Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.
If I had not decided then and with full certainty that I would return to America, I would have continued to struggle in all areas of my life. It was August 1998 and I was in a state of spiraling decline. Debt collectors were calling, relationships were plenty and short-lived and my job was hanging by a thread (not through any fault of my own; it was a company-wide threat). Too many times, I was brought to my knees on the living room floor, sobbing; wracked with fear, shame, sorrow, loneliness and confusion at the age of twenty-eight, feeling as though I had no-one to turn to.
If I had not changed my life path so radically, I would have been forced to search for another job in another office with another keyboard to tap at. No doubt I would have stepped into another ill-advised romance with some man onto whom I thought I could pin my hopes and dreams. My pay would have been far less than my previous job and so I would have had to foreclose on my lovely new flat and move to a bedsit. My car was old and I would not have been able to afford to get it fixed (it needed a lot of work) nor would I have had the money to buy a new used one. But, public transport in England is highly populated so taking buses would not have been a problem. I had a lot of credit card debt so bankruptcy might have still been a viable option unless I could have found a way to pay them off gradually. However I lacked discipline and clarity and would have taken the easy route without learning any sort of lesson at all.
I do not think I would have been content. And likely would not have quit smoking even though I certainly couldn’t afford it. I might’ve splurged with the occasional batch of weed or if it wasn’t available, I would have pushed all of my problems to a remote corner of the mind with alcohol. Would I have married and had other children? That’s a tough one to envision. I don’t believe I would’ve met anyone that shared a mutual level of sustained attraction. However if I did, it wouldn’t have lasted and it’s likely that I’d have one child and become a single parent.
It would have been a tough life.
Fifteen years later I see through wiser eyes that I did have friends that would have supported me but I was very much withdrawn and in such a dark place that being alone and desperate felt like home. And no matter if they did help in one way or another, it was destined that I sink down as far as possible in order to gasp up through the surface with a life-changing decision. And it was the best one I have ever made.