I came across this quote today, and it perfectly embodies what I have been itching to write about. It inspired me to sit down and finally write what has been stewing in my brain for days…weeks, maybe. But not until I made the quote look all pretty, of course.
This blog has been waiting to exist for years. And years. Why?
Quilting is absolutely my passion. Over the past several years, I have made hundreds of quilts, spent hours rifling through fabrics, and accumulated a collection of quilting materials that is mind boggling. And it’s always been my dream to have a blog that would somehow catch the attention of a big fabric company, and then they’d ask me to design a line of materials for them, just like Camille Roskelley or Vanessa Christenson. Riiiiiigggght….
And what exactly does that have to do with the quote above?
I spent years married to someone who constantly diminished any sense of self-worth that I may have had. And I have spent years trying to feel good about myself again. Trying to find something about myself that made me feel that anything I did was worthwhile. It’s an ongoing struggle, and it probably will be for years.
Over the course of the nearly eight years we were married, I was made to feel that I was worthless. Anything that I did or said was worthless too. I loved to sew — especially quilting. And I really felt that I was talented at it. It was such a release for me. But anytime I ever tried to take any time for myself, I was told that I was being selfish. That my hobbies were an inconvenience to everyone around me, particularly my own family. And the LAST thing I wanted to do was to hurt my family.
Still, whenever I showed my creations to anyone outside my home, they were met with praise. And I became so conflicted. I had this constant desire to be creating something — anything — But, anytime I tried I was put down and felt ashamed and guilty for wanting to do something that I enjoyed, and by the one person who should have been supporting and encouraging me.
There were seriously very, very dark times.
I remember once laying in bed, and praying desperately for help. I asked my Heavenly Father why, when we’re told not to hide our light under a bushel, was I given this talent and I wasn’t even able to use it? And then I asked Him to help me to find a way to use my creativity to benefit my family. Prayers aren’t always answered at the time we want them to be or in the way we expect, though.
I also remember time and time again just wishing that I could just be loved and appreciated for the person that I am. I saw other women whose husbands didn’t seem to mind at all that they enjoyed sewing. Or photography. Or Yoga. I envied them. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, and it turned into a serious internal form of self-abuse. Not only was I not being valued by my significant other, but I lost any value for myself.
It may seem petty. But I can assure you that the lack of self-worth and hatred that I felt toward myself stemmed from more than just his disdain for my love to quilt. And when you are repeatedly told that your abilities as a wife…mother…human-being…are good for nothing, you begin to believe it.
And then one day, it was all over. This person who had spent years making me feel worthless, decided that he had had enough of my worthlessness and left me and his children. And after a great deal of crying, soul-searching, and prayer, I realized that this wasn’t a bad thing. That I was actually happy that he was gone. I realized that I dealt with years of what I didn’t know was abuse. I sought help from friends, counselors, and church leaders.
And one of the things that helped me the most was quilting. I gained the most unimaginably wonderful group of friends, and while we were all very different, we all seemed to love quilting! We would get together in someone’s dining room and just work on quilts together. We did shop-hops. We talked and laughed. And this was the most therapeutic thing I could have asked for.
Through the wonders of modern technology (i.e., on-line dating), I met a wonderful man and got remarried. I’ve spent the past few years rebuilding my life, my self-esteem, and deciding what to do with myself. The most important thing to me was to be able to be a wife and a mother. But I was also still itching to be creative.
I have always been passionate about photography. I had some experience with it in college, and unfortunately was forced to give it up because of the “inconvenience” it caused my ex-husband. So, shortly after we were married, my wonderful new husband bought me the camera of my dreams and I decided I was going to run a photography business. Although I love photography, my stage fright and serious lack of confidence always left me a frazzled mess. Still, I was dedicated to my art (and the fact that I had all of this equipment), so I continued to study and progress. This led me to take a workshop with a photographer whose work I really admired. And part of that workshop was a private Facebook group that allowed me to share ideas, ask questions, and, in general, have fun with other photographers.
In that group, I realized that these women were on the lookout for quilts to use as props in their photographs. So, I busted out my sewing machine and started whipping out little quilts. My husband looked at me one day, and said “Why don’t you have a quilting business?” I asked him why. I knew that, although he was extremely supportive of me, his eyes sort of glazed over anytime I talked to him about photography. I questioned why he wanted me to pursue quilting. But his response led me to do some more soul searching. He told me that this was the happiest he had EVER seen me. And he was right. I was SO happy sitting behind my sewing machine.
So, here I am. Years later, an answer to my prayers. I am using my creativity to help my family (Well, trying to…). And the most important thing, is that I have someone who loves me. Who stands beside me and supports me in my dreams and aspirations. Who doesn’t think that I am an inconvenience. He lifts me up and encourages me to be happy. And most importantly, he values me and doesn’t seek to make me feel worthless.
So (if you’re still reading), this blog is here to share my love of quilting and creating. To have an outlet for all of the ideas that have been accumulating for years and years. And also to let others know that it is possible to be happy and to go after your dreams. That if you’re with someone who makes you feel worthless and devalues who you are — you’re doing it wrong!!! I’m proof that it’s possible to rise above these feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt and actually enjoy your life. I’ve finally reached the point where I am living my life and not just surviving it.
Lastly, I just want to let my husband know how grateful I am for him. Without him, I am not whole. He is my rock. Thank you, Daniel, for believing in me and loving me. I could not do this without you!