When I was a child, I didn’t have any clear plans for my future. I had the kinds of immature dreams (being a famous mega-star) that most kids do. No magic path seemed to appear before me and there was no clear direction. But I did believe my life would go well. I just had to survive my childhood first and then I could get on with it, whatever “it” might entail.
Part of that “it” was to experience some kind of normal. I wanted to fall in love and give my heart to a partner I could walk with through life. I longed for love and a deep, significant connection. One where I could be vulnerable without fear. Where we would take care of each other, both emotionally and physically. Where we shared burdens and rejoiced together during the good times. I wanted to make a difference in the world, as well as in the life of that person I was joined to. I wanted to matter. To touch hearts and change lives. To touch his heart and be a major part of his world.
Problem was, I couldn’t reach my own heart or change my own life. I couldn’t make me different
I struggled to build some kind of a future that held purpose and meaning. I worked hard at jobs, sacrificing many long hours and weekends to meet the demands of greedy employers who didn’t even believe women should be in the workforce. But I didn’t have a choice. My ex didn’t want to work hard and he didn’t much care about building a future together. He thought I was overly materialistic to want a savings account and a 401(k). He didn’t understand my need for some security and stability. And he rejected me because I wasn’t the ideal woman; the kind of person he desired. I wasn’t the perfect wife. The woman of his dreams. So, he never loved me. And since I didn’t live up to his expectations, he didn’t feel bad about it. He pretty much thought I was getting what I deserved. What I earned.
I pretty much thought that too.
My normal became one of trying to justify my existence. Of trying to be good enough. Good enough to be accepted and loved.
Years later, he finally walked away, leaving me to try to put the pieces of my world back together.
When that happened, I didn’t just lose him. I lost all hope of being special to someone. Of being wanted and adored. Or of even being tolerated.
And I lost all the things I had worked so hard for or thought I would someday achieve. I lost my job, money, my retirement fund. As a result, I lost the ability to retire at a point when I was young enough to enjoy living…along with the ability to perhaps volunteer instead and do something I loved. Maybe work with a ministry that reached out to kids who had been abused the way I had been abused. To give them the support I never had.
Maybe then, with that kind of freedom, I could finally do something that truly mattered. Make a difference the way I had always hoped.
Since he left and my dreams died, since I lost my savings, my home and my belief in a positive future, I find myself living in a dead and dark place, unable to see any end to the drudgery. I get up only because I must. I must go to work. I will have to keep a paying job for the rest of my life, however long that might be, because I have nothing. And it’s far too late to rebuild, be it a relationship, a 401(k), a career, or a tiny stable place to stand on this earth until I die. I do the things I do because I have to do them simply to minimally meet my basic needs.
My dogs are my only source of joy. I have no deep connections, other than the bond I share with them. I am not a significant person in anyone’s life. I haven’t made a difference in even the smallest of ways. In fact, I have little to offer and am far too broken to be desirable to anyone who is in their right mind.
My normal is a place of darkness and emptiness. Of hard labor that provides little return. Of love that has been trampled and lost, having sold myself too cheaply, believing I didn’t deserve more. It is a place of shattered dreams. It is a norm that I can’t comfortably sink in or adjust to. It is a place of existing and surviving instead of thriving. Existing because I am still breathing and I don’t know how to stop. Not yet.
I am grateful when my dogs are healthy and I can pay my bills. I live in shadows and beneath a sunless sky. I give thanks for any little kindness. A warm breeze and a safe journey to work. For clothes that fit comfortably and make me feel a tiny bit less worthless. I try to not think of tomorrow because tomorrow is filled with considerable risk and comes with a big price tag and little hope of redemption. My norm is filled to overflowing with isolation, disappointment, despair and pain. And no option of ever getting better.
I grew as a child in this dark place to which I have returned. I was born in darkness and I exist there once again. I attempted to escape because I believed I could. But I have come full circle. Back to that place of desperation and desolation. Back to the beginning where I was nothing…where I am nothing still.
This is my normal. My fate. I was a fool to have believed I could escape. I was a fool to have thought I could have something more. I have traveled long and journeyed far only to end up where I started. I have survived, but it has cost me everything and gained me nothing. The joke is clearly on me.
I no longer attempt to attain. I pray I will somehow be able to at least sustain. Get up each day, dress and drive to work. Do what I must. Come home to dogs who are happy to see me. Care for them. Have a little food. Sit outside where I can hear the birds sing as I read a book. Sit at my computer typing words that can never convey the extent of the numbness that has frozen my soul. The emptiness that surrounds me. Sleep, maybe even peacefully at times. Run errands on the weekend. Pay my bills. Take a walk. A nap.
This is all I have to look forward to. This is my normal. I am trying to tell myself it is enough. Though I know it isn’t.