt over an opinion about God.

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    4. Yeah, that's a bit excessive. Some folks get touchy about their gods having sex lives. Whatchugonnado?

      ;-)

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    5. I think the entire universe is god having an orgasm. :P

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  15. Is this the book you mentioned on Facebook? Keep going with it Mandy! Lame comment sorry

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    1. One and the same, good sir. I only have one book to crow about thus far.

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  16. Your book sounds awesome and engaging and can't wait to read it! Be free to write what you want, cuz we'll read it!

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  17. Damn it this is an important blog. I hear you loud and clear, sister. I know all too well the traps we choose to walk into, all in an effort to avoid offence or to avoid relational consequences (workplace censure, familial disdain, the whole works). Yet as writers, we feel the incessant need to be starkly honest in our online musings. And if for whatever reason we feel we can't write be honest, then we wonder if we should write at all.

    Personally, I've struggled a lot over this through the years. The idea of writing a memoir, as compelling as I know it'd be, frightens the hell out of me. If I was okay with being estranged from my family for the remainder of my life, I'd do it. Even the little that I share on my blog is carefully filtered, and I have never told my family where it is, or who I identify myself as, online. Recently I posted a Facebook announcement about the fact that I've been hired - FOR MONEY - to write stuff. Stuff that isn't personal at all. Yet I debated posting that for my family to see. Here's how it works: the site that I work on has my twitter handle, which also has a pseudonym. My twitter page has a link to my blog. My blog has some family stuff in it. God. It's all so exhausting, trying to keep everything strait.

    FWIW, I think you and your hubby have this marriage thing down better than many. Walking through it with the understanding that you do because it's a choice is the same dynamic so many unmarried couples unconsciously employ. It's what keeps them together.

    Frankly, I can't wait to read your book, Mandy.

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    1. I'm really surprised you're still so covert after all these years! I came out of the anonymous closet a long time ago. But yeah, it does make writing honestly a little more difficult....Drrr. But I think worth it in the long wrong. It probably helped clear the path to writing this book.

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  18. We are free, yes -- but as wives, as citizens, as writers, we have agreed to be a certain way, a "contract", if you will, with the audience.

    Start as you mean to finish, they say. Write honestly. The words find us, and they teach us.

    Pearl

    p.s. Thank you so much for your kinds words on my blog today -- and for blitzing your FB friends with it. :-)

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  19. I'll be the wild-eyed, blood-thirsty, crazy Irish fighter from Braveheart to your William Wallace. In other words, I believe in what you're doing, I have your back, and I find you very brave of heart. All the best, Mandy.

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    1. (So says the woman with the fake identity.) ;)

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    2. YOUR NAME ISN'T LAUREN? I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE ANYMORE!

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    3. BWAHAHA! Yes, that's not my name, but the jugs are real!

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  20. Just can't tell you how glad I am that I happened to open this up and read it today, especially since I have no idea what made me open Blogger at all...

    Thank you for sharing. And that is one tough battle.

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