Confluence of Choices

Grandmother would say, “Life is about choices, dear.”  I always felt this was a simple, logical statement.  

My father’s mother was a singular woman with quiet confidence.  She choose a solitary life after her mother, husband and son died all within a three year period.  The poise and peacefulness she demonstrated in her decision-making was refreshing to observe, even at a young age. My reclusive grandmother, unbeknownst to her, modeled a useful life lesson for me.  As I watched her interact with family and friends as her life folded with forces far outside her control, she taught me an important lesson.  People do not need to understand your choices, it’s not their journey.  This sage advice soothed me when I made a major life choice.  As I reflect and think of my grandmother’s guidance, it was very monumental and created ripple effects in my life now and then.

There I was, standing in front of friends and family at my bridal shower and I could not speak.  Something inside me snapped.  I was trembling at the idea of getting married in ninety days.  Looking forward, I imagined a long life with an individual who I knew deep down did not understand the intricacies of me. My intuition had frequently raised yellow flags prior to this evening.  I ignored these cautions while still knowing our relationship was impaired.   However, the vibrant, red flag was flying high at my bridal shower.  I was flush and full of panic when I was supposed to be full of excitement!  

A little background about our relationship.  I have moments of madness, but for the most part, I am a loyal and loving person.  Early on, I observed my adventure seeking ways and expressive personality did not fuse well with his straightforward and systematic approach to life.

I like to be spontaneous and act silly.  My fiancé was rigid and serious.  

I am a free-spirit and do not like to be confined.  My life doesn’t always have a plan of action.  I embrace order and routine, but require freedom and randomness.  It became apparent we would agree to disagree.  At the beginning it worked, his ying my yang.  But over time, our differing views divided us.  This man I was about to marry, would be a wonderful husband to someone, just not me.  

I had two choices:  

  • Marry a man who I love more like a brother than a lover.
  • Cancel the wedding and explain to him, it’s me not you.  

This internal conversation transpired in my head regularly after I agreed to marry. I could not turn it off.  I was confused, but I knew what I needed to do.  

Why do you stay? I think you should just get married. No! You know you’re not ready.  You’ll be sorry.  But I love him and his family.  Oh come on, you know the truth.  Stop kidding yourself.  You want different things out of life than he does. What happens when you marry him?  Trapped. Be honest with yourself and him.

I feel suffocated.  I feel guilty.  I feel fearful.  I feel commitment.  I feel I failed.

He and his family were generous and gracious to me over the course of our relationship.  I am endlessly grateful for their big-heartedness.  The respite and restoration they provided was honorable.  But it could not trump the feeling of being trapped between the safety and protection of the known versus the fear of the unknown.  

Leaving was not easy.  

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I had to give myself a pep talk about believing this was the right decision.  My mental chatter was dizzying.  I second guessed myself regularly.  Family and a few friends supported me.  However, they didn’t understand why I was breaking off an engagement to a kind, warm and thoughtful individual who adored me and would provide a secure future.  Many “friends” disappeared.  You find out who your true support system is when an engagement ends and sides are chosen.

I had to pause for a moment and remind myself, these judgmental individuals were not participating in our relationship.  I cared deeply for my ex-fiancé and his family.  I did want to impose animosity or hurt to anyone.  

Yet again, I had two choices:  

  • Try to explain my inner adversity and motives for the breakup.
  • Trust my intuition and ignore the naysayers.

My grandmother was right in saying people like to provide commentary.  Only “I” need to understand my choices, not others.  People like to offer unsolicited comments, many times these remarks reflect their problems, not mine.  

I now position myself where I can be me.  No longer settling for anything less than what I believe I deserve, even if it means walking away from an “ideal situation.”  

Change brings opportunities to bloom and this occurs when I venture outside my comfort zone.  Respect for my beloved grandmother grows as I reflect back on her life.  She made a final life choice when she left this world.  For which, people could not take comfort in her approach to dying.  She did not succumb to modern medicine and left this life, her way.  

Listen to your mental voice.  

Take a chance.

Make a change.

Be true to you – the choice is yours!

© Shannon Hogan Cohen June 2016

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