This book was given to me at no cost as a member of the From Left to Write book club. This post was inspired by this book.
The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson is a book with a “What If?” type of plot. Annabelle McKay marries young and quickly, and finds herself having an affair with her husband’s mentor and best friend. Ultimately Annabelle and Jeremiah do not leave their spouses but Annabelle spends the next quarter century of her marriage to Grant thinking and fantasizing about Jeremiah on a daily basis.
I think we all play the “What If?” game, particularly when we are experiencing down or difficult times in our lives. What if I had married my long time boyfriend or “Man X”? What if I had never left my first career path? What if I had decided to major in Education in college instead of Communications?
For me, though, playing the “What If?” game doesn’t really work because when you live a life with chronic illnesses and pain, you sort of have the answer to a lot of your questions. It doesn’t matter who I married, what I chose for my profession or what I chose to major in, because in the end, I still would have wound up being sick.
What if I had not gotten sick? Well, some of the answers are easy. I would be most likely earning a six figure salary, I probably would have had more children, I would be living in a house instead of an apartment which we have outgrown. If I play the “What If?” game, I could honestly go crazy so I stopped playing it a long time ago.
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross defines the five stages of accepting a chronic illness as: 1. Denial 2. Anger 3. Depression 4. Bargaining (“If I give more to charity my diseases will go away”) and 5. Acceptance.
I’ve been going back and forth between Stages 2 and 3 for a long time now, but that’s what medication and therapy is for! I guess, subconsciously, I really am still playing the “What If?” game.
In life we make choices. You change them if you are really unhappy, or, if you feel committed to them, you do what you can to make them better. Or if you are stuck in a situation not of your choosing, you play the hand you’ve been dealt and try to live your life as best as you can. I will still continue to strive for Acceptance.