The Mt. Everest of Personal Development & Self Acceptance
September 7, 2017
When I was young, I had no idea what I thought, felt, or wanted. Pressed for my opinion, I’d make an evasive or sarcastic comment instead of deciding what it was that I thought. I didn’t want to say anything that could be construed the wrong way, or held against me in a court of law because, in my household, unpopular opinions (and un-perky attitudes) were the catalyst of shit storms.
So, for the most part, I shut my mouth and forgot I had a voice. I took up whistling a happy show tune.
At twenty-one, I met the Iranian I would marry. I was bowled over by his passion, his penchant for expressing his desires and opinions, particularly when they were controversial. There he’d be in the university courtyard, arms waving, a pro-Khomeini revolutionary, debating Israeli-Palestinian atrocities with a Jewish grad student just back from his free Birthright trip to a Gaza strip kibbutz.
He was a man so comfortable in his own skin; so confident in his opinions; so unapologetic for who he was; so magnetic. So unlike me.
I thought that by marrying him, his self-possession and charisma would naturally rub off on me. Hahaha.
Now, a lot of bad shit happens when you don’t own an opinion or a voice.
First, like water, you’ll take the shape of whatever container you find yourself poured into, and it’s generally a shape that you won’t actually like. A shape that looks an awful lot like the outline of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Second, you’ll eventually realize that you’re unhappy with other people’s choices when you have little recourse to switch that up. Voting with your feet is great, but only when you have someplace to go, and you can take the kids with you.
Third, all that love and safety you thought silence would buy only ends up producing disdain, and peril.
And this, my friend, is just the tip of the chilly iceberg.
I write a lot about being saved by running. But there’s one more thing that completely changed my life and that’s writing. I find that to be true for many of the people I work with as well.
It was only when I began working on a memoir about my glory years in Iran that I came to understand who I really am and what I want. And for someone who was never able to do that before, believe me, that’s one monumental accomplishment. It’s the Mt. Everest of personal development and self-fucking-acceptance.
It took a few of drafts to get there, but I finally understood what kind of young woman ends up in a country she’s so ill-suited for with a man, who made it clear from the starting block, that the arrangement would never work. I finally understood that it wasn’t him that I had to figure out, then forgive, but me.