This past week in the Artist’s Way class I’m leading, I asked everyone what they hoped to see happen or get out of the second half of the course. Then I asked what would help them. Do they need some kind of outside help, for example, an art class or an inspirational book or a buddy to check in with on a regular basis? Or was there something internal they needed to do to help themselves, such as setting a goal, setting a schedule, or setting a boundary?
Julia Cameron requests that everyone leading Artist’s Way classes participate fully, doing all the homework and exercises that everyone else is doing each week. So even though I made up the question myself, I really thought about my own answer. And what popped out of my mouth was this: I need to stop worrying about my husband’s journey, and focus on my own.
Two years ago, Craig quit his IT job of many years to set out on an exploration of his dreams. Since then, he’s been to bike mechanics’ school, worked in a bike shop, gone to bike frame-building school, got hired for and immediately quit a job that turned out to be an obvious bad situation, worked at a bike manufacturer, taught himself SolidWorks (3D computer modeling software) and received the first level certification, started building a bike frame for me, taken the Artist’s Way class, and is now temping at an IT job. Pretty productive, huh? He’s taken lots of amazing risks and great steps for himself.
So why am I worrying about his journey? Because his pace is different than mine. Because he’s not using his time the way I think he should. Because he’s not going about his journey the way I think he should (i.e., the way I would in his situation). Because he’s not THERE yet.
But then I blurted out in class that I needed to stop worrying about Craig’s journey and focus on my own. In the few days since I said that on Monday, I’ve realized all kinds of not-so-comfortable things:
- Craig doesn’t need me to run his journey for him. (Ouch 1.)
- I’m not, in fact, able to cause him to succeed. (Ouch 2.) …Or fail…
- I’ve been feeling resentful when it’s appeared to me that he was wasting his time, but actually, I’m angry with myself for ways that I’ve been wasting MY time. (Ouch 3.)
- If I stop worrying about his journey, I will become free to succeed fully in my own dreams. I’ve been holding back on some of my own dreams because I didn’t want to make him feel insecure. (Ouch 4.)
The funny thing is that just in these past few days, as I made a conscious choice to detach from his choices about his journey and how he spends his time, he suddenly got really motivated about his stuff. Imagine that. And I had a burst of all sorts of creative energy, as though a logjam had loosened inside of me. I finished a difficult custom piece of jewelry. For my Artist Date, I sewed a new top and upcycled an old skirt into a new skirt I know I’m going to wear a lot. I decided to watch the DVD’s that came with my serger to see what else the machine can do that I don’t know about yet. After only rock-climbing indoors for months, I arranged to climb outside on Sunday. And just this morning, I made a huge decision to do something I’ve been considering for months: I signed up for an 8-month course to become a certified life coach through Martha Beck Inc.!!!!
Are you looking over the shoulder of someone you love, hoping and longing for the highest good for them to the point where you’re losing track of your own highest good? We’ve all heard this before, but I’ll say it again from my recent experience: it ain’t doing that person any good, and it certainly ain’t doing you any good. So sit down, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and look inward at the beautiful YOU for a minute. What tiny step can you take in the direction of your dreams today?