The road less traveled… That which shapes us into who we are.
When I reflect back on my life, I think about how all my past experiences have shaped me into the person I am today. How every hardship and sorrow, every joy and triumph has affected my life.
At age 5, my mother passed away from leukemia. I was raised by my alcoholic, abusive father and barely teenage brother. While there was love in my family, it wasn’t often expressed or encouraged. A soft heart and emotions were discouraged. As time passed, drink and grief consumed more of my father. My brother left to start his own life in the Navy. And, at 14, my father disowned me.
Shortly there after, I moved in with a wonderful woman I consider my mom. She was patient and loving, very supportive as I rebelled and started to discover who I am.
At 17, I met and fell in love with my first husband, The Marine. At 18, we were married and he was shipped overseas for the first year of our marriage. I was pregnant with our daughter and spent months in the hospital very sick, feeling scared and alone. My mom and his family were there, very loving and supportive. It was my first taste of family and really belonging.
When The Marine came home and got stationed state side, we moved to California. Away from everyone and everything I loved. I was unhappy and miserable. A young mother who was more often than not left alone, away from every one and every thing to raise a baby. During that time, I was finally diagnosed with postpartum depression.
We moved home a few months later. He got out of the Marine Corps. Back home once again, I blossomed and grew. Unfortunately, we grew apart and were no longer the people we were when we fell in love. I was no longer the meek mouse he married. I had opinions, wants and desires. I was no longer willing to sit on the back burner, but wanted my own life. He wanted to be free. He needed to go find himself and redefine himself beyond the military life he’d lived. Unfortunately, that didn’t include me.
At 25, I “ran away” from home and moved to Alaska. I was 6 months pregnant with my youngest. I knew exactly one person when I arrived in Alaska, and within weeks, that friendship fell apart. I made new friends though over time. My pregnancy was difficult. Once again, I was sick. This time though, I had a couple friends who were good friends of my doctor. Such is life of a small town. This time, I got to stay home on bed-rest. At times I was homesick and lonely, yet I stuck it out. My son was born, the friendship that fell apart was repaired and life was peaceful.
I started setting goals for myself. Define what it was that I wanted. I decided that I wanted to accomplish some things before I turned 30.
Life continued to evolve. I continued to evolve. I spent 3 years in a relationship that wasn’t good for me, engaged to a man who wasn’t good for me. I was unhappy, but I stuck it out. During that time, I started working on my goals. I moved to Anchorage, I went to school, I bought a car (being car-less in Alaska is very hard). As I became more and more independent, my relationship crumbled. During the crumbling, I stopped working on my goals. The people I thought were my friends disappeared. Then, suddenly there I was. Alone. A single mother, no income and barely able to keep a roof over my head. Needless to say, I was frightened. My family and friends urged me to move back home. Yet, I stayed and stuck it out.
Still, I struggled and perservered. As fate would have it, I landed a job with an Alaskan based trucking company. I made new and true friends. Found a sense of family there with them, and completed the last goal I set for myself. A house by the time I was 30, just 4 months shy of the set date.
My children continued to be happy and healthy. I made great friends. I evolved and became more myself. I completed my goals and search to define new ones in my life. I was happy. I learned how to love and accept unconditionally. And in return, I’m loved and accepted unconditionally by those I call friend.
Alaska was good to me, allowed me to become the person I’m meant to be. I had a roof over my head, clothes to wear, food to eat and wonderful, loving friendships. I turned from the meek mouse into an opinionated, outspoken woman that treasures honesty and fairness. I learned that I have a soft heart and no longer needed to shun emotions as I was taught in my childhood. I learned to live by my own rules, live up to my own expectations and morals. In short, I “became”.
And a few months before my 31st birthday, I was transferred to the Seattle area. I met CP, fell in love and moved to Oregon. (I wrote about that here). My life has had challenges since and I continue to evolve and preserver.
I don’t often look back and wonder if life would have been different, easier had my mother lived to raise me. Or if I had “stayed put” back home during my divorce. I don’t wonder if I’d be the person I am today, because I know I wouldn’t. And, I’m pretty proud of how I turned out after all. I chose the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
~ Robert Frost 1874-1963