Abandoning Dreams of a Life
September 7, 2013 § Leave a comment
Sometimes when I’m feeling down, I’ll play this game with myself. I have an extremely vivid imagination (whether I want it or not) so my brain often sees things that other people might not, it creates things that may or may not be actually possible, but I see them so vividly in my mind, it all feels incredibly real.
I feel like my entire life has been giving up lives. I get somewhere and I feel like my life is so clear, like I can see how it’s all going to play out. And then I leave and start over, start from scratch. I struggle to find my footing again, to find some path to send my imagination down.
When we lived in Virginia, my life was horses. I saw myself riding horses for the rest of my life, winning ribbons and going on to compete in the Olympics. But then we moved to Alabama.
In art school, I saw myself driving across country with Cleo, settling down in California and making a living as a working artist there. But I got burned out, so I left for the East Coast instead to study art history.
When I was with Alec, I saw another life, one with children with curly hair running through it, children who were just as knowledgeable about art as they were about mechanics and physics. A home that was quiet and undemanding, based in routine and small gestures of affection.
When I was with Mark, I saw another life entirely. A life filled with excitement, art, and culture. Filled with travel and motivated by living in the moment, enjoying life while it lasts. Sharing a studio and creating a home full of laughter for children who would see beauty in everything and would never stop wanting to know more, see more, explore more.
When I feel down, I relive these imagined lives. I remember everything I loved about them, everything that made me want them so badly. Everything that made them so different and so special. I embrace these feelings, letting them wash over me, sometimes overwhelming me.
But then I stop.
I remember why those lives were abandoned. I remind myself of exactly why I gave them up.
When we moved to Alabama, I could have kept on with my equestrian dream. I had my own horses, I could have ridden every day. But when I got into art school, I had to make a choice. There wasn’t enough time in my life for both. I couldn’t have both dreams. I abandoned horses for art. And I’m glad I did, because horses were incredibly expensive, shows were incredibly expensive, trainers were incredibly expensive. Art wasn’t nearly as expensive. I hate that it comes down to money, but sometimes that really does matter.
Certainly moving to California to be a working, professional artist would have crashed and burned. My work doesn’t sell. It didn’t then, it doesn’t now. I wouldn’t have been able to survive on my art, so I would have ended up as one of those sad 40-somethings who are still working at a coffeeshop, going home to their crappy apartments, too exhausted from working two jobs just to get by to even remember what they were doing all of it for, how they even got there in the first place.
A life with Alec would have been easy. He let me call all of the shots, I controlled when the relationship moved forward, and I was rarely challenged on any decisions I made for both of us. There was a lot of affection between us, but I would never have learned to trust him, to rely on him, to share responsibilities with him. Our home would have been a happy enough one, but it would have been lacking in passion and romance. I would have always been dissatisfied, never really knowing whether he stayed with me because he wanted me or if he just stayed with me because he was already there.
A life with Mark would not have been easy. While we had passion and love, we also had impatience and anger. Our home would have been a tumultuous place, full of resentment and frustration when it wasn’t full of the physical and emotional intensity that exists so strongly between us. I guess to use a car metaphor, both lives would have been like riding in sports cars, because they had the potential to be really exciting and fun, but life with Alec was like riding in one on cruise control and life with Mark was like riding in one being driven by a 16 year old still learning stick shift.
My self-preservation instincts keep me from dwelling on both the good and bad aspects of these different lives I almost had, usually keeping me in a general state of focusing on where I am *now* and what my potential future is realistically going to look like. My path now, the path my imagination is going down to form images of my future, is one I walk down alone. I see myself alone, I see a life alone. That’s something I don’t think I’ve ever really seriously considered. I would joke about it, but I always thought deep down that I would find someone. Now I think a bit differently. To be fair, I may simply not be in the right state to be imaging a life with someone else. I’m now queen of two failed major relationships wherein I still feel that I was at fault at the heart of their failure. I believe it was a problem with me, with my inherent nature. I’m “too close to the picture” to know if I feel that way because it’s the truth or if I just feel that way because of the situation I’m in.
I exist in three different, separate states:
1. Stoicism. This is where I am, this is where I’m going. I’m a self-sufficient, independent, career-minded woman who is fine being alone right now.
2. Romanticism. I’m ready for change and something new, an almost-desperate attempt to find what I’m looking for in life that will make me happy, whether that be dating a new guy or getting a new job. I feel an excitement for the future and a determination to date as many guys or change jobs as many times as it takes to find exact right fit.
3. Relapse. I made the wrong decision. I know I can still fix it. I want to go back and reclaim that life that I abandoned.
No matter where I am, which of these states I’m in, I try to remember not just the good things about my past relationships and the futures I dreamed up to go with them, but to remember exactly why they ended and why that is a good thing.
Every thing in life is going to hurt at one time or another. Every good thing must end, no matter how great it is. Pain is life. And I’ve been through enough moves and enough breakups to know that the pain I currently feel, the awful aches of heartbreak and regret and loneliness, will pass. They will pass. And for now, I just have to keep fighting for a new future, even if it’s one where I walk alone.