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

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I Danced, Because I had Nothing Left To Lose

I left the house ready for a wedding.  Dress was on, hair was curled, and makeup was dark.  I felt as confident as I was going to get for that evening, threw a smile on my face, and headed to a downtown Portland ballroom that overlooked the city.

I returned from the wedding exhausted.  My hair lost most of its curl, my eye makeup had begun to creep downward, and my feet ached from a night of dancing.  I hopped in the shower and let the hot water wash over me as I scrubbed the eyeliner and mascara off my eyes and wiped the sweat off my body.  I took a little longer than needed, absorbing the hot steam into my pores, relaxing my already sore muscles, and thinking about the events of the evening.

It was a beautiful wedding.  Not just the venue, which was gorgeous, but the entire event was amazing.  It was one of those weddings in which you could really feel the love and energy into the room.  The bride was beyond stunning, and the groom, quite handsome in his suit, looked as if he would float away from happiness.  She walked down the aisle to Coldplay’s “Til Kingdom Come,” more radiant that I have ever seen her.  The look on his face as he saw his future wife walk towards him and their new life together was priceless.  I feel so lucky to have shared in their day.

I did my best to focus on the event unfolding in front of me, an event I have been looking forward to since their engagement.  It was hard to focus, though.  I wish my former love didn’t creep into my thoughts so often.  In my defense, it is incredibly difficult to focus on someone else’s nuptials without thinking about your own trials and tribulations in love.  I was one of the very few single guests, surrounded by sea of couples, young and old.  Much to my chagrin, the DJ peppered a few slow songs throughout the evening, one of which was Adele’s cover of “Make You Feel My Love.”   I watched as the aforementioned couples made their way to the dance floor, hand in hand, and celebrated their own love.   To say it was bittersweet would be an understatement.

I hate to admit how sad I felt at moments, my chest heavy with longing and regret, wishing he was there with me.  I also had to put on my game face around all of the babies.  It’s a special kind of difficult to see couples with babies at a wedding after the events of the past few months.  Naturally it made me think of all the things I was looking forward to, until that last week of December when I first lost the baby and then lost the fella.  I tried to brush those thoughts away immediately and just enjoy the evening and the new friends I was making.   All things considered, I think I did a pretty good job.

And then I danced.  I danced my heart out, as if the world was my stage and this was my grand debut.  I danced till my heart pounded, my breath was short, and sweat had to be wiped from my brow.  I danced and I laughed and I let myself feel truly happy for the first time in months.  As we said goodbye, the bride told me I was one of the photographer’s favorite guests to shoot because I had a huge smile on my face at all times.  The bride’s smother came up to me and told me how great I looked on the dance floor.

I went all out up on that stage, because I had nothing to lose.

As I sit here typing this, the energy is leaving my body and the wind is howling outside my bedroom window.   I must close my eyes soon, but first I need to put pen to paper and purge these ruminations from my mind. I thought about happiness as I drove home.   As much as I felt envy for the bride and groom on this day, I realized it wasn’t just their wedding, but their happiness that I long for, and I won’t reach that kind of happiness with a partner until I find it on my own. I am a prideful person.  It is one of my greatest faults.  It is time to put pride aside and become the best version of myself that I can be.  I have work to do.  I have things to fix.  I have demons to slay.   I have actions for which I need to atone.

Just as important, I need to dance more.  I need to laugh daily.  I need to find my own joy, because no one will bring it to me.  I need to discover new things and meet new people.  I need to stop allowing the past to interfere with the present.

My first order of business I have already accomplished, which was a solo trip out of town.  It was something I have always wanted to do, and finally just went for it.  I will definitely be planning another trip soon.  The second order of business was not bringing a date to this wedding.  Although I had options, I did not want to bring someone just for the sake of having a date.  More importantly, I wanted to prove that I could enjoy myself at a wedding as a single guest.  I could find happiness alone.  And I succeeded.

Tonight was a small step in the right direction, but it still a step forward.  I can do this.  I have to do this.  I don’t want life to pass me by.  I don’t want the chance for love to pass me by, either.   I am truly doing the best I can, and while there are still many struggles ahead of me, I saw a ray of hope in myself tonight.  A small glimmer that said, “you’re going to be okay.”  And that is something that I will try to hold on to.

Until next time ~B