When All That Is Left Is You

I had a terrible dream.  The kind that bothers you all day and forces your brain into overdrive to discover the hidden meaning in your psyche.

In the dream I had a baby, who was nothing but chubby cheeks, blonde hair, and big blue eyes, exactly how I would picture a baby of mine to look.  It was adorable, and instead of being a doting mother, my dream self was completely ambivalent over it.  My mom was doing most of the care-taking, and I would try, here and there, to spend time with my child and bond with him or her.  Yet, I felt very little connection to this tiny human, and I knew there was something wrong.  I would hold the baby, feel good about myself for doing so, feel somewhat emotionally connected, but then in due time I would be ready to hand him or her back to my mother.  I knew that this wasn’t right; that I should be feeling more than I was for my own child, but I kept coming up emotionally short.

When I woke up, I recalled the dream and felt very unsettled.  After my miscarriage in December, I still ache for the baby I will never hold.  So why was I so disconnected from the baby in my dream?  I have tried analyzing it, but still come up with nothing.  All I can say is that I hope this was not some kind of foreboding of my future attempts at motherhood.  Maybe there was no meaning to this dream, and I can just chalk it up to some misfiring neurons during my sleep.

Then again, the dream got me thinking about what we think we want versus what we actually want.  In the dream, I knew I should want this baby, and I would try to convince myself that I wanted it, but it wasn’t clicking the way it should.  The events of the past five months have taught me that hopes, dreams, and desires can take on a much different look when real life happens and you are forced to confront these things in a way that perhaps you never thought you would.  I always knew, in a very abstract way, that I wanted to have a family of my own.  When I came face to face with that desire, it was in an entirely different way than I had imagined.  I had to ask myself if that was what I really wanted, and then when I lost the baby, I realized how much my heart longed for those things.  I had to lose it all to understand how much I really wanted it all.

Just as the pregnancy loss and breakup forced me to confront the truth of my heart’s desires, recently I had to confront another desire of mine, which was to get back together with T.  For the past five months I have been trying to give him everything that (I thought) he needed.  This included a lot of space, encouragement, kindness, and love.  Even though the words I spoke aloud told the world I wasn’t waiting for him, deep down the truth was the opposite.  I thought that if I was patient and gave him what he needed, he would eventually see that I was the real deal- the “girl who didn’t know the meaning of quit” -and return to me.  What can I say?  I am a hopeless romantic and I wear my bleeding, broken heart on my sleeve for the world to see.

I held on to this silent conviction up until about two weeks ago.  The last few conversations I had with T forced me to confront some stark realities.  I began thinking about what it would look like if my desires came true and he returned to me, ready to start anew.  I thought about how it would make me feel, how we might repair the damage done, and what our life would look like.  When I began really examining the possibilities, my eyes were finally opened to the truth that I had so long been denying.

Yes, I wanted T to come back, but his words of late (which I will not post here) made me realize that what I want will never come to pass, at least not in the way it should.  Despite his protests, I have been trying to convince him that he wants to be a husband and father, that he has what it takes to make that happen, and with me by his side, we could make a good life together.  When I finally opened my eyes, I saw that he does not want to be a husband, nor does he want to be a father.  At least he does not want those things with me.  This revelation allowed me to come to terms with the fact that I cannot coerce or bully T into a life he does not want to live.  I cannot compel him to feel emotions he does not feel, or make choices he does not want to make.

And that is when I realized that if he did come back, I would always fear that I am not good enough for him.  Let me pause to make note that this is not a self-esteem issue.  I know what I am worth, and I know what I have to offer.  By good enough, I mean that I fear he would always be looking for greener grass.  That our relationship and the life we built together was not enough for him to be happy.   If T came back, I would be faced with the very real possibility that I would spend the rest of my life sleeping with one eye open in fear that he was sleeping with one foot ready to start his run out the door.

That is no way for anyone to live.  Not me, and not T.  So, I did the hardest thing I have had to do in some time.  I finally gave him exactly what he wanted: I set him free.  I told him I understood we do not want the same things, and I would no longer by trying to convince him otherwise.  I told him to be happy and enjoy life, and that he wouldn’t hear from me again.  That was two weeks ago, and while the truth of his feelings has not become any easier for my heart to bear, knowing that I did the right thing by walking away from a man who does not want to share a life with me is what allows me to keep moving forward.

And perhaps that was what my dream was really about: the realization that you cannot push a person into a feeling, life, or choice they do not want.  If we had reunited and became a family, there may have been times that T felt okay about his choice, and that he was doing the “right” thing, just as I did in my dream by trying to bond with my child.  However, eventually the ambivalence would return and he would long to be free of our life, in the same way that I would pass the baby back to my mother.  Love isn’t about chaining a person down, but rather giving them the freedom to make the choices that are right for them.  And sometimes those choices don’t include you.

I would have moved the moon and the stars for T, and I tried to many times.  I finally accepted that he does not want that from me, and so I became resolute, and turned around and walked away with the determination to instead move the moon and the stars for myself.  I said earlier that everything was taken away from me.  But the thing about life is that when everything has gone away, what is left is you.  Just you.  And that can be enough if you let it.

Until next time ~ B

 

 

 

 

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At The Intersection of Real Life and Dreams

“Dreams are lies.  A waste of precious thoughts.”

I read that recently.  I wish I could remember the source.   All I know is that I did not come up with it myself, so I give credit to the person who did.

That line has been on my mind quite often these days.  As I find myself at 31 years of age, single and childless, I am beginning to realize that I must come to terms with the reality that life has no guarantees.  This means that I need to start imagining a different kind of future.  One that does not involve a family.

Lest you think I have given up, dear reader, I will assure you that is not the case.  I have not given up on what I want.   Rather, I feel that it is disingenuous to go forth with the mindset that I will have the family I so dearly want someday.  The sad, unfortunate truth about the universe is that it owes us nothing.  The world does not stop turning when a heart breaks, or a child dies, or any other devastating event occurs.   Life swiftly marches forward, and if we don’t keep up, it will leave us in the dust.  It will do this no matter how desperately we want to grasp the clock and turn back the hands of time in an attempt to change the outcomes of our present.

I have been trying to imagine what my life could look like without a husband and children, and in doing so, I have had to ask myself the question of: “What makes me happy now, and what would make me happy in the future?”  I brought this up in counseling today, and my therapist agreed that I am doing the right thing by imaging different possibilities for my future.  She even straight up said: “Life has no guarantees.”

This brings me back to the opening line.   “Dreams are lies.  A waste of precious thoughts.”  The heartbroken cynic in me agrees with this 100%.  Why waste your brain space on dreams when the randomness of life will hit you with unpredictable events at a moment’s notice?  Why bother to plan for a future that may never come to pass?  It’s easy to dive into a sea of negativity and float out in its water like a sad, pale bitter melon.   Are dreams just lies we tell ourselves about the future to make the present seem more bearable?   When we think about future possibilities, are we just deluding ourselves into imaging a life that may never come to pass?  The only thing certain about life is its unpredictability, so perhaps dreams really are just a waste of precious thoughts.

Ugh.

The truth is, that is even too dark and depressing for me.  I may be a sad, pale bitter melon, but I want to hold on to whatever shred of hope remains in my psyche.  I want to hold on to the dream that someday, tacked onto my refrigerator, will be the picture of me, hubby, and  baby.

But in order for me to set a foundation for a healthy future, I cannot bank my entire life on that image.  I have to make room for other ideas of happiness.  Maybe I will never be a mom, but I could volunteer with kids.  I may never have a honeymoon, but I can travel to amazing places anyway.  I can try new things and surround myself with wonderful people and work towards making peace with that version of life.

Because when you are 31, single, childless, and female, you must make room for the possibility of a different kind of happiness.  Especially when you self-sabotage relationships.  I had to admit out loud today that I may end up alone, because if I don’t come to terms with that now, it will be all the more devastating to try and come to terms with that at 41, single, childless, and female.

Despite all of that, the deeper truth is that I am a fool for love, and will never stop looking or trying.  I may end up doing this my entire life, being a sort of Johnny Castaway of love, hanging out on my island alone, just waiting for that opportunity to come along.  I’ll dodge falling coconuts and hum loudly, and fall asleep just as the cruise ship sails by.

However, as I sit on my lonely island of one, I can’t help but wonder if maybe the question shouldn’t be “what else would make me happy” but rather “what is worth fighting for?”  At this point, I’m not sure what to fight for anymore.  I was recently in a relationship with a man who made me laugh every day, until things went to hell after I got pregnant.  At this point, I just wish he were around to make me laugh again.  Is that worth fighting for?

I have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that despite planning on being a family, we didn’t know each other very well.  I heard that from him and from others.  “How could it have been love?  You didn’t know each other,” one person told me.

So, how do I reconcile the concept of us not knowing each other with the connection that I can’t seem to shake?  Is that just the silly, rom-com loving, hopeless romantic dreamer inside of me, lying to myself?  Do I just need to resign myself to the reality that I made that connection up in my mind, and let it go?  Is this the desperate, lonely, 31 single childless female inside of me that doesn’t want to end up alone?

Or, is it something worth fighting for?  Because the truth is, he is a good man.  If he reads this, I’m sure he is shaking his head back and forth in disagreement.  He stood by me during pregnancy, and only left when it all became too much- the grief, me pushing him away, his old demons… I know how overwhelming it was for me, so I can only imagine how overwhelming it was for him.  And so I stand by my assertion.  Nothing will ever convince me otherwise.   He is a good man, and he is someone worth fighting for.  It may not be me who does the fighting, but that won’t be because I didn’t want to, or because he doesn’t deserve it.  The reasons will be entirely different, and much like my behavior during pregnancy, will be all about me, and nothing to do with him.

Only time will tell what I end up fighting for, and what my happy ending will look like.  I do know this: I will continue to dream, and allow myself to utilize my precious thoughts on the idea of a happy future, no matter what comes to pass.  Life may have no guarantees, and the universe may be moving forward without care or compassion, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up hope.  It doesn’t mean I have to stop fighting, because I may not be fighting for love, but I will at least be fighting for myself.

Until next time ~ B