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An Obliger In Action

An Obliger In Action
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Gretchen Rubin breaks down habit forming in her new book, Better Than Before. 

At the risk of stating the obvious, I am working on being Better than before… Before being “before” I found myself in this emotionally and financially abusive relationship.

If that sounds too much like a buzz word, then I want to be better than before… Before I found myself with two children that respond to a raised tone quicker than sweet talk because they have heard it more than I ever hoped them to.

Before I found myself afraid of going to sleep without my two children in our bed for fear that he might try to force himself on me.

Before my heart began to pound only after he approached me to rip the cup of hot coffee out of my hand because I was slow in offering our 5-year-old daughter an alternative sweater choice because I heard him tell her it was so big and then she came upstairs crying to change it.

Better than Before THAT…

I’ve compiled a number of blog posts over the last week, but things were not too bad with us.

Not too bad in this instance means that I was able to drink the coffee he made and that my heart pounded less from direct yelling in the morning or evening.

Not too bad in that I was able to block him out enough, but still, a moment’s discussion could turn ugly and here I was back to moving slowly… thinking my moves over and over again… Moving with apprehension.

Twice this week he reminded me that I was doing nothing with my life and that being a writer was not productive.  Not a productive way to raise a family.  Not a responsible way to be a parent.

Stop living your dreams

Something he reminds me of often.  I am dreaming in his eyes of the life of a writer.

But for me, writing is my way out.  The problem is that writing in itself is strategic once the writing part is done.   I lack the true emotional support to really even attempt this profession.

If I were another person or feeling so beaten, I might just give up.

But I’m not.

This discussion of a writer’s life was on a podcast I frequent, “Am Writing with Jess and KJ“.

They were breaking down this business of writing as discussed in a new book. “Scratch“.

Because this writer’s life can yield $0.00 in the beginning between articles and things, one needs to remain consistent in audience building and submitting and over time, the financial security will come.

As mentioned in the podcast, both Jess and KJ have husbands with stable jobs and they both noted their ability to be able to start over and focus on the writing career because of their spouse’s ability to provide financially as they gained more income over time.

It was a great episode that I encourage you to listen to if you are looking to understand the work that indeed goes into making a living from writing.

I hope to check out “Scratch” soon as well.

Their discussion only exposed my dilemma.  My husband puts me down for writing, calls it a dream and there are times I feel as if I am treading water.

But I know I am not.

His thing is making us confused (much like this administration).  Since I have gotten a handle on the kids’ sleep schedule, I see how insane our life was prior to my taking it by the reigns.

I was consumed in trying to get work done and my husband was just yelling at me for not being productive at home and waiting until he got home to cook.

Now, because I have no income, I found it impossible to cook something new.  I lacked the inspiration and to be honest, I have had to build a pretty thick skin surrounding my cooking.  Anytime I use a cookbook, I am often met with severe opposition and criticism.  Subconsciously I am pretty certain it is why I have avoided cookbooks, but with my crockpot Christmas present, I suddenly dived into a feeling of productivity that has remained.  This was also following the nearly two weeks of silence!

I have been monitoring my habits and ways around the home and early in the year I knew these kids needed a schedule so I did it!

If you’ve been following along, I have documented how much he hated it… how much he has kicked and screamed blocking it as best he could.

But now, he doesn’t fight it.  There are weeks he doesn’t fight it I should say. Sometimes the kids are already asleep when he gets home and he usually does not want to eat what I made, so he cooks his own dinner and sits alone.

Other times, our son stays up with him.  Or more like I don’t have the energy to fight him in both children so I focus on the one who has to go to school.
It’s been about a month in this schedule and things are certainly settling.

The kids enjoy the routine and I enjoy getting things done without the frenzy.

I also enjoy sitting down to do work and not feeling too guilty about missing something else.

The only frustrating part in all of this monitoring and perhaps it is no longer frustrating, is that it has taken this breaking point to get me here.

Without giving away too much of her book, Gretchen Rubin describes an obliger as someone who accepts outside rules, but doesn’t like to adopt self-imposed rules.

As an obliger, I respond to outside reinforcement / incentives.

I immediately recognized this as a trait that I had struggled with my entire life.

When examining my marriage, it is always some type of extreme behavior that gets me to make a change.

Not to mention, my husband is a true rebel. Hands down.

With this routine in place, so many other things have been possible.  I truly feel as if I am weeding through… Like Sleeping Beauty’s prince breaking through the thorny bush, I am clearing a path.  Removing mental and physical roadblocks and taking necessary steps toward my path to freedom.