As we move on our annual passage through life saying farewell to one year and welcoming in the next I think it is important to look at our lives and take ownership.
Some of us will have had a horrible childhood, it could be bullying, neglect or some other thing we consider to not have been ‘the best’. In later years we make choices, adult choices and sometimes we forget those choices and blame life in general for our situation.
Do not please get me wrong, many things in life are indeed, unfair, some, possibly many are just plain wrong but accepting those we do have to realise we make choices.
As an adult we can choose to let go of our childhood, accept that it happened but agree with ourselves that the only way to move forward is to stop allowing ourselves to blame the past for where we are, that’s just an excuse we tell ourselves because, let’s face it, life can be a scary prospect. We get so used to saying this or that causes us not to whatever that it becomes a comfort blanket for us.
As a Carer to two of my children I maybe spent a little too long asking ‘why me’ and it took years to realise, being their carer, no matter how I tried to blame life in general, was my choice. We’ve all heard someone say that it doesn’t matter what our unborn children are ‘as long as they’re healthy’, we’ve all heard that so, why we go into parenting on the assumption that his aspiration will with certainty apply to use should be a mystery! We chose to have children, if we made an informed choice we also chose to have our disabled children. We then chose to continue to care for them ourselves until whatever age, many will never stop but, this isn’t something society forces us to do, we do it from choice. Bottom line it, we do. If we dropped dead then someone, somewhere would still care for them, we’re important but not irreplaceable in their care only in the love they receive from us.
As someone with a Dad who has dementia, I made a choice there too. I chose that I was not going to be his carer. I could have been but instead I opted out and he went into a home. I’d been a Carer for some 30 years, enough was enough. I didn’t do it because I couldn’t. I chose not to do it.
We do choose in life what to do.
If our husband or wife gets ill, well, we chose our role there too unless we specifically tweaked what we promised when we got married because the standard promise is, in sickness and in health, for better or worse. Sure, their illness is horrible, it’s unfair but our caring role was then and remains now, a choice.
Once we accept that we’re not victims, we’re good, decent people with a lot of love to give who have made choices we can be proud of where we are in life. We’re not failures, we chose the path we walk. We still have choices, we can walk off the path any time we like. We may not like the alternative options but we cannot and should not pretend they are not there.
Look, I chose to be heterosexual. Back in the 1970’s, unless someone lived in a major city being gay and living a gay life wasn’t really viable, it would have meant a lot of stigma and generally stuff I didn’t want in my life. Contrary to what people ask me which is, ‘When did you decide to be gay?’ I chose to be straight, being gay is my natural state. So, life dealt me the gay card and I didn’t like it so I chose an alternative which, quite frankly, didn’t work out so well for me but I did make a choice, I don’t blame life for that choice. Eventually I chose not to pretend to be heterosexual any longer, life got better for me. I’d thrown away my excuse book and took a risk on me and felt all the better for it.
Sure, by then I had 4 children, two of them disabled but, again, that was my choice. When I divorced, they stayed with me, again, my choice. When I became ineffective as a Carer and when I missed having a relationship with my children, I quit and over time both the disabled ones went into a home of their own with Carers, they became my kids again once I realised me being their carer had effectively stopped me enjoying life with them as their dad.
Life didn’t make the ‘normal’ kids rebellious and difficult after their brother and sister did, that was my choice. I chose to sacrifice their childhood for my other choice of caring perhaps too long for their siblings. When my youngest got involved with the wrong young man and got pregnant, the years of hell I went through with him were, let’s be fair, my choice.
I could look at society and argue that many would say a man at 53 who has not ‘worked’ for 23 years and is single should accept their lot in life, settle down in front of the television with his slippers and enjoy being a grandparent. I could do that but, I won’t. To do so means years of accepting I made choices would be for nothing if I start making excuses now. So, I found someone amazing. I went to the other side of the planet to do it, many thought, probably still think I am bonkers but, that’s my choice, to live my life, not their perception of my life. After getting stung by someone from the other side of the planet, even I though for a while that falling for someone else there was madness but, I stuck in there and concluded that the other mistake was my choice. It wasn’t some act of hatred the world had on me, it was me making a choice, choosing to ignore warning signs and then, I have to accept, a bad choice. Each new person in our lives is not someone we already knew, we don’t have the right to pigeon hole people. Each individual is the sum of their choices, no two the same. In remembering that I was able to form a relationship with someone, a very good one and have plans to get married now.
So, remember, where ever we are in life, whatever went wrong with life, we have a choice to make a choice. It’s not about every year starting fresh, it’s about every moment of every day doing it, making our choices for our reasons and backing ourselves up on those choices. It’s about making a different choice when the one we made before doesn’t work. It’s a terribly British thing to complain but do nothing … how many of us have been asked by a waiter how a totally awful meal is in a restaurant and answered ‘fine thanks!’ We choose that life choice to accept a bad situation rather than change it. The replacement meal might be just as bad or worse but, at least we tried something, we didn’t just accept that life is like that we tried to change it.
A cliché is that we have to kiss a lot of frogs in life and that’s true. Life is trial and error. If we live someone else’s idea of what we must or should do then, we’ve no one to blame but ourselves. There is no rule book on how we have to do life within the law.
Remember also, the best things grown when plenty of manure is used so, accept that to grow and enjoy life, you need to have some shit.