The wonderful thing about writing the kinds of blog posts that make you cringe as you hit “publish” is that it gives your friends and family an opening for the conversations that you never really know how to start.
You can’t exactly grab your glass of wine at a girls’ night out and say “so, hey, I’ve been majorly depressed recently, but how are you doing?” because it kind of throws a pall on the whole evening. Ditto for a cup of tea on Monday morning, or that Wednesday afternoon coffee. As it turns out, there’s never really a good time for that conversation.
Dumping all of your raw feels onto the virtual page is super cathartic, very cleansing, and also, as I mentioned, a great way to start all sorts of conversations.
And I have to say, I love my friends. I love how many of them called, texted, emailed, or just came over to ask how I was doing. That alone would have gone a long way towards making me feel better.
The conversations I’ve had with them went even further.
The thought that has gone around and around and around in my head these last few months, as irrational and absurd as it might be is this. “This isn’t the life I was supposed to live.”
It’s the thought I’ve thought as I walk the puppy, as I make yet another school lunch, as I drive to school for drop off and back again for pick-up, as I coach a running program or read an anti-bullying book, as I make dinner, do laundry, load the dishwasher, unload the dishwasher, pick-up dog poop outside, clean dirty sheets, and do the million other little tasks a mom has to do day in and day out.
It’s the thought I’ve thought as I run my own PR for the novel I took four years to write and that I always assumed would be picked up by a huge publishing house and released to the world with great fanfare.
It’s the thought I’ve thought as I wonder what my friends who live so very far away are doing right then and lamenting the fact that they’re not here close to me.
It’s the thought I’ve thought as I’ve watched my husband struggle with some aspect of dealing with life with an autoimmune disorder.
It’s the thought I’ve thought as I worry about my oldest daughter and her struggles with anxiety and all the other things that make 3rd grade harder than 2nd.
It’s the thought I’ve thought as I worry about how my youngest daughter will get through this not so awesome 1st grade year.
It’s the thought I’ve thought as I wonder who the other two kids I always thought I’d have would have been.
It’s the thought that has been the soundtrack to my discontent these last few weeks.
And now that I’m finally giving voice to these thoughts I’ve come to realize that it’s not a thought that’s unique to me. So many of us are stuck on the feeling that these aren’t the lives we were supposed to be living. Simply hearing others express that they’ve also been feeling this way has been incredibly helpful.
In the middle of all this eye opening insight coming to me from so many of my friends, I happened across a blog post I wrote years ago, inspired by a post written by a friend who has since passed away, me that we’re never promised a specific kind of life, we’re just given a life. What we do with it is up to us.
Life is what it is. It has ups, it has downs, it has twists and turns. There’s no road map, no promises. There’s just the sunrise every day and the option to make decisions about what direction to take when the opportunity arises.
I have to say, I kind of blame television for this pervasive feeling of “but this isn’t how it should be” that so many of us seem to be struggling to master. On TV, relationships aren’t quite as hard, families aren’t quite as complex, life isn’t quite as challenging. Major life hurdles are neatly handled in the space of one or two episodes, all loose ends wrapped up and dealt with, characters ready to move on to their next challenge. Life lessons are learned, morals dispensed, and presto, everyone is ready for whatever comes next.
Real life is so much messier. There isn’t always a neat and easy resolution, not always a lesson to be learned, not always an end to the story arc. And there isn’t a team of writers thinking of engaging and entertaining ways to end the story line.
Having reread that post by my friend, having reread the post I wrote, I have to admit I’m experiencing some shame about how I’ve been feeling.
The shame comes from the fact that this life I’ve been lamenting is pretty darn spectacular. I have an incredible husband who is kind, supportive, caring, carries more than his weight at home, is a rock star dad, an amazing provider, and the best friend I’ve ever had. I have two awe inspiring little girls who never fail to amaze me with their wit, wisdom, and senses of humor. We live in a gorgeous home in a wonderful town. The kids go to a great school where they are both thriving and growing in every way possible. And me? Well, I get to do what I love. I have space to write and time to do it in. I have the opportunity to do whatever I want career-wise. I’m blessed beyond imagining.
So, I’m not a high powered ad exec in a big city.
So I don’t have the four kids I always thought I’d have.
So I don’t get to travel around the world as much as I always imagined I would.
So I don’t live as close to my family as I’d like.
So we have to deal with health issues we never envisioned.
So I live in a place where it’s hard for people to stay and have friends scattered around the globe.
I have everything I need. I have a life. This life. And I should be grateful this is the life I get to live. It really is pretty darn awesome and I’m so very lucky it’s mine.