I don’t know about you, but my life didn’t follow The Plan.
You know, The Plan. That plan that “normal” peoples’ lives are supposed to follow.
The one where you go to school, get a degree, pick a career.
The one where you date, and in a certain age range, get married.
That Plan where you have a job that turns into a career, maybe have kids, maybe buy a house.
I look at people I grew up with, people I went to school with— many of them seem to have followed The Plan.
But my life didn’t unfold that way.
I’ve talked about the specifics many times in many places. But the details are less important than the overall point that I didn’t follow The Plan.
I missed my window.
A lot of people reading this know exactly what I’m talking about.
It can feel like life passed us by.
Like our struggles took us so far off course that The Plan, the one that our parents or our religion or our culture had for us, seems like this insubstantial, hypothetical idea—an idea that never seemed especially real to us, but at this point REALLY doesn’t seem real.
There is undeniably a part of me that is really sad, and sometimes mad, that I didn’t just follow The Plan.
That part of me blames me and chastises me for not following The Plan.
Why couldn’t I just follow The Plan? You know, pick a job. Marry a nice girl.
My brain will come up with PLENTY of reasons why I couldn’t, or didn’t, follow The Plan— and, surprise, they all revolve around me being terrible.
Trauma, addiction, depression, and other emotional and behavioral struggles will get in our head and tell us exactly why our life didn’t to To Plan— and, spoiler, those reasons won’t be particularly fair or compassionate to us.
I’ve been living in recovery for a minute, and helping other people get and stay in recovery is my business— but I still have those thoughts.
They’re particularly loud when things don’t go well or aren’t happy in my relationships.
“This wouldn’t be a problem if you’d just sucked it up and followed The Plan.”
“What’s wrong with you that you couldn’t follow The Plan?”
“The people you grew up with and went to school with, the ones who followed The Plan— they don’t have this problem.”
Yup. No matter how long or how stable we are in recovery, we’re gonna hear those voices.
Here’s the thing: I don’t know what anybody else’s life experience is.
The people I grew up with or went to school with, the ones who followed The Plan? I don’t know what they do or don’t have to struggle with.
All I know is my experience.
Could I have followed The Plan? I don’t know. All I know is, I didn’t.
I didn’t NOT follow The Plan because I’m terrible, or selfish, or damaged.
The emotional and behavioral struggles I’ve been through did play a part— but it’s not like I woke up one morning and said, “I’m not following The Plan.”
I can’t go back in life and follow The Plan. None of us can.
Whatever else my life could have been, it wasn’t.
Every decision I’ve ever made has led me right here, writing these words.
If I’d followed The Plan, would I have the opportunity to write these words? Would I have have the opportunity to do the work I do?
Maybe, maybe not.
I won’t have the opportunity to find out.
All we— you and I— have is what we have: this moment, right here, right now.
We can’t go back in time, Not even a minute. I can’t even go back in time to when I began writing this blog.
All we can do is go forward.
Breathe; blink; focus.
One thought on “When life doesn’t follow The Plan.”
Doc you are so not on your own. Some people relish not following the Plan. Life can be so boring following the Plan. Just because you have bad days doesnt mean for one minute that you should have followed the Plan. Yes those people who did, they also have their bad days and surprisingly some maybe regretting following the Plan. I have come to the conclusion that you make each day count. We are all on different routes and when you reflect on the countless people you have helped, I would bet that was lifes plan for you. Embrace it and Love Yourself. You are way up the pedestal in my opinion. Love you Doc. 👍🫂