The Life-Script of Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln

Even as a young woman, Mary Todd Lincoln had aspirations to someday marry a man who would eventually be President of the United States. She had told her family and friends that she wanted to do so. That goal came to fruition when Abraham Lincoln, her husband, became the nation’s 16th President. She had worked so hard to realize that day! Her “life-script” was fulfilled. Her life-script not only included being the wife of the president but also enjoying all of the trappings and perks that came with the opportunity. I think the life-script essentially remained intact throughout her White House years despite the Civil War that so defined Lincoln’s time in office. It even withstood the personal losses she experienced, including the deaths of family members and her son Willie. Apparently, her life-script also included what she envisioned her life would be like with Mr. Lincoln after the expiration of his second term in office. There had been discussion between herself and her husband about traveling to various places like California-and even Jerusalem once private life resumed.

The idea of a “life-script” is found in Transactional Analysis. “T.A.” informs that a person’s life-script is written while a child. It can be viewed as having a story about ones-self that tends to be followed throughout life. It’s an ongoing dynamic-but it can be limiting to the individual. As long as the script is being lived out there may not be a sense that change is needed. Mary Lincoln got what she wanted in marrying Lincoln. She was positioned to live out the rest of the script (with a few minor adjustments-a “revision”-if you will).

Then came the tragic night of April 14, 1865- President Lincoln, while sitting next to Mary, was shot in Ford’s Theater by an assassin. He died the next morning. Mary Todd Lincoln would never be the same. One can only imagine the pain she suffered as a result of losing her husband-especially in such a manner. Along with losing Mr. Lincoln, she lost her life-script. I would venture to say that she never reconciled her previously held and strongly believed life-script with reality. She wasn’t able to rewrite the script from that point further. She lost her sanity and was even institutionalized for a time. It is said that she spent the rest of her living days wearing black mourning clothes. Her life was extremely painful and difficult. She died a physically and emotionally wrecked woman-her life-script derailed. Her story is tragic, not unlike so many of the Shakespearian plays that Mr. Lincoln loved so well.  

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One Response to “The Life-Script of Mary Todd Lincoln”

  1. Kevin Lindsey says:

    Fascinating analysis of a complex woman, and one that really makes sense to me. She did have both a triumphant and very tragic life.

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