Thoughts Based upon the Memoir: Celebration-A Story of Courage, Endurance and Transcendence
Guest Post by Peggy S. Grose
James Hollis, a Jungian analyst at the Jung Educational Center in Houston, Texas, and also its director, has written, in the book, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, these comments: “Sometimes, to our dismay, we find that we have been living someone else’s life that their values have and are directing our choices. While this life we are leading never quite feels right, it seems to be the only alternative. Even when we win the applause of others, we secretly feel fraudulent…”
I understood, intuitively, at an early age, that the importance of my existence was to make my mother look good, especially with her family and friends. And I did it very well. I was outstanding in school, church, music and drama and deportment—a model child. When I played the organ for church or performed in a play, she stood at the door, basking in the praise—and, on the way home, enumerate everything I did wrong. I babysat for her friends for free. When she had surgery on her varicose veins, she took me out of school to care for her, saving her sisters the bother. If, as a young adult, I took a stand on some social issue that the relatives opposed, I was severely condemned.
I knew, in the deep recesses in my mind that I counted only for the showing I made but unaware that this was not normal. I still wonder what deep wound my mom suffered, for which I was expected to compensate.
Now, guess what kind of person I married? Someone just like my mother. Surprise, surprise! As always, I did what was expected. I served. I worked hard and required little. Then, I did more, still hoping for acknowledgement. I began to feel invisible, as a servant is invisible—needed, but not seen. After many years, I would lock myself in the bathroom, hug myself and pretend that I was being held.
In the mid seventies, at age 45, after twenty two years of marriage and four children, I began to assess my situation. In the spring, I attended a workshop in the Texas Hill Country, entitled, “Getting in Touch with Your Feelings.” It began on Sunday evening and on Thursday afternoon, the facilitator instructed us each to close our eyes and imagine ourselves as a rose bush. As I closed my eyes and waited, the rose bush that appeared in my mind’s eye was a dried-up stalk. It had not one green leaf; not a single red petal. It stood in dry, cracked earth. I was stunned. Back when, I had been campus queen, runner up in the Miss Georgia Pageant, listed in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities and a “Georgia Peach.” Now I was a dried-up rose bush.
When I shared my plans for leaving the marriage with a doughy woman of 50, she advised, “Well, Honey, have all the fun you can now, because, by the time you’re fifty, men won’t notice you.” I thought, “That may be true for you, but not for me.” (Why, yes, of course, I was aware that men were attracted to me.) Next, a male friend inquired about my prospects of finding work. He asked, “Is your age going to be a problem?” Confused, I began to wonder, “Should I grieve that my life is about over, just as I was about to celebrate a new beginning?”
One Sunday morning, as I was jogging on the beach on Texas’ Padre Island, a carload of young men drove past. With torsos hanging out of the windows, they yelled in unison, “GO FOR IT BABY!”
That day, I decided to celebrate. There have been struggles and disappointments along the way, but now I know who I am and, when I’m hurting, I know why.
Peggy has a masters in communication from the University of Texas, is a licensed therapist, a seasoned speaker, an experienced counselor, teacher, group facilitator, and workshop presenter. She has had considerable training and experience in sales. She grew up on a farm in southern Georgia, lived in Cuba and New England and was a missionary in Malaya and Singapore.
Peggy is a writer and publisher of the popular book, Love and Lemon Pie, Recipes for the Body and the Soul and a memoir, Celebration, A Woman’s Story of Courage, Endurance and Transcendence.
This lady is the mother of four sons, and the grandmother of three grandsons, two granddaughters and one great-granddaughter. She describes herself as affectionate, a people person, an adventurer, a baby freak, a chocoholic, and a good listener. She says that she has always been afraid that she’ll miss something, that she tends to “want it all,” and that she wants those around her to “have it all,” too. She likes home-making and decorating, entertaining company, cooking, dancing, swimming, camping, playing Scrabble® with her husband, writing, storytelling, and traveling afar. She reads and studies a lot.
Peggy works in an outpatient, drug rehabilitation program and lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Jim Kilpatrick, who brings her DARK chocolate.