Last night I was at dinner with a friend who is planning to move back to her hometown. She was telling me how she doesn’t really want to live there, but she’s already told her family, so she kinda has to go now as not to disappoint. She must have seen a look on my face, because she stopped mid-sentence, and said “What, Kate? Tell me what you’re thinking.”
This is what I said:
Remember back when my man and I were separated? How I shouted from the roof tops (and to pretty much anyone who would listen) all the reasons why I didn’t want to/shouldn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t be with him. He was this…he was that…we got together too young…maybe I was lesbian…he had a lot of growing up to do…if only he would change…my list went on and on.
Until one day, I realized what I most wanted was to be with him.
Calling him up to inform him that I had changed my tune was scary enough.
But shortly thereafter, I realized that eventually, I would have to tell EVERYONE in my entire world, including everyone who had supported me throughout the craziness that comes with the dissolution of a 12 year relationship – that I had changed my mind.
Uh, that thought made me want to hide under a rock.
Luckily, I had the good sense to listen to a mentor of mine, who informed me that this was not the time to let my concern for looking a fool, pissing people off or disappointing anyone, influence my actions.
(We all know when those moments are…but sometimes it helps to have someone reflect our knowing back to us.)
Now I don’t know whether my friend ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ move. I personally don’t think there’s a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choice in situations like these.
And, I don’t presume to know what would make her happy. I used to think I had a clue, but now I know better.
And, while I would love to be one of those people who just says “Fuck it! Do what you want. Other people’s opinions don’t matter!” That’s not usually true for me, so while it can be fun to say, it often rings a little shallow.
What I do know is that the weight of placing other people’s opinions (imagined or real) above my own, is often paralyzing, life-sucking and generally unpleasant.
In my experience, the most effective way to lift that weight is to express what’s true to the people involved. It’s usually something quite simple (and often scary to say) like – ‘I’m getting back with my man’ or ‘I don’t want to move home’.
And, then to simply wait and see what happens next.
Sometimes, it’s a pleasant surprise. Sometimes, it’s a slap in the face.
Either way, it’s probably exactly what’s needed – to know you’re alive, where you stand, and what direction you want to go.
Life is good that way.