Maybe, the roads we don't take. Do you ever wonder what would have happened if you'd stuck to a certain path, even if deep in your heart you know that the original choice was well made? Idly contemplate the people and the places that you walked away from, the alternative life that could have been yours? I don't indulge in this often because I'm generally secure that once I make a decision then it's the right one for me, even if others disagree or if it is the wrong way for them. I have many insecurities, but dwelling over past choices made isn't one of them!
Inadvertently I got an answer this week, to one significant choice I made about fifteen years ago. I left the first person I ever fell truly in love with because I couldn't reconcile my life with his lifestyle choices. He didn't want my staid existence to interfere with his hedonism. I have never smoked, never took drugs and whilst I enjoy drinking, it affects me so much physically I choose my hangovers wisely. He did everything to excess and had begun to surround himself with parasites and dealers. Had I thought there was any chance of him waking up and smelling the hemp I would never have walked.
I did walk and within six months had met the man I would marry whilst looking for nothing more than a bit of fun. Funny how life can do that. I'd set boundaries around our breakup, no contact, no friendship - I needed to be away from the stale air, the addicts rummaging through bin bags looking for used needles, the utter contempt that people held me in for my polite refusal to take ecstasy. He once told me he'd leave me if I didn't learn to make roll ups by a certain date. Well, there comes a point when even I say enough is enough (still can't make them, though I do know the theory).
There is a point to this post. I did occasionally wonder how he was, what our life could have been like had we stayed together. Marriage has taught me that some paths are very hard to walk but they are worth pursuing. There was a point when the man I loved wasn't a strung out, stinking addict but a smart, funny, talented physicist with an abiding love of books. Now?
Hedonism has a price. In our twenties we believe we'll motor on forever regardless of what we do to ourselves, in our thirties we sometimes push it to show we still can. Well, he blew. He pushed it too far. His body stopped in his forty first year.
He didn't die, though in some ways you wonder if that would be kinder to someone like him. His body rebooted itself from the stroke that stalled his brain. It left him crippled in body, but with an active mind held inside. His drug addled girlfriend of seven years dumped him when he could no longer provide or function as a convenient mule, and his friends melted away. He now lives with his parents who care for him, and who sold their home to buy a bungalow so he has mobility. It's not all bad news I guess, he can walk again with a stick and is deemed fit for work. He is only forty three years old.
So I see that other path quite clearly and I see me in his mother's place as carer. And I feel great sorrow for this man who could have had so much but gave it away for so little. I don't mean me, I think I was always too soft for him. And I can't deny the relief at not being trapped in a relationship with someone who has destroyed them self, like my father destroyed himself when he was with my mother (who had to walk away eventually and ruined her mental health in the process).
Paths and choices. It's all life really is. I need to stop being afraid of the next choice and trust my instincts, however overgrown that road might be.
GD: reading Theodora by Stella Duffy; listening to the Stranglers ~ Strange Little Girl obsessively; thinking she should eat more fruit and veg, and give up the fish fingers!