So, this morning as I was slowly waking up and making myself cogent enough to go to work...I had a thought...a thought about grammar and sentence construction and how something as simple as a conjunction and a little bit of punctuation can completely change the meaning of...well...everything.
Back in grad school we called this rhetorical grammar. I thought it was an amazingly powerful thing and taught it to all of my freshmen too...because we really should think about the power of our words and how we construct them and what meanings they convey to others.
So, the profound thought went like this:
The old me felt that "I am special because someone loves me."
The new me feels that "I am special; therefore, someone loves me."
Because. Therefore. Two simple words, to seemingly simple sentences, but oh, the differences that they make in not only the meaning but how I feel about my life and relationships.
So, let's discuss because first. Because is an important word. It conveys a causal relationship, usually the latter bringing about the former. Not: "I am special"...but I am special because something happens to make me special. In my former way of thinking I could only be special because someone loved me. The syntax of that simple sentence (and I'm using that in the literal, grammatical way: simple versus compound) conveys that one can't exist without the other. The word because in this example is a subordinating conjunction that introduces the clause "someone loves me." The subordinating function of the word creates an idea that the main sentence can't exist without the clause. While we may be tempted to think of the "because someone loves me" part of the original sentence to be less important (or subordinate) to the meaning, it actually is more important to the meaning of the sentence because it defines exactly how I become special--only in the presence of someone who loves me.
Now, let's move on to therefore. Therefore is one of my favorite conjunctions. Again, it conveys motion, causal relationships, but it is different because it is a coordinating conjunction. Its function in a sentence (the way I've used it, Therefore has multiple meanings and grammatical abilities) is to coordinate. To make evident that both pieces of the sentence have equal importance. In this case I'm making a compound sentence but the use of the semi-colon creates a balance, but it also creates a connection. I could have written. "I am special. Therefore, someone loves me." but that would have had a different implication. The "I am special" part is solitary--standing along. It means something all by itself because it's contained within its neat grammatical package. Put that semi-colon in there, though, and the two sentences become merged into one. Their meaning becomes blended. They must exist together as a single idea...being special and being loved become harmonious pieces to a whole thought and way of thinking.
I hope I didn't boggle your mind with my grammar lesson. It's been very important for me to think through this. To put into words and the rhetoric of my former and current lives. To make sense of, though language, something that has been gnawing at my brain for a long time--this past year...this summer in particular.
When I was married I existed through my husband. He was the defining person of my life and the way I thought and thought about myself. If he believed something should happen, then I made sure that it happened. It didn't matter if I liked it or wanted it...it happened because the central driving force of our relationship determined it should be that way.
I was special, until I wasn't. And that was a hard lesson to work though. How could I become special ever again? How could I become defined as someone worthy when the one person who defined my specialness no longer thought I was special? How did I learn to exist beyond what I had been? How did I become special?
This lesson has been a hard one to learn. To understand that I'm special because I am. And in realizing my worth and power I can open myself up to truly being loved and appreciated. As hard as it has been to learn, and as hard as it is some days to remember, it is the driving force of my life right now. It's the reason I could date again. It's the reason I could pick myself up and redefine who I am and what I do. It's the reason, plain and simple, that I am happy.
Simple sentence. Powerful discovery.