When I was a child, I grew up knowing that someday my prince would come. And when that day happened, I would then go on to live the life my mother was living, as her mother had done before her. So I grew up with that internalized view of my future. One day, a man will come along. He will fall in love with my beauty and my good heart and he will pull me onto his white horse and we will live together forever and have a lovely family with….I wanted five…five children….because you see I planned to be a housewife and full time mother so I could have five children with no problem. And we would all live happily ever after.
But then I began to grow up and as I waited for love to arrive, I found that somehow the universe had not gotten the message, for instead of a prince on a white horse, frogs began to show up at my door. But then I remembered….kiss a frog and he may turn into a prince. So I kissed many frogs looking for one to turn into a prince. You might say that I adapted. I was still looking for a partner to ride into the sunset with. Perhaps I just needed to stop looking for the horse to arrive to carry me away and just hop on the back on the frog and hop slowly into the dusk.
Perhaps with all of the love I had to give, my frog would be a wonderful partner. I would support my frog emotionally and he would take care of our family, just as my parents said he should. I would stay home and raise our five tadpoles. But then one child came along, and then two. And I realized that I would never be able to afford to stay home with them. Once again, I adapted. I did not have five children. I had two children. Life had thrown up a wall through which I could not pass.
I had also planned to be a loving aunt to my brother’s children. And for his first child, I was that….for seven years. And at that point, her mom got remarried and her new husband wanted to adopt my niece. So the little girl I loved was taken away forever. Then my brother had a son. I saw him a couple of times when he was a baby. Then he too was taken away by his mom and never seen again. More impassible walls. More changes to the plan. More adapting.
I had planned on being there for my sons’ weddings. That never happened as well. One son has never married and the other ran away and eloped when he was 18. The one who has never married has had two children with two different women. Like my niece and nephew with my brother, they too were swept into the families of their mother’s new husband….and turned against our family. Despite going to court to see my grand-daughter, I ended up having awkward breakfasts with her and her mother, hearing her mom declare that the child belonged to her and fearing saying anything because I wanted to see my grand-daughter.
My marriage broke up many years ago. Sometimes love just ain’t enough. When you find that you aren’t working together towards the same goal, it makes working on the relationship that much harder to do. So I ended up sometimes working two jobs to make ends meet and living alone….something I never saw coming in my life.
So after 35 years of working, now divorced and seeing my children living their own lives of dysfunction, I thought things were really turning around after I retired and got a great part-time job at the diocese to supplement my income. Nothing felt so sure, so very secure, as did working for the church. But once again, my life did not go as planned. I hit another brick wall when I was fired….betrayed….by a priest who set me up and then stood back to watch my fall. Who would’ve thought that a priest could be so very deliberately evil?
I guess I am naïve, thinking that life was going to easily fall into place and that all I had to do was to be a good person and not cause anyone any problems and just do what I was supposed to do and be kind and loving. But life has had other plans for me. And spiritually, I believe that I’ve come to this point for whatever reason that I was supposed to be here. After the tears have passed, I have accepted the walls I could not pass and adapted and went in another direction. I have accepted help when I needed it but I stopped looking for someone else to save me and to put me on their horse. I have kept my heart open but have stopped expecting others to be good to me simply because it is the right thing to do to be nice.
But having walked a road less paved, I like to believe I have gained a better insight into what it feels like to hurt and to suffer loss and to keep going. I know that I have developed a strength that I would not have otherwise obtained had the road been easier. I have also, I believe, gained knowledge. I would like to go back and to tell that little girl who believed that her life would begin when someone else came along not to wait and to not put her happiness in the control of others. I would have told her not to keep pushing so hard against the walls in her path because those are the things in life that you cannot change, so to try to change them is a waste of time and energy.
I would have told her that she would have to keep creating new paths throughout her life and that she would have to keep going despite her fears. I would tell her she would need to be strong.
Because she would need to learn to slay her own dragons.