Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Kicking the Shit out of Option B

 "I promise to do all I can to kick the shit out of option B."

Those are not my words, they are Sheryl Sandberg's (Facebook COO and author of Lean In), but I feel them to my core. I heard them weeks ago and they have been swimming in my subconscious ever since, a chorus at times when I see them playing out in my daily life. I had to face life's Option B the day Warren left this world. It was unexpected, horrific, heartbreaking and defied everything I thought I knew about love and life. 

I was not prepared to face the rest of my life void of the plans and vision he and I had set for ourselves, our marriage, and our family. We had been a unit for ten years. He had been my rock since the day I agreed to go on a date with him. Ours was an instant bond, a spark that although sometimes dulled in the stress of every day, it never went dark between us. There was no one I'd rather be with (most days) and no one who gave me the kind of unwavering love that asked for nothing in return. 

As a couple of over-achievers, we aspired for more because of one another. We wanted to make our other half proud. We strived to be worthy of the kind of love we shared because we knew it was rare. In the spirit of that sentiment, we constantly planned for our future. Often Warren was the visionary, seeing where he wanted to be five, even ten years down the line. I was the more grounded of us. I asked the questions, but believed in his answers. We worked out the details together. I could go on and on about all the things we were supposed to do. The problem is, that won't get me anywhere. There were places we wanted to live, cities we wanted to explore, concerts we wanted to share, business ventures we wanted to pursue. Before you say, "But Christina, you can still do them for him...blah, blah, blah..." take a moment to consider that those options, I'll call them Option A, are not what I want for myself. They are great, they have promise and they were exciting and attainable when we were facing them as a couple. On my own, they are part of a life that I cannot cling to. They represent a life that isn't meant to be. Holding on to old dreams takes away from what we had, as though they can be easily replicated. They cannot.

Can I move on my own? Sure. Can I visit those cities we wanted to explore? Of course. Can I start one of those businesses we mapped out during all those late nights? Probably. But I don't want to. They weren't my Option A, they were our Option A. They worked because we each had a role to play to make them happen, and we were going to do them together. He brought his ying, I brought my yang. It wasn't just for me, or for him. Option A was the evolution of a life planned together. 

When he died, Option A went with him. It tried to stick around. I often told myself that I could still do all those things, that I would do them for him. The truth is, most of our plans are not attainable in my new reality. Aside from logistics like a single income and raising a child on my own, they required his talents, focus and belief. I don't have enough inner motivation to face what should have been in the wake of what will never be. No matter how it turns out, it will never be as it was supposed to be. It will be a fabricated version, an adjustment that I am not willing to concede to. I don't want the scraps of Option A, and that is what it would feel like with just my 50% brought to it. There's no way to add his charisma, die-hard faith and optimism. There would be no Warren to push me when I am stuck, or show me another way when all I see are the obstacles. My rock will not be there to push away the barriers that are inevitable when pursuing life's goals. There is only me, with my memories of how and why Option A was best, and my will to make it work the way we envisioned it. That is not enough. I am not the woman I was when I was his other half. That woman died with Warren and the one that is left is still re-building and getting to know herself. She has a different life. Her needs have changed. She is stronger, yet never been as fragile. She is tough, yet raw to the touch. She has a fierceness that doesn't negate her fears. 

This new life requires new options. I have to think about life as a single mother of a growing girl. I am all she has of the family that promised to love her, keep her safe and happy every day of her life. Her needs fall on my shoulders. Her future depends on my choices. Because of her and the life I want for us, I have to have different options, goals that reflect the new life we live. It's time for Option B.

Option B is a work in progress. It is forming every day as I discover new facets of who I am, of what I can accomplish, and what I want. Option B involves bittersweet memories and a desire to honor the memory of the most visionary person I ever knew. But it also has elements of survival, new skills, and is shaped by a different approach to my purpose in life. It comes with the sadness of knowing it isn't the original plan, but carries the excitement of newness and possibility. It may not be as clear as Option A once was, but I know one thing is certain about Option B: I am going to kick the shit out of it. I am going to make it awesome, and Warren will be proud, wherever Option B takes me.

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