Loving The Life You Didn’t Choose

Do you find yourself reflecting on what life has handed you? Or hasn’t handed you? Do you sometimes wonder ‘What if?’ or ‘Why?’
I do.

‘What if I had not lived half my life overseas as a child?’ ‘What if my parents had not left me here to complete high school and university whilst they moved back overseas?’ ‘What if I had completed all my education in English?’ ‘What if I had had a daughter instead of three sons?’ ‘What if I had returned to work instead of being a fulltime mum?’ ‘Why did I have to move to Melbourne?’ ‘Why did I have to have all those health issues a couple of years ago?’ ‘Why did we have those painful incidents with our extended family?’

There is much that has happened in my life that was unexpected – dreams that I had, or plans that I had made, that did not work out. The perfect birth of a child. The perfect behavior of a child. The loss of my job. Moving interstate. Relationship fallouts. A child’s diagnosis.

What dreams or plans of yours have not happened? How do we love the life we didn’t choose?

Melanie Dale, author of It’s not fair. Learning to live the life you didn’t choose, gives five ways to help us :

Count the Wins! Each day consider the progress made (my son can now focus enough to enable him to do his homework), the healing that has happened (my son’s hearing has improved) and any respite you’ve had (my teenage son has chosen to sit with me and watch TV, instead of being grouchy with me).  What wins have you had with your family today?

Laugh (to keep from crying!) As a High School teacher I used to sometimes return to my staffroom after a difficult class where no one learned anything and it was complete chaos! Together we’d laugh at the situation, laugh at how bad it had been (and share a bar of chocolate!) Together, every day, let’s fill our homes with laughter! As a family, let’s share jokes, good memories, sit around the table and play a game, whatever it takes to laugh!

Identify your grace-bearers. These are people who will walk beside you on those tough days. Who are the people that you feel safe with? Who you can be yourself with and let your guard down when life is plain hard and painful? Who will cry with you, laugh with you, listen to you, uphold you? Who won’t judge you or just tell you it’s going to be ok (which it isn’t)? And who can you be a grace-bearer to?

Find professional help. There is still a stigma for some about going to see your GP, or a counsellor, or another kind of specialist. But if we want to be the best we can be, including for our kids, we need to take care of ourselves, and that may mean seeking further support. We need to deal with how we are feeling, and not push it down or to the back of our minds. We need to work through our thoughts so we can live expectantly! Live life to the full!

Fall apart with God. As a believer in God, I pray to Him when things go pear-shaped. I tell him just how it is, I don’t mince my words. I tell him straight!

Our lives will have unmet dreams. And some of the ‘stuff’ in our lives will, sadly, never go away. But we can learn to love our lives and take each day as it comes. And we can walk with each other, with other mums and our friends, helping them live their lives with their unmet dreams as well.

Sarah McIntosh

Victoria State Leader

One thought on “Loving The Life You Didn’t Choose”

  1. Thanks Sarah. I’m definitely living the life I never expected to live – and it’s tough at times. These are some wise words.

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