Marriage after divorce and single parenthood for close to ten years is like coming out into glaring sunlight after living in permanent semi darkness.
Until recently, the need to conform to societal expectations had been minimal if at all - I could focus exclusively on a couple of things without having to worry about that taking away from other obligations that are intrinsic to a two parent household. Raising J in the way I wanted, getting better at what I do for a living and being able to take on more challenging assignments - was all I cared about. Then there was the blog that I fed a lot of my energy into, instead of seeking out or nurturing real life social relationships.
It was a very much cocoon - closed, sometimes rather suffocating but almost always safe. I did not have to compare against the standard benchmarks of relative to peer group success. They were "them" and not in my situation. What applied to "regular" people did not apply to me because I had challenges like they did not - at least that was my way of explaining my off the grid existence. More likely than not, I needed an excuse to not deal with the additional pressures of conformity and this seemed a perfectly reasonable one.
Now, that DB, J and I are a "regular" family unit, I feel like I have been propelled into the real world after a long hiatus. The "excuses" that served me so well for almost a decade ring a little hollow. A random Linked In or Facebook Invite can force me to take stock of my life, answer the question "Am I where I should have been by now ?" and worse begin to think about how to make up for the ten year lag in short order.
While I lived in recluse for a decade, what used to be my world has moved on. Seeing as it is now is almost Rip Van Winkle-esque to me and there are days when I get overly anxious about making up for lost time forgetting to realize that no time was lost that has to now be made up. I just happened to use the time differently and am none the worse for it.
This is like meeting at an intersection after a long journey that took two travelers through entirely different routes and experiences along the way. Who they were at the time of parting ways and who they are at the time of reunion is determined by the journey each undertook. Mine was different than "theirs" and I can't trace back the path they traveled just to know what I missed while on mine.
As easy as it is for me to process this logically in my mind, getting the heart to accept it sometimes a lot harder.