“I’m doing my art tonight, remember?”
“Ugh. So it’s just me and the kids? I’m not going to see you at all? Sigh.”
“OK. Then get in there.”
Twice a week, I take myself off of the family schedule to work on my art - alone. No kids asking me where stuff is. No laundry. No phone. No dog barking for another biscuit. It’s an important time for me, and even though my husband supports it, I still find myself giving it up because I feel like I should be doing the dishes or folding clothes or looking for a lost shoe, yeah I’m twisted like that.
Art is a huge part of who I am, but I often do not give myself permission to have the time to practice it, to tinker, to just check out and be creative. It’s a long standing internal struggle. Between my family, the house, and my work, I’d try and shove in some creative time here and there, never actually validating it and giving it a rightful place in my world with its own boundaries. As a result, I end up stuffing it away, and I’m left feeling unaccomplished and incomplete.
Incredibly, my husband has created an amazing opportunity for me to learn a lesson of boundaries in a safe and loving way. Every week, with strong intentions, I put my art time on the calendar. Sometimes he makes it easy by reminding me when its time for me to leave and backing me up in the house so I can let it go. Other times he challenges me, “You’re going right now?” Sounds like an innocent if not slightly passive aggressive question, right? But that’s when the guilt and the obligation come crashing down. It would be too selfish to just check out right now. My other responsibilities are more important. My family doesn’t want me to go. I can’t do it. But I need to do it. I want to do it. I’m then forced to verbalize that my art is important, “Yes, I’ll be in the studio until 9:00.” I silently cringe, waiting for push back, but it never comes. A little PTSD from old relationships, I guess. If I ignore my time and stay, that space is seamlessly filled, we’re walking the dog, hanging out with the kids, going through the mail, and getting everyone ready for bed. All fine things, but not one step closer to personal truth. I know that my husband gets it, he really doesn’t mind if I go, but his simple challenge forces me to fight a little harder for myself, and in that, I am practicing to fight for my own boundaries.
The more chances I have to practice it, the easier it gets and the more it becomes a part of who I am. The experience is invaluable and ultimately a life lesson I’ll be able to master without guilt but with total confidence.
Are you practicing your boundary skills?