I hate this. Just before a major change in my life, I meditate on how I got here. It is not intentional and I cannot help it. It invades my dreams and my thoughts randomly. It is like I cannot escape yet it really has no effect on my current situations.
Most notable are my past relationships. I want to point out here that in no way am I sad by the end of those relationships. But they sometimes haunt my thoughts. Why? Most likely because without the struggles and the abuse of my past I would not be at this very juncture in my life. I would not have moved forward this far. I would not have found my voice and my strength. I would not have found the courage to pursue my dreams. So this post is not looking at specific incidents but more at the result of those incidents.
What most of us forget is that our struggles make us who we are. Without struggles our lives never grow, we simply exist. It was one of the most frustrating things about growing up religious that I encountered. So here is where it begins, my childhood, which I resent passionately. I resent being force-fed religion and being bullied into submission if I questioned what I was being fed. I often think about how during my church days the pastors always suggested to me that my struggles were do to lack of faith on my part, or lack of full commitment. Anyone that knows me, knows that I never waver, I am either all in or not at all. There is no fence. It was often suggested that my life would be perfect and struggle free if I would tithe and get more involved. I tried to get more involved but I was never quite good enough. Tithing is difficult when you have no money for food for your kids. Paying the church $200 a month could mean living on Ramen or having real fresh food for that month. Trust me I tried to have faith in that, but it pained me to see my children suffer. In many places that should be considered child abuse.
Think about this fairy tale for a moment. The perfect life, free of struggle is yours if you struggle right now. Ok so life without struggle, what does that look like? I envisioned a life where kids are perfect, money is never an issue, you have a home and reliable transportation and you go to tennis lessons. You sit down as a family, there is not conflict, life if like Leave it to Beaver! Think about this for a moment, would you be happy in this life? A life that is predictable and boring? A life that is just too perfect to be real? I would and it took me until my 30’s to realize that this life was not only a fairy tale but also just plain damn boring. Without struggles we become complacent. If there is not challenge there is not reason to strive to improve. If we are handed the perfect life, then what is left? I imagine Heaven to be a very boring place. No struggles, no challenges, how very well perfect to be frank. How perfectly boring.
So I embrace the struggles of life. Not knowing if you can pay the bills, not knowing if you will be able to eat today, these struggles are a little harsh. Yet they cause us to be creative to learn to trust ourselves. These struggles give us strength and allow us to realize how much we can carry. In those days I used to say to myself, I am not Job. I do not want to be pressured this hard, I cannot carry the burden. What I did not realize is that I could handle the pressure but the dream was a fairy tale. When you realize that the goal is not attainable, you give up hope. What your really need to do is figure out what it is that is attainable, and reset our goals. It is this weird trap, you set yourself up for the perfect life, which you will never be able to attain. You fail, you lose all hope and you give up. When you find yourself in this space it is time to realize that society set you up for it. Whether it be religious leaders or societal leaders, they guide you to this unattainable goal. They make it look perfect and happy, but the reality is, it is never going to be reality. It is a way to keep us in line. If we start to question these ideas we become dangerous to the underlying norms.
This was probably my biggest lesson. When I made another decision or went into another relationship the goal was ultimately the same. To get to that perfect life. Even those times I chose the baddest boy I could find, the goal was to gain that perfect life. The choices I made were also a bit of rebellion at that goal. I did not want to achieve it in the traditional paths. I wanted the perfect life, but I wanted it on my terms. I have since learned that my terms will never get that perfect life anymore than the traditional paths.
Once you move past those realities you begin to see things more clearly. This is the gift of my past. Those struggles and failed relationships enabled me to move past this fairy tale goal. They helped me find my true passion and my real goals. Without those struggles I would still be seeking that fairy tale. I would still be hoping for Prince Charming and little house with a white picket fence. I would still be expecting that perfect struggle free life, instead I seek out adventure. My life now is about living not waiting. It is about adventure and learning and growing as a human and not about seeking the perfectly boring life. My life is now about the Journey not the destination. The journey itself is the goal. It took me a very long time to realize that, it took me through abusive partners, partners who took financial advantage of me, partners who never considered my goals or desires, but I made it. I made it to the point of having the best partner I could ever ask for. A partner who supports my dreams. A partner who loves me for who I am and is not afraid to let me fly. I would not change anything about my life, except maybe how long it took me to learn the lessons I needed to from the bad relationships I have been in. Sometimes letting go is the only way to learn to fly!