Friday, December 4, 2009

What I’m Reading


I have not addressed this topic for a while. I have been reading, but books  best described as mental marshmallow fluff. Not something worth putting pen to paper (pixel to screen?) about, really.

Last week I received a review of this new tome, and I had to check it out. Those who know me understand that I am a bitch, a woman who has goals and tries to achieve them. I believe we should embrace this term, rather than giving it the power to derail us.

I just finished the first part of am-BITCH-ous. Thus far Debra Condren, a psychologist and career coach, provides numerous anecdotes of women who gave up their own dreams to support those of their significant others and family members. For those of us living with these pressures, this section is repetitive and, at first, seems rather unnecessary. However, given the radical argument that Dr. Condren makes, it ultimately proves its value. What is that argument?

As professional women, we are being hoodwinked into believing that life-work balance is our dream.

I can hear you out there now. “But that is what I want- a great job with time for other things like my significant other, kids, hobbies, whatever.” The anecdotes provided illustrate how often women get shunted from a successful career to something else that seems more noble because it puts the needs of others first. And not just their needs; their desires and dreams and comfort. These women are applauded for putting the needs of others first, but they may later find out that they volunteered for the shaft.

Living with others, no matter how much you love them or what their relationship, requires compromises and hard choices. I realize that, and my family has negotiated such issues in the past. Never did I feel that I had to give up all of my dreams for my husband or children. I maybe didn’t get 100% of what I wanted, but I never felt like I got skunked.

It’s that time of year when stations start trotting out Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Wonderful LifeLife. A few years back I heard this movie discussed by a psychiatrist  who really didn’t like its message. Yes, everyone loves George Bailey and bails him out at the end of the movie, but giving up one’s dreams and being so self-sacrificing is ultimately unhealthy. [I wish I could find the interview] Of course, this movie is FICTION. In real life, Mary Bailey would have been giving up her dreams of a career. Of course, all she wanted was George and a house full of kids…

Women who “make the correct choice” always seem to give up themselves for others. A few years of that would make one a desperate housewife…

I just now reached the meat of the book on how to avoid the trap. So far the exercises appear helpful, although I am guessing it will take a lot of work to get most women out of the martyr game. Especially since women are so applauded for successful martyrdom.

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