I’ve been feeling sorry for myself lately. Feeling sorry about all the things that I DON”T have. For years now I have been watching my friends and seeing all the things, and opportunities that they have and feeling bad that I haven’t had the same. I had one room-mate who got to participate in all kinds of sports and extra activities throughout college and high school. I did high school alone in my bedroom without even a teacher. Even in college I was supporting myself, working, and couldn’t afford to do anything except just what I needed to do to graduate.
I wished I had, had the same opportunity that she had through those experiences.
I had another room-mate whose parents paid to put her through all of her schooling including graduate school so that she could just focus on classes and grades. She had time to cook meals, sit at home and read books just for fun, and had a nice relaxing schedule with out the stress of worrying about how she was going to make the rent or her car payment. She had money for nice clothes and all the extras.
I wished I had, had that. But I had to accept that my past was different from theirs. My family was different from theirs. And it was ok because I had things they didn’t have. I knew my way around a kitchen because I had done so much cooking when I lived at home. I knew what if felt like to have dozens of brothers and sisters that I would do just about anything for. I had experiences and memories that were different from theirs but no less meaningful. In fact I wouldn’t have traded them for the world.
But I thought my future would be different.
One by one I watched my friends get married. They each had the beautiful wedding dresses, were married in the temple, were greeted by cheering family and friends when they came out. They had beautiful receptions and romantic honeymoons. And I thought that one day I would have all of that too.
I imagined myself marrying a handsome, return missionary, with a degree, and a good job. I imagined settling into our own home and starting a family. I imagined Sunday dinner with the in-laws who would probably get on my nerves by being a little too involved in our lives. I imagined coming out of our bathroom one morning and announcing to my husband that we were expecting a baby and seeing the surprise and joy on his face. And it didn’t seem too far out there.
Then I fell in love and got married. I got married in Uganda. No one in my family was present and none of my friends were there. We were married in a chapel instead of the temple because that is the way it is done in Uganda. The wedding, the reception, everything was beautiful and I was so happy but it was nothing like I had imagined.
After the wedding we went back to Joseph’s apartment and he went back to work. There was no honeymoon, in fact in that first week it seemed I rarely saw him before 9 pm. Next thing I knew I was squatting in a dark dingy outhouse trying to pee into a tiny dirty cup while keeping a terrified eye on the many cockroaches by the light that the small crack in the door afforded. I prayed the test would be negative. Not because I didn’t want to be pregnant but because I didn’t want to find out in this way.
“Hey!” the doc shouted from the other room. “Do you guys want to know the results of the test?” Joseph and I stood by expectantly. “It’s negative, there is nothing there.” the doctor said callously. “Now where is my money?”
Joseph paid and we left.
We found out later that we were in fact pregnant and the situation surrounding that test was much better. As I became sick and then returned home to carry the baby and prepare for its birth here I started feeling really bad about all the things that I didn’t have.
I watched my friends with their husbands and it didn’t seem fair. As the pregnancy progressed and I heard the heart beat, saw the ultra sound all with out Joseph, I felt sorry for myself. When I continued to get bigger and the weeks went by one at a time and I realized that Joseph was going to miss all of it. I wanted to cry. When we passed our six month anniversary I felt cheated. I wanted to spend my first year of marriage with my husband. I wanted him to get to experience all these things with me and I wanted time with him before our baby was born. I see my pregnant friends resting and focusing on taking care of themselves and their babies, and I am doing 13 credits of school and working trying to support myself, prepare for our baby, pay visa fees, and plan for our future on my own.
When we were denied the visitors visa and I realized that I would give birth to this baby without him and might not see him in a very long time I felt abandoned and a little angry.
But today I don’t feel any of those things. I realized today that all those things are hard because I am comparing my circumstances to others. I am looking at what other people have and assuming that somehow I deserve the same things. I realized that it’s all part of a package. I can’t demand all the same things my friends had growing up without giving up my own upbringing. And I wouldn’t trade them for the world. All the financial support and extra curricular activities in the world would never match up to what my family gave me.
The path I am walking now with Joseph comes as a package as well. Our experiences in Uganda, the sweet love letters that my husband and I write to each other on a regular basis, the strength and experience we have gained from this separation, everything about our marriage and our lives together is ours. It all comes together, the good with the bad.
And when you stop looking at others and thinking about what SHOULD be. You can start to see the beauty of what IS. So when I do see my husband again, and have the opportunity to place our first-born child in his arms, I will know that this is OUR experience and that THIS is how it SHOULD be.