In-depth Soul Searching
“Well …” Jessica hesitated. “I’ve been thinking about Hannah in her early years. She was so young and hopeful when she married Lucca. She was sweet, really dear. But—and I mean no disrespect in saying this—she was incredibly non-descript; almost completely one-dimensional. Her parents’ quest for paradise left her … I don’t even know how to say it. She had almost no characteristics other than fear—fear of becoming like her parents, fear of things that threatened her marriage, fear of society, of war, of being alone … fear of to many things to list—and absolute denial of her fear. She didn’t really have an identity or real substance. Her role in life was to play a supporting role to Lucca—to be protected and provided for. And she would do anything to sustain that role. As a matter of fact,” Jessica looked down at her bare feet, “her complete lack of character development and isolation from society were exactly like me when I met you, William!” She looked timidly up at William, swallowing around a lump that had formed in her throat. “Both Hannah and I were sorely lacking dimension and substance as young adults. We needed to figure out who we were. But our parents’ lifestyles and beliefs left us completely unprepared for this search. And as difficult as it was to find one’s identity within a close relationship, we were both drawn to love relationships before we had discovered our own identities. And there’s more … you know how I said that Hannah appeared to be afraid to be alone and surrounded herself with people? I’m doing the same thing with the two of you. I don’t like being alone. I need your company.”
“There’s nothing wrong with loving and being loved. It’s no sin to need the company of others. And you act like Hannah was forced into her lifestyle by Lucca. She had choices,” William said. “She could have worked, or gone to school, or whatever she wanted. She chose to go to art class, join protests, and have babies.”
“No doubt she had choices and she made those choices of her own free will and to the best of her ability. But I question her ability. And of course loving and being loved is an essential part of life; that goes without saying. But the fact remains, the choices available to Hannah as a young woman, were choices that existed within her limited understanding of the world at the time that she married Lucca; after which her life existed within the confines of that marriage. She was raised within a patriarchal belief system that taught her to center her life around men—in this case her husband. I’m not judging her or myself. I’m trying to understand us; to help us. William, please don’t take everything so personally and feel threatened by what I’m saying. We’re all in this together; trying to figure out how to best influence Hannah, right?”
“Your absolutely right, Jessica. We all need to do exactly as you’re doing—no matter how difficult it is! ” Grandmama said consolingly.
As the three sat silently digesting all of the possibilities, each of them wondered: Were they powerlessly reflecting Hannah and her problems or was Hannah nothing more than a reflection of them? And within these questions they wavered between feeling profoundly powerful and desperately victimized.
William attempted to view his fear of Hannah’s independence as an unrealistic by-product of her patriarchal upbringing. But intellectualizing his feelings did little to alleviate his fear.
As Grandmama deliberated her life and its issues, she increasingly despised her fear of growing old and all that it entailed, and in turn resented Hannah and her attitudes toward aging—a resentment that brought with it enormous guilt.
As for Jessica, the more she scrutinized Hannah’s life the more clearly she saw her own life. And the ravenous fear and guilt that were awakening within her, began devouring her magical carefree maiden identity.
“It seems to me, objectively speaking, that you are getting a little carried away with your emotions and sentiments. Maybe you need to step out of this victim role that you’ve apparently slipped into,” William offered, noticing the disturbed look on Jessica’s face.
“I didn’t slip into this victim role. I simply opened my eyes. Just look at who I was early on in this story. I was a sketch, a shell; not a person. Iggy was better developed than I.”
Iggy, who had followed Jessica downstairs and was now sitting on the hearth, looked up and growled, “Don’t drag me and my lack of character development into this, girlfriend. The underestimation and under appreciation of cats is universal; certainly not exclusive to The Kingdom of Somewhere!” This was a long-standing, and highly sensitive issue with Iggy.
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