Choosing to take the first step into the unknown is the hardest part. Key word is CHOICE.
I often forget about the meaning of that profoundly powerful word. Choice. Choose.
However, there are many times in my life I didn’t feel like I had a choice.
It didn’t feel like I had a CHOICE to watch my spouse die. Because I didn’t. Not a %4#8 thing I could do to save him. It didn’t feel like a choice to live the rest of my life without him. Like a dark and slow rolling summer thunderstorm, the grief, pain, sorrow and devastation eventually crashed down on every aspect of my life. All I could do was watch it happen. Standing in the aftermath, drenched in hollowness, all I could see was a blank landscape. I felt powerless. The storm had washed away my past, present and future. I was frozen and void of life yet still living with a beating heart.
What do I do?
Where do I go?
How do I breathe?
How do I do this?
And then, how do I guide my children to do the same?
Looking back, life was a continual series of little steps and shallow breath after gasping breath.
Over and over, again and again. Inch by inch, I continued to CHOOSE. Although I didn’t always it or that I have free will, I was still unconsciously choosing. In the beginning I was making choices every day from a place of complete despair. Unaware of the consequence each choice would have, I was functioning in survival mode. Get out of bed, take a shower, step outside, answer a phone call or curl up in a ball and weep. Little did I know that each of those steps was a clear demonstration of some type of glimmer to keep living. There were many days I made choices that were out of shear desperation trying to find some type of relief from the pain. The darkness was at times so overwhelming that I could have easily made a choice to slip into a space void of breath. I wanted to. I considered it.
As time carried on, the automatic response of survival started to shift. Like the dim blinking of a light house bringing a ship to the fog covered coastline, I could see with small flickers of clarity.
As the fog slowly lifted, the coastline revealed a new world. Would I choose to step ashore or turn that boat around and head back out to sea? I began to see that I did have a choice.
The choice to respond and HOW was my power.
As time kept moving, survival mode slowly took up less space in my daily life. The world of grief and sorrow started to merge with a life of living in the present. I didn’t leave my grief behind, I brought it with me. It won’t ever leave. My grief is based in love. It is love.
AND I AM STILL ALIVE.
The power and consequences of my choices became clearer as I started to grow into the space surrounding my love grief. This space was like a new garden I was planting around the most beautiful Ponderosa Pine Tree. Each new choice had the potential to be planted as a seed and realizing that I had a choice in how I began to live my life was utterly overwhelming.
What if I made the wrong choice? What if I got hurt again? What will other people think about my choices?
The what if voice was clear and present and I chose to take a step anyway.
One by one, I continued to pick up each seed. Maybe I don’t even like this seed packet, but how will I know if I don’t give myself the chance to open it up and peek? Maybe sunflowers don’t grow well in my garden anymore. I learned to trust myself and know that I have the courage to explore, take a chance, make a choice and then navigate whatever journey unfolded.
Along the way, some of the seeds were watered, others left to dry, I let a few grow and then realized they needed to be weeded. New packets were found, others given away and I even found some wildly exotic seed packets I never knew existed! Either way, it was my choice to pick up the packet, open it and plant the seeds. Whether or not I nurtured the seeds was also my choice.
And the what if voice? She became my friend too. For good reason, she was there to protect me. But the survival what if voice was ready for a vacation. She was exhausted. Her survival skills were needed less and less as the new garden began to grow. I reassured her that she would be needed again.
For now, I am choosing to take steps. The first step into the unknown is the hardest part. Or so I thought. Looking back again, I see that I’ve made it through the hardest part and can maneuver each new step. Even if it scares me or the choice doesn’t work out the way I wanted it to, I trust myself to continue growing into the fullness of this life. Although this garden is continually being pruned, it has roots deep enough to withstand another storm. Expanding beyond the Ponderosa Pine, the garden has become a valley of fields filled with the most colorful, wild, hardy, delicate and precious plants….The planting, pruning and replanting has created quite the beautiful display of blooming bravery!
Trust yourself enough to navigate this precious life and make the choice to take another step.