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My ghostly alternative lives

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I do not spend a lot of time caught up in fruitless regrets about the past but sometimes I wonder how my life would have launched itself had I made different decisions or followed different paths along the way. Most people have lots of possibilities--roads not taken, paths not pursued. And while I like the life I have as much as I can considering that I am old and not particularly well, I wonder what life would look like if.....

if I had followed a strong impulse to have a third child....

if I had married the persuasively dramatic young man who wanted me to elope when I was 16. "But I want to finish high school!" I said.....

if I had not put myself in a position where my life seemed to require heavy narcotics and my narcotics of choice were produced by Ben and Jerry....

if I had valued myself and my time over that of some very needy, entitled narcissistic people who were emotional vampires. I stopped up to be the hero, the savior figure for people who had to do their own job but who were glitteringly attractive parasites.....

if I had taken a diagnosis of Diabetes as an occasion to live with a healthy spirit instead of as an occasion to feed my sorrows with more Ben and Jerry narcotics.....

if I had realized that decisions count and many decisions are permanent...if I had known that what I put in my mouth 25 years ago would still be living in my visceral fat...

if I had realized that I really did know what to do and how to do it but I was afraid--I was afraid of a life without a plethora of food and I was so busy eating that I did not exercise.

Reader, you probably think I am wallowing in self-pity. That's not really the case. I am wondering how my life might have been different had I chosen different paths. The most prevalent thread here I see is that I allowed myself to become addicted to food and like many addicts I was more afraid to face the addiction than to face reality. Is food the drug of choice for the "nice girl" who would not get hooked on street drugs?

I get to choose my path for today. But I cannot choose my path of the past. I cannot choose to be a healthy 50 year old. I cannot choose to be a svelte 40 year old. I cannot choose to be a self-confident 30 year old. I do not find this depressing, but I might have had a ghost life where I have three children. I might have had a ghost life where I chose to be a math major. I might have had a sister ghost life where I chose to be an exercise buff.

And what about you? What kinds of choices can you make today?

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • KATYDID412
    "Is food the drug of choice for the "nice girl" who would not get hooked on street drugs?"

    For me, yes.

    Though some would doubt the "nice" descriptor.

    I really enjoyed this blog and have been thinking about these same questions in my own life. It's hard to accept sometimes that I am where I am meant to be. Trying to have these thoughts without a sense of regret is something that is hard for me. I'm trying to make active choices for myself now, rather than let life happen to me. It feels better that way.
    1541 days ago
    I too have been thinking of alternative lives lately. Not so much in the past though, but right now. It seems as though alternatives have suddenly become open to me, that my life will not be defined because of my weight. It has become a liberating experience.

    Your post said something to me that I have been struggling with the past couple days. How a couple lines can untangle fear and regret. You said, "I was afraid of a life without a plethora of food and I was so busy eating that I did not exercise."

    Since I had the gastric bypass, all 2 weeks ago, I have been having visions of my old heaping plates of food. I have sat and cried that I will never do that again. This idea of 1 cup of food at a time has saddened me although I know it was necessary to have this surgery because I could not control my portions as hard as I tried.

    You spoke my fear "I was afraid of a life without a plethora of food." Sometimes just hearing it from someone else, that they have/had the same fears, settles the soul. Thank you.
    1547 days ago
  • LE7_1234
    "if I had realized that decisions count and many decisions are permanent...if I had known that what I put in my mouth 25 years ago would still be living in my visceral fat... "

    This one hit me pretty strongly today. Not thinking about my past--but the future. And how the choices I make today are building my 70+year old self. It's like I suddenly saw today's menu with a new clarity (also inspired by your wallpaper, I'm sure), where all the good choices were highlighted, and the "eh, but a little of that wouldn't hurt" choices sort of faded into the background.
    1550 days ago
    I find myself, at times, thinking about those *other lives* that I could have had. I think it's a fascinating exercise, as long as you don't let it overtake your present.
    1552 days ago
  • 1SALMON1
    Hi, Natalie - I like thinking about those alternative lives. It would be fun to flesh them out. What would your third child (or my second) be doing today? How would things be different now if we'd waved garlic (or reality, or self-care, or something) at those emotional vampires when they first showed up? These are works of fiction but rooted in our real lives and they can shed light on our reality. As long as it's not a blame thing (I should have known better, why was I so blind, etc etc) it can be cathartic. Who knows, maybe you've got a novel in there somewhere? I hope you are feeling well and doing well and that you have a great week!
    1553 days ago
    It is my experience that parents do not teach their children that their life is their own - to do with as they see fit, but there are consequences...or reactions for those actions they may take. Parents don't teach their children that they are responsible for a lot of stuff, from emotions to actions, or let them know how much they are actually in control.

    Things don't "happen to" people. People align themselves with certain beliefs and emotions and then conduct their lives according to those beliefs. Sometimes they later blame others for doing something "to" them. For example I always felt that my mother was the root cause for my obesity. After all, wasn't it she who put me on diet pills when I was 5 years old? Wasn't it she who shamed me for eating the cookies that she baked, but forbade me to eat? But after a certain time - when I was old enough to make decisions for myself - I had two choices: eat it despite my weight, or not eat it. I didn't know the flip side though. I didn't understand the consequences of my actions. I knew Jack $hit about health, calories, consequences of obesity, benefits of exercise...all I knew is I wanted a damn cookie!! So I stole 4 from the cookie jar and ate them in the bathroom. Deprivation and shaming are clearly not the answers to weight loss, especially in a child or teenager.

    It is interesting to note that many behaviors we posses today are those of our childhood behaviors. It's like we regress to that very first rebellion every time we hear "no" as an answer. Mostly I think people just wanna do what they wanna do and they don't think about the consequences much at all...until it's a problem. Then often we find we have a compounded problem. If we humans were more thoughtful in our actions this world would be a very different place in almost every aspect of human life, don'tcha think?
    1554 days ago
    We can only decide about now not tomorrow or yesterday. I like to live in the moment, but not everyone is happy doing this. Good luck with the rest of your life!
    1554 days ago
  • POPSY190
    Choices made in the past when younger are often governed by circumstances and other people; we didn't always have the confidence, independence and discernment to strike out on our own paths. It sometimes seems to me that the pendulum has swung completely to the other side and overconfidence and contempt for older values lead many younger people into dangerous and difficult situations. Probably it is the same for all generations!
    Our big earthquakes taught me that preparation for the future whilst remaining firmly in the present is the way to go. We can't alter the big life-changing events and decisions we made and must concentrate on enjoying our lives as best we can.
    1554 days ago
    There is a reason that the parallel universe story line is one of the most popular in science fiction. I have shared many of your past mistakes and have some that are unique to me. I try to remember that my mistakes are as much a part of me as my skin and bones (like you said, they're still living in parts of my body) and I try to keep a neutral perspective. These things are not good and they're not bad, they just are. You are right, the choice is brand new everyday and I think recognizing the patterns you need to change is important.
    I don't like to look back. I don't like to meet up with people from my past. The few that love me have kept current with me so they are not from the past, but are my present.
    1554 days ago
    The past is there to remind us to change what we do not like, however our past actions has shaped what we are today. Look forward but learn from your past. Thank you for lovely blog emoticon
    1554 days ago
  • TREV1964
    You cannot change the past - I too wonder what if on a load of things but overall there are no regrets when I really think about it. What ifs can make you regret things about yourself and this can develop into full blown depression if left to fester.

    But you can change the future - you can make improvements each day so tomorrow is better than today and today is better than yesterday.

    Decide to change the future for the better and enjoy the journey you make towards it.

    Just hold in there - you are doing great.


    1554 days ago
    I used to wonder how life would have been different had I made different choices, but not so much anymore. Had I not married my ex-husband, my daughter would not be who she is, and who she is is just who I want her to be. Had I not stayed married to him 6-1/2 years I wouldn't have learned the life lessons I did that have made the 37+ years of my second marriage as good as it is.

    Sure, I made mistakes. But I learned from them and they brought me to the place I'm at now, a place I love. Had I made different choices I might be in a worse place.... so I'll keep my life as it has been!!
    1554 days ago
    Your blog really made me think about the choices I have made and how my life would have been different if I had taken other paths. The thing is, I will never know what kind of life I would have had. I would never have met my husband if I hadn't moved 2000 miles away from home. I do know I would never have been happy living in the area in which I grew up, small towns, farms. For the most part, I am content with my life and the way it is now and do not often look back, and have very few regrets. I believe the choices I make today are (usually) well thought out and more responsible than when I was younger.
    1554 days ago
    I always look upon life as the Olympian Gods playing dice. I lost two children to miscarriage. If they had lived, they might have been brain surgeons, OR they might have been brain damaged. If I had not married the man I did, I would not have had three lovely children, also I would have saved myself 40 years of an unhappy marriage. Who knows? Double six, and I would have died of my breast cancer, double one, he would have been cured of lung cancer. My mantra is: 'It could have been worse' Life has made me what I am, a Merry Widow. I live every moment now to the full. Some people never get that moment of clarity, that wake up call.
    1554 days ago
    love what you wrote. I think many of us reflect what it would have been. Thanks for this.
    1554 days ago
  • JMOUSE99
    Sounds like you have some valuable insights into your past choices. I have had similar feelings. Now I put those insights to work on the present me. I rarely dwell in the past but sometimes I fret about the future!

    Great blog!
    1555 days ago
  • DAP1313
    I've wondered myself of the paths not chosen. I guess that's why there is the saying, "Hindsight is 20/20/" I like my lift right now except for the unhealthy part of being obese, and what goes along with that. I am working on taking care of being healthy.

    I guess you can look at some of your choices and say that if you hadn't gone through them then you wouldn't know what to look for now.

    1555 days ago
    "If I'd known then what I know now..."
    "If I had it to do all over again..."
    "If I'd done green instead of blue..."
    " life would have been so different now"

    Not so, none of it. We were ourselves, good, bad or neutral, doing, thinking, choosing as our selves could. Had we chosen, done, thought differently, we'd have been other individuals. The call to wonder the "What if's" is strong but futile. We keep scraping up against the same, old, impenetrable wall.

    I've just returned from the store, where I filled in all the good foods I've rejected this past week in favor of impenetrable eating. I can't say yet whether I'll choose more outward-going matters today.
    1555 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/17/2013 9:58:06 AM
    Herbs! :D :P

    Going back to wonder the past is something I do, but I do it with caution. I'm only 33 but I still have a long list of what if's. The most dangerous part of going back to ponder is the chance of depression it may result in. I say - stay focused and in the present moment. So that is my choice today, to stay in the moment and not worry that last week I ate a whole party fun size bag of chips and haven't worked out in 5 days.


    1555 days ago
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