I can’t really remember what I thought I’d be at this age. I know I had certain dreams and expectations when I was a child looking into my own future, but they just seem hazier as I’ve gotten older. It’s hard to separate the roles I genuinely thought I’d be playing versus the ones I dreamed of while I was bored in elementary school.
There are a million other timelines out there where I am a million other people living a million other lives. In this life, though, I am me. My daydreams were easy to recall but my real aspirations faded as others came into view.
I realize now that there are far more things that I never expected to experience that ended up defining who I became. They shaped me, changed me, and made me into the current incarnation writing this today.
I never expected to have a child with special needs. I never expected to have heart surgery. I never expected to stop talking to many within my family. I never expected to get divorced. Yet, this is who I am and this is where I am.
The craziest thing? I’m okay.
I didn’t always think I would be ok in the end and the long road to get here was filled with many days where I didn’t think I’d be able to continue on. I went through things that I swore would tear me apart, had I been asked beforehand. A child who doesn’t talk? Come on. That would be the worst thing in the world, right?
Wrong. My son is awesome and my interactions with him have shown me that I can connect to anyone if I put my heart into it. Lucas is a person unlike any other and my love for him transcends words. He is my boy and even if I have to care for him until I am old and feeble, I will. Having him didn’t tear me apart. It pulled me together and showed me what needed to be done to be a whole person.
My heart surgery was unexpected. The fallout from it, which lead to leaving behind a number of family members, was not. I always expected that would happen one day and my childhood was enough to push that point home. Although I always gave second, third, and ninety-fifth chances, I never valued my own sanity enough to step away. That’s why a quintuple bypass, which put me on the cusp of losing everything, showed me that stress caused by others isn’t worth it. I have two children. I’d rather have sparse Christmas celebrations than spend it with people who didn’t want, appreciate, or deserve my presence.
My divorce has technically been a little over a year in the making, but much longer, if I’m being honest. It took a lot to get over the hump of self-blame. As this self-professed super dad, I want to do right by my children at every turn and a decision like this felt like I had failed. I beat myself up about it in silence for a long time. I dreaded the day I had to come clean to my daughter, myself, and all of you.
Then, I did it and I survived it. I got a new place. I bought a cool recliner. I moved in with a smile. When I told my daughter, her reaction was not one of surprise. She was smart enough to piece things together long ago and my concern over holding things together for the sake of the kids was all for naught. She knew. Everyone who knew us knew. In fact, this new chapter in life is healthier and more supportive for them than the one we had been sleepwalking through for the last decade. In the end, my ex-wife and I ended up doing what was best of the kids after all.
Essentially, my life is full of unexpected outcomes. I never thought I’d write a book about pregnancy. I never thought I’d give up red meat. I never thought I’d be who I became today. Yet, I did. It only serves to make me proud of all I’ve done and all I could possibly do in the future.
In the end, it’s not about what I thought I’d be, but about all I didn’t. It’s about finding out who I truly am through a path I never expected to travel, but was already carved out for me. I’m just glad I had the courage to walk it.