fantasy and reality

I have this kind of default way of thinking about my life that I’ve been trying to resist for a while now.  I seem to always be living in the next step, living in the fantasy of the next day.  So much more of my energy seems to go to tomorrow, or next week, or when X happens, and so much less of it seems to go to today, right now, this moment, my life as it is.

Often, the thing that I see as missing in my life will take on some kind of magical quality.  Kate Harding calls this the Fantasy of Being Thin, but it can be the fantasy of getting married, being rich, having a baby, or just about anything that takes on this quality of “my life will be perfect if only X.”  I remember as far back as middle school, thinking about a classmate of mine, “What does she have to be unhappy about?  She’s got a BOYFRIEND.”  After all, that was all MY life was missing, wasn’t it?  If I had a BOYFRIEND then I would never be unhappy again.  All of my other problems would just fade away.  (Though looking back, of course, this over-focus on a boyfriend was a convenient and safe way to avoid facing some of the real dysfunction and pain in my life at home.)

A while back I started realizing how much I wasn’t living, how much my life was on hold.  I was just waiting for the magical baby to arrive (shortly preceded, of course, by the magical pregnancy).  I think since I got married, all of my energy has been so focused on “when I get pregnant” or “when I have a baby.”  (This, too, has been to avoid facing some pain and dysfunction, but that’s a story for another day.)  Since being married, my professional life hasn’t exactly gone as I would like it to and I haven’t put nearly as much effort or energy into friendships as I used to.  I’ve been lonely, bored, and disconnected.  All of this was ok, though, because pregnancy and baby were right around the corner, I just had to hang in there a little longer.  So I didn’t really put much energy into my life, I just kind of numbed out and hung all my hopes on the magical baby.

I have been learning, slowly but surely, two steps forward, 1.5 steps back, to live my life as it is, not as my fantasies would have it.  This can be hard, as the here and now is often so painful.  Recently I read this piece in Exhale magazine, and it really spoke to me.  The author says:

“No babies are going to solve my problems, or return to me what I feel I am ‘owed.'”

Real life doesn’t start when I get a boyfriend, or get married, or get pregnant, or have a baby.  Though it may be full of pain and dysfunction, real life is right now.


11 responses to “fantasy and reality

  1. This is soo soo true for me too. Thanks for reminding me to live in the moment.


  2. So many religions and philosophies speak to this. I try to practice mindfulness every day (ala Thich Nhat Hahn), and my meditation is this:

    I am here, now. I am [insert location] now. I am full/complete/healthy/happy now.

    Stress on the word “now.” It sounds corny, but it really destresses me. When my mind wants to wander to what I have to do later, or how I wish my life was, I bring it back to where I am, how I am, and what I’m doing NOW (ala the Baal Shem Tov). Being present is a challenge of humanity, and I like to think that it is something that ties us all together.

  3. I needed this reminder today. I, too, have been planning my todays based on what I wanted in the future. It doesn’t tend to work out that well. I’ve been planning my life around my someday baby for years. I see now that I’ve missed a lot of opportunities for enjoying today. But, I must admit that there’s still a part of me that secretly does that every month.


  4. Fabulous post. So many people fritter away their lives waiting for the next thing to happen and forget about what they already have.

    Looking back, it’s hilarious to think that dating a teenage boy would be the answer to anyone’s problems!

  5. it’s hard. we want to think about and plan for the future, but we also need to live in the moment. it sucks sometimes. 😦

  6. I have only just come across your blog.

    I can so relate to the things that you are having to face. We have been trying to sell our house for nearly two years, trying to have a baby for just over two and a half years and in that time I managed to put on two stone in weight.

    I’m very aware of how I am living for the future, for the time when we will sell our house and we will have the baby that we are so desperate for. I often say to my husband that I am wasting my 30s thinking and worrying about all of this crap but I find it so difficult to live for the moment.

  7. Awesome post. (I found you on LFCA and voted for you on Kirtsy.)
    I can totally relate. It’s easy to get stuck in a sort of zombie-like existence, waiting for something to happen. Before I know it, years have passed and I haven’t really lived them. I’m trying to work on this and make happy memories in these years of waiting.
    Thanks for sharing this so beautifully!

  8. I, too, was struck by how much your post hit close to home. I definitely feel like I’m in a holding pattern waiting for the arrival of the mythical baby to break us free from that. Both my husband and I would love to look for new jobs (economy aside), but feel like we can’t as he has great insurance that covers our treatments and I don’t want to start a new job “in case I get pregnant.” We want to move to a different city (or even out to the more rural area around our current city) but don’t want to leave or be hours away from our clinic. Even small things become caught up in the equation – I don’t think I’ve purchased new clothes in well over a year…wait for it…in case I get pregnant.

    Thanks for writing this and reminding me that real life is real now.

  9. I feel I have finally reached this point where I do not plan around my future maybe baby. And for a while I also planned everything around my future house. Like vacations we never took while TTC, I didn’t buy things I really wanted because I was holding off for when we owned a home and had the space and freedom to do with it as we pleased.
    I think I am learning to embrace NOW and make myself happy with things I have or can have now.

  10. Are you in my head?

    So much of what you wrote is so true for me. I, too, struggle with living in the now. I am a “planner” by nature, and hate it when things don’t go according to plan. IF is just another one of those curveballs — the result being I just keep planning for what is going to happen next.

    I love your quote. I saw another one on a blog a week or so ago (I wish I could remember which one). The gist of it was, if I can’t be enough without my baby now, how can I be enough for my baby? It ties in perfectly with what you are saying and it is going to be my focus for the next year.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. I love this post. I’ve seen (and written) about this same sentiment a lot lately, and I think it’s a wonderful movement. I really enjoyed the piece you linked to, as well.

    Also, I’m stealing FatChick’s mantra.

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