We are through Week 2, which is “Recovering a Sense of Identity”. This is an important week to me, because this is the main reason I decided I needed to recover in the first place. Somewhere in the past few years, I’ve lost me. Instead of being me, I am JR’s wife, Katelyn’s mom, the office’s paralegal, etc. My identity has become blurred. I am no longer clearly me. I look in the mirror, and I don’t recognize the face looking back at me. The person I see is more tired, heavier, and harried than the me I used to be. So, I am using this week to try and regain my identity. In doing so, I hope to become a happier person, and, in turn, a better mother and wife.
Julia describes this as “going sane”. It does feel a bit like I’m going crazy. I have become obsessive about protecting my time. I have become more aware of what is really important. For instance, several years ago, I agreed to water my mother’s plants and pick tomatoes while they were gone. Normally, before TAW, I would obsess over that and worry, worry, worry about whether I was going often enough. but after experiencing The Artist’s Way, I decided when to go and made it a family project – not just something that I had to go do while my family sat at home in the air conditioning in front of the television while I played the martyr. I’ve felt guilty about not giving more of myself. I’ve questioned my own recovery – wondering if I’ve had all the success I’m going to have (which isn’t nearly enough, as far as I’m concerned). Julia says this is normal – she cautions “Do not let your self-doubt turn into self-sabotage.”
One of the ways we can avoid self-sabotage is by being aware of our “poisonous playmates”. Be aware of your friends who are themselves blocked – they will not help you at this time. You need to guard your inner artist – you have a responsibility to yourself to do just that. You need support now. And no one will support you better than yourself, and those of us who are going through TAW with you. Lean on us, and depend on yourself. You are on the right track.
Julia introduces us to Crazymakers in this chapter. The first time I read this, it was like a huge lightbulb went on. Crazymakers create drama, and put themselves at the center of attention. As soon as you start to focus on yourself, the Crazymaker calls you with a crisis. As soon as your life starts to go smoothly, the Crazymaker creates bumps and roadblocks and detours. They force you to conform to their schedule. But here’s the thing – they can’t FORCE you to do anything. Once you are aware of the Crazymaker, you can set boundaries and react to your own needs and not the Crazymaker’s. Recognize that this person is using you, and put a stop to it. That person is using you – no, that person is abusing you. There was a person in my life when I went through this the first time who I definitely considered a Crazymaker. She certainly drove me crazy. I made a conscious decision to stop reacting, and to let go of the anger that existed over all my previous reactions. It was incredibly freeing experience, and actually saved the relationship. She still drives me crazy, but now I avoid her except in specific circumstances so that I control my reaction and how much she affects me.
Think about your identity – I mean REALLY think about it this week, and do two or three of the following tasks:
1. Affirmative Readings every day. Be alert for attitudinal shifts.
2. List your five major activities this week. How much time did you give to each one? Which were what you wanted to do, and which were ones you should do? How much of your time is spent doing for others, and how much is spent doing for you?
3. List twenty things you enjoy doing. Think back over the past several years – or even back to your childhood. Next to each entry place a date indicating the last time you did that activity. (Hint: perfect list to plan upcoming Artist Dates!)
4. From your list of twenty things, write down 2 favorite things that you could do this week. Look for windows of time just for you and use them in small creative acts.
5. Read the affirmations from Week One. Pick two or three that sounds the most ridiculous, and write them five times each day in your morning pages.
6. Look at the list of imaginary lives from last week. Add five more lives. Can you do a little part of any of them this week?
7. Life Pie. Draw a circle and divide it into six pieces, like a pie. Label them: spirituality, exercise, play, work, friends, romance/adventure. Place a dot in each slice at the degree to which you are fulfilled in that area (outer rim is great, inner, not so great). You’ll see where you’re lopsided.
8. Ten Tiny Changes. List ten changes you’d like to make – any size change is fine. Just start each sentence “I would like to . . . ”
9. Select one change and make it a goal for the week.
10. Go do it!!