In fiction writing, there’s a point in the middle of a story where the main character gets a glimpse of who they really are. Some people call it the Mirror Moment. In Pride and Prejudice it’s when Elizabeth reads Darcy’s letter and admits, ‘Until this moment I never knew myself’. In the James Bond reboot Casino Royale with Daniel Craig, it’s when he puts on his first tailored tuxedo and looks at himself in the mirror. It’s also the first time in that film we hear the faint strains of the iconic theme music. Bond is seeing himself properly for the first time.
This week’s topic was Reigniting a Sense of Honesty, and it was a hard one because I experienced my mirror moment… and I didn’t like what I saw.
In her first task – Honesty – Julia asks the following question.
When it comes to _____________________, I officially feel ______________________ but I actually feel _____________________.
Back in 1981, my husband left me and our six month-old son behind in Scotland while he took up a new job in Canada. We’d been married just over three years and this would be his third job in that time. I could have gone with him, but I was half-way through a university course, one I’d already had to compromise on because of the move for his second job. I knew if I moved to Canada at that point, I would never complete my degree, and there was no question of him waiting until I had graduated.
Believe me, it was a hard – and sometimes very very lonely – eighteen months. But I did it, and can remember being incensed when one of my friends said her husband would have never allowed her to do what I did. My hackles went up, and although I didn’t respond, inside I was saying, ‘I’m not going to have a husband telling me what I can and can’t do.’
But now, all these years later, I finally understand what she was really saying; her husband would never have left her with their child, to pursue his dream, leaving her alone at home holding down a part-time job while she took an honours course at university. He would have supported her and then taken the job when her course was finished.
But I couldn’t admit that to myself at the time, could I? I had to keep up the pretence – to myself more than anyone else. I can’t count the number of evenings I would put my son to bed then sit on the sofa and cry with loneliness, feeling abandoned and irrelevant in my husband’s life. How could I admit that?
And if I couldn’t admit it, there was no way I could do anything to fix it.
… to be continued …