On Change and the Future
October 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
I’m at an interesting stage in my life mostly due to the fact that I’m in the midst of making (or I’ve already made) some big changes. Life is especially stressful at times because our decisions are final. Once you decide to make a serious change in your life there is no “reset” button. You can’t decide later that you made the wrong choice and start over.
Thankfully I don’t feel that way about any of the changes I’ve made. When you spend enough time living life a certain way there’s a certain amount of time you need to transition. But otherwise, things have gone as well as I could have ever hoped.
My professional life will likely (and hopefully) begin to reflect my personal life in this sense as well. I’m cautiously optimistic that some changes will be coming. I think that’s the final piece to my life puzzle right now. My personal life is fully transitioned and adjusted. I’m simply waiting for my professional life to “catch up” so to speak.
Granted these changes have not come without some backlash. I’ve been forced to sort of take a step back and actually look at all the aspects of my life that I’ve been shoving back and ignoring since childhood. Although that might sound healthy it’s incredibly painful in the short term. I’ve forced myself to come to grips with the reality that my life was a lot more screwed up than I was previously willing to admit. And perhaps people were right when they told me how dysfunctional my childhood. Perhaps instead of taking honest critiques personally it would have been smarter for me to address those issues. Instead I continued to ignore them and pretend as if I could run away from them.
Well, 600 miles and a 10 hour drive isn’t far enough, because here I am: hanging by a thread as I come to terms with the fact that my family is in shambles and I’m more or less on my own in this world.
Of course I’m with someone who treats me the way I always hoped to be treated. Who loves me not just because they find a life with me comfortable and safe but because they genuinely love me and feel like they were meant to spend their life with me. It’s the warmest feeling in the world knowing that you have someone who feels that way about you. Just the feeling you get while they lay their head on your shoulder is enough to make you forget about whatever problems life might have thrown at you that particular day.
But as I mentioned, the changes I’ve made forced me to crack open that vault deep in my psyche where my I hide my deepest regrets and darkest memories. And as I wrestle with the issues I’ve been blissfully ignoring for my entire adult life I’ve come to the sobering conclusion that I’m one mishap away from being completely alone in the world.
I’m with someone who loves me dearly. They love me with everything they have. Of that I’m positive. But all it takes is one mistake. One slip up on their part and poof — everything we have together is gone. And then I’m left with nothing but this den of mental demons I’ve unleashed. My family is dysfunctional to the core and hardly cares. My aunt is alcoholic who lives alone in a shoddy rental. My sister got pregnant and married and does everything she can to distance herself from the family. My dad lives bitter and alone in the middle of nowhere and has recently started dating the woman he previously cheated on my mother with. And my mom lives alone in my childhood home, unemployed, in debt up to her eyeballs, and lonelier than I think she’s ever been.
Unhappiness is the only common thread in my family. My brother overdosed on heroin two years ago. My grandfather hung himself due to depression. My grandmother essentially drank herself to death. My other grandparents are clinging to life as my grandmother feebly attempts to hold everything together (as she always has) while my grandfather, who can barely remember what he had for breakfast, still struggles with a bad case of alcoholism that not even Alzheimer’s could make him forget.
And here I am. Previously happily oblivious to all of this. And now, forced to face reality for the first time in my adult life, I realize that if Katie leaves me I’m truly alone in this world. And I’ll end up just like everyone else in my family. Alone and afraid.
I hope I can look back in ten years — sorrounded by a happy, loving family — and smile at how baseless my fears were. I hope I can walk away from reading this post, sit down next to my wife and kids in the living room and smile knowing that I’ve broken the chain of dysfunctionality that has cursed my family. I hope I will be happy.