Do You Have the Courage to Choose?

I thought hard things happened to other people; people outside of my circle, distant from my life. For my first 30 years or so, that was true. Hard and sad things happened, but they didn’t deeply affect my close circle of family or friends. I empathized as best I could, but I didn’t get it.

Then it was my turn.

In a swift and dizzying series of events, my marriage and life fell apart in 48 hours. Almost everything I knew changed.  I felt scared, confused, alone, and deeply hurt. I felt hopeless. My life didn’t feel hard, it felt insurmountable.

I had nothing but questions. What do I do? Can I run from this? What would numb this pain? Where will we live? Where should I work? What am I good at? Who am I? How am I going to raise these kids? What do the kids need? How do I go on? Is this life worth living? Will I ever be happy again?

I needed help. I searched for answers. I wanted someone to tell me what to do.  Someone to fix it, to fix me. I looked online, I took a few courses, I consulted friends, both old and new. I gathered others’ experiences and stories, failures and successes. People encouraged me, counseled me, and loved me. Over time, little by little, it became clearer.

I did not have the “one right answer.” It did not exist. I could not be fixed. Neither could my life.

What I did have was a choice. One choice after another.  Small choices, seemingly insignificant, but collectively course altering. They are choices we all have. Choices that had been there all along. I could choose to stay mad, stay stuck, and stay hopeless. Or I could take my giant mess and choose to look at the opportunities before me. Opportunities to ask hard questions, to own who I am and how I got here, to grow, to find my joy, to change my course, to rebuild my family, to live my life in a more whole, healthy, authentic way.

It was up to me to decide. My voice, my preferences, my values, my talents; it all mattered. Over time, one step at a time, I realized I could do it. That changed everything.

I started this blog 2 years ago when I learned of another woman going through a difficult time like mine. I felt compelled to say to her, “I see you, things are hard, I get it, you can do this.  I too have had hard stuff happen, and I am still okay. You will be okay too. You have a choice, this could be great.”

This is why I write.  I have had so many wonderful people encourage me.  They have told me that they hear my voice, and they believe in it.  They have shown me options and waited patiently while I wrestled with my ability to choose them.  They have seen things in me that I can’t always see in myself, and keep reminding me when the mirror gets foggy.  They stand in the gap when my courage wanes. I want to stand in the gap for others.  I am willing to share the messy, painful truth of my own journey.  Not the glossed over version. In doing so, I can encourage and empower others. I’m going to remind you that life is amazing, mysterious, and challenging. You have it in you.  You can do it too; believe that there is more.  More risk, heartache, joy, freedom, beauty, depth…all of it. It is worth it.

Not despite the hard things, but because of them. Choose it.