I’m engaged!

Author Beth Mende Conny shows off her engagement ring, marking her commitment to "engage" with the world.I am engaged! A startling piece of news, perhaps, coming from someone who just celebrated her 30th wedding anniversary. But true nonetheless, though not in the traditional ”I’m engaged” sense.

How to explain this one? Well …

I’ve been thinking lately (another startling piece of news) about the distance I create between myself and others, and how I sometimes think of people as distractions that take me away from …

Hell, I don’t know. I used to think it was writing; how every moment not chained to a desk or creative thought was a moment lost. But lost to what? And how to explain that I am finding people to be more interesting than — dare I say — me?

Yes. That’s it. I’m tired of my own company. Being removed feels too far removed. I want to engage with others.

And so, yesterday, in a crafts store and on a whim, I purchased this “engagement” ring. I wanted something goofy to remind me that it’s okay to put down my pen and hang out in shared space. To enjoy the company of family, friends, acquaintances and perhaps a stranger or two.

Next week, a wedding ring!

In search of a new persona

Writer Beth Mende Conny and her beloved aunt Shirley Strumpf

My Aunt Shirley and me

This piece was written by Shirley Strumpf, my beloved aunt.

We feel we lose our persona only when we think it’s dependent on outside forces.

Like me — daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother; all jobs, all roles. Take them away and the question of who or what I am arises. Only with hindsight comes the realization, a realization that is painful to accept, that these roles were and are dependent on others.

Now comes the new role I choose for myself. The new role I call O’Freedom. O’Freedom makes me aware of the fact that I no longer want my persona to be dependent upon others. But then unpleasant questions arise. With the disappearance of my co-stars, does my own persona diminish?

No, to both. It is just recognizing that I’m still in the play but I now choose to play a minor role. Because I am letting go, letting go to explore my new role, O’Freedom. And by letting go, I am also allowing these closest to me to also explore and grow.

This new role, O’Freedom, is hard because it is no longer dependent upon how I role-played  before. There are no longer any parameters that society and I agreed to adhere to. O’Freedom, my new persona, is limited only by going back to the old roles and thinking that they are what I am missing or need now. I think the most difficult part is admitting this. As the song says, “Letting go is hard to do.”

A new path is always scary. Especially when you realize you must go it alone. Not because there may not be anyone to go on the journey with you, but in going with someone else on the journey. If your companion is not a co-explorer, you will wind up back in the old role of feeling needed in a dependent way again.