Meredith Baxter’s memoir, Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering, burrows into her childhood moments and what it was like growing up the daughter of an actress; then we discover her feelings of loss and abandonment when she believed herself to be simply an afterthought in the lives of her parents. The story gives the reader a peek into her life before celebrity; and then takes us on the journey to that particular destination.
What we’ve known about this actor is the life we’ve only imagined, based on her performances and what we might have read in celebrity magazines. From her star-studded celebrity and her partnership with costar David Birney (from Bridget Loves Bernie), we see an entirely different kind of life behind the scenes. Behind the televised moments, we learn about Meredith’s feeling of having “no voice” in the marriage; we learn about the emotional and sometimes physical abuse; and about the overwhelming feeling of always being “wrong.” From there, we discover the role alcohol played in her life; the symptom of her “thinking” problems that would continue for years afterwards, until finally she reached a point in recovery where she could examine how her thinking, her choices, and her belief systems had controlled her life. An interesting point she makes, which she gleaned from a sponsor, is that, in looking at a particularly “painful” relationship or individual, she must consider that the person is “not the wound, but is the sword in the wound.”
Rediscovering who she was and forming a new and separate identity without a man in her life led to another unexpected pathway—her choice to accept and embrace her lesbian lifestyle and the compatible partner she now has. This decision came after much thought and examination. Previous relationships had been based on the familiar, playing out the more damaging aspects of familial relationships. In the latter portion of the book, she states: “Then I had to think about most of the previous relationships I’d settled for, where I’d been so lonely, lying to myself, pretending I wasn’t hurt, trying not to feel, not being able to share, not showing up….”
Like many memoirs I’ve enjoyed, this one gave me a lot to think about. Why we choose our paths in life and what emotional triggers govern us. How our own childhood experiences color everything we do, but also how we sometimes go in opposite directions, thinking we are taking control of our lives—and yet how we’re still reacting to those previous experiences. Developing insight into our behavior sometimes takes a lifetime, and the mistakes we make can also be the lessons we learn for the future…if we are courageous enough.