Ever since humanity created written history, there have been many stories of women who in the name of unconditional love sacrifice their families, careers, countries, kingdoms and even themselves. In modern times, we may question what it actually is that makes women give up so much for love? Though there exist stories of men who do the same as well of course, this tendency seems to be more common with women.
Ancient Medea, for example, gave up her nation’s cultural and spiritual heritage to a man she fell in love with. And if that wasn’t enough, she committed treason, killed her brother in order to protect hew beau and deceived her father. In more modern times, the famous opera singer,
Maria Callas, threw away her long career to be with the man she madly loved. She, just like Medea, gave up her success, reputation and talent to a man.
These are only two examples from the so many out there. Though times have changed dramatically for women, allowing us unprecedented independence and freedom, I still encounter such women, whose love stories are similar in their sacrifice, with the key difference being simply in the fact of them being unpublicised and uncelebrated.
The fact is that women tend to sacrifice their careers, their hobbies and free time more often for husbands and their families than men. Women tend to move much more often, to follow their husband’s career, than men do following their wives and their career. There is something authentic and loving about this type of self-sacrifice from which we can learn in the journey of accepting who we are. The very first step in any coaching is accepting who you are, and only then understanding what you want. Without knowing what are your impulses and desires, you will never be able to tell genuinely what it is that you want to be and where it is that you want to get to.
I don’t mean of course that we should demean ourselves for the men in our lives. The truth of the matter is that most of the famous stories I just told you about ended badly for the women. Medea, for instance, was left by her husband (the one she sacrificed everything for) so he could marry another more suited wife for him in order to better his kingship. Maria Callas, was in a relationship with the man she loved only for a little while before the famous Aristotle Onassis left her for Jackie Kennedy. She never managed to return to her singing heights, however, after the break up and died alone: her sacrifice leaving her living an isolated life and without children. Yet, when she was asked why she did not protect her voice and sacrificed so much for him, she replied “I have been trying to fulfil my life as a woman.”
Women who sacrifice everything end up hurting the most seems to be the obvious lesson from these stories. But is it? Can we as women be so brave and say out loud, with full responsibility and pride that what we actually crave the most in life is to love and not to be alone? What we really want, more than anything, is to be cared for and loved by our partners. Socrates claimed that in the realm of physical love humans work as only halves only eternally looking for the person to fill them up.
It seems clear that radical actions of sacrifice for love such as those made my Medea or Maria Callas are damaging. But why not for a change consider our womanhood as Maria Callas expresses and accept that maybe we can sacrifice a bit for love and in equal measure keep ourself strong. If we accept from the beginning that love is really what we all need we might allow ourselves to live a more well rounded life without the need to sacrifice everything.