“What’s your story?” You know the one you are not sharing with anyone; perhaps you don’t even know it’s something to share. Everyone has a story. A story that affects what you do, and how you behave.
This is part of my “story,” what helped shape me.
I can remember being in elementary school and someone asking what I would want life to be like when I am sixty. I matter-of-factly said I can’t imagine ever being that old. I’m betting he just thought it was because I was a child and that sixty seemed old. In reality, it was because I thought I would not live past thirty.
As I revealed in my last blog, I grew up with my dad having died when I was three months old. I want to discuss a way that his death seems to have affected me: I grew up believing that I would not outlive the age my father lived. He died a week before his thirtieth birthday.
The goals and dreams I had for myself always had an end date. I truly thought that by February 15, 2012, I would be dead. Let me clarify, I did not want to die by age thirty, I just felt that I would. For me, this caused a great drive to succeed and accomplish things at a younger age. I married a month before turning twenty-two. I had my first child at twenty-four and my second at twenty-seven. I strove to make a positive difference in the world at a young age (something I continue to strive for).
At one point, I remember discovering my older sister felt the same way. I was flipping through channels one day and saw Oprah was on. The whole episode was about children (now adults) who feared dying at the same age their parents died. I couldn’t believe that others felt the same way. I immediately called my sister and told her what I was watching. I then admitted I had always felt I would not see thirty. I was shocked to hear she felt the same way.
When she turned thirty, she threw a huge party. She had made it past the feared age! Instead of relief, fear then settled in that my dad was the second child (and I’m told I very much take after him), and therefore my sister made it because she was the firstborn. The rational side of me knew it was ridiculous but a part of me still feared that I would not see thirty and I would leave my children motherless. I even talked to my husband about how he would need to find a good mother for them.
The fear was a constant companion. I have had many medical tests done fearing the worst and finding nothing.
In 2011, I went ahead with the “plan” of having my kids three years apart (and we wanted three kids). Once pregnant with my third, I realized that I would be pregnant when I turned thirty. This took away some of my fear of turning thirty as I truly felt my baby would be okay. I did not throw a huge party but quietly took in the day with my husband and kids. I had made it!
I still worry about aches and pains more than many. My husband would say I’m still a hypochondriac. But, I don’t regret where my fear took me. I wouldn’t trade where my choices led me.
I frequently wonder what the story is of the kids I’m working with. That’s part of my job-to help them find it.
I’d love to hear your story!
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!