Freedom: The Power to act, speak or think without fear, hindrance or restraint.
When we think of ‘freedom’, we often think of civil liberties such as Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Association and Freedom of Assembly, amongst others. I am a strong believer and defender of those liberties.
Freedom can also be thought of in terms of freedom within relationships, and of one’s own personal freedom. In these cases, what does freedom mean?
I think there are three parts to being truly free. The first part is to have freedom from restraints or fear. The second part is to have the freedom to act. The third part is to have the freedom of capacity in order to act. It is not enough for a bird to be let out of its cage, it is not enough that it wants to be free, in order to fly it must also have wings.
In the early days post separation friends, acquaintances and divorce advice websites were loud in their message to me ‘now you are free’. Was this true? In my marriage, did I lack freedom? Did I have freedom now?
I believe marriages should be based on mutual trust, care, respect and friendship; one that allows intimacy yet still enables each partner to maintain the freedom of their own individuality; where there are no issues of power or control within the relationship; no engulfment of one by the other; and no constraints imposed on the relationship by problems of alcohol, gambling, abuse, or hang-ups.
Whilst I thought that our marriage was based on those beliefs, in the last few years my husband began viewing his marital union and family responsibilities as a constraint; as a restriction on his freedom. The irony is that his unhappiness at his perceived lack of freedom produced restraints and fears within our relationship that never previously existed.
Yes, in the early days post separation there were times when I celebrated the lifting of those psychological restraints imposed during the dying days of our marriage. In time, I also learned to let go of my self-imposed constraints – commitments, plans and promises – that no longer held relevance. I embraced solitude and enjoyed my new found freedom of time and space.
Is this freedom?
Is true freedom simply being free of restraints?
Is true freedom being able to do whatever we want, whenever we want, with whoever we want, with no responsibility to anyone but ourselves?
Some people see freedom only in terms of restraints. They see any restriction – either imposed by others or by themselves – as a limit on their freedom. They want to be free from restraints, free from responsibility, to only worry about themselves. That to them is freedom.
I see freedom differently.
I choose to live my life free of external restrictions as I set my own rules. I impose my own restraints, my own moral code. As long as I impose these myself, by my own free-will, it is freedom. One cannot enslave oneself. With no external restrictions, only internal ones, I have the freedom to think, speak, and act the way I want.
I have the freedom to choose to be responsible to my family. When I act out of love and devotion, there are no constraints – no matter what the responsibilities require of me.
I have the freedom to do what is right by others and to the community.
These are my choices. They are not restraints. I am not constrained because I do it with my own free will. I am unimpeded by a contrary desire.
I have the freedom to choose my own direction in life and and to fit this in with my life’s purpose which I alone shall choose.
Do I have the capacity, attitude and skills to take up this action?
Yes. I have the freedom of an untouchable power-force within me that no-one can take away no matter what happens to me. The power to choose my attitude. My attitude is to develop a capacity by education, training or resolve to overcome any obstacle or impediment in my way.
That is my one last step to freedom. This will become my ultimate freedom. To be free to choose my own goals by my own free-will and to work towards those goals unimpeded.
Your post speaks very profoundly to my own experience. Even just the act of breathing feels different now, in a good way.
Many people in my circle had doubts about how things would go for me, because I’m an autism mom. They think I’m being courageous… but they don’t get it. I’m just finally very ready to be happy and give my son a happy mom.
Thanks for your comment. Being a happy mother is so important to your child(ren)’s well-being. We are on the same page!:)
I like this a lot – oddly enough it makes me think about a film I watched on design – that constraints don’t limit creativity – they just give you the objectives your design has to fill. Knowing your boundaries actually gives you more creative freedom. I like thinking of personal freedom this way too – that I set my constraints based upon my goals or values – knowing where I stand gives me the liberty to act in complete freedom.
Yes, the topic opens up quite a few fundamental debates on what ‘liberty’ actually means. I think of my kids aged now 24 to 32. They had a lot more power in their childhood to do what they wanted compared to my generation where rigid rules were enforced by schools, society and families. However, in our day you could walk anywhere and everywhere in complete safety. My kids had to be warned of ‘stranger danger’ and be dropped off and picked up from everything. So I am not sure which generation actually had more ‘freedom’.
What an absolute WINNER of a post.
In his book Man’s Search for Meaning” Viktor Frankel discussed how one can even be free in a concentration camp.
I have heard of his attitude but have not read his book. Thanks for giving me the title to follow up on. Nelson Mandela wrote in a similar light in his book ‘A long walk to freedom’, albeit he was referring more specifically to owning your own attitude. To me that includes the feeling of freedom, even when imprisoned (literally or metaphorically).
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