If I died tomorrow, what would I want people to know? I’d want them to know that I loved them. I wouldn’t want a single person who I cared for to EVER doubt that. I would want them to know that even though I have my ups and downs and breakups and makeups, I enjoy my life. I don’t feel sorry for myself because I have health issues, I don’t wish I could be someone else (ok, maybe just once in a while). I would want them to know that just because I am an introvert doesn’t mean I’m shy. I would want them to know that I am tolerant, but I won’t put up with ignorance. Most of all, I would want them to know that I am living my life with no regrets.
I wasn’t always like this. I lived a calculated, planned out, listed life. I had this pretty little mental checklist going. Every time I did something on it, a cute little check mark appeared in a box. I was (ok…still am but to a MUCH less dramatic degree) a control freak. I liked things my way because I always figured that was the safe way. You only have yourself to blame when you’re in control. My first real reality check came when I was diagnosed with MS. Multiple Sclerosis, possibly one of the MOST unpredictable diseases. It comes and goes as it pleases; there are usually no warning signs before your next relapse. You can be fine one minute, take a nap and wake up not able to feel your legs the next. It was like the universe said “Ok Miss Planner – plan this!”
I volleyed back with “Challenge Accepted Mr. Scary MS”. At first I obsessed. It was all I could think about, I internally freaked out with every tick or twitch I felt. I planned all my doctor appointments months in advance; I read every website I could find. I waited. And I waited and waited and waited, and nothing happened. “I got this shit licked” I thought. “I’ll plan on this being the worst thing that could happen to me, after all the Universe can’t be THAT unfair, right?” WRONG!
“Oh, you’re still trying to control everything?” the Universe said, mockingly. “Alright, plan this!”, and my dad passed away. Oh what a cruel, cruel way to have to learn. I took notice though. I shaped up fast. I started to let go of the little everyday things I would obsess over, that really didn’t matter. Was the world going to end if I walked into work 2 minutes late? No. Was the world going to end if I didn’t get to take a nap on a Saturday afternoon? No. Little, trivial things other people worried about, became petty annoyances to me. I didn’t care that my friend got a speeding ticket. I didn’t care that my co-worker lost an account. My dad had just died. Fuck your parking ticket, the day will go on!
So maybe I started to swing a little bit too far to the other end of my control spectrum. I became a little jaded. Which is actually normal when grieving, however after some time and great therapy, I began to settle into a comfortable middle ground. I vied to not be late for work, but I wouldn’t induce a panic attack if I walked in a few minutes past eight. I stopped checking my work email on the weekends. The office would still be there on Monday. I started to listen more when my friends talked. Ok, maybe a speeding ticket isn’t as horrible as the death of a parent, but I was not put here to judge where people’s misfortunes rank on my Holier Than Thou scale of rightness and control. I started focusing more on the fact that I had friends that trusted me and cared about me well enough to share their everyday, annoyances and joys. I started a new relationship ok with the fact that I wasn’t going to be married by thirty and probably not by thirty-one either. I stopped talking about (almost all the way) how badly I wanted a family. I started to enjoy the actual days I had versus the days I was hoping to have. It’s nice to have things to look forward to, but you can’t only look forward to things.
I have to check myself sometimes, because my control monster will still creep in now and again, and unfortunately, the universe bitch slapped me again the other day. I have been doing pretty well, I’ll admit, but I was getting a little ahead of myself. I was daydreaming a bit too frequently about my picket fence house and toddler play dates. When my boyfriend broke up with me, he justified it because of his fear of my future – our future. “Oh, the injustice!” I thought. I was furious that a relationship I had perceived as so good, could end because of something that hadn’t even happened yet, something that wasn’t even planned to happen. I get it now, though (are you listening Universe) I understand how futile it is to pin your hopes and dreams on a maybe. Life doesn’t run on maybes.
So, I’ve been (maybe not so gently nudged) back into the middle ground of control. I’ve made a personal vow to live and love in the now. Life is just too, too short to do anything other than. So, if you take anything from this blog you’re reading take this: call your mom to say you love her. Email your friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with. Apologize for the fight you had last Friday. Eat one more cookie. Snuggle for 5 more minutes. Take the dog for an extra walk. Take a few more pictures. Plan that dream vacation for next fall. Give your lover one more kiss. Hug your sibling just a little tighter. Let your crush know how you feel. Tell your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife how fortunate you are to have them in your life. Tell them that though you know the future may be uncertain, you are damn sure glad that you have them here and now. Take a chance, do something that scares you just because you can!
Plan to live, don’t just live to plan.