Crowbar of Love

Nothing to Decide 1962

For every action there is a consequence, this is not the same as Newton’s Third Law; for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In fact, what I just said is quite different, consequences may not be equal to actions, may seem entirely unrelated on the surface, nevertheless when we peel back the covers it is apparent even for the most obtuse to see. We make choices, those choices lead sometimes to intended outcomes and all too often to unintended consequences. Here are some examples:

  1. One day I stopped for gas and cigarettes. Nothing special did it often with nothing more to show for it than a lighter wallet and a few minutes delay in my arrival home. The consequence of this night, this stop was life changing for many others and me. The consequence of this night set my feet on a path it would be years in the making.
  2. One day I picked up the phone and made a phone call, all I wanted was medical information. I was an adopted child you see and was tired of being asked if certain medical conditions ran in my family each time I saw a new doctor. I could only answer, “I didn’t know”. When they called me back to tell me I could open the file, there were letters of consent it didn’t take me long to decide.
  3. One day I said, “Enough, you may not treat me this way any longer”. I said these words to an employer, one who believed in the power of his penis over equality, equity, fair play and ethics in business. How was I to know this simple statement would create so many ripples in the workplace. Did I say ripples? Let me rephrase that, how was I to know it would create such a witch-hunt with me at the center.

There are so many small things, so many actions or choices we make each day sometimes without even thinking. Yet, each of our choices at any time could carry huge consequence for our own lives or for those around us. We just never know, never consider how our actions might influence the future. Some of us, me included at times walk through life completely unaware.

How did each of the above choices change my life?

  • Anyone who has been reading my blog knows what that night was, it was the night I was kidnapped / carjacked, shot three times and left for dead. Now overall that was a pretty crappy night. The upshot of all that pain though was finding a mission, becoming more aware of what is wrong with society and why we need to fix it from the inside out. Victim Impact is only one part of that mission, it is important and every year I am glad I speak out. But, even more important is lending my voice to justice, equality and education programs.
  • I have told small snippets of the story of meeting my biological family in these pages. Not the entire story but some of it, there is more to tell and perhaps with their permission one of these days I will tell some of these stories.The impact on my siblings in me finding them, of me reentering the family was not entirely positive on any of us. It has taken thirty years to smooth the rough edges; some of them still aren’t smooth. Some of them might never be, but some of us are getting there.
  • The upshot? I sued and won. I also haven’t had a ‘real’ job since then. It is a scary thing to say, especially at my age. Oh sure, I can say I am my own boss. I can say I am an Independent Consultant. I can say those things with pride most of the time, but the reality is; in this economy, in my industry, as a woman, at my age it is scary as hell out here.

Each of us can look at choices we make every day, we can mull them over until our heads hurt with thinking, or we can jump in with both feet and hope for the best. Each of the actions above are different types of choice: (1) Everyday choice, thoughtless; (2) Reflective choice; (3) Angry choice, not made in anger but because of anger.

Most of us do not have the prescience to know how our choices will influence our days let alone the decades to come, if we did we might find life quite boring. Do any of us think through our every choice, our every stop along the way? Or instead do we stumble along, hoping, as we grow older, wiser and more mature we will be better able to make choices without too often stumbling into the potholes on our path.Crowbar

I know for me, the fissures still seem to catch my heels; I stumble frequently. My foot still seems to be stuffed in my mouth more often than I would like. My fears still seem to catch up to me and I am still all too frequently second guessing myself. The one thing I do know, I am not malicious in my choices I don’t make them selfishly. I have finally figured out I can’t fix everyone, can’t even always make choices that will make everyone happy. Some people will never see the light of day. They will always choose their ass over sunlight; I cannot fix this, not even with the crowbar of love.

Comments

  1. Val always your words echo within me, Your choices all different.. the first one maybe some would call that fate, a terrible fate that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.. And yet I do believe within my inner core, that our fate is mapped out, And maybe your subsequent input in victims support groups and the on going ripple effects of your survival were a hugely important roles you were meant to play… Your strength and commitment to justice for one… No one can ever understand the pain you went through mentally never mind your pain you still suffer physically… But through it, I know you are a better person today…
    The second choice of finding your real family.. who wouldn’t wish to know, and however much those ripples go out… healing also is a choice and you too are helping others whether they know it or not to help heal old wounds..
    The third choice of your boss.. I stand right up behind you Val and say bravo, so many male abuse their powers over women in this way..
    I once upon a time had a very bombastic boss who although I escaped his attention, he made others lives a misery…

    We each have choices and make them upon the information or our perception at the time… Right or wrong, some people’s choices like your CarJacking and shooting had a huge impact upon you, your family, them and their families, and is still on going … Sometimes we have to take the consequences of our choices for our actions impact upon many others..

    Love sent your way.. xoxox Sue x

    • I picked those because they were each so different, yet had such huge affect. Continue to do so even today yet at the time didn’t seem like they were so immense, so long ranging. You are so right, we all have choices and they are made with only what we know at the time.

  2. Great post Val! As evidenced by the many comments, it gave many people pause for thought. I frequently find myself ruminating over how in retrospect – what seemed like a small and inconsequential choice, at the time – down the road had a major impact on my life. If only we had for the foresight of our hindsight when making choices! Thanks for sharing our experiences.

  3. I love your reflections on choices, and I am so, so grateful that you walked away from the consequences of choice #1. I know it has been torturous and I ache for all the agony you’ve experienced in its wake, but am inspired by your constant searching . . . and your love as you search. You rock my socks off. So much.

    • I have been thinking about choice, action and consequence a great deal lately. How we are constantly bombarded by net results. Yet, we do not have to wallow in ‘woe’ we can, like you and so many others I have met, get up and find joy. I want to be like that, most days, more days. I want to be rolling in joy.

  4. Solid post, Val. I wrote about choices this week as well (launching tomorrow). Choices and consequences fascinate me. Loved your examples.

  5. You said it Val, there was a time when if’s and but’s ruled my life so much so that either I would not do something or take a long time to decide, not anymore though..i learned the same you wrote in the last passage, we can’t control everything, in fact there is very little we can and that too can not ensure security or success of any kind so all we can do is try take of things we can and keep moving.

  6. I am a habitual foot in mouther. I desperately need a t-shirt or badge to warn people. 😦

  7. I no longer make choices without thinking about the consequences as it has resulted in a long hill to climb back up… I send you love.

    • Christy, many of us have learned this lesson the hard way. I can only give this one small nugget, sometimes we can let go and simply chase butterflies’ I promise it will be safe.

  8. Re: Eve Apple pie my post – your comment – Very astute and I was waiting for someone to point this out and you did. My prepared reply: “Gotta keep my G rating.”

  9. Just read this quote on facebook… “You are free to choose but you are not free of the consequences of your choices.” That’s a neatly-tucked nutshell.

  10. Val, I’m late to this one.

    Everybody has things happen to them that they can’t control and that they wish hadn’t happened. But I am always “wow-ed” by your ability to become more grounded in doing the right thing. That won’t change.

    And yes, the world sucks these days for women of our age in terms of work. But I think that will change. Probably because I want it to, but still.

    • I think though Elyse things happening to us versus our ability to make choices and how those choices affect our own lives and the lives of others is very different. I used three examples with not so perfect outcomes for a reason, how to squeeze lemons.

      My life doesn’t suck. Sometimes it isn’t easy but it certainly doesn’t suck.

      As to it changing for women of a certain age, I think we both are hoping this is true. We will see.

  11. Choice is that weird, unexplainable, uncontrollable part of life — I think when we’re young, we never give it much thought. We do what we want, and don’t really think of it as ‘choice’. It’s not until life intervenes, sometimes in really horrific ways, that we begin to understand that each of our actions are choices — though, who knows if that really helps. It may make us pause and reflect before doing something, but, really, all we can do is pick the choice that seems best, based on who we are and what we know at the time we make the choice.

    I think that’s what being human is about: making the best choices we can at any given time, with the knowledge we possess. If our choice turns out to not be good, we need to learn from it, so we can make better choices the next time. I would say that the incident when you stopped for cigarettes doesn’t count … yes, you chose to stop, but, your attackers actions are not part of the normal aspects of life. I think it’s the choices where we can look at the various outcomes that we most need to concern ourselves with.

    What happened to you, regardless of you stopping, or saying anything, should not ever have happened. Period. Any choice that was made that night was made on the part of your attackers … they chose to take those actions, you did not chose to have those actions taken against you. There’s a difference.

    That being said — I must admit we’re much alike. I’m an impulsive person — I act first, question later. I’m getting better at thinking about consequences, but, I’m not sure I’ll ever be completely cured of the Impulsive Choice.

    • It is strange John how so many people believe there was no personal choice in the first one, yet there was. Not just in my stopping but in actions thereafter. Yes, certainly the choices of my attackers were theirs and were the larger part of it, but mine are there also.

      You are so right though, impulsive choices you and I likely are similar in this one. As I get older I get better at stopping and thinking. Like you though, it is unlikely I will ever be cured of ‘gut’ reaction or decision making.

  12. Profound. Overflowing w/ insight. Authentic.

    I continually learn from you, dear.

    Thank you for being a ((Powerful)) voice for other women. Xxxxx LOVE.

    • My friend I am constantly inspired by those voices I am surrounded by. There are days I am stunned by the light they shine, with their beauty. You are one of them.

      XX

  13. Each of our journeys are like a series of stacked dominoes … yet with forks (decision points) with the dominoes only failing in one direction. The fallen dominoes leave a path of our journey … a path that with open to interpretation by self and others …. interpretations than can be good and/or bad …. things that are temporary and others that stick to us like glue whether we like it or not.

    • That is the truth isn’t it Frank, the sticking like glue part that is. It is the choices thing that is always interesting to me. How many unintended consequences there can be from any choice, how often we make even small inconsequential choices which then have sometimes huge ripples.

  14. Your journey is still on-going, the road ahead not clear and yet you have come through such hell to be where you are today. I know that you are such a brave young woman to have pushed yourself forwards, and still managing to confront your past, controlling your feelings and forever travelling ahead in a positive light, something which is not always possible after such traumatic experiences as what you encountered.

    I have mentioned in past comments that I would not be able to forgive a perpetrator of evil deeds but I admire your steadfastness and that wonderful ability to look deeper, and in doing so add a positive in such a negative environment.

    Those negatives are being replaced by an awareness that links the hurt and conflict, and turns them around so that there is a healing process, I can see that now. It takes some metal to do what you do my great friend, but when there is a turnaround and something really good comes from a bad situation, then that has to be the right way.

    You are one in a million Val, such a lovely, optimistic and wonderful individual that I am honoured to call you my friend 🙂 Have a truly delightful start to your Tuesday, oh and be good too, just like me 🙂

    Andro xxxx

    • See my friend, we can always learn from each other. Each time, we learn from experiences; our own and others if we are open to them.

      Thank you my great friend.

      • Yes I would never have thought that I would think this way but I agree with you, it is the right way ahead and with that in mind the healing process that is a direct knock-on-effect is something to embrace, not let it slip through one’s fingers. You really are an awesome young lady, and I can tell you that for sure 🙂

        Andro xxxx

  15. Understanding that addiction to drugs and alcohol has consequences and connecting the dots to see they are mutually inclusive is a start on the road to recovery. Getting sick of tired of the consequences and intensity thereof reinforces the desire to stay in recovery.

  16. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    I love your terminology ‘crowbar of love’, Valentine – excellent title.

    This is a very thought provoking post. I also read the comments – and particularly your comments re temper: I admire you, Valentine. You’ve really lived mindfully through one hell of a lot.

    • I try to live mindfully now, believe me it has been a very difficult lesson and one I still learn nearly every day.

      Thank you my friend. I suspect we all must go through life with our recovery pack on our shoulders, the crowbar being only one of our tools.

  17. I don’t know why it is that some people have to go through horror experiences like you have and some escape. It’s not right is it? Considering all you’ve gone through you have done very well taking command of your life. You have my admiration!

    • If you had asked my father that question he would have told you it was because I was hardheaded.

      If you asked my heart mother (stepmother) she would have told you it was God thorwing bricks to get my attention.

      Me? I think sometimes it is simply inattention to details. I mean by this, there were things I needed to do in life that couldn’t be done without the underpinnings. Terrible as it may seem those couldn’t be taught be the experiences not anywhere else. Horrible, I know but there it is.

      Thanks Ian, as you have mine.

      • That’s an interesting perspective. I suppose it’s not enough for a mother to say “don’t put your fingers on the hot plate or it will burn.” I would have tried to see if that was so and got burned. lol. I guess bad choices or events are an education after all. Thanks for that thought.

  18. Hey Val that was a beautiful analogy about people and making choices.Years ago I made a choice to just join the navy because i was tired of waiting for the army guy who was late for our appointment. to get to the office. I often wonder what my life might have been had I waited for him. I have no regrets, I am curious though.

    • I think Tom, we are always curious about the “What if’s” in our lives. It is hard not to be. The line is the sand though, is not to regret. Even when our choices don’t lead to the outcomes we might wish for, no regrets.

  19. Your post reminds me of a Thomas Hardy novels with themes of a single incident or choice affecting one’s life forever. Val, you have shared again your pain and shown your courage to inspire others. It is a reminder that sometimes our actions or words may hurt others without our meaning to do harm. And those acts of kindness may be just what someone needs that day. Perhaps someone needed your post today. The title is excellent! It could be he title of a poem…peace to you.

    • I always hope when I hit that ‘Post’ button, something I say will be just the right thing. Sometimes I know I am a bit raw, I think to myself dang perhaps I should have scrubbed that a bit more. But then, well I write pretty close to how I talk (except in business settings). I suspect most people who read me, well they are use to me by now and not to easily bruised.

      Thank you once again for your kindness.

  20. Profoundly insightful, Val. Words like these can only flow from us out of life experience. I suppose if nothing else, the struggles we encounter, the difficult choices we make and resultant effect, leave us with at least a measure of wisdom. I think what gives me assurance and comfort is witnessing that our desire to survive is so strong that it keeps us pushing forward on life’s journey with the hopes one day of thriving. Survival and Hope. Two of the best traveling companions in life.

    • I think sometimes, it is the everyday choices the ones we make without any real thought that sometimes end up being the most profound. Those we give the most thought to, well they are often the ones which shouldn’t take up so much of our time and effort. You are right though, our instinct to survive is usually strong, it is the desire to step beyond survival to jump in with both feet and roll around in the mud and be happy, to thrive despite all the dirt that is where we find our bliss.

      • I love the stark contrast in your first two sentences here… simple choices can equal big impact… labored choices sometimes are not worth all the labor. If there was just a way we could switch our efforts around where they would have the best impact. I wonder if it is possible.

        And, yes, survival is good, but living well and happy is better. I think I’d like to slather myself in bliss! 🙂

  21. What if..? is always the question. My mother used to say,’ your life can change in a second.’ It’s always that dreaded second you don’t expect.

    I’m glad you have had the strength and courage to overcome what has been possible for you.

    • You know, your mother was absolutely correct. Those sayings, the ones we use to scoff at in our youth were always so profound.

      I try not to play the ‘What if..’ game, I think though we sometimes can’t help it. For me that game always gets me back to a strange conclusion though, every outcome is, if things hadn’t happened as they did I wouldn’t be who I am.

      Thanks Tess

  22. Sometimes these choices don’t even feel like a choice. They are often the things we do without the thinking, just the actions that we just do, because we don’t expect any extraordinary consequences – like stopping for gas in your regular place. So it’s not much use in pondering these “choices”, because the outcome is not something we can reasonably predict, and it’s not something we can learn from.
    It wasn’t your choice to stop for gas, but the choice of someone else to kidnap you and shoot you that changed your life. We can only hope to do the best of the choices we make, and other people make for us, and I think you are doing an excellent job on that.

    • I think that is the point my friend, how ofent the inconsequential have such far reaching and extraordinary affect, then in the aftermath, what other choices we make. I think all of them, even those on the surface that don’t seem as if we would have changed have nuggets in them. I don’t beat myself up over them, but I have changed some of my actions and acts.

      I hope I do a passable job at living a better life, so thank you!

  23. Val, you say it so well and it’s mind-boggling to think that a choice we think so simple and perhaps inconsequential, can have such a major impact in our lives. If only there was a way of knowing ahead of time. What a unique life you’ve lived, and what strength of character you show. Very impressive.

    • But Monica if we knew ahead of time, what boring lives we would live. We would avoid pain in favor of comfort. We would avoid pratfalls in favor of grace. We would never grow in compassion or empathy as we would avoid anything that would help us see the world through the eyes of those less fortunate than ourselves. Terrible as it is to skin a knee now and then, no I think I will take a bit of a bump in the night. Wouldn’t you?

  24. “Some people will never see the light of day. They will always choose their ass over sunlight” – LOL, good one!

    I know that I can never make the right choices all the time. But if I can make right choices on matters that matter — have succeeded most times in this regards. But hey, I’m still young.

    And so are you, my dear 🙂

    We guys and gals in our 50s – God broke the mould after He made us, the tough ones.

    • Indeed Eric, the mold got broken. I like that, making the right choices on matters that matter. I think I will simply shoot for that one, at oh say 95%. I think I am scoring about 90% right now.

  25. Mrs. Valentine your courage is beyond reproach and never doubt for a minute you are survivor. What saddens and frightens me as a woman and for all women is the political rhetoric that is pervasive in this country that devalues, dehumanizes, and threatens our sex. To quote Nietzsche ” those things which do not kill us only serve to make us stronger.” You are embodiment of this statement I wish you the very best.

    • Thank you my friend, please do call me Val (everyone does). I suspect being a survior is part of most of our DNA, it is a matter what we do with this instinct. My hope is I survive with mostly joy intact. I think this is, at least in part, why I write and why my writing explores some of these issues.

      Yes, this nation fails us on many levels. We are not required to accept the definitions handed to us. Might get us in trouble sometimes, I know it has me. But this remains an open discussion and a challenge.

  26. <In at least the first example, you had every reasonable expectation that your choice would have little consequence. The choice you made in the aftermath — to empower those in similar circumstances — says much about your personal strength.

    It *is* scary out here for a woman of a certain age. That you have survived and thrived through so much is indication that you will be more than fine.

    • Victim Impact is different, it is speaking to the offenders those who committed the crimes and are in prison, sometimes for life. This program is so important and so few of us are willing to reach out, yet shockingly so many of those on the other side of the walls are also hurting and lost. I have volunteered with the Victims of Violence and Womens Shelter programs for years, also important but a very different outreach.

      More than fine? Hmmmm, we shall see. I can only say I might need a new career path soon to make sure the bills get paid into my old age! 😉

  27. What you write is always so powerful Val, you always grip me from your first sentence, and this post was no different.
    Whatever the story you’re telling today, it is always told with such honesty, whatever the cost, and so what you write goes straight to the heart.
    And what you had to say today was so thought provoking… how many thoughtless actions have brought me to this point in my life… how many unconscious compulsive choices… oh yes, much food for thought, Val…thank you…

    • This one has been poking me in the back of the head Valerie, just poking at me until I let it out. I honestly wasn’t certain how it would come out, what was needed. The truth? It started with the last lines and built from their, started from a conversation I had with a friend about consequences.

      I am glad you, my favorite foodie has some food for thought from this one.

      Val

  28. I make a lot of reflective choices, sometimes years in the making. Still, once a decision is acted upon none of us can see the effects on us coming down the pike. This post has made me think, and maybe be less fearful of acting on a choice. I have learned a bit more about you, thank you for your candor. I am new here and respect and admire your courage and tenacity in life. Your honesty and thoughtfulness here reflect on what you have been through and who you have become as a result. Thank you.

    Gail

    • Gail, I try hard to make most of my choices these days reflective choices. I try hard to avoid knee jerk reactions and choices made in anger. My temper has gotten far better over the years, at least I hope so. Yet still, I tend to be one who chooses quickly and sometimes instinctively. In the end, we can love the best we can and hope that ripples also.

      Val

  29. I think one guess is sufficient. The second one is wasted effort.
    I love you.
    xxx

    • Yet, sometimes one can’t help but ask the question “what if I hadn’t stopped that day.” Or, “What if I had just kept my blessed mouth shut!”

      Yes, I am fully aware the second is a wasted effort. Still sometimes the what if game is hard not to play.

      Love you also.

      XX

  30. OneHotMess says:

    I am standing beside you, 100%!

    • I am enourmously grateful for this. I suspect you cannot know how much. On days when my get up and go has run out and found a cloud to play under, well it is those days I am ever grateful knowing you and others are out there.

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