How often I have heard this, expression I guess it would be called, and used to think what does that really mean. It caused me pause and many moments of contemplated thoughts. It seems like a fairly short and simple statement to grasp. However, one would need to be willing to change in order to understand and appreciate the value in these words.
Long ago when my life was a living hell, full of chaos and uncertainty, my attitude was all about change. If only he would adjust to my ways, life would work better. Why can’t she see my point of view and do things better. I expected the world around me to make all the sacrifices so I would be more comfortable. How well that worked out for me.
It all came down to choices I soon came to find out. You mean I can choose to live this way or that? These weren’t the lessons I was taught. I observed and learned from my first teacher to accept everything as it was. Changing things was not an option, enduring them was the only choice. What a grand way to start a life with these amazing broken tools.
Off into the small world I grew up in, I learned to isolate early on. It was safer to stay inside my four walls of comfort where no one could reach me. I needed be invisible so I could remain the same. The only thing changing was the natural process of me growing up, while my insides became more confused.
The small town I grew up in wasn’t very different from when I was a young girl to the time I graduated high school. I was content but as much as I thought I wanted to break out, I was afraid to leave. One day my best friend and I thought that a change would do us good. So we took a leap, packed our things and moved 50 miles away to the closest city. One with a shopping mall, fast food on every corner and a freeway.
Feeling quite mature and somewhat more free, we discovered there was more to life than working at a fast food chain, cruising the loop of our tiny little town on the weekends, sunbathing at our favorite swimming hole and hanging out with the guys because there was nothing better to do. Content yet bored, there had to be something better than this.
We both found new adventures waiting for us as we parted ways geographically, but remained best friends even still. That would never change. Both of us got married within a few short years, one month apart. Added together we had five sons between us. While she stayed happily married and in the same home with her wonderful, little flourishing family, I was in a constant state of change. Oh the roller coaster this man took me on. What other choice did I have? I was stuck.
By the time we made a circle in all the different small cities over a period of six years, I found myself right back where it all began. The familiar smell of the pine trees, clean air, majestic mountains and now two stop lights, I was back home. A place I never wanted to return. Happiness was this place in my rearview mirror, for a brief moment in time.
Come to find out later, all this moving around was merely us running from ourselves, me escaping me, but everywhere we went, there we were, he was and I was dying inside. Back in my what once was my safe haven, I began to hide out once again. This is my life. Deal with it, and that I did. Miserable and breaking, angry and unsatisfied, I found ways to survive.
My sons became my only source for joy and a means to escape from the turmoil residing within. My focus completely on them while I waited for their dad to change so I might feel anything other than hopeless. obsessed with his comings and goings, the frequencies were happening more often now. His drinking consumed him and I was losing myself as I sunk deeper into the darkness of despair.
My best friend’s home was my only means of refuge, but it was now two and almost a half hours away. That required a skillful way of scraping enough gas money together to load up my three joys and run away, at least for a weekend. The ease I felt just being there. In the presence of what I could only imagine normal might look like. The tension I carried seldom allowed me to relax. The five little boys with all their energy, exhausted me, but my frustrations and tears were understood here.
Dread set in every mile I drove to return to that place I now called home again. What other choice did I have? I felt trapped, unloved by this man I chose to marry. After all, if he truly did love me, he would change. The play was a continuance of my childhood just with different actors now. I was destined for this life that contained people who were consumed by the drink.
A martyr was born. She was always in there, but now she had blossomed and played her role well. Forced to come out of the background when my oldest son started school, I actually made a few friends. How refreshing and at the same time, foreign to be in the company of some positive energy. Soon I couldn’t get enough and found ways to be around it more.
I wanted to be like these seemingly happy people, so I soaked up what I could and held on tight. Not knowing what or how it happened, but I felt a little spark inside that shifted something. I think it was the possibility of thriving instead of surviving. Maybe there is a way. For the first time, I began to hope.
Six homes, a one year separation, multiple disappointments, constant let downs, agony, defeat, his DUI and arrest, a brief period of homelessness, fearful and hopeless, many years later, ten to be exact, I came to a crossroad. I realized it had been me all along that needed to make a change if I wanted anything to actually be different. I chose life, but what did that look like?
I had only ever known misery and it was a demented, familiar comfort. I was petrified as I walked in the door. A room full of strangers in a make shift church, but in a strange way I felt at rest. “You didn’t cause it, you can’t control and you will never cure it.” I was hooked and relieved. Those three little “C’s” gave me the freedom I had longed for my entire life. Those that were consumed by their addictions weren’t going to change unless they wanted to. I was soon going to find out that no matter what I did, I was just not that powerful.
As long as I continue to do what I have always done,
I will continue to get what I have always gotten
Nothing changes if nothing changes…