Angry with George Eliot

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George Eliot’s quote makes me mad. Because of 2 illnesses I have DECADES of my life I can never get back, nor can I now make choices to make my life what it might have been because the illnesses prevent any other possible future should I be able to make different choices now.

And I’m going through a circumstance where it’s easy to think of losing nearly 2 decades, or trying to learn and enjoy what was good. Either way, I can’t make my life what it might have been. In both cases I can only move forward, not make choices to make the situation different than what it was. 

What is true about the quote is that, as always, we have choices and make choices in our lives. We always have choices. Around every corner lies a new choice. We can make decisions now that undo past behaviors – become sober instead of using substances for instance. A future that is different, though it does not recapture years when you were making those other choices.

I think the quote is trying to get at the idea that we can make a different future, one that we imagined before. We can learn new hobbies, get a new job, decide to be a parent, become sober.

Yet I am caught in too many scenarios right now – illnesses and circumstances – that cannot be redeemed with different choices. The choice I make is to accept them and let them be what they are. They cannot be other than what they are. I cannot be what I might have been with these albatrosses.

9 responses to “Angry with George Eliot

  1. I often think about just this subject. I believe you have summarized my thoughts to a T. Thank you.

  2. I was gonna get all therapeutic on ya, but figured I’d just be irritating! 🙂
    But I will say, the circumstances/scenarios in which you are living are the result of healthy choices you knew you needed to make.
    And George Elliot, I think, got it wrong. Who wants to be what might have been? Sort of a rear-view mirror view isn’t it? Maybe it’s better to think of who you will become!

  3. I’ve been practicing my ability to feel … to feel angry, sad, irritated, slightly blue, happy, anxious, expectant, etc…. and JUST feel. That’s hard for me. I want to fix it, justify it, erase it, shorten it, tune it … but no, I need to practice feeling it first.

    I don’t know if that has anything at all to do with you, Deb … but I’m praying for you in your journey.

  4. Hi, Deb~
    I first read this post on my phone last week and couldn’t get a response to post. Then The Writer’s Almanac had a big piece about George Eliot this morning, and it spurred me to come back and say what I was thinking then. George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) suffered from depression herself, and no one has been able to trace this quote to her. There’s a long piece in The New Yorker by Rebecca Mead in 2011, and a follow up by Hollis Robbins in Inside Higher Ed ( I’m writing all this to say that I hear your anger and want to take away some of the weight of thinking a famous person with her own troubles said something so trite and annoying. Robbins concludes that the sentiment was likely found on a greeting card.
    As a friend of mine posted yesterday on Facebook, “God never gives us anything that can’t be addressed with an inspirational saying over a pretty image.” Or as my mother-in-law would say, “Paper will stand still while you print anything on it.” I hope this can take away some of the weight given to the sentiment by its association with someone who actually did have things to say worth reading.
    Praying for you, Deb.

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