Would I be a college professor? Would I live in Virginia? Would I be a published author by now?
Yesterday, I wrote about how my father’s dreams may have changed during the course of his life. Today, I’m writing about something similar.
In July I wrote a post in which I asked for suggestions on topics for this blog. One suggestion was to write about whether or not mental illness caused a limitation in my life.
The easy answer to that question is yes; obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression most definitely have limited my life.
There are many things I haven’t done because of my mental illnesses.
Because I was in a deep depression, I transferred from one college to another. That had a profound effect on my life, changing what I did after graduation and what my opportunities and influences may be been.
Chiefly because of my OCD and the ways it affected my reading and writing, I never finished my doctorate degree in English. I made it through the classes, the written and oral exams and the dissertation presentation. But I never wrote the dissertation.
And how many missed opportunities were there because I was too scared to try? How many people did I never meet because of my anxiety?
What job would I have? What friends would I have? Where would I have traveled?
Sometimes these missed opportunities, these “if only” statements grieve me. I wonder what my life would be like if I didn’t have OCD and depression.
What kind of person would I be? Who would be in my life?
But, of course, without OCD and depression, I may not have had a better life, just a different one.
Do I want to be a college professor now? No. Am I happy in the job I’m in now? Yes. Do I like living in Virginia? Yes. Do I enjoy the writing I do now? Yes.
And most importantly, am I happy with the people in my life? Yes.
The path my life took may not be what I planned when I was a teenager and in my 20s, but it led me to my husband, Larry. It led to our life together.
And the path led me to become the person I am today. Who is to say it’s not the person I’m meant to be?
The questions, the “what ifs,” float around me sometimes, but I have hope that I am where I am for a reason.
That doesn’t mean I don’t work to lift some of the limitations I’ve allowed OCD and depression to place on me. Usually, those are situations where I feel fear, and I’m learning ways to push through the fear.
But focusing on my past will not make my life today better. I’ve grieved enough for what might have been. It’s time to truly focus on life today, on what I have to do today.
Can asking “what if” ever help us? When does it become more harmful than helpful?