Thursday, July 7, 2011

Little Donna

It's never too late to grow up. A friend named Donna recently offered me a very useful metaphor. She said she was going on a trip to meet with a prospective boyfriend and before going she performed this ritual. She put "little Donna" in a pocketbook and put the pocketbook in a drawer and closed the drawer. Little Donna was not going on the trip with her and sabotage her efforts at creating a genuine love relationship.

She explained to me that "little Donna" was the portions of her personality that were still childish or adolescent -- bits and pieces that hadn't caught up to the rest of her growth and maturity as a person. I listened closely. I can truly relate to this metaphor. There are parts of me that simply won't behave, that won't act rationally, that continually cause problems in relationships (usually) -- parts of me that are selfish, greedy, petulant, immature, irresponsible, childish. The ME FIRST parts of me. The angry, I WANT MY WAY parts of me. The LOOK AT ME parts of me.

For whatever reason, these parts didn't get resolved in my youth -- they come around and keep coming around despite many lessons, hard lessons, that should have pushed me to move on, grow up, reach a higher level. A part of me digs in her heels and says "NO I STILL WANT TO BE FREE AND IRRESPONSIBLE - I WANT TO BE A CHILD FOREVER!!"

At age 60 and older, isn't it time to really look at those unruly parts of ones self? It seems late to be paying attention. But it's not too late. We all know old ladies who behave in extremely childish ways -- fussy, greedy, petty -- it's not very becoming. And we know other elderly ladies who are very dignified, very disciplined, serene. Wouldn't we prefer to be the latter?

But it ain't easy to put our "little selves" in the drawer. The longer she's been in our life, the more entrenched. Also there's always a good side to hanging on to one's child. The enthusiasm, the playfulness, the zest. How can one still enjoy being a child but eliminate the childishness? That's the issue. That's the work.