Everybody dreams what their life will be like when they are older. Especially when you are a teenager and life is so hard and no one even remotely understands you. Life will be so much better when you are an adult and in charge.I would get married. We would have at least two kids but probably more and of course we would have a boy first and then a girl. We would have this nice house which I would always be able to keep clean. We would have success after success at our careers. We would have money for vacations and would be well-traveled. This picture of how it will be drives you on and on and on. Until it doesn’t. Until that is not how your life is going at all, not even remotely. Your daydreams didn’t account for reality. They didn’t account for infertility, job loss, deaths of loved ones, and on and on the list could go. That’s the problem I struggled with for a while, the picture of my life in my head and how it really has gone.
Many days and nights spent berating myself for messing it up so badly. I obviously wasn’t trying hard enough, doing enough, being enough. I had to get my act together. It was past time to grow up and be the adult I dreamed I would be. In time, I added to that. It was time to be the wife I dreamed I would be. It was time to be the mother I dreamed I would be. It was time I had the career I wanted. I was so good at criticizing myself. Really , I still am.
Every month for a week at a time I would beat myself up. It was so easy to get pregnant we had been told. It only takes one time. Every month I struggled with the feelings of not being enough. Not being woman enough to do a simple thing like get pregnant. Made worse only by doctors who said “ah your young it will happen. There is nothing wrong.” Nothing wrong at all with a nineteen year old, a twenty year old, a twenty-one year old trying month after month to get pregnant and failing. Month after month of seeing my dreams flushed down the toilet, literally. Finally when a doctor did believe, I wasn’t relieved. I didn’t feel vindicated. I felt broken. The day came and the test was positive, for a short while everything was back in place. Then it was gone. I was back to flushing my dreams down the toilet. That picture in my head said I should be pregnant with baby number two by now. That picture in my head was starting to shake and tremble. If I was really honest that picture had broken years ago but I refused to see it.
The test was positive. I took a million more. I didn’t really believe it. I was sure something was going to happen. Even as I was in labor, something would happen. My dreams can’t be coming true. I will mess this up some how. We were leaving the hospital with a baby. WITH. A. BABY. For a few days I believed and then, you have eighteen years to mess this up every day. For eighteen months I worried about every single detail. No, I didn’t worry, I obsessed. I question every decision at least ten times. My house could never be clean enough, I could never be doing enough for this precious life. Obviously the only answer was to try for another baby. You know so I could mess it up twice. I mean so I could get at least one right. Maybe. Two months and nothing. So much for the second time being so much easier. Then the phone call. My husband lost his job. Laid off. Back to the doctor I went, for birth control.
At this point you maybe wondering if I had the same issues around getting married. The simple answer is no. The process was not simple at all. Three weeks after we met my husband was in a car accident. He had been taken by Helicopter out to a trauma hospital. Scary words were said, like life support, coma, brain injury. To see someone like that is not easy. To see someone like that and suddenly know they can’t die your suppose to marry this person.The only second guessing I have is , if he hadn’t been in that accident would I have ever known? Would I have messed that up and walked away. For a long time that answer was probably. Probably I would have walked away from the greatest thing in my life. I am sure I would have messed it up.
One day it was clear. I needed help. Therapy started quickly, before I changed my mind. Medication happened. Medication changes and more therapy. It took me years to be comfortable with self-analysis. This was just simply not done. You simply didn’t do self- analysis with someone else. This is what you did in bed late at night when no one was around. Most certainly you never told anyone, let alone discussed it. Slowly progress was made. Until it all fell apart. It like literally fell apart, got laid off then my car blew up and then I wrecked my “new” car. I tried to pick it back up and worked at a new job for three months and then I realized. No my family is more important to me then this. This work and have nothing left, using medications that allowed me to work but ultimately would shorten my life considerably. My family deserved more than this.
It really wasn’t though, it just seemed like it. Instead it was all falling into place. All that therapy was not for nothing. I have been slowly coming to accept where I am. The first thing I had to do was tear up and burn that picture in my head of how life was supposed to be. Chronic illness had dictated long ago just how clean I could get and keep my house. It dictated a lot of things for a while. Second thing was to tell this chronic illness crap it wasn’t the boss of me, well not all the time. I started writing as a form of self-analysis and as something that maybe eventually one day it would help someone else. Even if it only helped me it was worth it.
Four years later, trying to look back to what really ultimately helped me make the change. The change that took me from a person who had to please everyone else even if it didn’t please her to the one who likes to please others but knows she has to please herself as well. I can’t tell you how much watching tv show after tv show actually helped because I stayed true to what truly interested me. How many Doctor Who episodes I watched at just the right time. The universe was getting its message to me.
I can’t tell you how much these words stuck with me long after the episode was over. I can’t tell you how much I really just sat and thought about how I feel about these words. There were quite a few others I am sure that I heard but didn’t really hear. I know now that it wasn’t the right time for me to hear them. Somewhere along the way I found myself back to being an avid reader. Somehow I was finding myself. Four years of this, so don’t think it was just one day. I can’t tell you where I was in the journey when I saw this next quote. I just know it stuck with me.
Huh, yeah. THAT. For a while I just related to this post. I would see it and it would always get a “like”. Then maybe I shared it. The more it sat in my brain just percolating the more I thought about it. Then came the final point, the epiphany if you will. What if I just let go of that picture? What if instead of burning it or ripping it in anger of how it was “suppose” to be. I just let it go. Slowly, I began to actually enjoy my life. I began to start analyzing what I do have about a year ago.
I can’t tell you that voice that always says I am not enough, not doing enough is gone. It is not. It is not always easily squelched under foot either. This is where Buddhism has really come into play for me. Reading some of the Buddhist texts and books available through the Unitarian Universalist Library in our Church I found this quote. This quote quite often becomes my mantra during meditation.
I can’t tell you how many times that voice tries to rise and I can only answer Self compassion repeated over and over. I am not quite there yet. I am not quite to who I am yet. I am getting closer and stronger in it every day though.I am trying every day to connect with who I am instead of who I thought I would be. I hope you are too. I hope you are showing yourself compassion because that voice is wrong. It is dead wrong. You are enough.
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