Monday, September 1, 2014

Life as I Never Expected It To Be

You know that "Plan" that your life is supposed to follow? Silly question. We all know it. It may differ slightly for each of us, but I think somewhere along the line we each discover a basic formula or path that we think life is supposed to follow. Let's start with graduating high school. The next logical step in my particular formula was to go to college. The following steps can vary in order, but the basic idea was to meet the Man of My Dreams. Get Married. Graduate college. Begin a satisfying career. Have kids. Raise those kids. Life would be happy and fulfilling. I would continue pursuing my career. The kids would graduate and begin their own journeys which included providing grandkids for me and the Man of My Dreams. And so on and so forth as we continue to live happily ever after.
But.......
Somewhere along the way my life did NOT follow The Plan. If I am willing to be honest it never did. I graduated and went to college. And I met a Great Guy. Maybe not quite the Man of My Dreams, but by that time I reasoned I was mature enough to know that said Man of My Dreams really was an unrealistic manifestation of my imagination. I got married. We both graduated college. Before I could blink we had a kid. And eventually two more. My Satisfying Career never got off the ground. I graduated with a degree in Secondary German Education, but never used it. Instead I chose various jobs because they allowed me the flexibility to be a Mom first. I kept trying to make my life fit the Plan it was supposed to follow - but it just didn't. There were moments of happiness, but a lot of darkness I could never have anticipated. Much of it was hard. And hard was NOT what I had ever thought my Plan would be. I reasoned that everyone had rough times and no one's life was ideal and you just made the best of what you had - right? Right?

Then finally came the moment when I realized that not only had my life NEVER truly followed The Plan - it NEVER would. At 43-years-of-age after 23-years-of-marriage spent trying to follow The Plan I found myself a divorced-single-mother-of-three. Ever since then I have been exploring un-anticipated territory and learning to truly live each day as it comes.

Welcome to Life as I Never Expected It To Be.
For the first time in my life I was the ONLY adult in my immediate household. I filed as Head of Household on my income taxes. It was liberating and terrifying at the same time. I discovered that crying in the shower was therapeutic. So was standing in my backyard and screaming "F#CK YOU, World!" at the top of my lungs. Thankfully my neighbors chose not to complain to the authorities. I discovered what it meant to be a recovering people-pleaser. I yelled at God and tried to listen in prayer as I never had before. I learned new vocabulary that was never supposed to apply to my life. I had an EX-husband. I was an EX-wife. Filing for divorce meant I now had a Divorce Decree and Custody Agreement with my name on them. More new words came my way. Being a single-mom meant that my already high level of parenting guilt was now magnified. I learned about things like Child Support and Visitation and Co-parenting. These led to weekends ALL BY MYSELF. At first that alone time was spent crying on my couch. Finally in my desperation God lead me to find friends and soul mates who did not bat an eye when I invited myself to dinner or simply showed up at their doorstep. In addition to loving friends to sooth my lonely hours God sent in a few Saints who loved me with unexpected gifts to get me through tight financial difficulties and challenges that come with recovering from divorce and decades of financial misadventures.

Just what was my relationship status on social media with Life as I Never Expected It To Be? In the beginning I was not ready to advertise as "Single." And just what the heck did "It's Complicated" really mean? Eventually the inevitable happened and the idea of dating again became a reality. Actually it was thrust at me when I discovered my daughters setting up a profile for me on an internet dating service. Guess I did not have to wonder whether they were ready for Mom to start dating. Instead I was told, "Mom, you need to meet someone. And the sooner the better." Yeah - this was NOWHERE in the Plan. After making it clear that Internet Dating Was NOT something I was ready to deal with my girls agreed to wait to activate my online profile if I promised to be more open to dating "in the real world." Need I point out that I NEVER EXPECTED anything like this? It still floors me that the best source of dating advice for me at this time was my then 15-year-old daughter. All the adult friends I had were married. "Just go for it, Mom." "If he doesn't like you then HE'S the idiot." "Don't wear normal MOM clothes - here let me look in your closet. Ok, tomorrow we are taking you shopping." I never dated much in high school. It felt like such a foreign and different game being divorced with children. Then I did meet a guy I really liked and let myself fall a tad bit hard. BUT....yeah, well, in some ways dating HADN'T changed much since high school.
My girls picked me up, dusted me off, and after I firmly declared I was taking a break from dating I met My Guy. I didn't know he was going to be My Guy at the time. No - he was/is not the Man of My Dreams. Instead he seduces me my being the Man After My Own Heart by saying things like he really wants to get to know me. Me? Seriously he might be truly crazy. The amazing thing is - I think He means it. After being together for two years he has yet to run away screaming. No - really. And it is not because I haven't given him reason to. I have a tendency towards drama (Mother of three girls - occupational hazard.) My instincts when we met were to find the BOX (aka Plan) he fit into. I forgot he is part of my Life as I Never Expected It To Be. And I never expected to find a man who would not let go during my drama fits and still be there holding me when sanity returns.

Life as I Never Expected It To Be has continued to include getting married - for the SECOND time. This happens in one month's time. This just floors me. I never, never, never thought I would have a SECOND husband. Or be a SECOND wife. Or be a STEP-mom. Or have to deal with not only MY EX for parenting issues - but My Guy's EX as well. Life keeps redefining itself. The Plan has gone so far out the window that it might as well have never existed in the first place.

Life as I Never Expected It To Be has me in the uncomfortable but most authentic place I have ever been in my now 46-years-of-life. It continues to teach me to quit trying to fit myself and others in a pre-described plan. Live One Day at A Time - sometimes Even One minute at Time - because the Plan is a LIE, but life as I Never Expected It To Be is real and better than I ever dreamed.