If you ever doubted that people are constantly and restlessly moving from one state of dissatisfaction to another this article will drive it home. This is the nature of mankind. We can always imagine a better state and that imagination pushes us to change. This has produced many wonderful innovations but has caused a lot of misery too. Especially, when driven by the unattainable. How many times have you heard it said, “It wasn’t what I expected.” It never is and if you are devoid of gratitude it will eat at you like a acid. Were past generations so self-obsessed as I see in the present? A number of measurements indicate we have become increasingly solipsistic and narcissistic. Neither bodes well for stable culture long term.
People can tell you in exquisite terms using convincing emotive language the many ways that their lives are broken. How they have been denied, cheated, tricked, fooled or why they are an alcoholic, drug addict, thief, obese or abuser. But that is like commencing an argument in middle without defining terms or understanding the underlying assumptions. Meta-data around the article is just as important as the contents. The author is communicating something about the face of modern feminism, an idea which is at war with reality and nature. It should not be surprising that soldiers in this war become burned out from Utopian pursuits. “You can have it all.” “Being a stay at home mom will be more rewarding.” “Going back into the work force will be more rewarding.” Let’s look at what the ancients believed that many continue to deny. It is but this, “life is difficult.” In a tough economy with few prospects for growth, you can either complain, accept or get to work.
One of the author’s interviewees espouses a bit of wisdom.
After one emotional session with a friend, her 12-year-old daughter asked what all the fuss was about. O’Donnel told her: “This is the perfect reason why you need to work. You don’t have to make a million dollars. You don’t have to have a wealthy lifestyle. You just always have to be able to at least earn enough so you can support yourself.”
Indeed, everyone needs to be able to support themselves because life is difficult. I learned that from Mom early in life. Because she had a terrible childhood, she taught me what she learned from those experiences. The day I started Kindergarten she went back to work.
“I felt like such a loser,” she said. “I poured myself into the kids and soccer. I didn’t know how to deal with the downtime. I did all the volunteering, ran the auctions. It was my way of coping.”
Coping indeed, a prisoner to her own ambition, a go-getter who can’t get, a mother whose first thought is not her children but the career she left behind. Time to volunteer full tilt and self discover.
She loved the work. The organization’s message, about respecting yourself and surrounding yourself with people who appreciate you, resonated with her. “I started feeling very devalued when I was with him,” O’Donnel said of her husband, “but when I was doing all this nonprofit stuff, I felt great.”
“Surrounding yourself with people who appreciate you.” How about appreciating the people around you? Bad idea, it’s all about me.
O’Donnel and Eisel agree the job drove a destructive wedge between them. “I look back on it as the beginning of the end of our marriage,” Eisel said when we talked by phone last month. “Once she started to work, she started to place more value in herself, and because she put more value in herself, she put herself in front of a lot of things — family, and ultimately, her marriage.”
Time to blow up the family for her own personal happiness. The days of “suffering” in silence in a “bad” marriage are done. Work through your differences for the benefit of your children and ultimately civilization? Leadership by example? No thanks, it’s all about me, me and me again.
Time for a little retrospective.
“I was this woman who made this great ‘choice,’ ” she said, sadly. “It wasn’t the perfect fairy-tale ending.”
Shocker, because it never is. Her assumptions about what life is and should have been were all wrong. Life is difficult.