You don't dare to dream because 99.99% of all your dreams have been crushed. And each time you picked yourself back up and carried on, only to be crushed again, and again, and so many times you can't remember.
Eventually you stop playing along. Dreams, if you allow yourself to have them, go about as far as next Tuesday. Possibly Friday, but let's not get too crazy.
And being alone most of the time can sometimes bring back the other barbs:
You're alone because you're boring (something my ex-husband used to take great pains to tell me, at least once a day).
You're lazy and useless (again, credit to my ex-husband, though he would usually add a few f-bombs and the c-word was a favourite name to call me).
You're alone because you don't deserve to have a normal life. Your peers from school all went to uni and got good jobs, married decent men, had children at a time that suited them. So what? You obviously didn't deserve that.
You may never have chosen to be a mother, but you are one so you don't get to have your own identity. You certainly don't get to have dreams. You don't deserve it, remember?
You can't ever put yourself first. That's just inordinately selfish.
The thing is, being open to God has taught me a lot about life and about me. There is still a tinge of regret there, because so many things were stolen from me. But now, this means I follow the path where my feet are treading and I don't have to look back, or forwards. My destination is the most amazing imaginable and travelling without any self-created map is an adventure and an extraordinary experience in trust.
Being alone can make me lonely. Or it can make me spend time thinking about my creator, and how he moves. It makes me more and more aware that 'in him we live and move and have our being.'
I am learning that it's ok to put myself first without being hit by torrents of guilt. In grace, free from guilt, I can ask how I expect to love if I don't love me?
Maybe, as St. John of the Cross seems to say in 'Dark Night of the Soul', one needs to let go of all experience and expectations and only then, in the deep, dark despair, can God really reach in and hold us, call us precious.
And whenever I think I have had it bad, which is not to deny my experiences, I look at the world and know how many more live in the depths of poverty and slavery and despair and then I think I know what I am supposed to do with all this awareness of suffering. I use it. I let God shine through my brokenness and into the brokenness of others. Not many people can do that. That is a gift.
I'm heading to the Celebrate Recovery conference in Derby in June. Another step in my adventure. I didn't know I was going until I felt the God-prompt. And when I look at my life like that, not knowing what may happen but knowing I am in the middle of an adventure, and that no matter what nothing can separate me from this love, things are ok.