Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Permission - Part I

I'm 32 years old. You would think by now I would have learned how to give myself permission to live my own life. But I haven't. Not really. I still find myself struggling with looking "out there" for the permission I long for. I notice there are times I'm still playing that classic childhood game called "Mother May I?" I'm very careful not to move forward until I've been given permission. Very often I don't live or breathe until I hear the magic words. I was instructed well in the art of being a good girl. Although I know good and well that I will never get the permission I'm seeking "out there," that I must find a way to give it to myself, it's so difficult to stop watching for that nod of approval that lets me know I'm okay. If I actually decide to go ahead and shower myself with the gift of permission I still find that my eyes are darting around to see who will be watching and what they might think.

I was almost 30, unmarried and pregnant. I'd always dreamed of having a child but had pretty much given up hope. I had resigned myself to childless-ness. And now it was happening, not exactly the way I had imagined it, but it was happening. But I didn't have permission. Unwed mothers aren't given permission in this area of the country. I really wanted permission--permission to bring this child into the world, permission to remain single, and above all, permission to be happy, about my choices, about my life, about my child. Sure there was support, amazing support, always finding me when I needed it the most, surprising me, encouraging me, carrying me forward. But, there was also the razor sharp edge of shame...the biting words, the looks of judgment, the lectures, the averted eyes of disappointment. I learned quickly who to avoid and who to write off. And I spent my pregnancy, a time I always thought would be one of the happiest in my life, struggling to find the permission to live fully instead of hiding in shame. By the time Britton was born I had gained a lot of new scars, and a lot of new strength. This is my story. A part of my story I can't hide or deny. My story includes the struggle. And I struggle with wanting permission.

If it's not one thing it's another, and they all seem to require some kind of acceptance, some kind of approval, some kind of permission. It seems so many of the choices I've made in the past few years have put me right against the grain, right on the edge. On the outside I exude strength. I give the appearance of a woman writing her own life, living on her own terms. And I am. I am this woman. But I am also still seeking permission. And yes, I know. I know. What I'm wanting, I'm not going to find. It may have never even existed. I know the permission has to come from within. So why is it I keep waiting for those three all important words: "Yes you may."


Blogger Deb R said...

If it's any help or comfort at all, I really do believe that at some point you'll feel that permission from within. It just happens at different times for different people. But if you keep striving for it, sooner or later it happens. Yay you for continuing to strive.

Love the photo.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Michelle Fry said...

This is something I struggle with as well and I am almost 37. It gets easier all the time because experience really does build upon itself but man is it difficult to slip out of the good girl role and society doesn't help much. I hope it helps to know we all think you are sensitive, artistic, strong, and fabulous. You are also brave and honest for admitting that this is a struggle you go through. You gave yourself permission to admit that, so baby steps right?

9:27 PM  
Blogger Frankie said...

Oh! I can SO relate to this. It sometimes feels so hopeless that I'll ever be able to escape that need for permission. I wish I could just let go and rid myself of the desire for other peoples approval, but I can never seem to do so. The line "I learned quickly who to avoid and who to write off" was almsot exactly word for word a line I wrote a year ago about my childhood. I hope that you find the vision to see that you are AMAZING and the only approval you need is your own. "Yes you may" allow yourself permission to no longer need it. *BIG HUG*

9:42 PM  
Blogger The Rich Gypsy said...

Hang tight Michelle ... I'll be 40 in less than two years and, after a lifetime suffering from the disease to please, I'm finally finding my stride. I'm a sole parent to three little boys. By choice. I left my husband because he was emotionally abusive and I didn't want my boys growing up thinking relationships were sad affairs. I wanted their expectations to be greater than that. So I decided that if I couldn't show them a healthy example of loving; I'd show them a mother who had the strength to walk away and make it on our own. There's much peace in knowing that you have that kind of inner strength to survive.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Corey Amaro said...

Take the steps along with your baby, When you can say YES I MAY, on the small issues at hand... let go and let be... one by one. Then in time you will be saying YES I CAN on the bigger issues. Give yourself permission, each day to be true to yourself. Loving ourselves is the best friend we all search for.
And I think you have a pretty darn good friend in yourself!

10:59 PM  
Blogger gkgirl said...

awareness is the key though
and through awareness
you can gradually break down that barrier of permission...

and i so understand where you are
coming from when you talk about
what the expectation was for being
and what the reality presented...
i wouldn't trade my experience for the
world because i think thats what shapes
us into who we are today...
but it wasn't the fantasy that i
hoped for when i was younger...
funny how that happens

2:47 AM  
Blogger kelly said...

i was an unwed mother in 1986. and that pregnancy was such a blessing. it is hard to see the attitudes and to know that i had screwed up. but that screw up is now 19 and such a light in all of our lives. we can only be who we are and work hard to be the best person we can be. you do that.
you search deeply and if only we could all do that.

oh by the way..."yes you may"

4:53 AM  
Anonymous pook said...

I totally understand what you mean. I am constantly seeking approval from others in everything that I do.
Somtimes a parent cannot realise how the will affect a large preportion of your life
by constantly giving unrequested judgements and "advice".

I think those of us who are aware of this and are striving for something easier, will eventually
find it. I hope I do soon. If you find it first, do let me know where.

p.s. just love your blog!

5:09 AM  
Blogger red sun said...

the more i search, the more i've come to realize that the permission i seek is not out there, but inside. in my own mind. that's why i'm never satisfied (and it seems you struggle with this too). you're unsure what you should be doing, next to what you may want to do... so the two are become intertwined and you look elsewhere for the right answer. but the "right" answer is never out there. it is, was, and always will be within you.

6:36 AM  
Blogger snowsparkle said...

your story is familiar....i was brought up the same way. i still find it hard to make room for myself in the world. i spend a lot of energy trying to be accomodating and then eventually become resentful or judgemental of what i consider other's selfishness (in my skewed perspective). i now try to be my own inner parent... the supportive, forgiving one who notices and rewards all my good efforts and makes room for me to bring all my talents to full bloom which in turn can bring joy to others which is far more fulfilling than simply being accomodating. cheers to you, to your introspection and to your strength.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Beansprout said...

As always, I so appreciate your heartfelt honesty. Like you, people perceive me as being very strong and self-sufficient. The reality is that I'm like an egg...hard on the outside and mush on the inside. I seek to do things right, do them better, be perfect because I think that is the only way that someone will ever love and accept me. It's a struggle not to believe that. At the core it is about coming to self-love and self-acceptance. I think if we are able to get there then the bleeding will stop. But we have to give ourself permission first and say 'yes you may' ___________(fill in the blank). Thanks again for your most insightful post.

11:47 AM  
Blogger bella said...

Michelle, I love your writing, your thoughts and your honesty. I think this is something that sooo many women struggle with. It is within you, within us.. maybe we don't feel worthy? That is sad, but true. How do we build ourselves up to the point when we feel we do deserve?
Your posts always leave me questioning my thoughts and feelings.. and I love you for that!

12:27 PM  
Blogger mati rose said...

it's such a powerful concept! i must practice that... giving myself more permission.

12:55 PM  
Blogger dani said...

michelle, quite apart from you needing to believe in yourself more and trust that whatever you do and think is right and knowing you need permission from nobody in every cell of your body, society has alot to do with it too - society needs to become a more accepting respecting place. i can't believe being an unwed woman who chooses to be a mother is frowned upon in the 2000's - this is so sick! it makes me angry!

12:56 PM  
Blogger telfair said...

This is so true -- it really resonated with me. I'm 32, and not sure when I'll learn to stop asking for permission, either! But recognizing it, and being aware of it, is the first step...thanks for a post that really hit close to home and made me think about how I struggle with this, too!

3:12 PM  
Blogger yaya said...

My husband calls me an "approval whore" - I want permission for everything. I think it really comes down to 1)being female & 2) the way I was brought up - I have always wanted my parents approval and this included permission. Why is it so hard for me to do this? My brother has the same parents but he has no problems giving himself permission -in fact he can be downright selfish! I just can't work it out - but, like you, I am trying to work through it. Thanks for a very insightful entry - it's given me something to think about this weekend.

3:25 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

I find myself playing 'mother may I' so much of the time. thank you so much for your honesty... it's the most refreshing thing.

8:24 PM  
Blogger liz elayne said...

i can relate to this so much michelle. this idea of needing/wanting/seeking permission. from who? i always ask myself. you have articulated this beautifully with your truth. your inspiring truth.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Wenda said...

"...You only have to let the soft animal of your body/ love what it loves..." wrote Mary Oliver, and "You do not have to be good."

Thanks for your honesty and courage.

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Nicole said...

On a funny note, did you hear David Letterman being self effacing the week talking about having a baby out of wedlock and how everyone is doing it? LOL.

4:30 AM  
Blogger Bethany said...

I'm not sure where this desire stems from...but I too get quite shaky sometimes. That fear of ruffling too many feathers...stepping too far out...and not having that permission...that approval. Thank you again for your are a pearl of a girl...just as you are!

8:03 AM  
Blogger baylor said...

What beautiful honesty you tell.

1:25 PM  
Blogger brandie said...

i struggle with the "good girl" syndrome as hard to rid myself of. i hope you find the permission in yourself to live as you wish. thanks for your honesty and for sharing your story.

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Kitty Kitty Peacock said...

Interesting image you chose to pair with this entry.

Hang in there girl.

Gutta cavat lapidem-
"Dripping water hollows out a stone"

4:50 AM  

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