There are days I have terrifyingly morbid and habitually sadistic thoughts; other days the world is aglow. Yes, there is likely a clearly definable clinical name for that, but that's not today's discussion. Moving on.
We have all heard some wondrous variation of that quote "letting go of the life you planned is the only way to enjoy the life you have." This concept is what permeates the majority of my morbidity. Let me talk to you for a minute about the life I planned. Maybe not planned; I've never been one for a lot of "planning," but expected, for sure. Let me tell you about the life I expected.
I told you that at eight years old, I clearly knew I would be a writer one day. My family, though small and divided, ALWAYS, hammered a sense of worth and exceptionality in me. Every one of them. Even the ones who hated each other all seemed to agree that I was going to be something magnificent. I was beautiful, funny, smart, kind, the world was my oyster. Well, turns out, I'm allergic to seafood.
Some of the things I expected were: well, let's all picture a hot version of Carrie Bradshaw and a little more money. Really, that's a pretty good summation. The high life, writing away in NYC, with my girls on my arm, soaking up the fame, living in a high rise, doing whatever I wanted. It wasn't going to be hard. I just had to go. I never expected marriage, or babies, or the domestic situation to come to me; buying a house, helping with homework, living in the suburbs. It just didn't jive with me. But I'm pretty sure I expected love to be in there somewhere. So me, rich, in the city, being paid to write, loving someone I didn't "have" to be with. That was what I expected. The picture was beautiful. Shoes, so many shoes. And around 29 hours in a day. What about that scene is so hard to accomplish?
What you don't get told amidst all of the "you're beautiful, you're smart, you're funny, you're talented," comments, is that life gets in the way of what you want, every single day of your existence. And that life isn't a shiny ball of handouts pulled in a lottery waiting for your number to be called so you can be given everything you ever wanted. Life is disgusting, unkind, unforgiving, bleak, morbid, torturous, unpredictable, untamable, and very often, unlivable. But, believe it or not, a man who changed my entire perspective on everything, ever, Mr. Michael J. Fox, a man who knows about the ways that life can alter your expectations, once said, "my happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations." We have to let go of the conceptualized life we once had, and learn to live in the life we are given. It is the only means to attain survival, or at least, sanity.
But, it doesn't stop there. Letting go of childhood ideals isn't a marker for a happy life. We, even as adults, continue to come up with elaborate voyages on which we believe our life will take us, like, every day, sometimes from minute to minute. You don't have to admit it out loud, but, be honest with yourself. Perfect example; I fell completely head over heels for a married man. Oh my god, I know, I'm a horrible human being. It's not like I did anything about it. It's the expectations, stay with me here. What one of those clinically diagnosable voices in my head actually led me to believe was that if I did everything right, if I was the most aesthetically pleasing, the most intellectually stimulating, the most relatable, the most everything (I'm wearing myself out now with all of my OWN expectations!), was that I would win. Can you imagine!!! Break down what this truly means........
I, as momentarily and internally as it may have been, attempted to manifest a divorce that was not my own! I actually wanted that! I mean it was a brief want, the guilt nearly killed me, but it happened. I believed in that moment that destroying the happiness of someone else would bring it into my own life. I was, in that moment, the most selfish person alive. Expectations were causing me to turn myself into an entirely different person for the sake of someone else. My logical mind would never allow for this. We are all perfect the way we are. If someone else doesn't recognize that, then they aren't meant to appreciate the uniqueness that is YOU.
Expectations were causing me to miss out on the reality in which I was living. Reality. A whole different monster. Not only is my reality so far off base from any expectations I had about my future, but it is also has caused me more pain than I care to admit. I have come a long way in accepting that my life is not what I thought it would be, nor will it become. I am a 35 year-old temp, loved by none, but a cat. However, I do believe I have a purpose. One thing I can say about myself with confidence is this, my strength to endure astounds even me. My life, as you will learn, has been an almost chronological timeline of survival episodes. One artistic tragedy after another, enough time in between to look back, piece together some reasoning, and move forward to the next. For the most part, I have appreciated the lessons. I feel my strength and my ability to see worth in struggle is something most people lack and I have mastered the art.
My purpose is to struggle. One of my favorite songs, I swear I bleed for these lyrics when it comes on, "All the Above," by Maino, repeatedly drills in the epic notion we should all embrace, "The struggle is nothing but love." Through the struggles we face, we find love in knowing nothing can force us down permanently, tear us completely apart, or take away our ability to stand up again, face life head on, and move forward with more. Not everyone is strong all the time. I certainly am not. But I am among the broad backs, willing to bear the cross and struggle through the worst in order to give my best to all of you. I believe that because I am strong, I am given more to endure, so that I may bear the burdens some others cannot handle, and use my writing to help pass along the lessons I have learned. My mind simply works that way. I analyze everything and find out why my path changed its course. Then I give the map away.
I am pained so that you may not be. I accept that reality. I am slowly facing the fact that I will never be famous in NYC with 500 pair of shoes. I accept that glamour is largely propaganda and wanting it is absurd. And I accept that though my purpose may change, and that I sometimes may have to reign in my expectations, that I do, in fact, have a purpose, and that suffices me just enough for now. There is beauty in pain, simply look in the face of those who survive it.
If your life is paining you, step back and evaluate what you are currently expecting from it. Evaluate your needs against your wants. Try to find a purpose in what the differences are. What are the gaps and what is the universe trying to tell you from that? In Lucky Man, Michael J. Fox loses a child, and later finds out that his wife is having twins. The day I read that book, I was struggling with a great loss, and couldn't understand why I had to go through this. Fox simply says of his twins, "it is not up to me to question the balance and timing of the universe;" it's obviously much more powerful than us all. He also said, "there's always failure. And there's always disappointment. And there's always loss. But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums."
Ending a life lived inside fantasies doesn't meant you stop chasing your dreams. Rather, it is accepting the means to which you have access, and utilizing those to obtain the dreams instead. "Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there is a way through it." -Fox
Find your way through. It is so much brighter in reality. (p.s. buy the book; it's life-changing).