I’m Lost, And I Have No Idea Where I’m Actually Supposed To Be
“Sorry” she said flatly, giving no other indication that she actually cared.
“Um… but… this is a support group… and… I need support. I called yesterday and they said that everyone is welcome. I even got a babysitter and drove 30 minutes here” I said, adding in that last bit for the sympathy factor.
“Well yes, all are welcome, at the beginning of the 12 week session” she stated. “The divorce support group is more of a class than a group, and we require that everyone start at the beginning. We aren’t currently at the beginning, we are 3 weeks in, so you will have to come back in 9 weeks and then you will be welcome.”
No one had relayed that vital bit of information to me over the phone.
She then closed the door to the not-very-supportive divorce support group that was actually a very strict class, and left me standing in the hallway of a church.
It had been a year and a half since my husband had left and I was having a difficult time. Initially I had jumped right into a relationship with someone else, and if anything, it had only served to deflect a lot of the issues that I really needed to be dealing with. When that relationship had gone down like an atomic bomb, I was left standing for the first time, truly alone, and in the destruction of what was left of my life.
I had absolutely no idea where to turn.
So I didn’t turn anywhere, instead, sinking inside of myself and shutting everyone out.
I remember one night in particular where I was lying on my bed, face down in my pillow, and bawling my eyes out. In the midst of my tears, the doorbell rang. I crawled over to my window so that no one outside would see me, and I peeked out to see two of my best friends standing on my front porch.
I could hear them out there talking to each other “she has to be home, her car is outside. Do you think she is OK?” but I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed and answer the door. After what seemed like an eternity, they left and sent me a text that read “We left a case of diapers for The Boy Child and a carton of ice cream for you on your front porch. We hope you are OK. It’s alright if you don’t want to talk, but just at least let us know you are OK.”
I texted them back, apologized, thanked them for their kindness, and I felt awful.
Later, after my friends started their 30 minute drive home, I continued to beat myself up for yet another bad decision that I had just made; a decision that only added to the infinite line of other bad decisions that had come before it.
It was one of the loneliest places of self imprisonment that I had ever been in and lying there in the dark, staring at the ceiling while the tears rolled down my cheeks and burned the skin on my neck, I realized that if something didn’t change soon, I was going to lead myself down yet another very destructive path.
Which is how I ended up standing in the hallway, outside of a support group that I wasn’t allowed to attend.
In a church.
I got turned away from a church.
But it is me that we are talking about here and as you know, I don’t deter from things easily. I had already psyched myself up to get there, gone to the trouble of hiring a babysitter, driven 30 minutes, and I’ll be darned, I was going to get myself some support!
So I decided to find another support group.
In that hallway.
Apparently Thursday nights were when all the support groups met, and because I am slightly off kilter and posses a general lack of inhibition, I decided that I would simply walk the halls, read the signs on the doors, select groups that had anything to do with my demographic, and knock on the door of every single one until I found one that would let me in.
The first door had a big sign on it that said “anger management.” I chuckled to myself as I thought “well, my ex is still alive so I think I’ve got my anger under control.” The next door had a big sign on it that said “alcoholics anonymous,” and I laughed a little harder while thinking “ooo, maybe next year” and congratulated myself on being so damn funny. The door after that said “sex addiction recovery for men.” Clearly that wasn’t going to be an option for me, but I did take a quick peek through the window to see if there was anyone whose number I should try and grab when the group let out. (The last part of that sentence may or may not be true…).
When I reached the end of the hallway I crossed my fingers, looked at the sign taped on the door, and then a quick google search to make sure that I was correctly remembering the definition of a co-dependent.
Upon confirming that my brief college education had not failed me, I took a quick glance up at the ceiling to see if I could see God winking at me, as the description basically matched my entire life with my ex. I then opened the door, explained that the divorce group wouldn’t let me in, and that I had wandered down there to find some support (why did I say that???).
I was pleased when someone hopped up to grab me a chair.
Not knowing what to expect and having only the vision of a TV descript AA meeting in my mind, I was aback that everyone was at least several decades older than me. But I was pleased to see that everyone was sitting at a board room table instead of the assumption I had that we would all be sitting in a circle while welcoming each other one by one, and sharing how long it had been since we’d last been codependent.
But, my relief was short lived, when the first person stood up and said “Hi, my name is Todd (not his real name) and I’m a recovering codependent.”
I inched my chair closer to the door.
“I’m the child of a mentally ill mother and the husband of a drug addict” he went on to say.
I leaned in closer.
The next person stood up and introduced herself. “Hi, I’m Mary (also not her real name) and I’m a recovering codependent. I’m the adult child of an alcoholic father and the wife of an abusive husband with a mental illness.”
What the heck was going on!?
The next person stood up and said “I’m a recovering codependent, a child abuse survivor, and I married a drug addict. I’m twice divorced and currently in an abusive relationship.”
I again looked up at the ceiling to see if I could see God pointing at me.
Three more people talked, all of their stories sounded the same, and then the last person said “I’m the child of two mentally ill parents, I’ve been married to three addicts, and I was sexually abused for three years of my life.”
Soon all the eyes in the room were on me.
I stood up and in a rare Eden moment, I had no idea what to say. I stammered a bit and eventually said something to the effect of “I… I don’t know what I am… but… uh… my mother is mentally ill and then I married an addict and then I almost married a guy with a severe mental illness and… uh… I don’t really know what I’m doing wrong… so I’m here… and I’m not even sure that I’m supposed to be here. I was actually coming for the divorce group but they wouldn’t let me in so I came in here.”
SMOOTH, EDEN, VERY SMOOTH.
Thankfully the group’s reaction was great — amazing really, as they all began to say virtually the same thing over and over to me.“You are us, 20 years younger. We are all children of addicts or mentally ill parents, and we have all married addicts or someone with a severe mental illness. You see the thing is, when you grow up in dysfunction, you seek it out. You marry what you know because you don’t know anything else. You are us, several years younger, because you figured out long before most of us that you have a problem. This is exactly where you are supposed to be.”
I attended that group for the better part of a year, and although it’s been several years since then, I will never forget what I learned, and how all of it, helped me to find myself. But recently, many of those feelings of being lost are creeping back into my life again.
Now here I am, no longer pregnant, but realizing that I’m not going to get my old life back.
Instead, I’m starting yet another one.
I think that I’ve had this idea in my head for a very long time, that if I could just get everything figured out, that I would be OK. That life would make sense and I’d happily walk along through the months and years to come. And even though I feel like I’m surrounded by a lot of wonderful things, I’m also realizing — in what I guess I should have realized before — that you never actually get to that “place” of perfection that you strive for.
Life isn’t a place, because the only time it ever stops changing, is after it’s over.
So my life is changing again and it’s making me feel pulled in so many different directions, that balancing my career, marriage, older two children, the new baby, and my own self care, is proving difficult to execute seamlessly.
There’s so many things that I must get done each day, and not enough of me to ever really feel like I’m actually in control of my own life.
Mentally, it’s dragging me back to a time where I was trapped by dependence on my Ex, and my whole life was torn away from me. A place that I never, ever want to go back to.
After tormenting myself with this thought for a few weeks, and feeling ashamed that I couldn’t just make it all work, I told The Guy that I was struggling to find myself amidst all of the new changes, and sent my Florida friend a tear filled text saying that I wasn’t sure that I could be everything that everyone needed me to be.
That very day, my husband changed his work schedule so that he could work from home two days a week, allowing us to more equally share in the responsibilities (and joys) of parenting, as well as providing us both time to tend to the careers and passions that we each thrive on. Then, the very next day, a visible reminder arrived from my dear friend, assuring me that it’s OK to feel this way, and promising that I am enough.
My life is once again changing, and even though I had previously thought that I had shown up at the right building and found the right room, I’m now realizing that it’s time for me to walk down the hall a bit more, and find a different place that suits me better.
And although I’m not exactly sure that I’m anywhere right now, I know that I am also exactly where I need to be; accepting that things need to change, and willingly seeking out my next phase of life.
So if you too find yourself transitioning from one place to the next, and feeling a little bit lost, remember that there’s no shame in being the person that’s still walking, because the people that keep moving when the others sit down, are the people who walk the furthest in life.