I want to let you in on a little secret…sometimes I think that I can’t make a decision to save my life. Like literally, if I was hanging off a cliff, I’d probably still be debating my options – would it be better to just take my chances and drop or should I try grabbing for that nearby branch? How about yelling for help? No wait, just how hard is the fall going to be anyway? I mean, if there’s a 50/50 chance, maybe that’s the best thing to do. Hmm…let me just hang here until I figure it out.
It’s the most nonsensical thing about me (well that and my near inability to say no). Both of these things are legacy gifts from my mother. From the time I was a small child, I was programmed to weigh every decision from someone else’s perspective. If I wanted to go to my Granny’s house, my mind would immediately start the chess moves. Does mom want me to go to Granny’s house? If not, how can I get her to want me to go there so that I can go without incident? As I got older, it became an even more complex version of the same game. For everything that I even thought I might want to do, I had to present it to my mom as if I were defending a dissertation, and always, always there would be a zillion questions afterward, all designed to make me NOT WANT this thing that I actually thought I wanted.
So yeah, I have issues with decision making. It’s hard. I know it. I’m working on it. That’s the best I can do right now.
Which brings me to the present.
Every single thing in my life right now requires the one thing that I suck the most at – making and sticking with a decision. My lease is up in less than a month and I need to choose a place to live, but here’s how that internal dialogue goes:
The rent is way too high in XYZ-town and I don’t want to worry about money, but I have friends there and it’s familiar. Yes, but the rent is cheaper in ABC-ville, and it’s just a few hours from XYZ, so you can visit. OH GOD! I won’t know anyone there! And I won’t have my dad and step-mom to go to when I’m feeling down. Maybe I should stay here. I can’t stay here. My mom is here and the last thing I want is to get sucked back into that again. Well, ABC-ville is a just a day’s drive from here, you can come visit. Yes, but will I? And what about that van?? Oh that thing – the van you bought on a whim and now won’t drive because you’re afraid of it breaking down. Well, of course you should sell it! But, I’ve never even camped in it! Who cares, get rid of it. Put the money back in the bank and stop worrying about it. Yes, but…my dad…we’ve connected over that van. Shouldn’t I at least try it out? Nope, everyone but your dad says sell it, so that’s how it’s gotta be.
So last week I put the van up for sale and put a deposit on a place in ABC-ville. This week, my application for the apartment in ABC-ville got approved and I took the van off-line and started making curtains for it. The other night, I got a message from someone who saw the van when it was online and was interested in buying it, but instead of telling him “no, sorry”, I answered him back and told him to let me know what worked best for a test drive. Then the next morning I got up wondering if moving to ABC-ville was even what I really wanted to do.
Usually when I have difficult decisions to make, I make a list of the pros and cons (I did that) and then, after all the talking and debating, I just go with my gut. My gut is usually the best indicator of what I truly want, but my gut has been wrenched into a pretzel and it’s not functioning properly at all right now. It wants to choose comfort over courage, and that might be alright, except that in this time when I shouldn’t be making any major decisions, I have to. There’s no option not to, because even if I say screw it all, I’m doing something entirely different than any of this, that’s a decision, and I have to figure out what that looks like before the 24th day of September.
But the thing is, I don’t want to start a whole new life. I like the one I worked to build already. I didn’t like what it became here in Tennessee, with my mom controlling so much of it, and I certainly don’t like what has happened with me and Angie, or the fact that I feel unable to decide anything anymore, but there’s still so much I do like. And so much I still want to do. And a lot of things I just simply want to do better.
So, the other night I did something I haven’t done in nearly 20 years. I sat down in a chair and talked out loud (or prayed, if you will) to the Universe (or God) for direction and guidance. I tried to unburden my heart of all the weight I was carrying and I wish that I could say that I felt it lifting or that I knew which choice to make, but you already know that’s not the case. I do understand that it takes time. I also understand that every decision made can just as easily be unmade. (I’m probably an expert on that particular topic actually.) I understand fear and how it makes you powerless to act. But I’m not sure these things are the problem. Because the one thing that I walked away with from my chat with the Universe was yet another question:
For whom am I trying to make these decisions in the first place?
It was as if someone had looked over my pros and cons list and made notes (with a red pen, of course) in the margins that said, “where are YOU in all this?” And honestly, I don’t know.
For years, I allowed a toxic person to dictate my life and I felt powerless to do anything about it…because that toxic person was my mother. It has been 39 days today since I last spoke to her, and as incredibly hard as I always thought it would be to walk away from her, it just hasn’t been. I’m not going to pretend that I made that decision all on my own and I’m certainly not discounting the fact that it took a bomb going off in my life to make it happen, but the lightness I feel not being around her is something I would never have expected. The doors that have opened since, I would not have expected either. And the fact that of all the decisions I’m agonizing over right now, she is not one of them, speaks volumes to me. Yes, it was a painful process. It’s still a painful process, trying to unlearn these learned behaviors that my mom so thoughtfully gifted me.
Maybe that’s the real lesson in all this. Maybe I’m the one overcomplicating things (again). Maybe what happens next isn’t going to be anything I would have expected. And maybe that’s okay.
Maybe I can’t decide what to do with the van or where to live because these seemingly big decisions might be small things to other people, but because I’m me, I think the fate of the world rests in each one. So maybe, I just need to take a step back and look at the wider view. Because when all is said and done, van or no van, ABC or XYZ, these are my decisions to make and I have to make them for me.