If you could change one major life choice, what would it be?

 In Divorce, Life choices, Making Changes

Being Wise… taking in the wisdom across generations
by Christine, age 37

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What’s fascinating to me about this question is that no matter our age, big life choices happen and although when we are younger they are out of our control (our parents are making them for us), I think in many ways even as we get older they are still out of our control (our subconscious fears and limiting beliefs are making them for us.) Once we hit 18, while we may have the opportunity to say “yes” or “no” to any specific choice – marriage, kids, school, jobs – we only know what we know at the time. Think about it. All of us have made decisions where we look back later and say, “If I only knew then, what I know now.”
Of course, as we grow, we learn and we make better decisions, hopefully ones that better reflect our true selves. But, what I wonder is, what would happen if older women and younger women actually talked more, shared more of their experiences and fears. Could we then alleviate some of the painful mishaps we fall into? That curiosity is actually what caused me to start this blog in the first place.
No one me that I was making a big mistake when I decided to marry my ex-person, the guy that dumped me two hours before our engagement party. But then again, I am not sure I would have listened. I was too caught in my fear of being alone. I was not self-aware enough to admit that he and I were a disaster in the making. It was only after he dropped the bomb that I went to an older woman for some sage advice. She said “Honey, you can chase him around for years, or you can leave and your life will open up into possibilities you can’t imagine.” On that advice, I left and she was right. My life did change so much for the better. Now, would I have listened before the bomb of the breakup? Maybe, maybe not. But what I know today is that if I had been really honest with myself, I would have saved myself a lot of pain.
So my commitment to ME today is: in all life choices, I trust and listen to what my inner voice a.k.a. my intuition has to say. And when a wise woman has something to say, even if I don’t like it, I challenge myself to get real.
Olive, age 13, says:

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Since I am only 13 I haven’t made any of my life choices, my parents have.
My parents have always been very supportive of my wants but they have also controlled the way my life has turned out by their life choices. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be life if my parents had never gotten divorced. Would my life be better than it is now? I definitely think that my life would be different but if my parents had never gotten divorced they would always be fighting and I have a strong feeling that I would want them to get divorced. They are so much happier now and that honestly makes me happier.
In some ways I feel like I have no control whatsoever over my life but at the same time I feel as free as a bird. That is another good thing about how my parents raised me. Whenever I hear girls say how much they hate their parents I really can’t blame them. It’s like their parents are keeping them locked up in a jail cell and at the same time they don’t seem to trust their kids at all. Sometimes I like to go off into the city and just walk around and when I invite a friend to go with me their parents almost always say no.
You need to let your child be independent! Let them experience life and then when they go off to college they won’t be scared to death. Of course you should always give your child boundaries but let them have a little bit of freedom otherwise they will just rebel. Trust me.
Jen, age 39, says:

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Divorce was a decision that altered my paradigm in a way I could never have imagined. For that reason, I wouldn’t ever change that choice. I’ve learned so much about myself because of it and the extent of my personal strength became evident as a result.  But if I could change anything about it, I would change how I handled the process.
If you had asked me then what compelled me to agree to marry a man within weeks of meeting him, I would not have been able to articulate it.  It was driven by something other than friendship, partnership and respect.  I was determined to make it work even though almost immediately afterwards, I knew I had made a mistake. I simply refused to acknowledge it. I wanted to stick by my word, choosing to believe all the while that the intense fighting between us was just growing pains of the first few years together. As time went on, I lost connection with my family and some of my friends, partially by choice to protect my false sense of security.
Towards the end, I caved in under the weight of my inability to be real with myself, my partner and others in my life. Rather than opting to end it with dignity and respect, it ended as it began: a whirlwind of immediate action. One night, the words “I don’t love you anymore and don’t know that I will ever get that back” burst out of my core. Pure emotional vomit. My truth had emerged and the next day, he was gone. Over the weeks that followed, he tried many, many times to get a hold of me, to talk to me, often crying and distraught.  Sometimes I’d respond and attempt to explain, but even I was scared of the birth of my truth. I ended up completely shutting him out. I intuitively chose to make room for truth in my life over facing the damage I had done to both of us by ignoring it.  On one hand, I felt like a coward but on the other, I saw no other way to move on at that time in my life.
To this day, he doesn’t understand why we fell apart and I’ve been living with that guilt ever since. But year after year, my heart has freed itself more to fully embrace the gifts I have now as a result: renewed dignity, ability to own my truth, a stronger bond with family and friends and a sense of inner peace.
Linda, age 60, says:
 
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I would have listened to my own voice more carefully when I was a young adult and followed my adventurous spirit.  I gave into my family’s pressure and let go of my dream of studying archaeology and discovering buried tombs in Egypt.  I believed their statements of “it’s not a girl’s job” and “you’re just going to end up getting married and having babies.”  And, because my voice was never my own in my adolescent years, I made them right and myself wrong.  I left the university after one semester and followed the path of marriage and children.
While I have no regrets, I do wish that I had known myself better, been more determined, and understood more about my needs and how to follow my heart’s desire.  Marriage and babies could have still been part of my path but perhaps at a more distant time after I had achieved my goals.
That magic wand would have my name in archaeological journals, and the sand between my toes would have come from a far more distant place than the Pacific Ocean.
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Showing 4 comments
  • Olive

    S-O TOTALLY AWESOME!!!

  • Kim Lampe

    I could say that I would not have married my first husband, but a great son was a result. It was such a time of growth for me during the process of my divorce.
    During an interview I was asked what was one of my most significant accomplishments and I said, “Deciding to get divorced.” A very unpopular and life changing decision that needed to be done. I wasn’t escaping abuse or a drug addicted husband, so from the outside it would have appeared as if I had no grounds. I won’t write my divorce novel here, but the divorce fork in the road took me down the path of discovering my true self.
    One reocurring regret is how I handled ending a friendship as a teenager. As tweens my friend and I had much fun. She is such a free spirit. That’s what I loved about her. As we entered our teen years her free spirit was going into a direction of promiscuity.
    A boyfriend thought I was getting a reputation hanging around with her, so I abruptly ended the friendship. Shortly after she left the school, leaving town to live with her sister and brother-in-law.
    I always felt awful about how I chose peer pressure over a our friendship. She was always loyal to me and I stomped on it.
    Sure it was a lesson learned for me but at the cost of her dignity. I still don’t like to deliver bad news but know it is always best to be upfront and caring at the same time. Trust me I was on the other end of judgement when I decided to leave my first husband. Judgement really isn’t my thing anymore.
    Years later I apologized to her. I don’t keep in contact with her but think of her often. I hear she battles bi-polar depression disorder and is now living with her parents at the age of 41.
    I will keep her in my thoughts and send her positive energy.

  • Peggy Dolane

    I wouldn’t change anything. Every decision I’ve made that I might want to change are too inextricably linked to positive outcomes. If I had done anything differently, I wouldn’t have my two wonderful children, and I can’t imagine life without them. Life isn’t something you can throw part of away without losing something else that’s dear in the process. I can think of at least two O’Henry short stories that speak to this irony.

  • Kristin Davis

    Nearly fourteen years ago when my ex-husband and I decided to start a family, he wanted us to have a very traditional family structure, where he was the sole breadwinner and I managed the house and raised the kids. He’s Asian-American and was raised in a very traditional family, so that was all that he knew. It sounded like a dreamy 50’s ideal and I chose to go along with it. But four babies later and several years later, I had lost myself entirely in the demands of being a full-time homemaker/wife/mother. I spent years completely depressed and bouncing from one anti-depressant to another, hoping for that magic pill to make me happy. Now, looking back, I had no idea how depressed and lost I was. Nor how that affected my kids. I’m 42, newly divorced, and loving the freedom I have now as I’m rediscovering myself and gaining an incredible new life. I’m not sure if my decision to be a traditional stay-at-home mom was the determining factor of the ultimate breakup of my marriage. All I know for sure is that I’m really happy now and no longer feel like I’m lost and suffocating. I have an extraordinary job and have made some amazing friends among my colleagues. My kids now tell me that I’m a “really hip” mom and I think they really like having a mom who is happy and sure of herself.

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