I used to believe I knew exactly what I needed to make me happy. I thought I knew what to do to create my happy ending. There was a point where I believed I was living the fairytale life. The fairytale didn’t come easy though; I worked hard to get there and believed that my efforts could never be undone. I was completely unprepared for the unexpected.
Recently, my husband and I have been sucked into watching a TV series on Netflix. We don’t watch many TV shows anymore [since D-Day] but this one drew us both in and we look forward to watching it together. Last week we were watching the season finale (about mid-series) and the episode ended with an unexpected cliffhanger. They killed off one of the main characters and we didn’t see it coming. As we began to watch the first episodes of the next season I felt unsure if I even wanted to keep watching this show anymore. For some reason the murder of this character destroyed my confidence and trust in the show. It’s just a TV show but my trust was shaken.
I know that sounds silly but it’s a parallel emotion to how I felt on my D-Day. I thought I knew the direction my life was headed. I believed I had made decisions to safeguard what I valued in my life. I am a pretty laid-back person too. I don’t tend to overreact to the unexpected. When my husband lost his job I didn’t freak out but instead I believed things would work themselves out the way they were meant to be. I usually take things as they come but, this, my husband having an affair, was different. His affair wasn’t just unexpected; it was something he had consciously done that threatened our marriage. In that moment of discovery I didn’t know if I could go on. At least with my TV show I can make the decision to stop watching it. But this, this was my life. I couldn’t press the stop button.
It’s not like this was the first time in my life something unexpected happened. But the beauty of self-reflection is that when I look back on my life I can see how events that could have destroyed me actually shaped me, making me stronger. These things made my life better, richer and fuller. The biggest unexpected event in my life before D-Day was finding out I was pregnant with our first child. We weren’t married and I was a senior in college. I had always done the right thing in life: straight A’s, studying at one of the best University’s in the country… essentially I was a good girl that neglected to use a condom. In that moment when I stared at the pregnancy test with my [now] husband I felt devastated, scared and shattered. I honestly didn’t know if I could go on because a pregnancy meant that everything was going to change. No matter my choice, to have the baby or end the pregnancy, it meant everything was going to be different from that point in my life. There were things I had to give up but in the end, I gained so much more. That was part of the foundation of our marriage. It was the unexpected beginning to something I believed was amazing. I still do.
The unexpected is what has shaped my life the most. Those twists and turns that I didn’t anticipate have enriched my life more than anything I ever planned. The benefit isn’t usually immediately visible when our confidence is shattered. Sometimes life requires a leap of faith. In spite of the fear of what happened we keep going. We continue to believe that life is good in spite of our situation. We continue to believe that marriage is beautiful in spite of the affair.
Sometimes life is hard and it breaks us. Sometimes we have to let life change us and take us down a road we never expected. Sometimes we have to lean into the pain; face the unexpected with courage. We are like a lotus flower that grows in the mud. We are learning to let our petals open one by one again. Our lives haven’t gone as planned but we are still beautiful.