There are some problems in my life, such as inability to make choices, making fight-or-flight mode my home (nesting in freeze), the struggle to communicate what I want, finding b a l a n c e ... all that stuff, I imagined was just problems reserved for people in their 20s.
It turns out, as I learn more about the world and listen to those 10+ years older than myself, that life doesn't get easier.
The problems, such as making choices or communicating well with others, don't go away. They just transfer. The problem you had making a choice about where to move when you were 23 becomes the choice you're trying to make for your ten-year-old child and whether you should homeschool or keep him in a public school in your 40s. He has severe anxiety and the whole mask thing isn't helping. Should we pull him out of school? I don't know honey, your husband will say, what about his social skills? Will they suffer? He has siblings, but all they do is play video games. Why is Alicia always on her phone???? Should we take her phone away? No, that's too harsh. Let's just ban her from TikTok for 24 hours, that should be enough.
Always gonna have more choices to make.
So what can we do about lessening the anxiety of making the "right" choice? Because IF WE DON'T MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE NOW, LIFE WILL BE BROKEN FOREVER AND YOU'LL SLOWLY WILT AWAY ON A HEAP OF BITTER ASH IN YOUR MID-50s BECAUSE YOU CHOSE TO STAY IN BURNSVILLE INSTEAD OF MOVING TO CHICAGO??? CHICAGO, SANDY!!!!
Well, Sandy, that opportunity is gone now. Chicago came and went, along with all the showgirls. And it's over. You missed your opportunity because life dealt you different circumstances that rendered you unable to decide to move to Chicago at that time.
I was reading a book the other day that likened having a child with a disability to the idea of travel. She said, "Having a child with a disability, that you obviously didn't plan for, is like thinking you're going to Italy."
Delicious red-wine-and-pasta Italy! You think that's where you're going, and you just cannot wait for the plane to land so you can step off and into the ancient city of Italy. Except there's just one problem: you land and you're not in Italy. The sign says Welcome to Holland.
Holland??? That's not where I thought I was going. What happened to Italy?
The flight attendant looks at you with a cavalier side smile and says, "I'm sorry ma'am, this was the plane for Holland. You're in Holland now."
And that's what it's like, the book described, it's like landing in Holland when you thought you were going to Italy. The beautiful part about it, she says, is that you eventually leave the airport, walk out onto the street, and realize that Holland is quite the place. Quirky, different, and endlessly interesting. Not adjectives you thought you'd be using to describe your destination, but nonetheless, a whole new adventure.
This whole Italy-Holland situation (classic mix-up) is somewhat comforting to me as I move forward in my life, making choices. There are so many of them, like whack-a-mole, they just keep popping up and I'm here in the dimly-lit game room sweating trying to smack as many moles popping up as possible. When the game ends, I see that Mak_5869 is still in the number one spot.
What's even more embarrassing is that moles can't even see very well, like an old blind dog, they have to rely on smell because their hair is so long that it covers their eyes and they just decide not to use them very much anymore.
Awesome, so now I'm competing against a blind mole, and it's still winning. That is, against me. Apparently not Mak_5869.
After all of that imagery, the thing I'm trying to communicate (I struggle with communication, as my man-friend aka partner aka life-person aka, "person" aka love, or any other term besides boyfriend because I feel like a 3 yr old when I say that term, is that life choices will keep coming at us. Sometimes in clusters and sometimes as one-offs (a la carte?)
But the choices and its sidekick evil-brainchild anxiety comes with it, like a little annoying tag-along.
How can we lessen the stress and anxiety of making choices?
I had to consult my other sources on this one because I severely need help myself. But this is what I found on the internet.
It's normal to feel indecisive. Stressing about your indecision will only tire you out more.
The bathroom floor is always there for late-night conversations like in Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love, but what did the Voice of Reason say to her while she was crying on the bathroom floor? Go to bed, Liz. So this second item is a reminder to get some sleep, your problems will surely surface the following day, and each day you'll get closer to making the right choice for you.
The world isn't going to end. If it does, lucky you!! Lucky us! People have been waiting for that moment for centuries.
There will always be new opportunities.
You didn't mess your life up, you just feel stuck and unsure. This is normal human behavior.
Write down 5 choices you've made that turned out to be great choices (give yourself so many gold stars here from your daughter's coloring bin) .
Write it out. I know I know I know I'm a writer so this seems natural, but I promise it helps. I am doing it right now.
Refrain from black and white thinking. Example: I want to build a career but also be a mother, so I must leave my career, find said-husband, get married, and have a child. The really cool thing about the middle-ground is that women all over the world are doing both. You might not have to choose one or the other.
Life evolves. You aren't meant to stay in one place.
Find gratitude for the choices you have in front of you. Even if they're hard ones! There is always something to be grateful for, and when we train our brains to find what we're grateful for, we become unstoppable currents of light.
And then, as I say in each of my yoga practices, be patient with yourself and your practice. I recently published my first journal helping women like me make choices and speak their truth. In therapy (yesterday) my therapist said, "You bring up 'speaking your truth' often, like every session."
Well, that's interesting because it's also tattooed on my arm as a daily reminder. Before it was a tattoo, I wrote it in pen on my arm. When it would wash off, I'd write it again. So, the whole tattoo thing is really helpful to me and my ink supplies now.
I wish you so much patience for yourself, I hope my custom-designed journal helps you move forward in your life making the best choices for yourself and your family (or just you, no judgment here).