Know Yourself, Honestly

8 comments

Apart at the Seams CoverWelcome! This post is part of Apart at the Seams blog tour that began yesterday. I was invited to take part by my friend Lori Holden, author of The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption. Frankly, while reading Apart at the Seams late this summer I scratched my head through much of it.

The main character is Arianna, a woman who, I feel, does not know herself or what she wants. Her live-in boyfriend Ethan provides great sex and part-time child care for her son; his ambition is less than acceptable, according to Arianna. There is Rachel, Arianna’s best friend, who is also Ethan’s sister. Um, complicated. Then there is the tantalizing fresh meat, Noah, who is a television writer for a wildly popular TV show; Arianna is drawn to him like a moth to a flame.

So why did I, someone who pretty much writes, speaks and educates others about adoption, parenting, tweens, teens, and special needs, take on a non-adoption book for my site?

  •  Because it is important to know yourself and what you want in relationships and life, and you owe yourself and others an honest examination of why. Everything else ripples out from there—your path, the boundaries you set and adhere to, and the expectations you have of yourself and others. It is important to mindful, especially when parenting a child. I feel it is hard to function in our complicated world if you don’t have a clue. In Apart at the Seams, Arianna doesn’t know herself or why she wants what she thinks she wants. What will become of her son Beckett because of her lack of knowledge?
  • Because the main character of Arianna contrasts with what adopting parents are asked and expected to know. People who are adopting are asked, in a myriad of ways during their “vetting” process, for an honest accounting of themselves and their motives for adopting a child. They are also encouraged to do the same with others close to them. I found myself upended by Arianna’s lack of introspection, and honesty. I finished the book, seeing problems ahead for her and Ethan, and indirectly her son Beckett.

As part of the tour I have been asked to answer three questions from a generous pot of possibilities. I selected the three below, with my answers. I’d love you to share your take on them as well.

After Arianna is initially rejected by Francesca, she wrestles with the idea of telling her co-worker and friend, Rachel, about it. But then she confesses to herself that by revealing the criticism she may also be revealing a weakness about herself. “But if I tell Rachel about that conversation, then I’ll also have to admit that I don’t have a clue, and that maybe, just maybe, I believe that there’s some truth in Francesca’s fears.”

I felt Arianna was one of the most maddening characters I’ve come across recently. I couldn’t know her since she didn’t know herself or, therefore, what she wanted. She did not want to own her entire self—only her strengths. Arianna seemed to be unaware that some of the biggest growth comes from assessing and overcoming our weaknesses and addressing our failures. Hell, she read Rachel’s blog to discover what Rachel assumed about her, to gage her relationship status with Rachel, and to discern what Rachel’s thoughts were about her relationship with Ethan and her fascination with Noah. How immature, and how avoidant. What’s wrong with a conversation, true communication between friends? Her communication skills were poor, at best.

The first thought that came to my mind was: IMPOSTER SYNDROME. Is this unique to women? Have any others in this book group felt this way?

According to psychological studies, up to 70% of us feel like frauds, doubt our abilities (impostor syndrome) at any given time. The syndrome occurs with men, too, arising out of the pressure to achieve.

Did Arianna really have an affair? Does an emotional affair weigh the same as a physical affair? More? Less?

Gosh, this is a tough question. I’ll answer it this way. I feel that an emotional affair can equal a physical affair because we can become deeply invested, turning us away from our spouse or partner, as Arianna did when she became jealous of Noah dating, when she reacted to the sensation of Noah’s breath tickling her earlobe. Why was she jealous? Why did she note how she felt about Noah’s breath on her earlobe? Her emotional affair with Noah became inappropriate.

For discussion: Even if you haven’t read the Apart at the Seams, you can still participate by commenting on the above questions. Please do!

You can further participate by commenting on the various blogs involved the tour. The participants will often be answering different questions than I have answered here. (You may decide after reading the various stops on the blog tour that Apart at the Seams is well worth your time, when you have the time to read.)

Comments are much appreciated by members of this book club. To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at LavenderLuz.com or click on the links of the Apart at the Seams tour participants below, as well as an interview with Apart at the Seams author Melissa Ford.

September 4, 2014:

September 6, 2014:

September 8, 2014:

September 11, 2014

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Mina September 10, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I agree that Arianna had an emotional affaire, and any affaire means in the end lying, to oneself, partner, others, whatever. When she stops sharing with Ethan details about Noah and their interaction, she lies through ommission, which is still lying.
From one perspective, having a bout of imposter syndrome is healthy, it does not let success get to one’s head too much, and leaves room for self improvement. When it starts erasing the results one achieves, attributing them to sheer luck, and not to personal merits, then it stops being healthy. Aaaaand, with this dr. Phil-esque assessment, I step off my soap box. :-)

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Judy September 10, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I agree: knowingly omitting is lying. Thanks for sharing about the healthy aspect of impostor syndrome. And nice soap box, if I do say.

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Mel September 6, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Thanks, Judy, for participating, even though it was a frustrating read for you.

70% is both a huge number and yet is also feels like a small number — I would hazard a guess that almost everyone hits a point in life — even if it is for a brief time — when they feel completely out-of-sorts and worried all will find out that they don’t understand or have themselves together. Right?

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Judy September 7, 2014 at 9:50 am

Hey Mel,

I was not familiar with term “imposture syndrome” until I checked it out. I’d venture, like you, that almost everyone experiences this, maybe only briefly, during their lifetime. But what an opportunity, if they are aware, to stop and examine themselves, their life course and goals.

Thanks for taking the time to get around to all of our sites and comment; your generosity means a lot to this reader and fan. :)

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Bronwyn Joy September 6, 2014 at 12:09 pm

She really didn’t seem to know herself well. It was as if she once did, but hadn’t reassessed it recently enough to know if any of her self-knowledge was still valid. And I agree she came across as perfectionist – not wanting to admit to anything less than the best.

I think that’s what I liked about the ending, though – we started to see her taking a step back and taking stock more fully. We didn’t get to see much of that unfold, unfortunately, but there was hope.

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Judy September 6, 2014 at 3:02 pm

There was hope, Bronwyn Joy. I wish she Arianna had stepped back earlier; I would have appreciated a more informative ending.

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Lori Lavender Luz September 6, 2014 at 10:31 am

Oh, you nailed this with the self-awareness and mindfulness piece, and I love how you tied it to self-awareness in adoption and parenting.

“She did not want to own her entire self—only her strengths.” — Yes, this. I see myself in this, even today, after years of mindfulness practice.

Thanks so much for adding your voice to the tour. It’s such a pleasure to hang out with you, Judy! xoxo

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Judy September 6, 2014 at 10:48 am

Just my perspective, because we do need to be so mindful. <- And have the awareness to realign our mindfulness regularly. We owe this to ourselves, for our kids. XOXO

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