The Tough Stuff – The Future
Every teenage girl has her dream wedding planned out, right? They plan in their heads where they want to get married – on a beach, in the forest, by a river, in a big church. They see pretty dresses they want to wear and laugh about who will be their bridesmaids. They get their first boyfriend and think of what forever would be like with them because young love is just that blinding, right?
I didn’t plan any of that. Didn’t see any of it. Never even had it cross my mind in high school or into college.
My mom would tell you I was “too busy” to think of boys and dating. I had my sports and my friends and my need to always have great grades to worry about. My dad would probably tell you he didn’t care why boys weren’t an issue, as long as they continued to not be an issue. Me? I honestly, truly didn’t even think about it. The errant thoughts would sneak in sometimes of “oh a boyfriend would be nice” or something along those lines, but never to the point where like many high school girls, I would be scheming and plotting and gossiping over a latest crush. It took me until the very end of my Camino to truly realize why that was.
The day before, I had just done a phone interview with the man who wrote the article on me that was published in the Union Leader. I was walking from Muxia to Finisterre, and I was thinking over some things we had talked about. Yet again, it came back to depression. Another aspect of life depression, quite frankly, fucks up: the future. For the first time in literally years, as I walked through that scrubby forest along the Spanish coast, I was thinking ahead. I was thinking of my life when I went back home. How I wanted to finish up my schooling and become a teacher as a career. How I wanted to continue hiking, only now I wanted to really devote my time to it. How I wanted to keep coaching lacrosse and pairing that with teaching and settling down and….having a family?
These were all normal things to think about. Five year plans. Plans you make for an adult life. Normal. Natural.
Completely foreign to me.
You see, for the past six years, I hadn’t thought of the future. It was something far away, something fuzzy, something unattainable. The harsh reality is, for a chunk of my life the past six years, I couldn’t see beyond a week. Some days, I didn’t know if I’d see beyond that day. That’s how small depression makes your life. It really, truly, takes it away. How could I possibly think about what my life would look like in my thirties if I didn’t even believe I’d make it to see twenty-one? At the time, I didn’t even realize it. It was simply what my life was. I didn’t think that wasn’t normal or scary for others to know that’s how I thought because I never shared it with anyone. It was simply my reality.
As I walked up a hill between Muxia and Finisterre, I thought that for the first time in six years, I saw myself as an adult. I could picture it. I could see that future. Maybe even a husband. That was strange, too. Because as much as I would always claim it didn’t bother me, I always had that nagging thought in my head of “what was wrong with me? Why had I never once been in a relationship?” I knew the reason now. It was myself. More than that, it was my depression. You see, how could I have ever begun to think of committing to another person when I couldn’t even commit to myself? Like I just said, some times I couldn’t see myself making it to another week. I couldn’t commit to being in this world for that long. How could I possibly commit to being with another person? My family was one thing; they were stuck with me regardless. But a relationship? No, I could never entertain the thought.
So unconsciously, I shut myself down. I didn’t realize that I was doing it until looking back now and seeing the difference with how I am now. I was going through the motions of life then, smiling, laughing, interacting, but never actually putting any of my true self out in the world. And one thing in this world that I’ve found to be so true is that you only get what you’re willing to give. I’m willing to give my true self now. And I’m starting to see it come back. It’s funny how that works. When you’re open to things, things start to happen. Just like my future is starting to happen now.