My holiday reading included the classic novel Tess of the d’Urbeville’s by Thomas Hardy.
The book is a masterpiece.
It was not perhaps the most ideal choice for a holiday read, the book is harsh and the life of poor Tess is tragic, hard and disturbing, and yet the description of the work, environment and conditions of the rural poor in the last half of 19th Century Victorian England is microscopic in detail.
I was moved by the book in relation to my own circumstances.
The underlying sufferings endured by Tess ,were in part, the sad outcome derived from the motives of others, but at its heart was her own struggle to overcome judgement against herself for the her failings, and her adherence to a strict moral code which was internalized by her so very severely.
It was apparent that although characters around her were prepared to judge, they were prepared to accept her too, but she carried within her this strong sense that to be happy she had to be open about the mistakes of her past life.
I recognise the damage I have caused to my sense of well being and my capacity for being happy by the harsh inner critic which told me that my truth was not compatible with the social environment in which I live.
Although this social environment most likely has a variety of opinions on my sexuality and my marriage, it is I believe prepared to accept me because I am loved and valued and cared for by all those who know me.
It is me, same as Tess of the d’Urbeville’s, who was the harshest of judges on self, and unhappy because I tied myself up in a strict moral code, based on religious teachings which were narrowed by my own thinking, not by the teaching itself.
It is me, unlike Tess of the d’Urbeville’s who has overcome this rigid moral code, not by compromising or rejecting my faith, but by discovering and welcoming compassion – compassion for self,
My next blog will be: Honking the Horn