My life in transition # 5 – the aloneness of decisions

” Crying is all right in its own way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.” C S Lewis “The Silver Chair”

ID-10022566.Danilo.RizzutiChoices are not the same as decisions.

A choice is when there are two or more items on the shelf and you choose one.

A decision is the end-point and the thing you get to live with after the other choices have been discarded.

In its cruelest sense, I was the discarded item of choice. The decision was the ending of our marriage. The choice was his and he gets to live with his choice. I get to live with his decision.

I coped to a large extent from the consequences of his decision by making my own choices. For example, I chose aloneness over loneliness.

Loneliness was feeling sorry for myself.

In the early days post separation loneliness descended upon me.  I felt my whole world had collapsed and with it all those levels of companionship and support my husband had seemingly provided. Gradually I realised that comfort could be provided by other means and from other people. I even embraced aloneness as my companion and as an opportunity to develop my creativity. By doing so I have not let myself become enveloped in any further loneliness.

Aloneness is a state of being alone

Aloneness does not simply mean living alone. Aloneness is being the only one in exactly my position with my strengths and weaknesses, the only one with my inner beliefs and desires, the only one who can face my difficult moments when I feel most bereft.

When I was married all major decisions could be shared. Where to live, how to provide financially, which projects to become involved in. Now all those decisions are mine and mine alone. My problem now is agonizing over the consequences of any decision I make, making sure any decision is fair and reasonable to myself and others, and feeling utterly alone in the making of those decisions.

I realise now these are not my decisions, they are my choices – where to live, how to make or spend my money, and what to do with my time. I realise that I can enlist help from others in making those choices and I can take my time in making them.

In contrast my most difficult decisions have been mine alone and have not been made with choices laid out for me. They were not made after protracted analysis or at times of quiet deliberation. They were made at times of distress. At those times of distress, the raging turmoil within me grew so intense that the only choices I had were sinking into complete collapse or finding calm. I chose calm.

From the calm within the turmoil I made those tough decisions – alone and with yet with total conviction because I just knew they were the right decision.

Those difficult decisions have been to change myself, to face the truth and to live by my core values no matter what.

Any choice I make now will come as a consequence of those life decisions I have made.
In fact, for any seeming conflict I have within myself for any current choice I now need to make, I only need to look back to those decisions and the choice becomes an easy one.



“When the pain of what we are living becomes greater than our fear of changing, we let go. When our fear of drowning swamps our fear of holding onto nothing, we start to swim”. Louise Gallagher






31 thoughts on “My life in transition # 5 – the aloneness of decisions

  1. I wish I felt that I had choices. I think that is the crux of what keeps me mired in the resentment. I have always had most of the important choices I wanted to make usurped by decisions my ex made that voided choice on my part. I wanted to choose a “forever house” to start raising our family and creating traditions. He made the decision to change careers. I made the choice to create a circle of chosen family around my children and I in our new location. His decision to be in the job threw upon me the move that took us away from those relationships. I wanted to start anew in the new location, but his decision to look outside our marriage and his noted absence long before the affair affected my abilities to create those relationships…I knew it would not last anyway. Living in the new city, I would much rather CHOOSE to live elsewhere. I would like to CHOOSE a better situation for my children. But his decision to ultimately divorce has put a hamper on those choices so that I now have to live with my decision to make sure my children have access to their father. I know it is the right choice for my children. Just as I know not having a man in my life is a choice I must make for their sake at this point as well…I just lament when I may be able to make decisions that will be for my own happiness. Today I will just choose to sleep in, relax with my friend in the nice weather, and pray that a family who wants to buy my house comes soon to make an offer. 🙂 I guess it’s a start.

    • I think that feeling we have had our choices taken away from us is the greatest grief of all, and it causes us the deepest pain. The only cure is to slowly but surely take our decisions. Firstly daily choices and then gradually longer-term plans. You have already made the decision to do the right thing by your children. That is a huge decision and one that you should be proud of. Ultimately doing the right thing for your children and being the best mother that you can be will lead to your own happiness.

  2. I was just having a discussion with a writer about “writing our stories.” The story doesn’t consist of what happened, it’s about how we respond.

    Your response is inspiring–embracing of life and possibility. Fabulous!

  3. As usual, a well written post Elizabeth. I love how you differentiate between choice and decision. I can relate to making decisions alone. Part of me prefers that, having done so most of my life, but at my lowest times, when I am tired, I have found myself wishing that there was someone else that could make decisions for a while; that there was someone else to take care of me, just for a while. Love that quote – I have heard of this Louise Gallagher person. 😉 ❤
    Diana xo

    • I can relate to wanting that ‘someone else’ to just take care of me for a while, or a fairy godmother to wave a magic wand and make it all better without having to go through the process or working out how to make it all better. 🙂
      Yes, I love that quote of Louise’s. I quoted it once before. You know how there are times in your life when someone says something that really hits home. That quote hit home to me on one occasion when I was literally down on the floor and I happened to read the quote and after reading the quote I got up.
      But I think you have had to have been down on the floor to understand the deep message contained within the quote and how enlightening the message is. 🙂

  4. The decisions are overwhelming. There are times that I feel I’m on auto-pilot and doing okay. Then there are the times I’m just frozen. I never know if it is fear or the inability to decide. Thanks for this post.

    • I think in some ways the second and third year are hardest in the respect of the decision-making. We do not expect too much of ourselves in the ‘shock’ phase, but after the first year we think we should have all the answers … and we do not. It takes a while to regain the confidence to start making decisions. Thanks for your comment. again.

  5. Often, our choices and decisions have to be dictated by circumstances. It is an illusion to think that we are in control: we are not. We weigh the pros and cons and think of the consequences, but in the end things frequently turn out very differently from what we had anticipated because we have no idea of what our future circumstances are going to be. So life is one big adventure! And solitude is a wonderful gift if we use it properly.

    • That is a valid point. I will write that down.
      So there are two things at work here, our decisions, and our responses to our situations.
      A subtle yet important difference. Thanks 🙂

  6. Reblogged this on Gathering Myself and commented:
    I’ve been complaining a lot how my stbex has made all the decisions to end our lives together. Well, today, I’m going to make a list of decisions that I’ve made.

    1) I decided when to leave rather than having him kick me out. I made this decision to give our kids closure at their school.
    2) I decided where to land. He tried to tell me where I could live, but I refused to let him.
    3) I decided what house to buy. Yes, the kids had input, but the final decision was mine.
    4) I decided what to paint the walls (with the kids).
    5) I’m deciding what to do with the yard.
    6) I’m deciding how money should be spent.
    7) I”m deciding on what type of career I want.
    8) I’m deciding on what’s for dinner (no more roasted butternut! and chicken).
    9) I decided on my dog.
    10) I decided to be HAPPY again (but sometimes need reminding.)

  7. I make decisions daily as an individual but will never get fully used to being ‘on my own.’ I wrote a recent post, which you read, that kind of covered my feelings of solitude. It is like a ‘foreign land’ to me. I wish you continued best wishes in striving towards your goals and hope that you will have someone who may someday share the decision making, meanwhile, if you find that fairy godmother, will you please send her my way after your wishes are granted? Smiles, Robin

    • Yes, I too sometimes yearn for that person to share with.
      However, I do embrace the gifts of solitude.
      Still looking for the fairy godmother and I will send her your way if I find her.
      (Notice that she is a ‘she’) 🙂

      • Yes, I do believe in both the genie (male) and the fairy (female) but tend to wish for the one who will understand my needs… which of course, is a female! I liked that you delineated the difference between choices and decisions. This is hard to explain, but you were able to be very concise and explicit. I also liked the difference of being alone, and of being ‘lonely.’ I am not often really lonely, but do wish to share my time. I have been on my own, one period of 7 years, (9 summers) and then, now this is the longest time, 8 years in May.
        Hope you have a wonderful Easter holiday, if you celebrate and if not, a great weekend, Elizabeth! I am going to write another post about the subject of Rain on Monday, I left out two musical plays with famous “Rain” songs in them! Smiles, Robin

  8. Thank you,through selfless sharing of ideas, thoughts and experiences that will make our world a better place to live. Thank you and hope that you will enjoy what I posted and post. Thanks again!

  9. Louise’s quote epitomizes what I felt when I made the decision to end my first marriage. For a long time I made the choice to stay in the relationship, for the sake of the children, for his sake, and with hopes things would eventually improve. But there came the day when I felt there were no more choices, and I had to get out. I was losing myself, and I couldn’t see how that was any good for our children at all.

    That being said, the decision was one of the most difficult I have ever made. I remember the cold, lonely moment when my resolve carried me through, knowing that no one could make that necessary first step for me. Absolutely no one. Looking back, I know I did the right thing for everyone involved. But taking that first step with resolve was monumental.

    Elizabeth, you are getting stronger every day. Making the decisions that are right for you and how you handle them will give you the empowerment you crave. x

  10. Pingback: My life in transition # 6 – anxiety | Almost Spring

  11. Pingback: Not quite at the crossroads | Almost Spring

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