I don’t know what I was “supposed” to be when I grew up.
Neither do you.
All we know is what we were told, directly or indirectly, about our “potential”— and the ideas and beliefs we elaborated from that.
When we’re young, we get this idea of who we “should” be and what life “should” look like.
We’re told over and over again that it is our responsibility to live up to our “potential.”
For some of us, that was more concrete— we had very clear ideas about who we were “supposed” to become, what we were “supposed” to do, what we were “supposed” to accomplish.
Sometimes it was less concrete than that— all we had was this general idea that we were “supposed” to grow up and be happy and functional.
Many of us were programmed with the idea that we were “supposed” to have a certain kind of relationship, have a certain kind of family of our own.
And then, for many of us…life happened.
We didn’t grow up to feel or function the way we were “supposed” to.
The relationship or family we were “supposed” to have didn’t materialize.
The career we were “supposed” to create didn’t happen.
Sometimes it was very specific, identifiable events that got in the way of the life that we were “supposed” to live…but other times, it wasn’t that clear.
All we know is that we were left with this feeling that life didn’t go the way it was “supposed” to go…and very often, we blamed ourselves.
After all, all those people told us we had so much “potential” when we were young— how could it be anybody ELSE’S fault that we didn’t become who we were “supposed” to be?
Here’s the thing about “potential” and the life we were “supposed” to live: it’s all BS.
Nobody plans for or expects things like depression, trauma, addiction, or an eating disorder to intrude upon the awesome life they were “supposed” to live.
Nobody asks for any of it. Nobody “lets” it happen.
To get knocked off course by emotional or behavioral struggles isn’t a “failure” on your part, any more than it’s a “failure” on the part of an equestrian to get thrown from their horse.
I wouldn’t have chosen the life path I ended up on.
I wouldn’t have chosen to be abused. I wouldn’t have chosen ADHD. I wouldn’t have chosen a vulnerability to addiction that has come very close to ruining and ending my life on multiple occasions.
None of that was in the plan.
And none of that a “failure” on my part.
My horse threw me.
Your horse might have thrown you, too.
We don’t choose our past. We don’t choose our vulnerabilities. We don’t choose our pain.
The choices we DO get— the ONLY choices we get— is whether we are going to acknowledge our pain, manage our vulnerabilities, and decide how we’re going to relate to our past.
I choose recovery because I do not want things I DIDN’T choose to run my life.
Life didn’t go to plan. I was “supposed” to be someone else, living a much different life.
It was all BS. Belief Systems.
This is the hand I was dealt. This is the hand you were dealt. Right here. Right now. Me writing this; you reading this; both of us with the specific wounds and strengths we both have, right in this minute.
Mourn the life you didn’t have.
Forgive yourself for the life you didn’t have.
And bring everything back to this moment.
This moment is real.
And in this moment, we have real, meaningful choices.