Another year concluded, and another Valentine’s Day passed. The twelve bottles of Moscato currently scattered on my kitchen floor are serving testament to the debauchery that occurred this past Thursday. I had one too many drinks, and may have shared one too many stories, but in the spirit of celebration it was only appropriate.
It was a night to celebrate accomplishments, growths, discoveries, and past relationships. Above all, it was a night to recognize the importance of self-love, which up until recently was something completely foreign to me. Saying, “I love you” to yourself, without laughing, and with some genuine meaning is a serious challenge. Nevertheless, I recommend all of you do it daily. It has made me a better, and less bitchy person. Those who know me best may beg to differ.
Somewhere between the drinks and the laughs, someone brought up the subject of dependence. How when people enter relationships, there is a loss of identity, and a loss of cohesiveness with the self. It’s something beyond control and beyond consciousness. It’s something you don’t realize until it’s all said and done. At least I didn’t realize it until it was all said and done. Heartbroken, alone, and depressed, it took moving to New York City to realize what I wanted because all I wanted when I was with him was, him. When you’re in love, and I mean really in love, you are completely engulfed, immersed and taken. You can’t think of anything else, anyone else, yourself included. I did everything for him, which isn’t necessarily bad, but I also forgot to do things for myself. I began conforming myself to the idea of what I thought I needed to be in order to make him happy. Long story short we got engaged, broke up, and moved on.
My baggage aside, this conversation on dependence along with my own personal reflections had me thinking of Lady Bradshaw. How she exemplifies a woman lost. How her “slow sinking, water-logged of will into his,” represents love’s domination. Although times have changed since Mrs. Dalloway, we still fall mercy to this idea of what love should be. How we should act, what we should do or not do, and what love is. I’ve been a victim to this ideology and I’m sure many of you have as well. Storybook romances such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are in part to blame, which we all know is completely misleading! This notion of living happily ever after is something that we have all grown up with. Lady Bradshaw represents the imperfections of this ideology. She is no longer a woman of her own, but a wife only in existence for her husband. It is no mistake that Woolf doesn’t delve into Lady Bradshaw’s consciousness because she no longer has one of her own. We will never know who she is, because she has drowned in her own identity.
I never want to be a Lady Bradshaw, and I never want to be where I once was. Self-discovery is not an overnight miracle, but an ongoing and complicated process. Relationships come and go, and despite what may come from them, the relationship with oneself is the most important relationship of all.