“Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this.” – Henry Ford
When I recently read that quote, it really struck a chord with me. There could not be anything truer – or harder to understand as we are confronted with life while it’s unraveling before us….
I was 30, and my Plan “A” was firmly in place. I was married a few years already to my teen sweetheart (check). I loved my job and was happily climbing that corporate ladder at exactly the pace I planned (check). Hubby and I moved out of Brooklyn to our first home in suburbia – naturally in a great school district to prepare for the family we planned to soon start (check, check & check). I had attained the status I had hoped and planned for by the time I was 30 – wife, career woman, suburbanite and hopeful mommy to be. Plan “A” was well on its way.
Fast forward 5 years. My 8 year marriage was over. I moved out of my beautiful suburban home and back to Brooklyn – embarrassingly to an apartment in my parent’s house. No baby – but mile high bills from years of fertility treatments and battle scars from the 2 miscarriages that I was still paralyzed from. I was flat broke, couldn’t access the joint accounts I had with my soon to be ex-husband – and couldn’t have been more ashamed to borrow money from my sister in order to retain a divorce lawyer. I had officially hit rock bottom. Correction – there was rock bottom, a thick layer of garbage – and then me buried beneath that.
I had always been a pretty optimistic person, but this whole situation was making even me the world’s crankiest pessimist. Why were all these terrible things happening to me? I am certainly not a perfect person but decent enough, I thought – so, what did I do to deserve this type of pain? How much more did I have to take? I even turned on the big guy upstairs and wanted to know “why God was punishing me.” I felt like every piece of what I considered “me” had faded away. I was no longer a “wife”. I felt further than ever from the possibility of ever being called “mom”. I felt like I took 20 steps backwards moving back to my old neighborhood – let alone into my childhood home. All the things I knew and loved changed drastically and it felt like “I” had faded away. Maybe I had in some ways. But what I did not know at that time (and admittedly, took a while for me to learn and accept) was that all this bad stuff happening to me started a transformation of sorts. And a transition into a new – and truly wonderful existence.
I soon accepted – or more importantly – I began to wholeheartedly embrace my new life and the changes that came along with it. I had fun decorating my new apartment. I took initiative and connected more often with my closest friends that I sadly hadn’t seen in far too long. I started socializing and going out more with my colleagues. I formed even stronger bonds with my family than I already had. I traveled to Europe for the first time. I started dating (and probably have enough stories on that topic for the making of a book or a sitcom, forget a blog…). I laughed more than I had in years (and it wasn’t just from the dating…). As scary as it was sometimes – I took more chances, was less afraid of rejection and became more open minded. I threw myself more into my work – and a promotion came just a few months after I was buried under that layer of garbage beneath rock bottom. I was falling madly and deeply in love with my new life – and the person I was becoming.
Throughout this transition – or this “re-invention of me” – I learned a lot. Why was I putting so much importance on a “label”? Maybe at one time I was a “wife” or a “mommy to be” – but it wasn’t these 2 parts alone that made up the puzzle of who I was. Countless pieces made me who I was and I needed to focus less on those old, broken parts – and to embrace those new shiny ones. I was already a daughter, a sister, a friend. But what was I becoming? For starters – I became a traveler, a manager, a mentor. I was becoming a brave, confident and independent woman – the sum of all my parts.
It was during this time that another new part of me – my most cherished part – was born. I became an aunt. I had never known a love as pure as that which I felt when holding each of my nieces for the first time – and knowing the emotion that swept over me then, I can only imagine how a mother must feel holding her own little one for the first time. I was immediately hooked and could not have felt luckier. I couldn’t imagine that it was only a year prior that felt so down on my luck – and here I was a short time later completely elated, so unbelievably lucky and grateful for this truly precious gift. I wasn’t a “mommy” – but I was given a special gift – and without the sleepless nights and debt from college tuition (woo-hoo!). Seriously, while this role has been more gratifying than I could have imagined, and while it is enough for me now – who knows? You never know what life could have in store for you. Life is ever changing and this lady will be prepared for the next plan to start taking shape at any time. That really is the best plan we can all have, now isn’t it?
So, Plan “A” didn’t pan out for me. But I have to say, Plan “B” has turned out pretty good. I’ll even go so far to say that it’s turned out better than I would have ever imagined. Life is an ever changing journey with twists, turns, wins and fails. We have to be prepared to recalculate the route when it’s taking us down the wrong path or getting us more lost than ever; have the strength to find a new and improved path. And as luck (or life) should have it – I’ve recently found myself starting my “Plan C”. But lucky for me, I already have just a little practice in this department. And another 24 letters to go. Stay tuned.