The Writer in the Family
When we first met, I wanted to be a writer. During our first year of marriage I spent my spare time writing the great American novel—in Israel. It was a classic story of growing up and separating from one’s parents and finding one’s own path. It was, of course, largely autobiographical, if not in detail then in thoughts and perceptions. When I finished writing it, I gave it to my husband to read. His comment was that it was okay, a middling, barely encouraging okay. Nonetheless, it made me feel good. Then he suggested that I give it to a friend of his to read, another aspiring writer. I did. He didn’t like it. Then, my husband came back and said that, in fact, he hadn’t really liked it either, but that he didn’t tell me that because he didn’t want to hurt me. That dishonesty hurt more than the bad press. Why did he withhold his true impression from me, and more importantly, why did he feel that he could/should control my emotions? Was this an example of how he was manipulating me—so very long ago?
About a week later, the man who never spoke of writing, who never spoke of reading except his law books and adventure books as a child, proclaimed that he was going to write a book and that it was going to be a great book, unlike anything ever written. In fact, he had already started and had a lot written already. (I, of course, was a slow writer and in a week would barely have written five pages, and he knew this.)
The one area that was mine, that was free of his incursions and dominance, was suddenly taken from me. It was as if he simply said I am better than you in everything, even in what you think you are good at. If he was now the writer in the family, what was I?
I did not write for another three years. I am not blaming him, I am blaming my lack of confidence, but his incursion surely was uncalled for, was not helpful in getting my confidence up to speed. Was it to undermine me and prove his superiority, or was it truly his desire to write, to get his story down? Perhaps even a combination of the two? Whatever it was, it hurt. It’s not as if he told me that I’m a bad writer and he is better, but it was implied. So the person whose opinion I had come to value the most had discounted me and the one thing I wanted to do the most. I needed encouragement. What else are you supposed to get at home if not the courage and confidence to accomplish your dreams? And his lying about his true impression of my writing did not make me feel good; rather it undermined my confidence in both myself and the feedback I would receive.
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