I was 31 and on the threshold of living the life I had written for myself at 13– a life with C, marriage, kids, friends, love, laughter and friendship. I had hope. I had dreams. Dreams that on a random Tuesday night in November 2003 were pulverized when C said, “it’s over.”
That night was my personal 9/11. I lost everything I had believed in since I was a little girl living in small town North Carolina. I lost the ideal, picturesque, Americana-view of how I had envisioned my life, and was thrust upon the road less traveled with a bushel of grief weighing me down. I just stood there, motionless and clueless to which way to go—there was no yellow brick road in front of me, no fairy godmother to show me the way, just me standing in front of a jungle mass of intertwined trees that forced any ray of sun from filtering through.
If you would’ve told me 10 years ago that I’d still be scraping and clawing my way through that jungle, I’d say, “no way.” Even with such a devastating loss, I knew I still had time to recoup and capture the idealistic life I had imagined. Maybe I wouldn’t have three kids, but I definitely had time for two.
Fast forward 10 years and I’m still in the jungle, forging my own path, alone. And while I’ve found a machete to help cut down the weeds so I can better see forward, I still find myself looking back to see how far I’ve come. I look back and see that while I’ve moved forward and discovered new ground, the journey’s been hard, exhausting and often times hopeless. It’s been a daily struggle to find my footing and forge a path where none existed.
Surviving in the jungle hasn’t been all bad. It took away any desire I had left of C. I buried him in a dark cave where the jungle has since regenerated and masked the cave’s pathway from view. I couldn’t find him if I wanted to—the compass I found mid-way in my journey no longer registers his coordinates.
As I think of my life in a post-C era, I have mixed emotions. I’m amazed at the challenges I’ve tackled and how self-sufficient I’ve become. I never thought I’d acquire so many handy girl skills, like installing a garbage disposal and ceiling fan, nor did I ever think I’d have the courage to travel alone to foreign lands and actually enjoy my own company. Despite my accomplishments though, I still consider myself a failure in all conventional matters of love, marriage and family. Dreams of kids and being a mom are dimming daily. My lesson: Biology doesn’t wait for us or “the one.” For this, I still hate C!
I must admit, however, the jungle’s become a familiar place, a place where I’ve found routine, comfort, and sometimes a little sunshine will seep through the canopy of trees surrounding me to provide some light to guide me to the next day. Yet, I am always on guard because among the familiar, there’s also the unknown. I can’t predict the next 10 years, but what I do know is that after 10 years in this jungle, I’ve developed a strong instinct to survive, move forward, and see tomorrow. Someday though, I’d like to find my way out. I’m tired.