There He Goes Again…

I was at the beginning of a pretty normal day at work when this photo arrived on my phone.

Seth in Smith Rock, Oregon

That’s my husband, Seth, on a climbing trip in Oregon with one of his buddies.

His previous trip was in July, to the Wind River Range in Wyoming. Him and two friends made a whirlwind trip to the Cirque of the Towers and climbed Wolf’s Ridge. That was a big trip, with some big stories. But I wasn’t there.

After my first trad lead

After my first trad lead

The last climbing trip we took together was in May, over Memorial Day weekend. We headed out to the Black Hills in South Dakota and together we ticked off our first trad leads. I was super excited to do more, as was he. He’s had the time to take more trips since. I just haven’t been able to get away.

It never occurred to me that he could eventually be seeking out climbing trips on his own. Seth initially began climbing because I climbed. It was something I had fallen in love with. When we met, I was just getting my first multi-pitch climbs under my belt, doing some sport leading, and starting to work on my trad skills knowing that’s what I wanted to be doing.

Now, Seth is not only climbing, he’s surpassed me in a lot of ways. And my own reaction, although I’m not proud of it, is interesting to observe. When he was out in Smith Rock, I found myself grappling with my own feelings of jealousy, resentment, and plain old selfishness. Since our first trad leads in May, Seth has gone on to lead close to 10 more pitches of trad. I’ve led none.

I hear how that sounds. Even reading it back, I hear a whiny little brat stomping her feet and saying “but why don’t *I* get to go?” I hate that I even *had* that reaction, but I did.

Just to be clear, I love my job. It’s been pretty hard to get away, but I really enjoy my work. My colleagues are awesome as well. Two of them even climb with me. And it’s my choice to be there, doing the work that I’m doing, and sometimes sacrificing trips to do so. Despite knowing that, it was hard to watch Seth doing the things that *I* want to be doing more of, and finding myself looking in from the outside.

Those feelings of jealousy and resentment are no good in a marriage, so we had to work through them pretty quickly. The solution seems to be to focus on my own goals, keep working on getting out there, even if it’s close to home, and, of course, to look past myself and realize that I’m super excited for Seth. I am! He’s out there having fun and doing things he loves. And yeah, he’s gotten out more than me this summer, but I have big plans for next season. We’ll get to do lots of climbing together, I have no doubt.

Seth has fallen in love with trad climbing, and it’s really fun to see that. Once I catch up, we’re going to make a pretty great team, and be able to do even more awesome stuff together. Maybe we’ll be like the Smileys someday. A competent trad climbing partner is a *very* good thing to have.

I’m curious to hear your comments. How do you balance work and play? Have you ever struggled with jealousy of a friend or partner’s adventures?

8 thoughts on “There He Goes Again…

  1. Kat

    Oh, Elizabeth. I know a little about that. Mine is a different type of resentment, but I just wrote in my journal that I need to focus on staying on top of the things that adults just have to deal with so I have more freedom to do what I really want to do. And I’m looking for more ways to integrate all the things I love to do and the people I love to do them with. It’s a struggle.

  2. Ben

    A potentially worthy read from Brendan Leonard:

    I get exactly the feeling you’re talking about. I’m psyched for my partners, but also get jealous and wonder “Could I have done that myself?” especially if it’s something closer to the edge what I’m comfortable with.

    I think your solution is a good one…just keep getting out there yourself. I find I do better if I can quell my competitive instincts and channel the energy toward a positive objective. I find I spend more time working than most of my partners, but that’s my choice. Either I find a way to make time for the other stuff I care about, or I face the fact that I care about work more and let the feelings of jealousy go. Easier said than done!

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      Ben, that’s a great perspective. I hadn’t thought about it as competitive, but you’re right, that’s totally what it is. I do have objectives planned out for next summer, and I’m saving up my time for those. Best to focus on those rather than let those feelings of envy of others’ adventures overshadow that.

  3. Eileen

    I can relate to your post, in fact on my About page for I mention that my husband (who I introduced to climbing when we were dating) has surpassed me in climbing. I used to be his rope gun.

    However, the first time I climbed Half Dome I called him from the top while he was at work. Upon finding out that I had gotten up there by climbing it (versus hiking to the top which is what he had expected to happen) he said, “That is so wrong!”

    So… I think he can relate to the scenario as well. πŸ™‚

    I so so wish you guys were going to the JTree Tweetup this year! Maybe you can sneak away and we’ll go do some routes without the boys? πŸ˜‰

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      I just went back and read that on your About page. Dang husbands! πŸ™‚
      Oh, and I think I feel a cough coming on *cough cough*… The only cure is desert air.

  4. Meredith

    You’re both awesome! You and I ought to do a girls trip this winter – I haven’t been able to get away for…well, over a year! Nathan gets out of town for at least a week every month, so once I get more flexibility I’m fantasizing about ALL the trips. πŸ™‚ I focus on staying strong so when I get the opportunity I’m ready for it!

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      Oh, Meredith, that would be so much fun to do a trip!
      You’ve got me beat, definitely. “Fantasizing about ALL the trips.” – I have no doubt!
      Where should we go? πŸ™‚

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