Posted by: Elizabeth Anne Mitchell | September 2, 2014

WIPPet Wednesday Memoir The Good Girl

More from my memoir.  Thanks to KL Schwengel, who hosts WIPpet Wednesday.  If you want to join, post an excerpt that has something to do with the date and add it to the linky here. My math is 9+3=12+2=14+4-=18 for 18 sentences today.

After dropping out of high school, I went  to a very small women’s college, where I first breathed free as a scholar.  I did not have to hide away so that men might be interested in me, as there were none in my classes. While younger than most of my class, I was not the youngest in the crowd, and quickly acclimated to the ivied halls. My professors treated me as an adult, and I responded, flourishing in the life of the mind.  None of them saw the yawning gap in my psyche where a person was supposed to dwell. My personhood was stitched together like the B movie monster with a transplanted brain, my mind and body unconnected, striving against each other at every decision.

My sophomore year in high school, I dated a young man who ended up being the only one who asked me out more than once. After what I felt was a suitable period, and feeling that no one else would ever be interested in me, I married him at the beginning of my junior year of college. My relationship with him, and thus, my marriage, worked on exactly the same lines as all other aspects of my personal life:  do whatever I was told, never question authority, never rock the boat, never stand out in any way.  My ex-husband, also very young, did not know any better. He constructed and maintained the box in which my soul and personality was locked away.  I became a chameleon, without opinions of my own. With some empathic ability, I quickly mastered ascertaining others’ opinions and preferences, and reflected them as faithfully as a mirror, with no distortions or additions of my own.

When I went to graduate school, and began to find my professors expected me to be an adult, my husband left me for a college friend, saying that he found my ambition to get a Ph.D. distasteful.  Left entirely on my own for the first time in 23 years, I realized that I did not know what music I liked, what books I enjoyed reading, or what foods I liked to eat. I had never done grocery shopping alone, I had never written a check, and I had never lived alone. I knew how to be a scholar, but I had no idea how to be a person.

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Responses

  1. Wow. That last paragraph got to me.

  2. Once again, another honest and open excerpt. I love this line, “None of them saw the yawning gap in my psyche where a person was supposed to dwell.” And quite a roller coaster ride in such a short piece. The first paragraph has me cheering for you, celebrating the start of a new life, embracing a passion. Then suddenly, the box again. Only to find some hope of once again breaking free. Wonderful.

  3. Oh, my goodness. I relate to so much of that, except for (probably) different reasons. Grad school for both my husband and me was what did it for us–propelled us into “real” adulthood and not the carefully constructed religious world. Fortunately, we’ve grown together and not apart, but it could easily have been the other way because we were such babies when we married.

    I love stories–memoir or fiction–that draw us in and make us think, make us relate as humans. I’m sorry you went through all this, but I am glad you’re sharing it with us.

  4. This is a great excerpt Elizabeth. It’s brave of you to be so open and honest about your life experiences – what you’ve been through can’t have been easy for you and it’s great that you feel able to share your story.

    I hope it’s cathartic for you too and that you can get some closure on the parts of your experience that are painful for you.

    I don’t read many memoirs and this is the first I’ve read as part of WIPpet Wednesday so it’s a great start! 🙂

  5. Merely a smiling visitor here to share the adore , btw outstanding style. Audacity, more audacity and always audacity. by Georges Jacques Danton. dcaadecebbde

  6. Interesting excerpt with a killer last paragraph! I’m impressed that you’re writing your memoirs. I think I would run screaming if I decided to do that, haha.

  7. I remember those years very well when few challenged what women were ‘supposed’ to become. For me, that last paragraph cuts to the bone. How did we, how do we construct our own identity with so few to show the way? Brave writing. I hope those words keep flowing.

  8. Very powerful excerpt. I remember all too well being 22 and single after finding out my fiance had an entire family I didn’t know about. I remember the devastation all too well and reading this brings it back for me. Very emotional and honest piece. Very nicely done.


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