Sometimes life throws you a curve ball, and you have to decide where you stand.
It may take you a while, or only an instant, but there comes a time in everyone’s life that they must decide.
It’s a rare occasion that we get to experience the source of our values and character. That we get to look it in the eye, seeing our own face reflected there.
Many times, we have ideals and opinions without truly being in the position that we criticize. Poor people, single moms, jobless, homeless, adult living at home, sex, divorce, victim of abuse, rape, slavery, growing old, having children, marriage.
I have been proved wrong and incorrect countless times, shocked into silence as my mind engulfed my new view on the world.
Sometimes that one moment comes where your opinions and choices become real, flesh and bone. Sometimes there’s only one choice. No matter what you thought before, in the moment, there’s only one choice and you make it without thinking for more than a second.
What builds the person we have become? What small twist or change of direction could have altered who we became or the choices we made?
If I would have just asked her out. If I would have just said something. If I would have gone to college. If I would have listened to my mom. If I would have said no. If I would have lived a little more. If I would have taken the chance. If I would have stayed in bed that morning. If I would have not stepped out into the street. If I would have taken that trip. If I would have followed my dream. If I would have said sorry. If I would have been braver. If I would have turned away. If I would have not gone into that room. If I would have left.
We are all a summation of our decisions.
We can control the world we create out of devastation, however small or large. It won’t always be easy and it won’t always be simple, but if we try it can be good. We control how we react to the situations in our life, even if we can’t control the situation itself.
I was unintentionally brave, because I didn’t know any other way to act. There was no choice in my mind.
There was only one choice.
I chose life.
I found out I was pregnant during the meandering days of a sizzling summer. I’m no teen mom, but I’m young enough (and “alone” enough) to feel just as unready. I had a degree to finish at the time. I’d been careful and waited longer than most girls. I had traveling to do. I was still figuring myself out. But life doesn’t care what you were doing at the time, it just happens.
I remember sitting in the bathroom of a Walgreens, feeling disconnected from myself, my heart and head apart. I remember sitting there and thinking,
“This isn’t me. This is not my life. I shouldn’t be sitting in the bathroom of a Walgreens with my sister and taking an effing pregnancy test. ” And as an afterthought, “I feel like I’m in Juno. I need some Sunny D for this moment to be complete.” (there’s humor for ya, in the bathroom, learning I’m about to become a balloon and I’m having a movie moment.)
Then that tiny pink cross appeared, and at that moment, a million things rushed into my head.
I’m going to put those thoughts here as a testament. A testament that not all choices are easy. That no one is a saint. That everyone has those fleeting thoughts, even if they douse them the very millisecond that they think of them.
The weakness in all of us will desperately try to win, every time. It wants us to be weak, to give in. Once we do, it becomes a habit. Before long we think it’s okay to just give up, to give in because it’s easier. To stop fighting because it’s too much work, too much hassle, or takes too much energy. But we can’t let weakness win. We must conquer. We must overcome. It’s not to say that there won’t be moments when we simply must decide that we’ve given it our all and must divert our efforts to something else. It’s not to say that we won’t have weak moments, or that we won’t recover or regret those moments. It’s not to say that one weak moment defines the rest of our lives. No. On the contrary, it’s the daily “no” to weakness that makes us strong. Start today, if you haven’t decided already. Be strong. Be brave enough to be strong.
No one can tell you where your line is, you have to discover that for yourself. You have to decide what you can live with.
I had always had thoughts on abortion. Everyone seems to have an opinion about it. Pro-life, pro-choice. People joke about it, make signs, and stand on street corners fighting and spitting at each other with their eyes. And in that moment, that small moment in a bathroom of a Walgreens, I looked it in the face. I looked in the face of abortion and tiny frail bodies, a million pictures I’d seen; pictures just as dead as the lives within them. I looked at the undisturbed life I had in me, pushing to live despite the fact that it should have been impossible. I looked at life as a mom, it’s soft tired eyes so full of love and hope. I looked impossibilities in the face like, how did this happen; I’m just a kid, I can’t raise one; this is going to ruin my life; I can’t do this; what will everyone say?
Then came the slithering tongue of weakness, the easy way out. Something I know would have scarred me forever. Something I am ashamed to my core to even have thought..
*What about abortion? It’d be easy. No one would have to know. It’d just be gone. Poof. Life reclaimed. You can save the body changes and the emotional stuff. You can go on as if nothing happened. It’ll all be a dream. No drama. No nothing.*
Something snapped in me almost immediately. My heart ached at that thought. “No. Not that,” I said to myself. “Anything, but not that.”
Then, weakness tried again.
*Well, hopefully you’ll have a miscarriage. That way it’s not your fault. It’ll be gone and it won’t matter. It’ll be over.*
I almost slapped myself in the face.
I thought of the reddened, broken limbs of a million babes, stolen from life and love before they had a chance. I envisioned a tiny heartbeat, so steady but so easily disrupted, so intent on living. I thought about my unborn sister, lost before her life had begun. I thought of how my research in school had taught me that by the time I had sat in that darned bathroom and took that test, that my kid was already dreaming. And I wanted to cry.
And as a thousand thoughts ran through my head, I was somehow numb and incredibly calm.
There was a whisper under there, somewhere deep within me. Past the fears and consuming doubts. Past weakness. Past the anger and the worry and the knots of frustration. Past everything, I found the small ball of light that was essentially “me”. And it whispered to me, it told me what I already knew. That no matter what…
“You can do this.”
And it hit me like a sack of potatoes. I knew I could do it, and I immediately felt shame for thinking I could destroy it. That I would want it gone. I hated myself, and I promised myself I would never be so weak again. Life is precious. Life is to be enjoyed. And I have no right to take it away. Me of all people, who was once a babe myself. Me, who was knit by Him within my mother’s womb. Me, who was chosen to come into the world and be a blessing, to love. I can’t. Not like that. I could kill in defense of another, in defense of myself. I could kill for the greater good, if the right situation and the right moment of pressure came. But I can’t do that. Not like that. Not to something innocent and fragile and so very dependant on me. Something that trusts without thought, that has faith that tomorrow will be just like today. My baby needed love and happiness and beauty. I would give that to him, because that’s what everyone deserves. I would do it, because I knew I could. No matter what it took from me, I would find a way.
I voiced my worries and fears to my sister. Thank God for her. Not only had she sat in the bathroom with me and watched me pee on a stick, she encouraged me.
“A baby could never be a bad thing. It’s a blessing. We’ll figure out a way, somehow. We can do it! Just think, a little person to take care of! Think about how fun it will be, all the good times we’ll have. Think of all we’ll teach it. We’ll love it, and it’ll love us. It’s a good thing. It’s a blessing.”
She didn’t speak one word of judgement to me, which was what I needed at that moment. There were no jokes. No harsh tones. Only love, and encouragement.
**Thanks, love. I needed your words. They encouraged my light to keep shining, when it felt like I was in the dark. I love you sis. You were unwavering. You motivated me. I needed someone, you were there. You bore a heavy load that wasn’t yours, and you didn’t think twice about it. Thank you.
So, just like a movie cliché, we saved one test for the morning of a week later. We thought it might possibly be a dud (though we later found out this was improbable for a positive test, and more probable for false negatives). All in all, I took 4 tests total before we (and everyone else) believed it. Yeah, sometimes we act a bit “blonde” (excuse the cliché).
And then it was time again. Time to choose.
I knew then that I had to leave. I had to leave The Ex. As mentioned before, things were awful in my life with him. I was suffering under his iron fist. With him, I knew I would always struggle to be alive. I could already feel the blackening of ME. The me I was, the me I wanted to be. He would hurt our child, and he wouldn’t mean to or most likely remember it. He would hurt me, or The Kid, or both of us, either inadvertently or with malice. I couldn’t stand to see my kid like that, shackled to a life I chose for him. A bad life. The life I had watched others have. The life I couldn’t bear to imagine. No.
It took me a while. I waited, hoping that The Ex would get better. Hoping that he’d change. Change for the baby. Change for me. If only I could have seen how wrong I was. But we fought more and more, and I held on as long as I could. But sometimes, the right choice is the hardest one: to just give up and move forward.
So again I made a choice.
I chose life.
A life free to mess up and make mistakes. A life full of laughter and love and peace. A life bereft of the chaos The Ex caused. A full life. A life where my kid wouldn’t have to question the mood swings and anger. Where he wouldn’t have to suffer as I did under the force he put down on me emotionally, mentally and physically. A life where he wouldn’t have to be afraid of one of the closest people to him. A happy life. A good life. I knew it would prove to be a hard life, but it would be beautiful. And we’d do it, together. The Kid and I.
So, I let go. I let go of everything I had held so tightly. I let go of the life The Ex would have staked me down onto. I let go of his love, so that I could grasp my child with both hands. It was a hard choice. I was addicted. Addicted to the smell and taste and the way he loved me, no matter how wrong it was. I couldn’t see it. I thought I would die after I first let go. But I didn’t.
I knew it was time, I could already feel the chasm growing, shoving me farther away from him and closer to my kid. I got over it, and around it. And on the other side, I smiled. I smiled because I felt free. Things that had been warring inside me were loosed. I felt enormously better emotionally. I was no longer in knots all the time. I saw what he had done to me, and I scoffed. He would never touch me again. Not if I had anything to say about it. And he would never touch my kid like that. I was free. Free to have a good life. Free to make a new life for me and my child. Free to not be afraid. Simple and joyous. Free.
And it only took one choice.
We look into our lives and we see opportunities for “one choice”. We see tasks yet undone. Stories untold. Words unspoken. But, we get up everyday and we still have a choice. We may not always be able to fix all the things in our past, but we can fix how we act and react in the future. We can fix our relationships, both currently and for one-day. We can be a better “me”. We decide that.
The truth of it is, it doesn’t matter what other people do. People will always be who they’re going to be, we can’t stop them. We can hope for the best, but we should always expect that people will be, unfortunately, predictable. They will be selfish and hateful. They’ll take revenge and be cruel. It’ll be unfair. But, we still have a choice. To either be who we are, or not. No matter what. People shouldn’t change the essential parts of us, we shouldn’t let them. We must continue to love and make the hard choices. We must continue to discover. We must continue to decide.
Because indecision is just as much of a choice. It just takes a longer time to see the results.
Everyday is a choice.
We must decide to take it with both hands and fling ourselves into the unknown, knowing our hold is strong.
“When one bases his life on principle, 99 percent of his decisions are already made”. ~Author Unknown