I remember sitting across the table from my friend Dianna, seven years ago, this spring.
I was struggling with life and with my reality. Nothing looked like what I thought it should. I didn''t look like the person other people wanted me to be, but even more painful than that, I didn't look like what I thought I should be. Nothing seemed to measure up. We both agreed that night, that the chasm in between what we thought life would be like and the reality of what our life actually turned out to be was where much of the pain and and difficulty in our lives lay. Disappointment and expectations that were never met. Failure. Not measuring up. Not reaching goals. Second-guessing choices.... all of it filled that space and added to the disconnect of what was supposed to be and what was.
That conversation came back to me today in my quiet spaces.
I was thinking about who I am and how my life looks today, and how this isn't what I expected.
I didn't expect to be pushing 40 and studying for a master's degree. Sitting at the dining room table with textbooks and journal articles strewn about with my head in my hands and a blank laptop screen in front of me wasn't really in my plans.
I didn't think I'd be substitute teaching. 6:30 am wake-up calls and classes of strangers (who become friends) wasn't on the agenda.
I didn't think I'd be lamenting over my (still) bad skin while pulling out the stray grey hairs. I was going to be almost flawless, put-together, and coiffed. Running into the school to pick up my kids with no make-up, a ponytail and ripped yoga pants wasn't really what I envisioned.
I didn't think I'd be reciting ancient liturgy in an Anglican church, standing and rising with order and tradition. Sitting on hard wooden pews, and having peace flood me as I hear the bells ring wasn't supposed to be the way it went down.
I didn't expect to be on this side of the LGBTQ debate. I'm not preaching to the choir anymore. In fact, most of the choir has left the building.
I didn't think a bottle of pills would be my daily companion to keep me sane. I can't forget to take them. Maybe one day I won't need to. But for today I do.
I didn't think half of my heart would live on the West Coast. Having pictures and memories bring me to tears with sadness from what's been left behind was the furthest thing from my imagination. Longing for ocean breezes and grey skies was not how I was going to spend some of my moments and days.
I didn't think I'd ignore the phone and find solace in the silence. Being alone wasn't the way I thought I would recharge and regroup best. People feed me, but in moderation.
I didn't expect to irritate my thirteen year old daughter. I was going to be the mom who always knew the right thing to say and who would always be a soft place to land. Now sometimes I'm that mom. A little out of touch and just doesn't get it.
"This" doesn't look like I thought it would look.
"This" is messy and rough and unfinished.
There are dog-eared pages and musty smells.
Dents and scratches and broken pieces.
But somehow it all fits. It might not make sense, and it doesn't match, but it fits.
Other people may think it looks a little funny.
But when I stand back and survey the collection of mismatched dreams and plans, it looks alright.
It's not what I thought it would be, but it's mine.