The Life You Think You’ve Lost

More often than not, life is horribly confusing. What you think you want somehow doesn’t satisfy you. Where you thought you’d be somehow eludes you. Why you thought you were here somehow becomes insignificant.

Fifteen years ago, and really ten years ago and five, too, I would have predicted that at this point in my life I’d be married with at least one child living in a nice little suburban neighborhood, driving some kind of SUV and doing family activities like driving to soccer practice and going to the farmer’s market on my Saturdays. I’d buy things like Go-gurt and Underoos and have to get a babysitter for date night. I’d make dinner for my family every night, and my husband and I would tell each other about our days over a glass of wine. We’d go to his family’s Thanksgiving and my family’s Christmas and spend New Year’s with friends. We’d go on family vacations and spend Sundays at Grandma’s, and I’d make a big pot of chili for us to slurp out of bowls on the couch while watching football.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t somewhat jarring to me that my life has turned out the way it has: 32, single, no aforementioned family to speak of.

Sometimes, you have to take a moment to mourn the life you think you’ve lost.

I took this idyllic life so for granted, that I never stopped to think about how I’d get there. I just assumed that if you let life happen, you’d get the things you wanted. But I never really stopped to think about me in this scenario–the “me” that I’d be independent of being a wife and a mom. I quite literally never stopped to think about myself, or my career, or who I’d be. I just knew that I wanted a family, so I focused on my relationships more and myself less.
When I realized that life wasn’t happening for me, I was forced to focus on myself, and I didn’t really like what I saw. I was so co-dependent, so busy taking care of other people, and I didn’t want to focus on me. I suppose I didn’t think I was worth it.

I knew I had to start somewhere, though, so I went back to the one thing I’d had all my life: running. I rediscovered a somewhat abandoned hobby so I could say there was at least something I liked to do. Just me.
But then I realized I didn’t really have a career, either, and the stark reality of attempting to purchase a home on my own and finance my retirement entirely solo became increasingly apparent. Why hadn’t I thought of any of this before? Because it was just supposed to happen, right? Because my husband and I were supposed to do this together.

I realized my teaching career wasn’t going anywhere, but there were other things out there that I was–get this–actually interested in. I know it seems sad, but at nearly 30 years old, I had never even thought about what I might like to do. I just thought I’d have some nameless job, and it didn’t really matter what it was because I’d be so busy living my real life that what I actually did wouldn’t be significant.
Why I carried on this delusion so long, I can’t say. But it’s the truth.

So instead of feeling sorry for myself, instead of looking around at all my girlfriends and seeing that they all have the life I thought I wanted–and realizing we have less and less in common–I have to accept the life I have and make of it what I can. Try to be happy with what I have. Is it what I wanted? No. But if someone gives you a gift, you pretend to like it and find a place for it and treasure the thought behind it.


16 thoughts on “The Life You Think You’ve Lost

  1. i think we all picture our lives to be a certain way or think we should be doing certain things at the ‘right’ time….when in all actuality, it doesnt really matter in the whole scheme of things. as long as we are happy, with ourselves and our choices that is ultimately all that matters. so many times we fixate on what we dont have instead of really looking at all the blessings we do have…..this hit me the other day. i had this a-ha moment. i was talking to a friend, who appears to have it all, 4000 sq ft home, 4 little babies, does not work, great hubby etc etc etc and i said, i finally feel at a point where i am in my life, where i do not need anyone or anything to make me feel complete….i said, i am…….and i could not think of the word…..and she said, ‘you are happy!!!! ” it was like a bell went off. i think i am finally happy with the place i am in my life. do i wish a few things were differently, well of course. is my life perfect? well of course not but when we finally see and appreciate all the tiny things and just in general all the good we do have, things begin to change!!!!! life is one big giant blessing and when we always look around thinking we do not have this or that, it only makes us feel inadequate!!! so go out there and enjoy your special life, because this is where you are supposed to be right EXACTLY NOW!! xoxoxoxo

  2. such a great post, I love reading this because I think there are a lot of people that can relate in some form. i think it takes a lot to come to peace with all the expectations we may set for ourselves and all those lives of grandeur that we paint.

  3. The best part of all of this…you took ownership of your life. I find so much inspiration in that ❤
    I think it wasn't until I accepted that my real life was not going to be the one that I had always dreamed, that is when I really started *living* ya know.

    Great post friend.

  4. This is going to sound ridiculously cheesy – but I think happiness is something we all just need to strive to have. Not things, not people, not events, or moments. Just happiness. If you are trying to make YOURSELF happy everything else follows or comes with it. Seems simple, but in order for this to happen you have to be selfish and figure out what really makes you happy. It’s not easy!

    BTW – This post makes this non-hugger want to fly up to DC just to hug you. I hope you find your happiness 🙂

  5. Hi you. I can completely understand where you are coming from…I felt that way a while ago…before I met Glen. I started to change my focus and start improving me, instead of the search for a boyfriend, going out, etc… Once I started that…more and more things fell into place. As we know though…life is constantly throwing us curve balls… This year has been a rough one for both of us at times…and awesome at others. Roo and I love you… just remember that….and if you ever feel in need of a boost – go volunteer – trust me…you never leave volunteering in a bad mood.

    p.s. gossip girl is on tonight…hooray! glass of vino and some trash tv = awesome
    we could skype too

    xoxo from Trinidad

  6. Sandra says:

    Wowee, this post really hit home, as does a lot of your posts… I can relate to this on every level and the thing that makes it hard, that makes it so damn challenging is the reality that you never can predict the twists and turns that life has in store for us. Man, I’ve been going through a ton of emotions tonight, trying to figure out how to do the job I love and am passionate about and still be able to afford living my “single” life. It’s so damn hard when you have one income to rely on to be able to make the changes in life that you want and perhaps sacrifice a bit of pay for a job that may be more in line with achieving some sort of happiness. Ultimately what I’ve come to realize though is that I am not happy being alone, I’m not used to relying on myself forever and always and not having an ICE (in case of emergency); it’s really depressing at times to try to relate to my friends who seemingly have it all even if there are bumps along that road, I fell like I’d rather be on it than traveling alone in the desert at night (ha! OK a bit of melodrama, but seriously).

    I have no idea, but for some reason randomly today I was thinking about Sandra Bullock accepting her oscar a few years back when she said that she was so happy that Jesse James “had her back.” Then all that stuff unraveled in her life and it got me to thinking, do we ever really know if someone has our back? Or do we have to assume they may have our back to catch us when we fall or twist the knife?… Sorry, I guess I am a little too depressed this evening and really shouldn’t be contributing to this post… It’s just… I guess posts like this make me feel like I am a little less alone in the world. It makes me feel like my experience is not some isolated randomness and somehow and in some small way, that makes me feel better, so thank you 🙂

  7. Kristina says:

    Girl – this post crosses all ages. I’m 56, a runner, a mom and grama. I finally woke up in my late 40s and realized that life was happening around me while I was waiting for life. You have said it so eloquently. Live life – don’t look back at the end and say “I wish I would have …….”

  8. Wow what a moving post. Hope that doesn’t sound corny. But you are totally taking responsibility for your life, where you’re at (or not). Massive revelations! I actually really struggle with facing and dealing with the reality that is my life. You sort of think in your early twenties that you have forever, everything will fall into place and it will be fairy tale like. Even if you had all the things you imagined it would probably not feel the way you imagined – if that makes sense.

  9. I loved this post, Melissa. You definitely aren’t alone and I am one who can relate. I think there are many of us that have set up an ideal fantasy in our head about what our future is going to be like. Some things are out of our control and sometimes we make mistakes, but I LOVE that you have taken back control in fulfilling your life and being your best, happiest YOU possible! Keep on LIVING your life! XO

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