Did you know that the longest ‘motorable’ road in the world is the Pan-American Highway? Spanning 29,825.817 miles (48,000 kms), this highway links almost all nations in North and South America. That’s a lot of road. A lot of places to see. But I think some of the longest roads we travel are the metaphorical ones we walk. From the our first breaths to our last, we are constantly on a journey from “here” to “there”. If we could measure our life experiences in miles, would you be more inclined to walk the road?
The Road So Far . . .
Like everyone, I have a story. I haven’t shared my story in depth with too many people. I mean, how do you work “My dad fell out of a window and cracked his head open and died when I was two” into a conversation? It’s kind of a mood killer, right? It makes me uncomfortable. When people respond with, “I’m so sorry for your loss”, I don’t know what to say. Usually I respond with, “Well, I was so young that I don’t really have any memories of him so it doesn’t really bother me any more…”
It gets weird for everyone. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not insensitive to it. In fact, it effected me a lot more as a child. When I started school, Kindergarten to Second grade was the worst. I remember other kids talking about their dads, or meeting my friends dads, or hearing kids talk about how they missed their dads who were away for work or vacation. All I could think was, “Well, I miss my dad too, but he’s not coming back”, so it all felt very unfair.
It even effected the way I viewed religion. My grandparents used to bring me and my sister to church with them every Sunday. They had us on the weekends so that my mom (a single mother), could do her college work, go to work, or have some time for herself. I remember listening to the pastor telling us to pray to God. Pray to God and he will answer your prayers. So I did. Every Sunday at church and any other day of the week that I was thinking about it, I prayed to God to bring my Dad back. Every time.
Eventually I began to believe less and less in God. After all, why would he take away my Dad? At seven years old, I had stopped believing in God and that there was any hope that my Dad would come back.
Even though I grew up feeling like there was a hole in my heart that would never be filled, I never felt unloved. My mother gave my sister and I everything we could ever want (within reason, of course). My grandmother (who lost her first husband and her only son) and Papa was always there for us too. She is one of the strongest women I know, and even though she has lost so much, she never fails to stay positive and give love.
At ten years old, my mom met the man who would eventually become my dad. As you can imagine with any blended family (he also had two daughters of his own), things were rocky in the beginning.
I don’t think my dad realized what he was getting into when he ended up living with five girls. We even had three cats who were all female. Poor guy.
Middle and high school passed fairly normally. I was never a straight A student. I didn’t apply myself. I hated homework. I absolutely could not understand math or science. But I loved to write and read. Some of my favorite teachers were the ones who taught English. Actually, one of my favorite teachers was my Chemistry teacher. Even though I almost failed the class, he still didn’t hate me for it. He still respected me just the same as the top student. Can’t say the same for my Geometry teacher though . . .
Any-who . . . I graduated high school and a month later met the man who would eventually become my husband. I had dated in high school, but I was never in an actual relationship with anyone. I attempted relationships, but a week into it I would panic and cut it off. Always one week. Looking back on it now, I think part of it was because I wasn’t ready for anything serious. I also cared too much what other people thought and as soon as someone commented on my “relationship” I would bail. Also, I had a crush on the same kid from sixth grade to twelfth grade, so I had to be available at any point just in case, you know?
So one month after John and I had met, we became “official”. I went home that night thinking, “OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE”. Because as far as I was concerned, I had just signed our relationships death warrant by becoming official. Well, eight years later we’re still going strong so that tells you all you need to know. I also knew this one was different when we passed the dreaded one week mark and almost a week after that I had a friend tell me that John was “an asshole and would get me in trouble”. All I have to say about that is we’re all assholes when the occasion calls for it. I also haven’t been arrested . . . yet (but I got close)! But that’s a story for a different day.
Since I’ve been with John, I have gone to three different colleges, obtained two Associate degrees, worked at nine different jobs, gotten two dogs and one cat, and am now currently in a full-stack web development boot camp.
The Road Ahead . . .
This past year has been one of the toughest years I’ve experienced. I’ve done more standing and staring at the forks in the road than I have done walking. I have lost myself. I have lost friends. I have lost sight of what it means to live. I have looked in the mirror, hated what I saw, and cried.
I realize that these past few months I have become a version of myself that is negative and unmotivated. It hit me one day, when an old co-worker said, “How are things going?”, and my response was the same it had been the past FIVE (at least) times. “Just living the life.”
Everyone knows that’s the universal cover up for “I hate my life”. At least in my neck of the woods. It was then I realized that I couldn’t come up with ONE positive thing about my life to respond with. Not. One.
I don’t want to be that person that drains the energy of the people around me. I don’t want to be the person that is always complaining. So I’ve decided to adjust my sails.
I hope by sharing my experiences that I am able to connect with you. I hope that there are parts of my story that resonate with you. I hope that you might choose to walk with me on this journey and in turn find parts of yourself that you’ve been missing, or heal pieces that are broken.
Our paths will never be the same, but these roads are long and we can walk beside each other for a short while, at least.