Have you ever imagined yourself living another life?
My therapist asked me this question about a year ago. My response was immediate: YES.
In my other life…
I am the mother of two grown children. Both away at college. Happy, successful in their academic careers, self-esteem rock solid from years of security, both emotional and financial. They are worldly kids (in the right way): well educated, well mannered, well traveled. But they are sheltered (in the right way): socially young in regards to relationships, morally respectful with their bodies and the bodies of those they come in contact with, and faithfully trustworthy.
They know and understand the harsh realities of the world, but only through the eyes of someone who can make a difference. They are committed servants to their own God: an entity we refer to as LOVE.
They are whole children striving to become whole adults, in a splintered world, that is constantly at odds with what I have taught them is right and true; existing in a world of contradiction; a planet of seemingly insurmountable chaos, wars, and evil, and fortunately, a society of billions striving for perpetual hope and love and peace too.
My children must choose a side, daily.
In my other life, my grown children always choose correctly, and I am a mother who has remained steadfast and tenacious in her devotion to her offspring. I am a mother at peace, for she has done all she can.
In my other life, I was not born to a sociopath. I didn’t look to his eyes for a twinkle of benevolent fatherly pride, and discover instead the tragic glint of an estranged malevolence. I didn’t call him daddy.
In my other life, I was not raised under the dark stormy sky of a dystopian society ruled by bipolar disorder-so paralyzing in her depressive state, so terrifyingly reckless in her moments of mania. I didn’t call her mommy.
In my other life, I don’t have biologicals, and fosters, and adopteds; all in a struggle for a place of acceptance in my world. To them, I was Renee, and I simply knew them all as: my family.
In my other life, I don’t have to drudge through two years of the death divorce to find an existence that feels finally, alive. I don’t have an ex who hates me, who resents me, who doesn’t speak to me. I don’t struggle daily to respond with patience and self-control and grace. I don’t fight with the profound truth that at one point, we liked each other enough to produce the two purest forms of beauty I’ve ever known.
In my other life, I feel young inside and out, even at 49.
I don’t live in constant fear my kidneys will go on strike after decades (of just getting by) with faulty original parts. I wouldn’t look in my bathroom mirror and see spotty patches on my skin-like someone put a screen up to my body, and flicked brown paint. I wouldn’t feel the weight of thick heavy wrinkles, like glossy quotation marks, bracketing my eyes, accentuating my youth is gone.
I would see less of me, where there is now more! My eyes would focus clearly, on their own, near and far away, once again.
My teeth would be white and straight.
My gray hair would turn back to its former rich chestnut brown, with blonde streaks (in just the right places) and fall naturally into soft curls on my shoulders, like it did when I was in my twenties.
I’d be happier with whom I saw in the mirror. I’d see what my daughter sees when she looks at her mom.
In my other life, I live in Manhattan, in an apartment that overlooks the lush green expansive park during the day, and a vision of glittery elegance by night. I’d have parties. And cozy bedrooms for my kids.
I’d be committed in a delightfully mature and wonderfully warm relationship with a man that made me laugh. And dinner. He’d ask me about my day, as he kissed my neck. I’d kiss him back. Deeply.
In my other life, I’d have a dog that is potty trained.
In my other life, I’d be a successful novelist, inspirational speaker.
If I had decided to follow my desire to act, I’d win an Academy Award, and name it Oscar. Of course I would dedicate it to my mother, who during one of her rare moments of clarity, she’d have held my young face in adoration, and convinced me, “One day, you will be a star!” and she’d place those stars just far enough out of my reach, that I’d have to stretch to get them. Because she loved me.
My other life…I think about it, but none of that happened.
What’s important? What did happen, to the real me :
- Two extraordinary kids who choose to be part of the solution.
- Two families, instead of one. More to love.
- Compassion for those suffering with mental illness, and those who love and suffer along with them.
- How hard divorce is. On everyone. Not just the children.
- Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
- Health is a gift, not a given.
- Don’t need a NYC apartment. I have a beautiful home.
- I should have said no when I was 24, and yes when I was 25.
- Maybe love, true love, will strike twice? Maybe it’s time to date?
- Nobody is perfect. Not even doggies. Puddles happen.
- If not a successful novelist, maybe some day, one great novel?
Not the perfect life I had imagined, but it’s all about the journey, and growth and learning. Don’t you think?
I believe, it has to be. I have to believe, it has to be.