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Perusing the facebook friends list of someone I used to know well, who long ago hurt me and abandoned a childhood friend for greener pastures has caused me to muse on the path not travelled. How would my life be different if.....

I had gone to the public high school instead of the one I did?

Stayed in touch with friends from before?

Not transferred from the private college far from home to the public college in my home town?

Gotten that job I applied for in my hometown?

Not moved to the big city?

Not gotten pregnant when I did and gave up my career for motherhood?

So many roads unexplored.

But I cannot rue the road I choose - even with it's blind intersections and hairpin turns. It has brought me three children I adore, who tolerate me and sometimes don't think I am the most un-cool person on the planet. A husband I love, even though I don't always understand him. A friend who gets me to the point of absurdity. A job that lets me do good in the world. 

But still I wonder - what lay on those roads unexplored? 

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You've just hit on something, JM, I've repeatedly pondered in the course of my recovery.

I've wondered, for example, what if my adopted Dad and his second wife - the only ones to treat me well - had custody of young Mark instead of a gold-digging narcissist who tortured me for years.  For one, I could have gone to a private school and probably not have had so many issues with my self-confidence.  otoh, they split when I was in my mid-teens.

The whole scenario was particularly painful for me - tears and all - when I got down to dealing with my childhood several years ago.

The other one concerns a guy I dated in DC who worked for Treasury and had a brain the size of a planet.  He eventually settled in Seattle.  I moved back to Florida and broke his heart.  Given my issues, I don't think it would have worked.in the long run - so much healthier that it would have been for me - and I wouldn't have made Florida my home.

You've been able to do something I haven't.  I haven't necessarily come to peace with my path.

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"At a crossroads"? Yes! I want to play. And so does my Depression but please, don't take it's comments so seriously. 

Choice #1: attend the High School of Performing Arts as violinist OR High School of Science with the smart kids. My choice: Science! Depression says: could've been a professional musician, instead you're a piece of crap with a useless degree. 

Choice #2: remain in NYC, marry that sweetie with a rich stockbroker father OR move everything I own to California and try to break into the tech industry. My choice: California! Depression says: and now you are an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone.

In spite of what Depression says, I cannot rue the roads I chose.

Tryouts for Performing Arts meant an entire day of anxiety-fueling competition and elimination. Although I was selected the experience revealed how I didn't love violin or performing enough to want to compete in music. Still, what if? 🎻

Taking a risk by moving to CA in my 20s was following a dream and I did get a career in tech. I love where I live. I wish I didn't break someone's heart to follow my own and to-date, I haven't been with anyone I was that close to marrying. Had I stayed, perhaps I would have a wife, children, house in the burbs, maybe ponies? 

Then there's mental illness. Do you wonder how it would have figured in and played out, given different decisions? I lack the requisite imagination to answer that for myself, apparently. In my musings the road not taken always appears greener, never overgrown with weeds. 

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Good topic and good points by everyone!

I used to have a lot of "what if" thoughts and feelings . . . but that time seems to have passed for me.  I don't know how to describe it, but it is like everything had to happen as it did happen for me to be in this place I am right now.  It is as though I have been doing an oil painting.  Some brush strokes didn't seem right at the time but now I see how they were essential to the painting and I would never go back.  Maybe that doesn't make any sense.

A long time ago I saw the movie "Schindler's List" and that led me to read biographies of him.  Reading his biography I see how many apparently wrong turns he made or right turns that didn't turn out as expected.  There were a lot of dead end streets and he made a lot of u-turns.  Often big things did not turn out all that well and some things turned out pretty dreadful.  But at some point in his life he saved the lives of thousands of people who without him, were destined for extermination camps.  And it might sound strange, but it seems like he got to where he had to go with his life. 

I have felt like my life, so very, very unlike his, also went right.  Sometimes it is the manure that makes the flowers grow.  Sometimes I got manure instead of gold but that seems like it was a great good fortune in the long run, if that makes sense.   - epictetus

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I use to think a lot about the “what ifs” and it added to my depression. For me, it would just drive me crazy and interfere with my living in today. The past is something I can’t change. However, I can do as well as I can today so that I’m also investing in my future days. 


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