I have this friend, okay, she's actually my daughter's best friend, but I adore her. She's a young mother of two, her husband is deployed to the Middle East (again) and she's feeling the growing pains of finding her "Self."
Being the avid giver of unsolicited advice, I sent the following message (which is something I really wish someone would have shared with me when I walked in her shoes many, many years ago):
"Read your latest blog posting, and take what you will from this comment from someone who's walked the path before you...
Yes, it is important that your spouse finds value in your efforts and your dreams, and it is vitally important that they support you while you discover how those dreams actually blend into your life. You must, however, absolutely acknowledge those dreams and hopes for your own well being. A spouse that loves and cares for you will naturally fall in line with helping to you attain them.
For a very long time, I (unintentionally) allowed my "self" to be martyred (by me) for what I thought was the best interest of my family. Turns out, it wasn't necessary to give up all of my wants to fulfill their wants and take care of them as best I could. As parents and partners, we often feel that if we place ourselves on equal ground (not above, not below) to those we love, we are in some way being selfish. The reality is that when we de-value our "self," we are short-changing those we love. We are sharing less than we can of who we are and what makes us special and valuable to them.
So to you, dear (Name), I say this.... find the time to explore what makes you happy and fulfills you as a person. Your family will benefit from your increased contentment, and blossoming self-esteem. Your husband will continue to compliment you, and instead of questioning those compliments, you will take them as they were intended and it will feed your creative soul... and that well-nourished "self" will bring a new level of closeness to your husband and a better understanding of you to yourself. Your children will benefit because you will offer the example of how to discover and follow your dreams, and still be a thoughtful, caring and confident person. Your friends will also benefit because a self-assured, confident person can better help them through their own troubles and self-searching.
I wish you the joy of discovery and the contentment of awareness on your journey."
For the record: My husband 1001% supports my dreams, in fact he regularly kicks my dreams in the backside to get them motivated. My dreams tend to get a little lazy... often, they'd rather snooze in front of the TV versus drive to the other side of the Canal to discover hidden forest ponds. When I lost my urge to draw or paint and fell into a pretty significant depression... he bought me a camera and a new Muse came knocking. Last year for Valentine's Day, he gave me a tri-pod. This year I got butterflies (they're beautiful, but don't ask me to explain) and a hiking stick. Today, he's taking me to Seattle to see and photograph the butterflies... you see the pattern? This is only a few very examples of his on-going support.
And how do I practice what I preach? It's not easy... but I try to find the things that make me "happy," and then actually do them. At first, I resisted going to Seattle today - I've been sick, and I feel so tired, and money's tight, and so on. Then, I realized I was shorting myself again - I really wanted to go.
ferry ride (two-ways) across the Puget Sound on a clear, sparkling February Saturday that only requires a fair be paid one-way. A ride on the mono-rail to the Pacific Science Center... both of which are new experiences for me, even though I'm a native northwesterner. An exhibit with thousands of colorful, exotic and live butterflies to photograph and swell my "self" with joy (butterflies have that effect on me). Okay, so we're looking at $5 for all-day parking at the terminal to take the foot ferry (2 adults and 1 youth) for about $20 (the trip is about hour each way), $10 for the bus to the monorail (again, round-trip), $12 for the monorail experience (to and from), and $37 for admission to the Science Center. About $84 for a day's entertainment for 3 people. There is, of course, the obligatory fish and chips at Ivar's so we can feed the seagulls our fries (a must in our family, in order to "keep clam") and probably a mocha somewhere in our day too.
So, in closing... although the Hubby came up with this idea to spark my Muse and get her off her lazy backside, it's up to me to embrace the opportunity to feed my soul, nourish my "self" and become more, in order to give more back to those I love.