I’m not a big fan of certain developments in my life.
I could have lived without the painful, complicated relationships, especially growing up.
I could have lived without the bullying at school that went on year after year.
I could have lived without the ADHD that made succeeding at school and following through in friendships and relationships near impossible— and/or, I really would have preferred an adult in my sphere maybe catch the fact that I HAD ADHD, instead of conceptualizing my difficulties as “you’re lazy.”
I could have lived without being molested— and I wish I’d not had a reputation as a weird, dramatic, attention-seeking kid, because I imagine things might have gone a little differently when I finally told that I’d been molested.
I certainly could have lived without the addictive tendencies and behaviors. I wasn’t a big fan of laying on the floor, shivering in withdrawal, crying because I had once again “done it to myself.”
No. To quote the “Friends” theme song, no one told me life was gonna be this way. Clap clap clap clap.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, your life didn’t go to plan, either.
I remember, when I was a kid, I had this whole idea that not only was I NOT meant for this sh*t show of a life— but I was meant for something special.
For while, I actually had this idea that I was going to grow up to be elected president. True story, ask anyone who knew me in junior high. I truly thought that not only was I going to hoist my way out of how I’d been feeling and functioning— but I was going to overachieve from that point on, literally go on to be elected leader of the free world.
I was serious, too.
Sometimes I look back on the way my life was “supposed” to have gone…and I don’t know what to think.
Part of me very much blames myself.
Part of me wonders what I did wrong.
Part of me is convinced all this isn’t part of a bad dream. That someday I’ll wake up, roll over, and jot down in my dream journal this crazy dream where I was an addict and trauma survivor and MAN am I glad that wasn’t real.
But it is real.
Don’t get me wrong— I am not past the challenges.
I don’t think I’m ever going to be shivering on the floor again…but you never know.
I’ve learned things about containing and processing traumatic stress that have nudged me past certain pain points. I don’t think I’m going back…but you never know.
As I write this, there is absolutely a part of me that is whispering in my ear that even the successes I’ve had have been unearned.
That I’m a month removed from having no place to live, no way to take care of my cat.
Part of me knows that the part that believes those things is probably still coping with the woundedness of yesteryear, the deficit of self-trust and self-belief that comes with the kind of history that I have.
But it feels very real.
And because it feels real, I have to deal with it. Because I don’t have the option of just turning that insidious whispering voice off.
I think I’ve done the mourning I need to do about the life I “should” have had.
I’m not aware of feeling anger or grief about it anymore.
I’m probably not going to be elected president. (Which, let’s face it, is probably a blessing, given what American politics has become in our lifetimes.)
I don’t think I’m about to wake up from a dream.
I have the exact same choice you, reading this, has: to live life on life’s terms, no matter how afraid I am.
No matter how overwhelmed I am.
No matter how sad I am.
No matter how unfair it is that I didn’t get the chance to become who I thought I would.
Whatever my feelings about any of that, I have a life to life.
Patients who count on me. A cat who has become accustomed to a certain lifestyle and who has never given up on me.
(Yeah, that might sound funny, but a LOT of survivors stay in the game because of their pets. If you know you know.)
All I— all we— can do is take this one day at a time.
So let’s do that.