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Simply Solo Spotlight: What Is Love?

July 19, 2011

I’m really excited about today’s guest post. To be fair, I’m pretty much always excited about my Simply Solo Spotlights, but today is extra special for me. My dear friend and colleague Becky has graciously penned today’s guest post. Becky has been a huge supporter of Simply Solo since the very beginning (even using it as reading material as she was nursing her beautiful baby girl, Hannah, who, coincidentally, is Chef’s god-daughter). Becky was the first person I ever saw experience an entire pregnancy; her baby is the first of whom I’ve ever changed the diaper; and seeing Becky and her husband with Hannah makes my uterus hurt. They remind me why I want children and the kind of life I want in the future.

Without further ado or ridiculously flattering language, here’s today’s guest post. I hope you enjoy.

Quick shameless plug: Do you have a story to tell? Advice to offer? Did you just have literally the worst date of your life and you must write about it? I’d love to have you as the next Simply Solo Spotlight! Contact me at: simplysoloblog@gmail.com.

What Is Love?

A few months ago, Catherine penned a beautiful and poignant post about how Life Gets in the Way of…Well, Life. It brought tears to my eyes and an incredible amount of perspective to the things we can so easily take for granted. But most of all, it seemed to reiterate something that I’ve experienced all too often. Life is unpredictable. And the second you think you’ve got it figured out – you realize that what you thought was, wasn’t; what you wanted wasn’t what you want; and that in the end, you’re better off enjoying the ride than trying to figure out where you are headed.

Let me tell you a little about where I am coming from. That post Catherine wrote? In it she referenced her friend Becky, who was in a terrible and frightening car accident. That’s me. I’m the crash-test dummy. Good news is, the car I was driving proved top-notch in safety. Bad news? Well, take your pick. Doctors’ bills, lawyers’ bills, insurance settlement headaches. Plus the toll it’s all taken on my family – financially, emotionally, physically. It’s been a nightmare. But it’s uncanny the gossamer threads of that nightmare that have glimmered with the truth of a different reality.

Here’s the thing. I am sitting here today, writing this blog post, and well folks – I’m not quite sure I should be. By all accounts – the police, the firemen, people who saw the scene – it wasn’t expected that I’d survive. And yet here I am – a few scratches on me and a bit traumatized, but otherwise unscathed. It’s made we wonder, to say the least. The truth is, it could just as well have been my time to go as it was apparently my time to stay. And that realization has made me take a good hard look at some things, and think about what the hell I’m supposed to take away from this whole thing.

Catherine wrote about “seeing the pure love, worry and fear” in my husband’s eyes after the accident. I had family members telling me after the fact what a rock he had been for everyone and how wonderful a husband he was. Let me tell you, it sure made it hard to distinguish why, for the past several months, we’d been fighting more and more and the distance had been growing between us. I know there were factors that seemed pertinent at the time, but it’s sure become difficult to realize their importance.

The fact is, I wasn’t doing a good job of prioritizing when it came to what’s really important. I just wasn’t. My focus on achievement and success was shifting the balance of our family and making me forget those things about my husband that I’d fallen in love with in the first place: his ability to make me laugh – not giggle but really laugh – and find amusement in the most uncanny things; his laser-focus and steadfast determination when it came to accomplishing something he set his mind to; his compassion; his intelligence; his beliefs about the things that are important in life.

Over the past several years, I’ve been struggling to come to terms with the path my life has taken – specifically, the difference between where I imagined myself to be and where I am standing now, at this moment and in this place: married, with a house in the suburbs, a dog, a nearly-two-year-old daughter and a part-time career. Don’t get me wrong – all of these things make me very happy. But they weren’t necessarily what I expected, say 10 years ago, when I imagined my future. And while in recent years I’ve happily lived the life that was defined by all these things, I haven’t been 100% behind it. Or satisfied with it. Or certain that I ought to have taken the paths I did to end up here.

I always expected I’d go to grad school, maybe law school, and live in some high-rise in a major city – complete with über modern, minimalist décor. I’d be career-driven, successful – and lucrative. I’d travel the world, have adventures and maybe settle down and get married in my 30s; kids would come later and there’d be few. In general, I would be my own boss – fiercely independent as I’d always been. If a man wanted to tag along – fine. Could be fun. But I was fine on my own and I’d make my own way.

Enter the epitome of everything I thought I never wanted. His name was John. Add a healthy dash of other people’s skepticism (an obvious challenge) and what do you get? Why, marriage of course. And the rest is history. But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. I really think, now, that the way things ended up are the way they were truly supposed to be.

What is love?

Photo courtesy of katietower

Love doesn’t always turn out like we imagine. Catherine’s story is a perfect example of that. But you know what? Life doesn’t either. So don’t believe that love or life is an ideal. It’s only as ideal as you make it. My accident put me out of work for 2 months and scarred me both physically and mentally forever. But it also showed me the incredible strength, fortitude and compassion of the human spirit. It showed me what’s important in life. My husband and I are closer than ever, because we realized that it’s not about what happens in our lives – it’s about how we move forward from it all.

What’s the biggest twist your life’s taken, and how did it change your course – or keep you on the straight and narrow? How do you typically handle change – do you welcome or resist it? I’d love to hear from others who might have had similar experiences of contemplation or confusion …


21 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2011 8:33 am

    I guess my story is similar to Catherine’s, cheating, lying fiancé which really does break your spirit. But it also makes you take a look around, realise that you don’t want that. And to be honest I don’t think anyone truly knows how to deal with that.
    You just have to carry on with life, and hope you meet someone better.

    • Becky permalink
      July 19, 2011 10:15 pm

      You’re so right! Carry on we must; and meet someone better you will. (Sorry to sound Yoda-ish there!) But seriously, I think that’s just the point that we need to look at we’ve learned from the trials we face and overcome. You are no doubt much better prepared to assert your right to find an honest and loving guy – and kick those not worthy to the curb. Props to you for moving forward!

  2. July 19, 2011 8:47 am

    Man, I needed to read this post this morning. Just brilliant! My big and best twist was the unplanned pregnancy with my boyfriend at the time. All I knew was to try to be a mom, despite the fact that the Mom Thing was never on my list of things to do. That baby made me smarter, more caring, and more selfless, and I can’t imagine now where my original plans could’ve taken me by comparison 🙂

    • Becky permalink
      July 19, 2011 10:25 pm

      Tori,

      How absolutely beautifully put. No doubt, there is no comparison – that’s certainly how I see it as I contemplate making more money versus not getting to experience the simple joys with my daughter, like how she wanted me to read the same book to her 4 times in a row tonight because it was about a mommy Leopard giving “The Snuggliest Snuggles in the World” – today was my first day back to work in 2 months and no doubt she was missing me! 🙂 Isn’t it bizarre-o how accidents can turn into little miracles? Your response warms my heart – and probably makes Catherine’s uterus hurt some more… 🙂

  3. July 19, 2011 9:53 am

    I am with Tori….I needed to read it is all in how you move forward from the change. I am onw of those folks who absolutely hates change, even when the situaiton I am in warrants it. I woudl have to say the biggest change in my life was not the ex, but the addiciton. Entering recovery was the hardest thing I have ever done, all becasue of my resistance to change….and now, after 9 years clean…..when I comapre who I am and what I have now to what used to be…it cannot be measured in materail gain and I do not think there are enough words to express how freeing change ultimately is.
    Good uck and much success, Becky.

    • Becky permalink
      July 19, 2011 10:39 pm

      DC BBW,

      I am so glad to know I’m not alone! And, it’s good to know I don’t sound like too much of a cliche in my belief that there is a positive side. My husband often doesn’t see the glass “half full,” as I do, but personally I just don’t see the point in viewing things the other way around – it doesn’t do anything to help the situation or the future of it. It just tends to bring everyone down. I cannot imagine battling the demons you faced, and am in awe of your 1) dedication and 2) resilience. Thank you for sharing and may you celebrate your success and clean slate a hundred more times moreover in the future! With your perspective on change, I have no doubt you will do so. 🙂

      • Becky permalink
        July 19, 2011 10:40 pm

        (with your RENEWED perspective on change, I mean…) just realized that didn’t quite come out clear… 🙂

  4. July 19, 2011 10:48 am

    Becky, what an amazing story. One of my favorite films of all-time is ‘It’s a Wonderful Life”, and, at the very core is what you describe… George was going to ‘see the world!’, and what he found was that his life, though different than what he imagined, was just right. You nailed what so many of us go through. Thank you.

    My story is similar to Catherine’s (broken engagement, starting over). As hard as it has been (I am a creature of habit), it’s made me realize that I am a smart person, a strong person, a person capable of so many great things. It’s also made me see who I truly want to share my life with – family, friends, and eventually a cute boy 🙂 and. also, what doesn’t matter. We hem and we haw. Instead, just go with it and be grateful!

    • Becky permalink
      July 19, 2011 11:01 pm

      KD,

      I absolutely love how incredibly strong, independent and HAPPY WITH YOURSELF you and everyone else sound! It reminds me so much of the woman I always believed myself to be. For a while, I thought I’d lost her in the shadow of my husband and my “new” life. But it turns out, she never left. I am certain that with that woman at your core, you will no doubt find said “cute boy” – and he will be so much more worthwhile than the other simple stepping stone that life gave you in the past! And I love what you said about seeing who you truly want to share your life with – it is so right on. Family and friends can dole out more love than they know what to do with, and it’s a really good place to be when you’re surrounded by it. It can definitely help ease the pain of, well, whatever someone is going through whether it be a breakup, health issue, financial/career troubles or what have you. Thank you so much for sharing! And p.s. – I piggyback on Catherine’s problem of Cultural Ineptness. I have – gulp – never seen “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Your recap makes me love it even despite that terribly sad fact. I WILL catch it this Christmas go-round… 🙂

      • July 21, 2011 9:04 am

        Sappy film, I know, but I think you will enjoy it 🙂 Thanks for the kind words.

  5. July 19, 2011 3:57 pm

    “So don’t believe that love or life is an ideal. It’s only as ideal as you make it.”

    Great advice! And so true. My biggest twist was my divorce, five years ago. We’d been high school sweethearts – and, I figured, together forever. We already had the kids, the house in the suburbs, the total middle-class existence. And then, suddenly, we didn’t.

    Now, looking back, I’m actually thankful that we didn’t, because I wouldn’t be the person I am today if we had. And I happen to like this person much better!

    • Becky permalink
      July 19, 2011 11:06 pm

      Mark,

      So funny how that happens, isn’t it? I am sorry you had to go through that – it was no doubt tough on you and all those involved. So glad to hear that the change was ultimately for the better though! It sounds like you are certainly living the life you are making it, so bravo! 🙂

  6. July 19, 2011 7:00 pm

    This is such a beautiful post, Becky. Thanks for sharing.

  7. July 19, 2011 9:24 pm

    “Over the past several years, I’ve been struggling to come to terms with the path my life has taken…” <– THAT. That paragraph. That epitomizes basically everything I've danced around from day 1 of starting my blog over a year ago, even though you'd never know it had anything to do with that whatsoever. At least not in the beginning.

    I didn't have a car accident. Instead, I made a serious of would-be catastrophic mistakes (quitting my job, moving to Costa Rica for 2 months, riding the on again, off again depression wave like I'm a champion surfer, etc.) that would've cracked a lesser man than the one I married.

    In the end, I think you're right. For the most part. We just have to do our best to enjoy the path we're on; however, I do believe we have the choice to change it. The thing is, we really should think long and hard — take a break from clinging to the life we thought we wanted — before we decide to change the life we have.

    What a fantastic guest post — thanks for sharing, Becky!

    • Becky permalink
      July 19, 2011 11:27 pm

      Katie,

      You are so right – we do have the choice to change our path. And what great advice that “we really should think long and hard…before we decide to change the life we have.” It’s interesting how that kind of makes me realize that, just as it matters so much how we VIEW life, it also matters how we DO it. What I mean is, there are those who – like myself – just throw up their hands and go where life takes them. And then, there are those who are the movers and the shakers – who make things happen and move the pieces on the great chessboard of life where they want them to go. You, my friend, have a kind of strength and fortitude I very much admire. I only wish I could be such a “doer”. Good for you for having the gutso to take risks! 🙂

  8. July 19, 2011 10:47 pm

    Great post! For me, the biggest twist in my life came when I got the career I wanted (scientific writing) and discovered I hated it. That led to the late-in-life decision to gather all my courage and go to medical school – a choice I have (almost) never regretted. I guess in life we sometimes find ourselves in a good place despite having to take detours along the way.

    • Becky permalink
      July 21, 2011 8:09 am

      Solitary Diner,

      Yikes! Similarly, I started out in a career path that I thought was what I wanted, only to find out it was NOT for me. What a way to make the most of it, though, in going to medical school. Much luck to you and congratulations!

  9. July 20, 2011 4:05 am

    Becky, I often sit and think (and sometimes say aloud) that if someone would have told me 10 years ago that I would end up where I am today, I wouldn’t have belived them for all the money in the world. My life has gone is a hundred different directions than it was “supposed” to, but I am slowly learning to let go and let God take me where he sees fit. It doesn’t make sense to me a lot of the time, but I know that everything truly does happen for a reason…even the bad things. Thank you for sharing your story, and like other readers mentioned before me, I really needed to read this at this very moment.

    • Becky permalink
      July 21, 2011 8:13 am

      Underthebaya,

      I am so glad my story found a home with so many of you. It can definitely be disconcerting, to say the least, to not really know where you’re headed, but I do believe that having a little faith is a big part of the equation. Congrats on sticking it out and growing as you move forward in everything you do!

  10. Nick permalink
    July 20, 2011 10:37 pm

    Becky,

    I enjoyed reading your post!

    I know what it’s like to compare where your life is versus where you feel it “should” be. I had grand visions three years ago about large bank accounts and collared shirts that you don’t button all the way because you are always tan and cool and wearing shades…. Guess what? WRONG! I often find myself wondering why things didn’t turn out the way I had visioned. Why am I not where I am supposed to be? Then one morning, for whatever reason, I had an epiphany. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I don’t carry that burden anymore of having to be super successful. What is success anyway? Having a husband that loves you, a beautiful daughter, a nice home, etc… That is a form of success that most of us wish we had. For some it’s money and material items; for others it’s making a difference in society. There are many forms of success and I just had to realize that money and power are not how I should measure my own success.

    I am glad that your near death experience has awakened a side of you that you may have thought you lost. Sometimes we all just need some perspective.

    Give Hannah a BIG hug for me!! Take care

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