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What if I Got it Wrong?

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“What if I got it wrong
And no poem or song
Could put right what I got wrong
Or make you feel I belong
What if you should decide
That you don’t want me there by your side
That you don’t want me there in your life

— Coldplay “What If”

I don’t know if I’ve ever told anyone this story, but if I have, it was probably here in this blog. So I apologize for my suspected repetition. I tend to be repetitive because that’s the way my brain works. Everyone has their own “gift” that can also be a curse. For me, I have a photographic memory. That’s why I could never be read to as a kid. Now I’m definitely being repetitive because I know I’ve told you that story! It’s reason #2 of why I was such an early reader. Reason #1 is because reading was my escape from trauma. Back to reason #1, I need to see the words to make them come to life – I like the way they bleed and blend together through tears and imagination. I like the way they stick. No in one ear; out the other.

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And yet, I remember everything anybody has ever said to me – as long as it wasn’t from the pages of a book. If it’s about me, or if it’s about them, or a mishmash of both, that’s what I remember. It’s my gift and curse. Maybe I can remember everything I ever said to you, and maybe I’ve told you this story. I wrote a 20-part love story that you can find easily on the front page of this blog (to the right). You might read it, should you have the spare time to read 20 parts of a love story (and I feel like you do because I had the time to write it). Sometimes when I see long-winded, dead-ended political arguments on Facebook, that’s when I realize we all have too much spare time. Have we run out of Archie Comics to read, people? I have.

Who has the time to write such drivel?? Well, who has the time to read it?

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I do. And maybe you do too.

The short story is that I have had only one major heartbreak in my life, and I was fully in love with someone else when the heartbreaker came back into my life (via phone call) years later. I was torn. We get these paths in our lives, and these forks in our roads. Go one way and this happens. Go the other way and that happens. Although I imagine, to some degree, that no matter which way you go, you’ll achieve certain heights. That’s when you go crazy thinking about all the subtle things that make up a life. Marry someone else and you’d have different kids?! Or maybe your partner wouldn’t want any or you’d have fertility problems or you’d adopt 17 stepkids, and it’s all baffling to me. All we can do is make decisions in the present.

The past and future can drive you crazy.

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So in this story, in this dimension, I had a boyfriend I was madly in love with, but I went back to my ex. And it was good. Really good in the beginning, and rocky/treacherous sometimes in the middle, and now I think it has the capability to be better than it ever was. Even better than the magical beginning – before clogged bathtub drains and kindergarten paperwork. I made that choice. And the story I may have (not) told you is that I had the same thought every day for years.

I thought, what if it was all a dream and in my “real life”, I had chosen the other guy. And one day I’ll wake up, and I’ll be next to the other guy in a bedroom in New Jersey and I’ll be fumbling and clawing through the air – trying to grab that dream and capture every detail before it disappears in a poof – like so many dreams before it. I can’t breathe and Cassidy is so far away, 3000 miles away – cold and indifferent – and he never called me. Scarlet and Des and their smiles and their rainbows and their kindness are all an illusion. A forgetting dream. Gone in an instant in a sweat-covered waking nightmare.

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If I had taken another path, there would be another rich life unfolding and this would be a dream. I took this path, as I’ll take many paths in life, and all of the other stories are dreams – some within reach – and others always to be just missed.

The what-ifs can drive you crazy. Don’t let them. Think instead of the beauty of the path you’re on, and the choices you made to live and to love this way. This post is inspired by a “path” – the bike path in Northampton. Six years ago, Scarlet asked me to buy her a giant rubber ducky downtown, and insisted on carrying the thing all the way home herself. Uphill.

I’m linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday – #FTSF. This week’s topic is “The ‘what if’ I have the hardest time letting go of is..” And there’s time to link up with your spin on the subject: HERE.

What would you say?

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14 Comments

  1. Yup, I have had those moments, too of fearing that I didn’t actually make the right choice about the right guy and will wake up and it will all be a dream. Definitely, glad it isn’t though and btw like you I tend to be repetitive sometimes now, too. I wonder if that comes with age and wisdom, as well 🙂

  2. This is amazing !!! Just brilliant ! And fortuitous timing for me to read this after a long discussion with myself the other day about living with the
    Decisions I have made and letting the what ifs dissolve from
    Obsessions to becoming the fiber I are made of. There is only now.

  3. Well, the choices we make do determine our lives. However, like diets, we have an amazing ability to adapt to alternative lifestyles. Each can have its own charm and pitfalls. Perhaps the message is that each of us have the power within ourselves to make the best of a situation, not the other way around.

    I don’t think I have a full photographic memory, but I have something close to it. I remember once in an oral exam after hearing a question, seeing the page I had read in my mind, and after a drink of water, reading the answer to my delighted examiners.

  4. I think we all as, “What if?” However, I don’t think that it tends to be a question that leads to joy. It is tempting to think only of the positive aspects of a different choice, as we can’t quite imagine all the permutations of going down any path. I agree your phrase, “make the best decision you can in the present.” Periodically wondering about what might have happened is harmless, but I think it isn’t wise to dwell in it too long. So much to be thankful for right now!

  5. The past can definitely drive you crazy with the ‘what-ifs’ so I try not to think about things too much because I believe I am exactly where I am suppose to be.

  6. Oh man, I sometimes get those What Ifs and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today. Maybe I’d still be happy, but something would be missing, that’s for sure.

    All these photos are fabulous–I want a giant rubber duck.

  7. Great post, honey! I believe everyone has those thoughts. The wouldas, couldas, shouldas, but you can’t let them turn into regrets or you’ll drive yourself crazy. That’s why the present is so important. Love you!

  8. “Think instead of the beauty of the path you’re on, and the choices you made to live and to love this way.” Perfect sentence, perfect advice.

  9. Awww, LOVE this whole post. It’s an amazing thing when we start the thought process of what if…mind boggling. You’re right though, we must think of the beauty of the path we’re on. Indeed. The images of little Scarlet carrying the duckie, is precious! Hope you’re having a lovely weekend, Tamara.

  10. I have had dreams where I married someone else and I always wake up so glad that they aren’t real!

    Wait, how did I miss the photographic memory part? Probably, barbecue if there is an opposite type brain of that, yep that’s me. I forget my own name sometimes. I even have to count every year to figure out how old I am going to be. Four kids ago I was better, but now…..

  11. I can relate to every part of this. Oh, the what if life with the guy that broke my heart, but then all that I wouldn’t have. I think it’s a female thing, and why we love movies like Sliding Doors.

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