Melton's memoir was inspired by the break-up of her marriage following her husband's infidelity, and she writes that it is the story of a marriage, but I think it focuses more on her struggle to define herself on her own terms; her own essence rather than a role she plays in relation to other people.
She writes that when she married her husband, as soon as the minister declared them Mr. and Mrs., she thought "It's done. I am a new person. I hope I will be better as her. I hope I become."
Rather than viewing her wedding as a day or even a life event, she saw it as a portal to a new identity. Now she was a married woman, and as a wife she would be __________. Whatever word filled in the blank, it had to be better than what he had been previously (bulimic and alcoholic).
The conflict of course is that we are not transformed by titles. Going from Miss to Mrs (or to Ms.) doesn't really change a person, it just changes the salutation used in correspondence or in formal introductions. It may seem obvious, but I think pretty much any woman can relate to this conflict. Who we are on the inside versus the role we think we should be performing.
I know at certain pivotal points in my life, I have struggled with the question of "Who am I?", when maybe I was actually asking, and answering "Who should I Be?":
Now that I'm in grad school I should ___________________
When I get married, I need to ______________________
I'm pregnant, so shouldn't I be feeling ____________________?
Coming to understand who we are at our inner-most cores instead of who we should be because of certain roles or statuses can be an intense and painful process. Melton thought that becoming a wife and mother deleted her previous identities as a bulimic and an alcoholic, and realized that although those struggles might not be all that she is, they are still a part of who she is. They didn't just get shuffled away, neatly and quietly like winter clothes getting stored in the attic. As painful as the struggles were in their own times, it is also painful when we realize we cannot escape our own past.
"Pain splits us in two. When someone who is suffering says "I'm fine" it's not because she is fine, it's because her inner self told her outer self to say the words "I'm fine."