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Saturday, 10 January 2009

Interview with author of Eat Work and Pray

An interview with the bestselling author of the book 'Eat Work and Pray' came out in the Guardian today. I was particularly interested in how the decision not to have children played out in her life. This is a particuarly relevant quote:

The journey started with an act of bona fide bravery: an admission that she didn't want to have children, not with her husband, not with anyone, ever. It's not expressed as categorically as this in the book, and when we find her appealing to God from the bathroom floor while her husband sleeps innocently in the bedroom next door, it reads like an overreaction. She was praying because she didn't know what else to do; she hated her marriage and didn't want to have a baby at that point. But she was only 31 - what was the big deal?

"I think it was a crisis because the pressure was on to have kids," she says. "My ex-husband was very eager to do it. There was no neutral position. Me saying I don't want to have kids was effectively me saying I don't want to be married, if that's what the conditions of the marriage were. I'd also lived a very accelerated decade in my 20s. My career started young and I was really ambitious, and then I had success and I hung out with people who were much older. I think I might have been temporally misplaced, so I thought I was 40. It was a premature midlife crisis."

The end of her marriage constituted the first real failure Gilbert had dealt with. The crisis was so huge, she says, because she was not used to disappointing people or herself, a sneaky piece of self-promotion. She believes that her breakdown was also fanned by grief for the children she'd never have. "When I diagnose my depression now, I think it was partially about saying goodbye to these kids that I always expected to have but already knew that I wouldn't."

Gilbert then went on to marry an older man - who didn't want children which she says was a conscious choice.

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