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What no one tells you about living the dream
A couple of weeks ago my husband asked me the most innocuous of questions; “What would you like for your birthday?”
I stared blankly at him for a second, then broke down in tears and sobbed; “I don’t need anything for my birthday, I have everything that I could ever want, right here, right now.”
Taken aback by this wave of emotion, I went in search of its source and was surprised to find that no, it wasn’t hormones messing with my mind, it was standard-issue female guilt.
This is the one thing no one likes to admit about the whole ‘having it all’ and living your dream thing – for it to happen, someone has to make sacrifices. And that someone is not you. This is highly guilt inducing.
A year ago I was suffering from quite a lethal combination of stress, anxiety and depression. The main reason for this was that I hated my job, and my ‘job’ just happened to be running a business. My own business. I had reached breaking point and my solution to the problem was to sell everything we owned and buy a little shack in the woods down south.
As my husband was on long service leave at the time he gently suggested that before we took the drastic step of becoming hermits, maybe he could take over running my business so I could rest and recuperate at home. So that’s what I did. Two months later I decided that I never wanted to go back to running my business. As a creative person, all I wanted was to be a designer and a writer. I didn’t want to be involved in the mind numbing (for me) minutiae of managing staff, clients, suppliers, budgets and everything in between.
So what did my husband do? He took unpaid leave from teaching, a job he really loved, and continued to run my business. Just so I could keep on doing what I loved doing – staying at home by myself being creative.
I feel guilty about this every single day. I overcompensate in myriad ways (that’s a whole other blog post there!) and assume my husband is resentful of the sacrifice he is making just so I can be happy. I assume he thinks I am taking the piss a bit.
He thinks none of these things.
I know this now because for my birthday he got me a present that demonstrated clearly how proud he is of me and how happy it makes him to see me loving my life.
So while I know there are a lot of women like Coping With Jane reader Tash who says:
Personally I have found what I think is a good balance … The problem is … both my husband and the kids resent that my focus is no longer purely on them and I don’t get the support I’d like, or need.
I know there are many, many more who are just like me … drowning in guilt and imagining resentment and anger that are simply not there.
I wish I had some answers for the Tashes of the world but for you people who are like me, I have a really simple solution that I’m going to give a try as well. I’m going to cut myself some slack and stop with the overcompensating.
Because you know what? I’m not really living the dream if I don’t.
Are you suffering from the guilt of living your dream? How do you manage it ?