Today's post is painful. It's uncomfortable and it's raw and more than anything it's vulnerable. It is the story of loss and of heartache and of a broken young woman. So if you're not up for that kind of thing right now, kindly move on. It took a bit of courage to pound this out. More than a bit.
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A friend of mine posted a picture of a 'vintage' wedding dress on facebook today. It was beautiful. When I saw it I immediately thought, "I want that. Omygoodness I want that." But so did several other young women who saw the ad before I did.
In an attempt to not look ridiculous and desperate I sent my friend a personal message rather than posting a comment.
"Rachel. Don't sell that vintage wedding dress. I want it. One day, I'll wear it."
One day I'll wear it???
I don't know that.
I don't know that one day I will wear it. I don't know that one day I will wear a wedding dress. Recently I've come to realize that not only will I not be married by age 30, I may not be married until age 40. Surprisingly, not only was I okay with this idea, I was actually excited about it. In a way, it was a bit freeing to finally accept that the race to the altar shouldn't be a race at all. Regardless of what I had allowed myself to believe for 29 years, I am not, in fact, on a pre-arranged timeline that specifies marriage by age 30.
The fact is, I am more effective as a single young woman than I am when in a relationship. I think I always have been. Something happens when I attempt to combine my life with someone else's. My identity is lost. My purpose. My self-esteem. My confidence. My independence. The list goes on. . .
I have learned as of late this is not only a common struggle for all women it is actually a gauranteed struggle for all women. Maybe some worse than others.
That being said, along with this new singleness came the enlightening realization that not only does God have big plans for my life, He could have big plans for the next ten years that does not include marriage. This gave me a quite unexpected sense of newfound freedom.
I could move anywhere in the world.
I could change my career.
I could start a career.
I could do anything I want. . . because I have ten years.
The truth is, I have more than ten years. Somewhere along the line of birth to childhood to teenagehood to young womanhood I got it in my head that marriage is gauranteed. Period. Some people have to wait longer than others. Some people get divorced. Some spouses die. Some people go through zero bad relationships and others go through zillions.
But everyone gets to get married--eventually.
Wrong. Not everyone does. A lot of people don't. I am not entitled to a marriage. And I am not entitled to children. I am not entitled to my dream job. I am not entitled to working arms and legs and lungs.
I just think I am.
For 29 years I thought I was. I thought because I'm female and I'm witty and although perhaps not 'easy' on the eyes not hard on the eyes either. . . I thought these things meant I get to get married. By age 25.
By age 30. . .
By age 40?
We have choices in life. We have choices that determine the course of many things. But there are many things that we don't have a choice in. We don't choose what family we are born into. We don't choose our parents and we don't choose how they will act toward us and raise us. We don't choose our health. We can make healthy choices, but we cannot determine our health and well-being and future on our own. Life does that for us.
I am 29 years old. If you would have asked me ten years ago where I would be in ten years, do know what what I would have said?
"Hopefully I will be on a farm. In the country, just on the edge of town. In a house with a wrap-around porch. With ten children. Five from my husband and I and five adopted. And a dairy cow and a couple horses and a tire swing in the front yard. I will have published a New York Times Best Seller."
I live in the suburbs. In my parents house. In St. Louis. There is no wrap around porch. There are no children. There is a cat, and a dog, and a talking parrot. There is no husband. There is no cow. And I have not published a New York Times Best Seller.
I don't get to assume. Not anymore. I don't get to assume that Life will give me a husband by a certain age. I don't get to assume I will get married at all. I don't get to assume I will live on the edge of town one day on acres of beautiful land with a house full of children and the royalites of my book to live on. I don't get to assume because the fact is I am not entitled.
No one is.
I get to try. I get to try to change the world, one life at a time. I get to write because I know I can, regardless of whether or not anything ever hits the best seller's list. I get to try to find a job that makes me feel alive. I get to try and touch everyone I come into contact with. I get to try and I get to hope I make a difference.
And as I sit here more broken than I ever knew I could be, I try. As I struggle to crawl out of bed every single morning because it hurts to breathe, I try. As I sit here aching, desperately pleading the clock to please go faster that I may heal--I try.
I try and I hope, because that is all I am truly entitled to do.