Being tasked with making the right decision can be utterly paralyzing. I’m not talking about choosing what to have for dinner. I mean…MAJOR life decisions. As in…going to impact you or someone you love for the rest of you life level.
Sometimes, life throws you in situations where there are no right answers. If you were to take a giant step back so that you can examine all of the choices that are on the table, you know that there will be consequences no matter what.
But what if these situations were put in our lives to help us grow?
When our teenage girls were still in the house, we found ourselves facing one of those MEGA decisions. First, a little backstory.
Prior to making the decision to move from her father’s house to our house in Germany, Kim’s oldest daughter had experienced a good deal of independence. Once she decided to come and live with us in Germany, she was a junior in high school. That said, when we went to enroll her in school, we found that the education system for our district was not willing to accommodate for her breadth of experience. This set her back quite a whole year.
I could tell that this was a no-go for her. I mean…I was the SAME WAY in high school. You couldn’t pay me enough to attend. Instead, I spent countless hours at Walgreens and going to see rated R movies (because…ya know…that’s what adults do at 11am on a Tuesday).
Okay. Maybe she was much better than I was. ???? But I digress.
I felt for her. I understood what it was like to be 17 and feel like the world is like putty in her hands. To have this sense that no matter what, she would be fine. Freedom was so close that she could taste it. And yet…to have to battle a system that is telling her that it wouldn’t happen…not on their watch.
At that moment, she felt that she had no choice. She felt that no matter what, had to stay in this school and she was NOT happy about it. NOT comfortable. NOT feeling like she had any say in the situation. The only right decision was one where she felt she was backed into a corner.
We didn’t want for her to feel helpless.
That was when we, as parents, decided that we would give her two options: continue to go to school and stay with us in Germany, or go back to the States.
The decision to create this choice didn’t come easily for us. Since I knew what it was a like to earn a GED (as opposed to graduating from high school) and KNEW that there would be opportunities on the other side of that GED that were just as fruitful as those that are available to high school graduates, so I wanted to provide her with that option. Her mother, desperate to see her baby girl happy, was willing to do anything it took to minimize the insurmountable challenges that she knew she faced every day.
Eventually, Kim’s daughter decided to take us up on the GED option, after which time she would go back to the states. She left that following summer, believing it was the right decision for her. Without getting into any of the long, drawn-out details here, the experience didn’t go too well for her (or the rest of the family, for that matter). It was one of the hardest years we all experienced with her sister’s passing. It’s like when life decides to shake things up, it does is GOOD. However, this particular experience helped us to grow.
What we learned: Let the cards fall as they may.
We discovered that no matter how much we hated to see it, we had to allow her to have her own experiences so that she could “grow wings to fly”. This experience was a strengthening experience, much like what is described in Square 3 of this post: What to Expect After a Life Changing Event.
Forcing her to stay would have put a strain on our relationship with her. It was one of those, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenarios.
But it SUCKED, as parents, to watch her go. There’s no other way to say it. We knew that there was no way that we would be able to shield our kids from the craziness of the world forever. In raising teens, we knew that there are a few ways to go about releasing them into the world: gradual release, or simply setting them free. No decisions could possibly be “right decisions”. Each of our teens interacted with the world differently, so we knew that each one would approach adulting in their own unique ways.
Trust me…with all 3 girls we WANTED to hold their hands and help them in avoiding the pitfalls that would be sent their way. At the same time, when we thought back on our own experiences as teens, we realized that we NEEDED to go through the experiences that we did in order to develop the skills that we learned that made us successful in life. The fears that were brought up in us were shadowy parts that we needed to work on within ourselves.
It takes time to alchemize and integrate an experience. Since Kim’s daughter has grown into adulthood, I have gone back to her to ask her if the decision we made was a poor one. Knowing that her feelings will shift as time goes on, I let her know that it was completely okay for her not to answer this question. She let me know that, at the moment, there were some things she appreciated about it, and others she wished she would have done differently.
And that’s okay.
I have come to realize that having neutral feelings about a situation in the past doesn’t necessarily mean that it will never hold an emotional charge. Quite the contrary. For example, I have no idea how many times I’ve sensed a big “ping” in my stomach, only to have it drag up some memory that I thought never even mattered to me. Next thing I know, I’m sitting on the floor in a fetal position sucking king my thumb.
The thing is, in those moments of emotional release, there is always power on the other side. This is growth. And we wouldn’t have these moments if we never experienced things uncomfortable on our own.
We do realize that at some point she will need to process some pretty intense feelings about the situation (er…I’m pretty sure she already has). As a result, she will become a much more radiant version of her.
And damn, she is radiant.
We may even go through periods of regret, thinking that she may be cursing us the whole time. Regardless, one fact remains: when we look back on this period in our lives, we will have gathered so much insight about life and its richness.
Sometimes there is no right decision.
At the time, we were not given a simple situation with a simple decision to make. This situation was really, really difficult. There were no right answers. We knew that no matter what, the future of our girl was going to be impacted for the rest of her life. At the same time, we knew HER, and we had confidence in her abilities and trusted her, knowing that the “adult” situations she might find herself in could get rather hairy.
Sometimes there is no “right decision”. Sometimes, a major life change is going to call you to choose the “red pill” or the “blue pill”…and neither one is going to take you to Disneyland. Instead, they both lead to and adventure that will shed truth. If you are looking for some help in making better decisions, check out this post: Make Better Decisions Using the Mind-Body Connection.
Would you like help for guilt-free decision making?
Toni offers 1-on-1 coaching for exactly that! If you find yourself petrified, unable to move forward, and you would like some help, feel free to reach out. You can book a session HERE.