Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thank Misery

Past and Present
Photo credit: John Edge
One of those questions that were always asking ourselves is: "What would you tell your younger self?" Of course this excludes anything really useful like telling younger me to get my college friend who died last year to go to the doctor once in a while. Not that regular doctor visits would've necessarily prevented the sudden heart attack she had at the age of 42,  but never going to the doctor can't have helped. Not that she would've listened to me anyway.

And that's the problem. Of course I would tell my younger self to relax and enjoy being single more. I'd tell myself that I would meet the Burt to my Ernie so I should stop making myself miserable in my longing for a partner, and conviction that it was never gonna happen. But why would younger me listen to older me? It's not like people weren't telling me that at the time. The husband of my late friend, for example. Oh Jeebus, was he smug when I got together with His Awesomeness. The I Told You Sos were plentiful. Because he did tell me so. 

But was I going to listen to someone who married his college sweetheart? Fuck no.

And if younger me did take the advice of future me, that could've ended up changing my future. My neediness and bad relationship choices set me on the path that led me to HA. We met through an online dating service so our meeting was anything but inevitable. Neither one of us believes in soul mates, so I realize that I could've ended up just as happy with someone else (theoretically) but maybe not. I do know women my age who are single, but not by choice. Of course, then I wouldn't be making myself miserable over my singledom, so I guess that would be OK.

Knowing doesn't help things. There's a great little movie called Timer where everyone who chooses can get an implant that 
counts down until the moment they meet their soulmate. It focuses on two sisters. One sister isn't going to meet her guy until her mid 40s and decides to pass the intervening years in meaningless sex. The other has a blank timer because her soulmate hasn't gotten a timer yet. So she only dates guys without timers, and then she takes to get a timer implanted. And when he turns out not to be the one, she dumps him because there's no point in continuing the relationship. And that's just the set up for the film.

We have to date the wrong people before we're ready to date the right people. The choices we make lead us to where we are. And if we like where we are, then all those bad choices turned out OK after all.

There's a great song by Jill Sobule called Thank Misery. (It's not on the You Tubes, otherwise, I'd embed it here. But you can download the mp3.) The lyrics go, in part: If I hadn't been so depressed...If I hadn't been so blue/Thank misery for bringing me to you.

All that wasted time wasn't wasted after all.

With our failed adoption, I've been feeling lately like so much of our time has been wasted. We first got The Kid's social history a year and a half ago. We spent months working out the logistics that the agency should've known how to handle, then months visiting her. A year later, everything had fallen apart. Seven months after that, we're still not sure exactly when we'll be ready to try again. A year and a half to two years of my life will have been wasted by some incompetent social workers. Not completely wasted, but wasted in terms of our long quest to become parents.

As I recover from last year, I've thought about what I'd tell myself if I could travel to the past. I've actually imagined myself traveling back from the present during a big meeting with all the social workers, and getting younger me's attention so I can tell myself to make different decisions because things are heading the wrong way. 

Just like my dating life in my 20s, I'm in the middle of things now, grieving and recovering, unable to see how things are ever going to work out. Or how I could've made that last sentence grammatically correct.

Will I ever feel that this particular wasted time wasn't wasted after all? Impossible to say from the middle of the story. I can see how my dating experiences helped me be ready for the great relationship I have with HA. But I can't imagine that last year prepared me to be some other kid's mother.

But you can never tell until you get there.

So what should we tell our younger selves? Invest in Apple? 


  1. 1.) I was not smug. Mostly.

    2.) Also, she wanted me to find a regular doctor, she left that search in my hands, but I'm not sure she would have gone either. For a while there, I thought it was my fault because I didn't find the doctor, but even if we had, there probably have been issues with following through on the aftercare. My mental health professional has warned me against these mental traps. Sometimes, I still fall in. The bottom line is though...she's gone. And it's wrong and f*cked up and just awful. I miss her every day.

  2. 1) Fibber.

    2) She wouldn't have gone. Not even with a pep talk/intervention from Marianne about how she deserved good health care as much as everyone else.

    and 1) Fibber.

  3. It's so hard to know when you are in the middle that things are going to work out. I am in the middle of so much right now and just trying to trust the best I can and know that I am slowly becoming the person I need to be for when all of the things I want come along - BUT - it's not always easy to trust the things we can not see. I do wish you all of the best on your adoption journey. I agree, it must be very difficult to believe that the child you wanted wasn't meant to be yours. I hope you have a greater understanding of all of this with space and time.


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