I just read somewhere that it's the things that don't turn out the way you expect that make life worth living. I would have to say that is completely and utterly true, so true, that only now am I starting to grasp it fully. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that I am finally allowing myself to grasp this concept.
The Alicia of 2011 would have been a complete disappointment to the Alicia of 2001. The Alicia of 2001 had major aspirations and goals for what 2011 Alicia should have become. Yes, Alicia of 2001 would have said 2011 Alicia should be married (to my high school sweetheart of course), have children, and have a booming career in some exciting city, a grand house, a picket fence, and a little dog to top it off.
Fast forward to 2011 and Alicia is happily married (check), has two beautiful children (check), and has no career. (Insert sound of squealing tires here, because friends, the truck has halted.)
To know the extent of this epic fail, you must know my history. I was athletically challenged, musically challenged, and, in fact, was challenged at most anything that required any sort of skill whatsoever. (I'm not being humble or a pessimist, I'm being honest.) The only skill I ever felt I had was my grades. I was a good student, and I took it to the extreme. My success in life would have to come from my book smarts. Lord knows I didn't stand a chance anywhere else. (This is 2001 Alicia talking. And 2002 Alicia, and 2003, and 2004, and 2005... you get the idea... continue until at least 2010, and if we really want to get honest, you can probably add most of 2011 to that category too.)
So - if I felt like the success in my life would be accomplished only through my book smarts getting me through college with an awesome degree and into the work field with an amazing job, I obviously failed. I mean, look at my life. I change poopy diapers all day, juggle time outs and spit up, try to keep a 1100 square foot house clean, wash bottles, do laundry, trip over toys, have to muster up the energy to even put on make-up, and try to smile at my husband when he walks through the door at the end of the day, not because I'm not happy to see him, but because, look at me, I'm nothing.
I've put on this fake smile for sometime... and you know, I may have even tricked myself into thinking that I didn't think I was a failure, but reading this book on this happiness project made me stare this ugly reflection of myself in the face.
I have felt like I've failed, and I've failed huge, and the reason I've failed is because I can't be successful as a stay at home mom. With no career I obviously cannot prove myself, and I am nothing. After all, that is who I was supposed to be come. That is how I was supposed to make it in the world. My staying home makes me lazy, and what good is laziness? You are worthless, Alicia. Worthless.
And I'd stared it in the face. I'd ignored it and suppressed it for long enough. I needed to face this demon. This demon that made me resent the poopy diapers. The demon that made me have to work up a smile for my husband... the demon that made me, ashamed.
Yes - ashamed. Ashamed to run into friends from high school who are doctors or lawyers or dentists or financial accountants. Friends who probably think nothing less of me. Friends who probably have never labeled me with the same ugly label in which I had labeled myself. Friends who don't see my path as a failure, but as simply a different path.
And I realize how ashamed I am of who I've become. And this is where the turn around starts.
And one ginormous truth grabbed me by the neck and pushed my face into the proverbial mirror: "Be Gretchen," - in other words, stop being what other people think you should be, stop being what the old you thought you should be because of what others thought you should be, and be you. The real you. And I looked in that mirror like I was looking at a stranger and said, "Who are you, anyway?"
More to come - stay tuned as the revelation unfolds tomorrow...