I normally don’t play games like this, but as I was laying in bed I had some good ideas. I’ll answer my mom’s challenge to write about 5 things I didn’t expect to happen in my life. Rather than writing about what I expected at age 25, I’m going younger. Five things I didn’t expect in my life when I was growing up. They are negative, I’ll warn you now. But I had high expectations as a kid. The good news is that I’m getting used to being mediocre.
1. That I’d get divorced
I never imagined this one. As a child, there was no divorce in my family…extended family included (and my parents come from huge families). Later as a teenager there were two, but percentage-wise, it’s a tiny proportion. It’s just something that wasn’t considered. Families stayed together. Parents worked on things and stuck it out. It was hard to know which to rate first, this one or number two (below), but I decided this one has shaken up my world than anything else. I still often feel disoriented, like I failed in other peoples eyes, and sometimes like I’m standing out in the middle of a desert with no idea where I am and where to go. Up until the moment Kim said the words "I want a divorce and I’ve already seen an attorney," I didn’t expect it. There were clues, I knew things weren’t going good, but I never expected she wanted to actually end it. It sucked. The next three months were the worst of my life, but then ushered me into some of the best. Looking back it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Believe me, I never imagined I’d say those words.
2. That I’d stop going to church
I grew up thinking that one day I might actually be one of the leaders of my church (the Mormons). I was pretty arrogant. But I loved the church, I loved studying the scriptures, and most of the time it was the center of my life. Why I left and the story behind it is too long to tell here, in fact that I have started writing it and someday might share it. It’s not one of sin or bitterness. I was living the commandments and I still have high opinions of the leaders and teachings taught by the Mormons. I think the Mormon church is a wonderful way to help people keep focused on what is important. But I had some questions and eventually took a step away, then another, and then realized that I needed to embrace my true beliefs and philosophy. By my mid twenties I left completely.
I was not being true to myself. I am agnostic. I’m going to live the best life I can, I strive to be congruent and honest, and if there is a god out there I figure he will direct me as to where I should go. The hardest part about all of this is that it left me in a real miserable place. I believed that this life has meaning and the afterlife offers a wonderful place where we live forever with our loved ones. Now I have no clue. My meaning comes from just living, and in this world sometimes that is depressing. Okay, for me a lot of times it’s depressing. This is the lone and dreary world.
Like the divorce threw me off kilter, leaving the church pulled the foundation of my life from under my feet. It’s really hard to renegotiate something so central to my existence. Not only the funk it plays in my mind, but I lost some good friends and the respect of people that I admire and care about. I can understand why, in some of their minds they figure I must have left the church because I was sinning and lost the spirit of God. I’m a disappointment to them and most will never be able to understand my situation. That makes me sad because I really love and care about these people but I had to follow what felt right to me. I’ve had a couple friends that this hasn’t seemed to phase, they love and accept me exactly how I am. Just typing that brings tears to my eyes. It took my family some time but I think now for the most part they too respect and accept my choices. It’s made my life harder but at least I’m being more honest with myself and true to who I say I am.
3. That my kids would save my life
Before my divorce, I loved my kids and enjoyed playing with them. But I was always busy; my mind was on work, computer games, or problems with Kim. After the divorce, they became my life. They were the ones that were there for me. After the divorce Kim went back to school, started a business, and got in a band. She’s working on her dreams and very busy, doing what she needs to for herself, which is cool. So although it is a 50/50 custody on paper, the kids spent most of their time with me, which is a blessing for me. Right when the divorce happened my sister moved her family back to Utah. I had been very close to them and I suddenly felt completely alone.
My friends helped, but my pain was deep. It was my kids that pulled me through…playing cards with me after work, working together on homework, watching movies, and often all crowding into the same bed and laughing and joking as we fell asleep. We lived in a tiny little two bedroom duplex. The girls shared one room and Curti and I shared the other. I had to have a cyst removed and was bedridden for two weeks and they took care of me. They fed me, changed my bedpan, and gave me medicine…one of them stayed home with me every day. Although that place began with some of the most painful sad memories of my life, it ended wonderful. I love the time we lived there together. It brought us closer, then we met Sandi and launched a new life. Now they are teenagers and sometimes it’s hard to see them going off and gaining independence, but we are all still very close. I’m married to the sweetest woman in the world and we all still have fun together, talk often, and have a good time. Just take a look at my photoshows from years past and you’ll know what I mean.
4. That I’d be an average Joe
I always thought I’d be rich and famous one day. Maybe an author, maybe a high leader in the church. I feel corny for admitting that, I was pretty arrogant. But I always thought it would happen. I make a good living but I’m not rich, although I feel that in the scope of people in the world I have way more than my fair share. We live a good life and have nice things. I’m less famous than the local mailman but with each year I care less and less. I’d still love to get my novel published and I still have hopes that someday it might happen, but now that dream seems pretty far fetched. But I don’t stop trying…I’m still writing and submitting.
5. That I’d still be wondering what I should do with my life
I always thought that eventually I’d get to a point where I’d know what I wanted to be and I’d do it. That most of my life would be spent in a job that I really loved and where I excelled. Instead, I’ve shuffled from job to job never really feeling content. I’m lucky to have skills and experience that make it easy for me to move around. My real love is writing and photography but I discovered that after I had a Masters degree in Accounting. At least I make enough money to buy equipment that will let me pursue those passions.