Everything terrifying is, in its deepest being, something helpless that wants our help.
-Rainier Maria Rilke
All of our choices have consequences.
This we know in our logical minds. But so often we forget, we have a choice as our emotions run wild. I know as I have done this - avoiding, numbing, pondering, running, seeking - just to avoid making a decision. As much as we value and need other's guidance, we are the ones that have to live the aftermath.
You get to decide in this moment, and the next,
and the next.
Some choices are relatively benign and start the moment we open our eyes - like choosing to stay in bed an extra 20 minutes (been doing this a lot this summer) - to then rush around later. A great choice to have. We could choose to eat carmel salted gelato everyday, but we would have to pay for it. Still - a nice (but unhealthy) choice to have. Of course, we don't get to choose our parents, our gender, or our race. Or do we?
But some choices are big - such as staying home to raise your kids (or going back to work), changing jobs, careers, or moving across the country, going back to school, or deciding to say goodbye a friendship or relationship that is no longer working. Some are surely enormous - like changing our mindsets and life-long patterns. Or reconstructing a life we've come to know and is comfortable and safe. Change is hard - but it's the only definite thing we know for sure.
Most of us are blessed to have the option of choice. As there are many who do not have an alternative. We are fortunate.
But the choices can be so overwhelming, we feel paralyzed.
Initially, I struggled deeply about the decision to stay home with my children. It lasted for many years. I often heard (from other women), " You are far too smart." This - I do not regret at all. My oldest is now 16, and I know how fleeting this time together is. But it did not come without a cost, as I try to re-establish my identity in the working world. A part that I often grapple with is that we, as women, judge not only ourselves harshly about our choices, but we often judge each other. I wish I had an answer of how to stop this, but truly I have been exposed to less and less of this as my children have gotten older. Honestly - I am in awe of how other women balance it all. As my own journey has gotten more windy and messy, I choose to be less judgmental and more compassionate of all women. It's hard for all of us - no matter what choices we've made.
I was recently reminded by my therapist I have a choice - a choice to believe I will be okay, and for some reason, the way it was expressed, I received it differently. For all my spiritual inner work, I only kept forgetting this - my power and right to take ownership of my life. But truthfully, I was terrified of making the wrong decision - not knowing what lies ahead. I wanted to see the whole staircase before taking the first step. With so much at stake, our choices and decisions get more muddied. Uncertainty, fear, and resistance keep us all stuck. And I was stuck. I am still stuck - but patiently waiting for the answers to arrive and some clarity, because I know it will hang over me until I do.
Not making a choice is a choice.
My marriage is far from perfect; and some days, I am not sure we’re going to make it. There are times that I am so restless I want to jump out of my skin, but I am smiling. I am smiling because it’s all I know. It’s a sometimes foolish attempt to pretend I have it all together. But I don't. We are at a crossroads, and admitting it here, is brave - to say the least. A decision has to be made, but one thing, I am most certain of, it can not exist in its present state. We are both growing, but it may be apart.
It may be together.
Sometimes our whole life has to come tumbling down, so we will be forced to make a choice to rebuild something different and new. At some point, we will all be faced with hard decisions. But please, don't fall for the untruth that we have no choice about it. One of the things that has carried me through in difficult times that no matter what has happened in my life the choice of how to respond is mine - no one else's. Life is generally what we make of it.
As the Japanese Proverb says, "Fall seven times, stand up eight."
The most important choice is to begin again once we have seemingly wandered, and to know that it is truly part of the journey to getting us where we need to be.
And to become the women we are meant to be.