My birthday is coming up, and a year ago at this time I thought I had my life figured out. I thought I knew what the next birthday and the birthday after would look like. I thought I knew who I would be next to. I thought I had finally found home.
And then it all changed. And my options were to stay in a world too dysfunctional for my soul to thrive in, or choose plan B – which I had no idea where would lead.
And sometimes the plan B of life feels like the most terrifying, horrifying, second best, spur of the moment, 'I can’t do this', experience ever. So we avoid it.
But sometimes it’s the plan B route that ends up saving your life.
I thought I had finally found my direction; I was going along, and then...suddenly it’s all gone. It’s all different, and the life I was holding wasn’t the life I even wanted. It’s not what I dreamt of or imagined and doesn’t even feel worth holding onto anymore. But it’s that moment, the in-between of Plan A shattering and the decision to choose Plan B, even though it doesn’t feel as good, is where the magic happens. It’s where the risk is. It’s where the faith kicks in.
Flying by the seat of my pants, saying 'yes' to everything that came along for the last 8 months, has been terrifying and electrifying. I've been living out of suitcases, one 'yes I’ll go there, yes I’ll move there, yes I’ll come back here', over and over without a future plan. Me, always wanting a future plan so badly, I tried to force a square peg into a round hole of a life with a man, and almost killing myself and destroying my own soul in the process.
It was all ripped away. All gone. All the dreams utterly shattered, destroyed. Profound grief. So many of my deepest dreams lying on the ground in front of me. I wanted to CLING to plan A even though it was shattering me into a thousand pieces. My stubbornness wanted to hold on just because it was familiar - because it was known - because it was safe. And plan B felt like second best. Like starting over again, and damnit, I hate starting over. I felt like a failure. Why does plan B so much feel like failure? It sure did here.
But along the way somehow, choosing plan B and, in a way, holding it against my heart and saying, "I WILL choose you. I WILL be thankful for you. I WILL make you plan A in my heart, even though I'm still grieving the real plan A. There HAS to be reason for this. Maybe Plan B will save my life."
And you know what? It did. And yeah, it hurt like hell. I cried most nights (and some nights still), I still question, and ache and long and wish that plan A had worked out (the right way, without the hurt and chaos and dysfunction), but I'm seeing daily that plan B is bringing me back to life. Making me the woman I somehow lost along the way. It’s guiding me back to myself - its realigning my own stars back to the beauty and wholeness that they should be.
Maybe you can relate.
I know it feels like everything is falling apart at once. You're scrambling to pick up the pieces and feverishly glue them back together and they keep breaking and…. It’s chaos. And maybe it’s time to let go and breathe it all in and say, “Okay plan B. Okay. Maybe I'll give you a chance to bloom."
Life is full of surprises. And it doesn’t go where we think it will. Ever. And that’s terrifying and achingly painful for me at times (okay most of the time), but at the end of the day it also takes us places we would have never imagined. My plan was to sleep in the same bed forever with the same man and get into a routine. And it wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t me. I lost me. I lost the deepest parts of my heart. So now I'm sleeping in different beds, seeing different countries and faces and exquisite realms of beauty, and yes my heart still aches for the first part, but maybe this is where I need to be for now, maybe its not time for the first yet, maybe it all had to be ripped apart and destroyed for me to choose myself, because let’s be honest, I put myself, my own heart, my own health and longings and beauty as plan B, always. And then I had no other choice than to bravely yet weakly, pick plan B, and in that, I finally picked myself.
Maybe that was the whole point of Plan B. To find myself in plan B, because I was always plan B. And slowly, but surely, each moment of fear and faith, I’m learning to make myself plan A. And watching how everything somehow falls into place when that’s what’s chosen.
‘ To love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heart
thickening the air, heavy like water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think , How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.’
- Ellen Bass