Decision making has never been difficult for me. If asked to choose between one thing and another I pick one, and stick with my decision. When facing a challenging task I determine a course of action and get moving. When a problem appears unsolvable...I go for a run, and nine times out of ten come back with an answer. And then came widowhood.
One of the most disturbing aspects of widowhood for me was the very new experience of constantly questioning every decision I made. Was I doing this or that right? Should I choose one thing or the other. One minute option A seemed best, the next minute I was more inclined to go with option B. I called people and asked their opinions often...and I let myself be swayed toward their way of thinking regardless of what my gut was telling me. Buy a new fence or fix the old? Sell Phil's truck or keep it? Get a gardener or teach the kids how to mow the lawn? Vacation or no vacation?
The list went on and on....making a decision large or small became a monumental effort. I lost confidence in myself, and began to believe that everyone else knew what I needed better than I did. Until one day when a well meaning friend stepped over the line regarding my privacy...and a little voice sounded inside my head...."He did not just do that!" And I realized in one mind blowing moment how much of my daily life I was allowing to be determined by what other people thought, felt, knew, said, or sometimes even ordered. I didn't recognize myself and as they say~I was scared straight.
The truth is our inner voice still speaks while we are grieving, but sometimes we can't hear her over the din created by sorrow. The initial realization that we are no longer a part of a couple often begins an all-consuming tempest inside of us. But at the eye of the storm still rests the core of our being. And that innermost self still knows what we need. When I first became aware that I was abdicating my right to run my own life, I asked myself the question...who are you? I didn't recognize the woman I saw in the mirror, because I allowed her voice to be silenced by grief.
When my inner voice finally spoke, the first thing she told me was that I would be okay. She spoke up when I tried to do too much, and pointed out when I needed a mental health day. When I wanted to quit, she reminded me that quitting wouldn't stop the pain. When I began to hear her again, she helped me choose between going out to dinner with friends or staying home to watch a movie. Myself helped me figure out how to manage the holiday season. She knew instinctively what I needed on the first anniversary of Phil's death, and all the ones that have come after. And she always knows which choice is best for me. Sometimes I ignore her, and when I do I usually pay a price. But she loves me and she is proud of what I have done, and of who I am becoming. Only she knows the effort this has required. Finally I realized that her approval is what I need most. No one knows me better than I know myself. But I only discovered that fact when I was willing to trust my inner voice once again.