When I was pushed out of the workforce last Summer, my quality of life got infinitely better. I was free of a job that was making me miserable, I could focus on parenting during a pandemic, and I could spend time thinking about what I could do for myself to bring me more joy. Turns out that thing is writing.
I loved having the freedom of not having to do anything. I got things done at my own pace. The house was running, the kids were happy, but I still struggled to prioritize my personal goals. (Ironic, considering I wrote about how to do it.) But follow through is another thing entirely, and the accountability to do it continues to elude me.
So without employer expectations to hold me accountable, and several months of lack-luster personal accountability, I found another source and that’s when things went from not great to weirdly worse.
My husband, first of all, has no problem with accountability. He is an insanely smart, high-achieving goal setter who has accomplished everything he’s set his mind to. Everything from making the best cup of coffee to running an ultra marathon. He was 100% in support of the decision for me to stay home and focus on new goals. But when I lost focus on those new goals, things got weird.
It started with simple suggestions: “you should write today.” But here’s my problem with “you should.” I hear, “I want you to.” Which is then internalized as an expectation, translated to pressure to achieve results, and means failure if you don’t. Yes, I realize this is my own internal absurdity, but I have to believe I’m not the only one who is triggered this way.
And as these suggestions of support continued, I started to look at my husband as a new de-facto boss. To make it perfectly clear, he did not behave in anyway to deserve this title. The insecurity in myself projected this role onto him. And I resented him for it, through absolute no fault of his own. He simply wanted to support and encourage me, when I was unable to support and encourage myself.
So when he suggested a write, I bristled and used the multitude of parenting and household responsibilities as excuses. I shot back with passive aggressive barbs about being a housewife. Writing didn’t happen, momentum was lost, and my self-worth continued to drop. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I didn’t want to be “just a stay at home mom,” but I used every excuse in the book not to try to be anything else.
Obviously, my husband witnessed this negative loop with little he could do about it. Until finally, yesterday, after another conversation where suggestions were made. I made a decision to just write; to use my free time during pre-school hours to consciously not do things around the house and only write. And today my husband, having just witnessed this small miracle, has left voluntarily to go to the grocery store so I could keep writing this.
And the lightbulb turned on. That’s the kind of support and encouragement I respond best to: simply acts of service that remove the excuses and allow me the time and space to get out of my own way and do what I need to do. That, and probably a legitimate writing buddy that can hold me accountable without emotional strings attached.