When I was a child, I had plans for when I grew up. Well, I ended up 17 and pregnant. Marriage, the funeral of my son (who only lived 2 months), and the decision to have more children meant that I would postpone things...until the kids were in school. The first one started to school, and my marriage ended. So, raising and supporting children alone became the norm, with thoughts of "when the children leave home...".
The oldest turned 18, and my family was involved in a wreck. The wreck was 18 years ago (8/13/94), and I still have not fully recovered from the injuries. A year later, there was a glimmer of escape with a promise of training. (I always wanted to return to school. While it isn't much, I am rather proud of the A.A. Degree I received at the local community college. A Liberal Arts degree did little other than making me a well-rounded conversationalist---but I accomplished a goal!) Then, my oldest returned with a broken marriage, an 11 month old son, and 8 months pregnant with a daughter.
That basically started Motherhood: Part Two. I postponed my plans so I could always be available to baby-sit while my child rebuilt her life, and I was happy to do it; I wanted a better life for my children. Not long after they all moved out of my house, though, my youngest child's son needed someone to step in and raise him. Once again I shoved back my thoughts of "escape" and took on the challenge of legal custody and single grandparenting. My sons did what they could to help support me, esp my middle child. Actually, there was even more fun this time. I had always been involved with my kids' school activities, but now I could do it full time. My kids are grateful that I waited until grandkids before I found out the fun of dressing in costumes for various school events. I am still shocked I did it! :)
Don't misunderstand: my children and grandchildren have always brought tremendous joy in my life. There has been heartbreak, anger, frustration, etc., but that is part of life. Time spent with them was worth every moment and I can't regret these years...even if I could have cheerfully strangled each one for various reasons over the years. Family and loyalty are important...plus God gave them to me to raise. Sadly, I let them (and Him) down numerous times...because I simply gave up.
What I regret is the chains of depression, poverty, despondency, fear, poor choices, and health issues that I have allowed to overtake me. With each setback, I have gained more weight, lost more ability to move, had to rely more on government handouts, withdrawn more into myself, had more serious health issues, and lost the ability to dream. It has reached the point of paralysis---not in body, but in confidence, trust, dreams, and hope. Being around people I know takes every ounce of confidence I can summon. (Sometimes I suspect there is a bit of an actor within me.) The thought of meeting new people, especially those whom I have come to care about through social media, is terrifying. I must keep a barrier erected. It makes it worse as I read comments that people do not realize describe me either physically, financially, or emotionally. That is why I frequently assure people that they really do not want to meet me.
During the past month or so, I have watched post after post deriding people who are on government handouts. I don't know if it makes anyone feel better, but I do not buy (or use) illegal drugs and I have never purchased lobster. It does break my heart and my spirit a bit more as I continue to have to use these benefits. I have even considered suicide, although the irony is that the taxpayer will have to cover the disposal of my body. But, I do try to volunteer as often as I can to give back to the community. I know that the internet is a luxury, but there have been kids here who needed it for homework. We don't have a car, and walking to the library--if it is open--isn't always an option. But, I use social media to promote and pray for people and projects; it is all I have to offer. And, I would gladly take a paying job to get off of all benefits. Instead, it looks like I am going to have to break down and apply for even more as health issues worsen a bit, income has dropped even lower, and family issues have arisen. I was recently told that I should just learn to trust God (and to read my Bible). Trusting God has been the only way I have survived for my entire adult life! However I have immersed myself within the power and clutches of the various "enemies" of fear, failure, rejection...and not trusted God enough to surrender those parts of my life to Him. So, I guess that person has a point. (PS: I do read my Bible. And, I actually try to apply it to my life.)
A favorite passage of Scripture of mine is Psalm 25: