Today my therapist and I talked about identity, among other things. And I told him the story about the eggs. Do you know of it? Here it is:
In the movie Runaway Bride, Maggie (played by Julia Roberts) is a serial runner… she gets thisclose to walking down the aisle but then bolts before she can say “I do.” When the charming and handsome Ike (played by Richard Gere) collects research on her to do a story, one of the questions he asks all of her former lovers is: How did she like her eggs?
They all answer differently, but all end with “… same as me.” Poached / scrambled / fried…. same as me.
Ike falls in love with her despite her hangups, and in an epic fight scene between the two, he confronts her about the egg thing. He says, “You’re so lost you don’t even know what kind of eggs you like!” And of course, she mumbles some defensive comment about being supportive to her partners. Ike is disgusted with her stubbornness and unwillingness to change (or to even acknowledge her egg issue) and dumps her ass. (amendment: Ok, she actually runs just like before, but he leaves her after that and doesn’t want anything to do with her. And she misses him more than he misses her. I guess. I might just be making shit up now.)
The reason I told this story to my therapist (and why I’m telling it to you) is because, well…. I am Maggie.
I don’t know what kind of eggs I like.
In every relationship (platonic or romantic) I’ve been in, I’ve always taken on the values and identity of the person I am close to. I’m easily influenced and manipulated by the loves in my life. And when I say manipulate, I don’t mean that in a negative way, necessarily. Just that… I don’t have enough self-actualization of my own identity to not be influenced by those that I love. And that’s what I’m talking about here – people I love. Best friends or lovers. That makes sense to me. Who wouldn’t want to feel a bond and connection to the person you are in love with? But I guess when it comes at the expense of your own identity, that’s not good.
It’s also not that I’m completely lost as an individual. I have a good amount of self-awareness. And there are parts of my identity that are my own, and that I don’t share with my significant others. (Like my guilty pleasure love of pop music. Or my secret desire to be a part of a spontaneous coordinated dance sequence. Or my hair.)
But in every relationship I have had, including my current marriage, I have “taken on” aspects of that person’s identity as my own, without really considering if that’s who I am or what I want to be. Or… more importantly, I’ve done that at the expense of my own needs that would help to make me a whole and complete person. I’ve allowed those characteristics/values/beliefs/interests to overshadow my own, to the extent that I’m not even sure what mine are. And it’s not the person’s fault – it’s mine. But it’s an ingrained behavior. Just like Maggie and the eggs. Those men who she fell in love with and who fell in love with her didn’t mean to “tell her” what kind of eggs she liked — she just let them.
Why don’t I know what eggs I want? Well, I have some guesses that I’ll be exploring with my therapist in the weeks to come.
How do I go about finding out what eggs I want? How much needs to change in my life to make that happen? Again, those are questions I’ve set out to explore and answer.
Do you want to know how the story ends? Maggie gets her shit together, hangs out by herself for a while — explores her interests and talents. She also tries out every single kind of egg out there, and makes a firm decision on what kind she prefers. She heads to NYC to win Ike back, proving to him that she’s become her own person. She’s beautiful, so he relents of course, and though he doesn’t accept her marriage proposal (at first), the story ends with them together.
Here is the egg story line, spliced together. It’s not the best quality, but you get the idea.
I love you. Keep going.