Yesterday on twitter, Karen Walrond of Chookoolonks tweeted a question.
Simple question, yes. Powerful, certainly. Easy to answer?
Actually, both easier and harder than I would have thought.
1. Going to therapy
I moved to Toronto to be with a boy – the not-quite-right boy, but I didn’t know it then – just after my 21st birthday. I made plans to finish my degree there, and God laughed. Joining the corporate work force instead turned out to be the best thing for me. After temping for a while, and being offered a permanent job with each company, I created a new position for myself with an international consulting firm. The benefits plan included family counselling.
After a childhood that exposed me to sexual abuse, violence, (someone else’s) drug addiction + suicidal tendencies, and being a ward of the state for my senior year of high school, I was, how shall we say, carrying some baggage. The gifted counsellor I worked with was the first person to acknowledge both the horror of what happened to me and the lasting effects. She also helped me to see that I did not need to be a damaged person going forward.
I had deep wounds, and I could heal. I could choose.
This was the most powerful, empowering thing anyone had ever said to me. I had long been compensating for the chaos by being a phenomenal achiever. No one who heard the details of my childhood would have guessed I would turn out so well. No one who met me in my high-functioning state would have guessed at the details of my childhood.
But I knew. And I was in danger of coming apart at the seams from the stress of holding it all together. Slowly, gently, over a year of talking and crying and being heard, I began to heal.
I am still healing. It is a daily, conscious decision to look for the good, to see the positive. I cannot afford to dwell in a negative attitude, in anger or resentment. There is so much fuel for that fire, I would be consumed by it.
Instead, I must nourish the tiny spark of my one candle in the dark.
There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle. ~Robert Alden
And going to therapy all those years ago gave me tools to make that possible.
2. Having Kristina
This was such an easy one, it’s hard to even call it a decision. I wanted to be her mother with every beat of my heart, and the love I feel for her has startled me at times with its ferocity. Given that later pregnancies ended in miscarriages or a hospitalization, I am even more sure that having Kristina was a brilliant idea.
3. Leaving her father
Kristina’s father was never quite on board with the idea of having a family, and even less so with the idea of having a wife. While I hesitated with listing a negative decision, a decision away from something, it was significant in terms of my life choices, choosing (the possiblity of) a happier life, choosing me, choosing to grow my confidence and self-esteem and dignity outside of a psychologically abusive relationship. (See above: I am still healing.)
Hell, yeah – one of my best decisions, ever.
4. Marrying Ed
People have asked me if I would go back and change things – make different choices to avoid some of the pain and heartache. I couldn’t. Every step led me to this life with Ed and Kristina.
Finding my mate and marrying at 40 is hands-down the sweetest grace in my life. I give thanks for him every single day.
5. Saying YES to my superpowers
I had to write this down quickly before the internal editor could stop me. That message goes something like this, What? Your superpowers? Pffffftttttt! Who do you think you are? Acknowledging what I am good at, what lights me up, and pursuing a life filled with this is one my very best decisions.
What are my superpowers? That is for another post. This one is already long.
I wrestled with the fifth decision also because the first four were so obvious. Talking with Ed about it helped. He pointed out that there are no best decision police. I can have four.
And it may be that I haven’t made my fifth best decision yet. Or that the fifth one was getting Kaylah. She is a damn good dog. That would qualify.
about the photo
This is another for my self-portrait series. This week, a friend I’ve known since our daughters were five came for lunch and a long visit. After she left, I was feeling great, connected and happy. The setting sun had left our street, but I knew it would still be peeking through the trees at a nearby park. I headed out with dogface to see what I could make of it. Propping the camera on a park bench, I used a remote shutter release to grab some shots. This one is Ed’s favourite. Learning moment: the remote works from approximately 160 feet away, yet I felt the need to hold it out and point it at the camera, “spoiling” many shots.
Canon 40D 50mm 1.4 | aperture 2.5 | shutter speed 1/250 | ISO 500