this is a series of essays exploring the lives i could have—and in some cases, almost did—live, but didn't. this life looks nothing like how i thought it would, and for that, i am so thankful.
get engaged at twenty-three, to a Nice Christian Boy from your hometown who wants you to follow his dreams. spend Sunday mornings at an evangelical Christian church, singing in the worship band. go to bible study on Wednesday evenings, prayer meetings on Friday mornings, church retreats in the summer.
sit still, look pretty. let him convince you that being a “career woman” is a bad thing, and that your ambition and adventurous spirit is a worldly evil which will ruin you. keep quiet about the whole "radical feminism" thing, as he calls it. attend weekly church sermons where the pastor will tell you that abortion is evil, that women are secondary, that the fire in your soul is a sin, and that this lifelong dopamine fast is the only way to heaven.
find your role models in women who also chose this life—those who had the beautiful church weddings, spend their weekends making dishes for the church potluck, and sacrificed their careers to avoid outshining their husbands. they're modest, quiet, self-sacrificing, and humble. they don't reach too far or dream too big. they find their purpose in serving the Lord and their husbands.
attempt to be what is ostensibly a good Christian wife. live in perpetual guilt that you will never live up to the woman from Proverbs 31:10-31—you're too loud, too unapologetic, too ambitious. you don't know how to use a spindle or serve your husband in feminine silence. you're never going to be enough.
have kids you didn't even want at the age of twenty-six, because that‘s what good Christian women do. spend your existence disappointing his mother, who has spent her whole life praying for her son's Good Christian Wife™ to be given to him, like a cow is given to a tradesman in 1835. disappoint your pastor, who wants the women in his congregation to be quiet and complacent. disappoint the other women in your bible study group, who outwardly excel at being good Christian wives and gossip about your failures behind your back. disappoint your friends, all couples you met through your church life group. they're the only friends you have. disappoint your husband, who wanted you to be something that you were never meant to be.
disappoint yourself. smash the hopes and dreams of your nineteen-year-old self, who wanted to live a wild life, one worth telling stories about.
disappear quietly, just like they always wanted.