I just finished watching a film called Becoming Jane that is loosely based on part of the life of Jane Austen, a novelist of the early nineteenth century. It is, of course, a romantic film, but the challenge of the storyline is that the heroine does not get married and live happily ever after. She compensates for this by writing novels. She also has a kind and supportive family. As the film shows, the subject of marriage, when Miss Austen was of marrying age, must have struck some emotional chords within her family, who were relatively poor. Marriage was a way out of the family and into some sort of independent financial security and proper place in society. But Miss Austen had lots of talent and an independent spirit and a supportive family. Perhaps she would have preferred to be in a marriage if it could have been a marriage of love and affection, but that did not happen in her case.
Two hundred years have passed since Jane Austen lived and we are now in a time in the US when more single people are staying single and choosing not to have children. Marriage is no longer mandatory for women across the country. But it wasn't that long ago that there was great pressure for single women to marry. Certainly during my mother's lifetime. And she did get married at what seems like to me the tender age of twenty four to an upwardly mobile young man two years her senior. And she went straight from living at home with her family to living with and taking care of my father.
I remember telling myself at age seventeen that I wasn't going to marry. I decided this before I had even had my first boyfriend. I have had very few boyfriends and the only one I ever considered entering into some kind of partnership (always in a better future time) was too young for me, very addicted to alcohol, and mentally ill enough to be repeatedly abusive towards me. But I was love/relationship addicted to him. After I left him there was a window of three years before I entered into psychosis where I fantasized about being with a non abusive, kind man, but I had gone through too much by then and was not emotionally ready. And then psychosis hit me hard and I fell far down into some hellish experiences with an abuser in my mind instead of in my physical world.
First domestic violence and then a kind of psychic violence. My self esteem plummeted with my abusive boyfriend and then once again in psychosis, but in the psychosis I fought against it. I didn't believe it when the voices called me evil. I knew I had goodness in me. There was no room for a romantic relationship let alone a marriage at that point in my life. And that acute stage lasted for over three years. And then came serious depression and much weight gain and entering into middle age. Just once a few years later I joined the Yahoo personals and began writing to a man, but when we met it was clear that we were not compatible.
I was a fantasy addict before I became psychotic, then I was lost in delusions and then I mostly came out of that, but never returned to fantasy. I am glad of that. I am also mostly introverted and still spend most of my time alone, though now I have a few friends that I make sure to see. I still do not want to be in a relationship. Being creative keeps me loving myself and gives some pleasure and meaning to my life. I am not against some day being in a relationship. It could be a great experience. But for now, I will keep to myself and continue focusing on the present moment.
A Recovery Blog
This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.