Humor

Somebody Else’s Idea of an Adult

As an artist, I can literally die from boredom. I kill myself when I fail to nurture my artist child because I am acting like somebody else’s idea of an adult.”

Julia Cameron

My first marriage ended in divorce. I’m hesitant to discuss it in detail here for a variety of reasons; there is my story, there is his story, and there is my daughter’s story. Then there is the story of my daughter’s parents plural, of when we were together. I can say that there was love in that story, and she was conceived as a result of that love.

On Memorial Day 2002, my ex-husband, our toddler, and I moved into my parents’ home. We were in the middle of building a new house and had sold our previous one. It was a modest starter home I loved, but we had outgrown it. So we bought a cookie cutter, suburban, brand-new home that lacked character but was big on square footage.

While our new house was being built, we needed a place to live. So we arranged to stay with my parents at their ranch house for three months. It wasn’t easy, as grateful as I was to my parents for graciously opening their home to us. Each of us had our own adult routines, and getting them all to work together wasn’t simple. My ex-husband didn’t get along very well with my parents, and as a result, it was emotionally stressful.

By the Fourth of July, I had filed for divorce from my husband.

The living situation was not the cause of my divorce. I’m confident it didn’t help my mental state, and it may have influenced my decision making in some manner, but the eventual demise of our marriage had nothing to do with that summer.

I was reading The Artist’s Way and had no plans of writing this post, but as anyone who has read this book knows, the writing comes to you. It’s not up to you. One morning while reading the book and writing my “morning pages,” I had an epiphany. I was struck by the quote at the beginning of this post. Specifically, “acting like somebody else’s idea of an adult.”

Holy shit.

That’s it.

I’d never been able to put it into words before. That was how I felt when I moved into my parents’ house that summer. When I finally read the words in front of me, I felt as if someone punched me in the gut.

When my roles as a wife and mother, as well as having a house to maintain, were stripped away that summer, I realized I was “acting like somebody else’s idea of an adult.”

I don’t think the life I was living was what I imagined an adult would be like. Or perhaps it was, and then it became disenchanting. Being liberated from my daily routine provided me with a glimpse of what my newfound life could be if I built it. It sounds selfish as I write it, and it very well may have been. I was the mother of a two-year-old daughter. I should have thought about that ahead of time.

“Creativity is oxygen for our souls. Cutting off our creativity makes us savage. We react like we are being choked. There is a real rage that surfaces when we are interfered with on a level that involves picking lint off of us and fixing us up…we will react as if we are fighting for our lives-we are.”

For a long time, I tried to fit in a mold of who I felt I should be.

I’m an employee.

I’m a wife.

I’m a mother.

Work full-time. Save my money. Get married. Stay at home with the children. Get a job to help with expenses. Maybe work part time to make “fun money.”

I never considered what I might love doing. Like taking a reiki course for fun or embarking on a trip by myself. Or writing a book or screenplay with no expectation of profit.


I felt guilt, sorrow, and shame for many years after the divorce. I carried that on my body for a long time before I believed I was finally able to let it go. This year, I finally did let it go.

Becoming my own therapist has been the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. Through this self-discovery, I’ve realized that doing the things in life that make me happy isn’t selfish. That sometimes I have to put those things ahead of being a parent, being a partner, being a part of a corporation.

Wanting to be happy is never selfish.

“To kill your dreams because they are irresponsible is to be irresponsible to yourself…The creator made us creative. Our creativity is our gift from God. Our use of it is our gift to God. Accepting this bargain is the beginning of true self-acceptance.”

35 thoughts on “Somebody Else’s Idea of an Adult”

  1. I’m so glad you have let that pain go- it’s because you have an amazing therapist! And it’s nice to see the love of Culvers has been passed down between siblings. LOL

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post. Sometimes it takes awhile for us to figure out the point, so to speak…but it doesn’t matter how or when we get there…it’s all about getting there

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Being liberated from my daily routine provided me with a glimpse of what my newfound life could be if I built it. It sounds selfish as I write it, and it very well may have been. I was the mother of a two-year-old daughter. I should have thought about that ahead of time.”

    Hoo-boy, do I understand where this comes from. How I wish 26-year-old Rita (and 32-year-old Rita) could have made some different decisions, but here’s the thing I’ve come to understand: She couldn’t. She didn’t know what she needed to know. I’m guessing you had to see how things could be different before you could imagine a different life. I bet all of us have lived at least some portion of our life trying to be some other person’s idea of what an adult should be.

    I’m coming to think that the question of how to be an adult is one we never fully answer. Retiring (I guess I retired? Sorta?) has put me in a place all over again of asking and answering questions of how to be and live. I think there are really important things I am only just now seeing and understanding. Better late than never!

    Sending you love and encouragement as you continue finding your answers.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m constantly learning new things about being an adult. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, I’m knocked down a notch or two and I learn yet another lesson. Actually, I suppose I’m still learning how to be a child and a teenager. As you said, it’s better late than never.

      I’ll take that love and encouragement. I’m sending it back to you as well. Life is strange, but not quite as scary as it once was. I hope it feels that way for you as well.

      Like

  4. I love Julia Cameron. I’ve gained so much from her books, my morning pages and walking. I need to do more artist’s dates though. I got off track with the shut down. I think being an adult is to keep learning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love her too.

      It’s interesting that you bring up the artist’s dates. I’d lately gotten away from them, and I’d felt toxic on the inside. More negative than normal, just not connected to myself as I had been, and I couldn’t figure out what was different. Then I realized it was due to a lack of artist dates, as well as a lack of consistency in my morning pages. So I’m back to it this week. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I applaud you sticking with “doing the work.”

    I have always felt the pull between what I’m supposed to be and what I want to be. For the most part I have stayed true to me. It took me a long time to realize my gifts were what kept me out of the “supposed to do” plans.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a strong pull, isn’t it? Some of us don’t have the luxury of being able to choose. I consider myself fortunate to have the support to do so.

      I love how you recognize that it was your gifts (love your choice of word) that prohibited you from those plans. I believe you’ve discovered a secret that many others are still looking for. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t think putting our own happiness first (some of the time) is bad at all. Because if mom isn’t happy no one is going to be happy… at least not in our house! LOL.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. A lot of people think that taking time for themselves is selfish, but you can’t light up the world if you don’t light your own candle first. This is what most people tend to forget, I feel. Great on you for finding your path. Wishing you continuous progress!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love that you have the tools to be your own therapist; you’ve put in the work!

    Also, it’s nice for me to see some of your life before Mike, before now. I love that we have so many layers to our lives and they are not quite evident all at once.

    Being happy should be the goal for all of us, but for some reason, it’s harder for some of us to grasp and enjoy. For me, it was always ‘guilt’ because other people weren’t allowed (or chose not to) to feel happiness. I’m working on that and have come a long way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s been a cool journey. I even wrote someplace that I feel like I’ve earned a degree by now. 😉

      I’m getting closer to being able to share it here. I felt shame in that story for a long time, which is probably why I didn’t want to share it. But not any longer.

      I am so glad you are working on it, Suz. We all deserve to be happy, no matter what we’ve done or where we’ve come from. Each and every one of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. “Cutting off our creativity makes us savage” – um. That quote spoke to me. Wink wink.

    I do feel like things are different nowadays compared to our growing up years. Women and their role and their dreams are now more part of the equation. We no longer have to fit into a mold that we had nothing to do with making.

    Thanks for sharing this part of you. Glad that you see things so clearly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha! That’s awesome. 🙂

      I agree. I’m sad for the past and people who may not have had the wisdom we now have, but I’m happy for our children and future generations.

      Thank you, as always, for reading, my friend.

      Like

  10. One of the good things about getting older is having the wisdom to know what we want out of life and how to take good care of ourselves. I’d say you’re doing a dang good job!

    Love and miss you!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. There is so much in this lovely post. But this sentence that you wrote stood out:

    “ Being liberated from my daily routine provided me with a glimpse of what my newfound life could be if I built it.”

    All those years ago when outside forces paused your normal life, you took a deep breath & listened to your inner voice. And I feel like maybe you’ve done this again recently – with such success. That is a unique gift. To be able to find your way when life turns upside down.

    I don’t think this is selfish. Speaking as a daughter, we learn how to be happy, how to navigate conflict, etc by watching others. When we’re very little, our world is small… so the people we’re watching most closely are our parents. Back then, you helped show your daughter how to take the reins and redirect to find happiness. And you are still showing them how to find / be. Geez oh Pete, I’m old, and I still look to & learn from the people I love. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hadn’t considered the parallels to my current situation! I was released from my normal routine during the lockdown and thereafter, when we were at home more than going out. I’ve built a new life, a happier life, and here’s a little known fact: anyone can do it. 🙂

      I’m teaching both of my daughters to break the pattern, especially when it comes to careers. Don’t listen to society, teachers, elders, or those in positions of authority. They, too, have been fed lies. I want my children to know that happiness is most important. I wish I’d known about it sooner.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Is a virtual high five a thing? Cuz I’m giving you a virtual high five right now for this awesome reply you wrote. *raises hand*

        Also I’m so glad Biscuits is back to healthy! Yay!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I also wanted to separately add comparison of my situation (being “home”) again to yours. When I was around my mother I felt like I was always regressing back to my childhood. That was just the kind of relationship we had, even into my adulthood. Looking back, that may be what lead my finally ex-spouse to withdraw from me. Lots of personal context behind that theory, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

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