This blog post comes to you courtesy of Lisa Grace Byrne, founder of the WellGrounded Life and co-faculty (along with K.L. Going) of our Rekindling the Fire workshop.
A couple weeks ago, I was getting pedicures and enjoying a night out with a few girlfriends. I hopped onto the pedicure chair next to my good friend, Shawn, and the first thing she said was, “I’ve got to tell you something.”
Backstory: Shawn is a very gifted writer but her dreams of writing took a back seat once she started a family and had kids. A little voice has been nudging her to pick up writing again, but she wasn’t sure how to jump back in.
A few months ago I told her about the writing retreat for moms I’m co-leading with a little “hint hint” smirk. Her eyes perked up, but I let it go, hoping to plant a seed.
What I didn’t know is that behind the scenes she’s been thinking about that retreat, a lot. But it took her months to finally bring it up to her husband.
The Questions We Never Ask
See, the thing is, we often don’t actually ask for what we want.
So many desires go unspoken in the corridors of our mind and we answer them for ourselves before anyone else can tell us no. In Shawn’s mind she had every possible reason that she wouldn’t be able to go to a writing retreat.
She convinced herself the conversation with her husband would go south.
She already let herself down before there was a chance at a possible yes.
I know, because I do it all the time to my own interests and desires.
In my head I would have had conversations like:
“It would be way too much to ask to leave the home for 4 full days – who would take care of the kids, get them where they need to go, pack their lunches, manage the bickering after school, help with homework, get them to bed?”
“How could we afford this kind of investment into a “dream” of mine? We have other things that should take priority — furniture we wanted to buy or kids’ afterschool activities.”
It’s Exhausting to Justify Our Needs
Most of us never ask for what we want because we anticipate our asking will be seen as selfish or negligent of our role as a caregiver.
But here’s the thing: The questions we never ask are always answered the same way…no.
So, back to Shawn.
She goes on to tell me that she decides she’s going to go for it and open the conversation up with her husband.
She brings up the webpage for the retreat and tells him, “Hey babe, could you take a look at this? I know it may not work out but it’s something I’m really interested in and wanted to show you.”
He hardly needs to read the whole page through and immediately responds with: “It sounds awesome! I was wondering when you were going to pick up writing again. I never wanted to push you but I really think you should start doing it again. You light up when you are writing and you’re really good at it.”
Shawn stood there speechless.
Beyond the retreat itself, the fact that she broke through the walls (of her own creation) to allow herself to express what her needs and desires were was huge. Huge.
We need to create spaces within our intimate relationships that allow us to dream and share our needs and wants.
It doesn’t mean every need will be met exactly as we express it. It doesn’t mean we don’t have to consider the reality that we are still part of a family that needs to thrive and make choices with the best of everyone involved- but here’s the thing: YOU are part of that equation.
Your best is part of the family’s best.
I can remember the first time I left the family for a personal self care retreat.
I battled through every possible argument in my mind about how selfish and negligent I was.
But you know what the reality ended up being? EVERYONE had a really great weekend. The kids did fine, they got to connect and bond with family members in ways they wouldn’t have before. They had so many stories to tell me when I returned about their adventures and funny things that happened. They shared about how they cared for each other when one of them felt sad and missed me. And I got to share what I learned and how I handled missing them.
What About You?
What questions are you not asking in life? What desires or dreams have you already shut down and answered no to before anyone else ever heard of them?
And what might you need in order to begin to speak those questions?
Could it be a heart-to-heart with your partner sharing that you want to start talking about some ideas and dreams, and that you want a safe place where they can just be explored before without judgement or defensiveness?
It’s often not talked about much, but as one person in a relationships grows and becomes more self-connected and cared-for…the intimate relationship they are in needs to grow and deepen too. Opening up these unasked questions can be a great way to allow the relationship to grow as well.
Wishing you unexpected answers to questions that are spoken in love and confidence,
Posted on: August 27, 2014