Everything is a CHOICE in life — how we let anything, anyone, any place affect us at least
Sometimes a person who is considering an issue (like marriage with another who already has had children, or is already in a marriage that one thought was “safe” from the arduous chores of step-parenting) finds they are presented with a situation and it feels like they have no say about it.
I have a friend who mentioned this to me today, in fact, when she said, “But I had no choice about having to become the main “mom” to my husband’s children, when unforeseen circumstances happened and their caretaker (the bio-mom) could no longer care for them.”
I lovingly disagreed with my friend, who was unhappily reflecting her lot in life, that of “being forced” to be a stepparent.
“But Sharon,” I said, “every single act we undertake, or that happens around us — either our reaction to it or the actual action we take — is based on a choice we make, even if it’s to accept or reject what is happening. Oftentimes, I know, we’re not even aware that we have made a choice, but that, in fact, is what we do whenever an act or a decision is made.”
Adamantly, Sharon still disagreed. “No! It wasn’t like that for me. I absolutely did not want to be these kids’ stepmom, but because I love my husband, and feared I would lose him if I didn’t, I agreed. But only because I had to.”
“No, Sharon,” I softly said, “you’re looking at it all wrong. You most certainly had the choice. You could have said, ‘No’ to your husband’s request, especially because when you entered into this marriage you did so telling him, ‘No way would I ever consider being a real stepparent to your kids.’ You could have left the marriage. It was your choice. But you didn’t. I certainly know people who have, many in fact, who simply cannot abide the fact that someone else’s children come along with a relationship, like an unwanted gift package, like an unhemmed coat lining, unlikeable, messy, but part of the parcel when a person who has children by another falls in love with someone else.
“We all have choices,” I gently reminded Sharon. “We choose every single thing about life. Even when we feel that a situation is happening to us, against our will, like getting hit by a car, or contracting cancer, or getting a bum steer in the market, or finding you’ve married the wrong person. When we find ourselves up against a tough situation that feels horribly uncomfortable, and we honestly don’t want to be in it — it is US who chooses whether we will remain (psychologically, spiritually, or even physically) IN the situation.”
Sharon grew quiet now, and stopped her protesting. I couldn’t tell if she was opening to another way of looking at her dilemma, or if she just didn’t want to argue. We are good friends, so I continued.
In other words, if we don’t consciously know we made, or can make the choice, and really feel we don’t have any choice (otherwise known as the good old-fashioned victim role) this leads to unhappiness, depression, anger, sadness, etc. all bad, uncomfortable, unwanted emotions.
A choice is necessary in all situations in order to derive any degree of satisfaction from being involved in whatever the circumstance is. Let’s take the case of contracting a horrible disease.
Another friend of mine has recently been told she has virtually only months to live after the worst possible type of brain cancer was diagnosed. Right at that moment, when the doctors told her and her husband, she had a choice. She could either accept that she had contracted this horrible, terminal disease, and embrace it as a opportunity (allow me to use this analogy) for spiritual growth. Any dis-ease is a way of life reaching out and shaking us up, “telling us” some change needs to be made. Right then my friend could have chosen to take a serious look at her life, talk to close friends and ask their trusted opinion. If she had Maya could have realized that her thoughts, her actions (or lack of), her mental view of the world, her diet even — contributed to her dis-ease (or not) and then she could make whatever changes she needed in order to use the cancer as a “warning sign” that indeed, her life was out of balance.
By making the choice to change, miracles do happen surrounding dis-ease. Anyone who has ever read the story of Louise Hay’s remarkable recovery from terminal cancer — defying her terminal diagnosis, saying ‘NO!’ to the dreaded odds and living still today, many decades after she was given a death sentence — know what she did.
She chose to change. She chose to look at her cancer, even though doctors had given up on her, as an opportunity for spiritual growth, instead of merely accepting it as the death sentence that the medical world had given her.
Maya was given the same prognosis but, unfortunately, she did not believe that mental attitude, or the Spiritual Principle of Choice, has anything to do with whether she lives or dies. She has bought in, completely and totally, to the fact that she has a terminal disease. Instead of looking within, at herself, her attitudes, seeking guidance and making necessary spiritual changes (letting go of crippling judgment about others, including her estranged children, the biggest negative in her life, if she were only willing to be honest) — in its place she has become a bedraggled slave to radiation and chemo and is utterly exhausted, mentally and physically, yet still fights to live.
“So Sharon,” I said to my stepmom friend, “you’re no different than anyone else. You did accept, you did choose that being stepmother to your husband’s children, even though you thought you’d never want to do such a thing, ever! never! but you love him so much you thought you had to in order to keep him, literally, from leaving the marriage. As your dear friend, who loves you, please realize that you indeed did choose to embrace step-parenting. You could just as easily have said, ‘No’ and ended the marriage. But you didn’t. You considered all the options and you said ‘Yes’ and that, my dear, is a choice.”
Sharon shrugged her shoulders, not certain she was buying this attitude of choosing something she was finding so difficult, so distasteful. But at least now she’s thinking about it.