Changing my Mind

Before I was 6 or 7 years old, I had already decided that I wished I was a boy. It seemed that men had all the fun. Father went off to his office in the Civil Service in London and spent most of his day with his colleagues whilst Mother had to stay at home with boring and tiring things to do and babies to look after. I did not like babies at all. They were either screaming for attention or emitting unpleasant smells.

Mother never had enough milk so we were fed with bottles. One day, in someone else’s house I saw a baby breast-feeding. I knew something about cannibals and felt quite sick. Was that why I didn’t like dolls? They seemed like dead things to me. However, I liked making things. I created effigies of dolls with a stick, crayons and bits of cloth. I made a small theatre out of a cardboard box with cardboard figures as actors. And I wrote simple plays with an old typewriter. That was fun. I made up my mind that I would never marry nor have children. I knew I loved learning and wanted a career. Above all, I wanted to go away from the house every day. Though school was not ideal I could learn things there in a less depressing environment.

When I was at grammar school and getting ready to try for a scholarship to university, a teacher suggested I take some lessons in typing and shorthand. “Why?” I said, “I don’t want to be a secretary.”

“It could be a stand by” she said. “No” I said “I do not want to do what other people tell me. I want to be in control with responsibility for myself.” I started the course but I didn’t finish it. I did not know how useful typing could be. How could I know that things would change greatly and computers would come into being with so many possibilities.

Since I was very small I wanted to learn Spanish and go to South America. I don’t know why but I had strong feelings that my ancestors must have come from there. With a four-year course in Hispanic Studies at Liverpool University I was well equipped. I met my husband there. We read the same course. We married when I finished. He took a job in Maracaibo with Shell.

I loved Maracaibo and a maid to do the housework. I couldn’t find a job because the only things I could do were secretarial work or teaching. The people around me in England puzzled me. I never knew why they said what they said to me and I had no idea what to say back. On the whole I came to the conclusion that they didn’t like children very much. It was unnerving.

There was none of that in South America. The Venezuelans were very much my kind of people. They said what they meant and held nothing back. They loved their children and let them stay up late. I was even more convinced that I had some of their blood in my veins. The change from the squalor of post-war England to the country overflowing with milk and honey was ecstatic. I soon had two babies, both boys and to my amazement I found them fascinating and became engrossed in watching them learning to walk and talk. Mother Nature got the better of me and I was delighted.

It just goes to show that when we are children we rarely have any idea about what we really want to do.

We need to learn more about ourselves to be able to think more clearly. That was the beginning of my real life. I had no idea of what lay before me. One thing I learned but it took me a long time. I realised that I was glad to be a woman and not a man. What helped me very greatly was my enthusiastic readings of most of the work of Carl Gustav Jung: the best psychologist and the best philosopher by my standards.