I Spent My Entire 20s Building A ‘Perfect’ Life, And Then It Exploded

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“I’m in the middle of some sort of change.

A shift.

A growth (I hope).

I don’t know when or where it started.

And, I have no idea where or when it will stop.

I pray soon.

I only recently even recognized the change.

There has been a lot of emotion. Way too much emotion, actually.

Tear-filled car ride conversations to or from work, I have tried talking this out with my sister.

This profound change.

This profound anger.

Anger directed mostly at me. For choices I made before I wasn’t even old enough to know what I was doing.

I had a baby at 19. I worked and went to college. I sold my soul to stay with my son’s dad. To be a family.

We bought a house when I was 25. I had another baby at 26. I thought our life was good. We were grown. We ‘made it.’

Except we didn’t. I just didn’t know it yet.

As my marriage was crumbling – I didn’t know to what extent. Infidelity and addictions I didn’t know about yet. And, there was me, I had yet another baby a few months after my 30th birthday.

I spent my entire 20s building this ‘perfect’ life.

I had built a life, by hand, that I really thought was forever.

Then it exploded.

I had literally no idea I was going to be stuck dealing with life all alone.

I’ll be 35 very soon.

And, so far, I’ve spent my 30s building a new life.


When my marriage died I was forced to sell my marital home. I lived in one room at my mom’s with those 3 kids.

I had goals. A plan. I was running on adrenaline and pure fear of failing.

I did whatever I had to do to get where I was going.

In hindsight, I put bandaids on bullet holes.

Not knowing that most of the bullet holes were in me.

I worked. And worked. And rarely slept.

I achieved everything I planned.

All alone.

I did it.

A success.

I own a beautiful home.

My kids have beautiful bedrooms.

I have a career and an education.

I have amazing, literally amazing, friends and family.

I have everything I ever wanted.

But, the bullet holes were left untreated.

They grew and expanded.

They’re infected to the core.

They have consumed me.

For five years, I survived.

I was in fight or flight survival mode.

We do things.

We make choices.

We become these people.

Almost without knowing.

Because we’re literally just trying to survive.

Then there’s a day you wake up and realize…We survived. Yay!

But, at what cost?

Exiting fight or flight is really really hard.

I have these 3 kids. Alone. All the time.

I have to work 3 jobs to maintain a pretty basic life.

I’m always on.

There is no off. That is the cost.  There is no off.

I have to be 5-steps ahead to literally be on time.

I wanted nothing more than to put my phone on silent last night. To block out the world. But, I couldn’t – I’m always on call. Someone can call any time. And, it’s my job to answer.

My son had blood work in the morning. Even blood work requires contacting and connecting and organizing with at least three other people. The phlebotomist, the friend taking kid A to school, and the other friend taking kid B to the other school. Even blood work is a multi-step process.

I have found myself saying more and more that I’m done.

I don’t want to do this anymore.

I don’t want to do this life anymore.

Everyone has gotten a free pass to walk out of my life, for my entire life, and there are no consequences for anyone but me.

I’m tired of picking up broken pieces.

I am the definition of abandoned.

Oh, and I’m out of glue.

Five years is a long time on autopilot.

I’m not really sure how much longer it is theoretically possible to continue this grind.

Especially because there’s no attainable goal anymore.

The goals now aren’t measurable.

The goal is maintenance.

The goal is acceptance.

The goal is happiness.

The goal is peace.

Now is the hard stuff. I’m just realizing this though.

I thought the hard was done.

Turns out that the hard part isn’t getting somewhere.

It’s staying once there.

It’s sitting and working through all the stuff you ignored while surviving.

It’s finding acceptance.

Turns out the hard part is accepting.

That is where peace lives.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jacqueline Waxman. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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‘The school district took the very blunt stance, ‘It’s my way or the highway.’ Special education is under attack with little pushback.’: Special needs mom urges ‘we must draw a line in the sand’

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