Choices are Terrible

1343863240_3320_fearFear is a terrible thing.  The stories we tell ourselves of what will happen if we do or do not do certain things can spin out of control in our own heads.  If we have any imagination our internal stories can cause us too cower in corners refusing to take the steps we know in our hearts are right.

What do I fear?


  • Losing everything
  • Never working again
  • Being alone for the rest of my life
  • Never being loved again
  • Dying alone
  • Not achieving any of my dreams

What am I willing to sacrifice so this doesn’t happen?  Apparently everything at least that is how it feels right now, today as I face the nearly untenable return to work in a hostile environment leaving too much unsaid at home.  What is it in my personal psyche that will accept what is indefensible under any normal circumstance rather than take risks that are not grounded in facts.

Yes, some of them are grounded in personal  historical realities.

Yes, some of them are grounded in societal standards and those translate into well founded fears.

Finally, some are simply my own fears, my own personal insecurities built over years of hearing “not good enough”.

Somewhere, somehow there comes a time when it is important to separate what are unreasonable fears from what is simply the truth about choices we make and why we make them.  Is there a part of us that chooses jobs because we think, ‘this is something that makes sense and I can do this; be successful at this.’  Or, as we get older in a market that values youth and beauty do we think, ‘shit thank you Jesus, someone is willing to pay me now if I can only stay under the radar long enough to retire I will be good.’

I wonder about this one, I truly do.  After twenty plus years in an industry that is unkind at best to women, one that I have fought hard to succeed in I find myself on the cusp of antiquity.  I still love what I do. I badly want off the road, badly want to find a ‘forever’ home that will value hard won knowledge and my years of experience.  Truly want to find somewhere to rest myself, on the laurels I have earned through years and 3 million miles in the air.  I still have it in me to work hard and contribute to success.  I still have it in me to mentor and lead.  What I don’t have in me any longer is surviving in hostile environments in silence hoping it will be better tomorrow.  I just don’t have that in me, I simply can’t find the strength or wherewithal to hope next week or this week will be better than the last one when I know the same people will be there and nothing has been done to change their bad behavior.

hazardous-waste-symbolsThe idea of getting in my car and driving four hours to an environment that is so toxic it makes me want to weep or scream every single day makes me weep now.

Funny though, when the environment I am leaving is as toxic it is choosing between two rooms one full of Sarin the other full of Rican.  Which is worse?

Dying alone seems a better choice, it is simply a matter of telling myself this isn’t the worse that can happen.  Never being loved is a silly fiction, I know I am loved it is simply a matter of definitions, love comes as a gift in so many different packages.  Being alone, how much worse could it be than it is right now when I am more alone together than I have ever been.

Losing everything, now this is a terrible one.  Terrible because I have been here before and I am too old to start over again.  Terrible because it is a very real fear, not just one I made up in my over active imagination but one I have lived.  Terrible because it truly does scare the hell out of me and causes emotional and intellectual paralysis.

Love is a sometime horrible state of being, we hope beyond all reason what we love and whom we love will be good for us and that in turn we will be good for them.  We hope, rightly or wrongly we can fix what is broken in ourselves and that our baggage will match theirs so our travels are along the same roads.  We hope we speak the same language, from our hearts and our minds; both are important as we walk along paths no others have medium_diverging_paths-270x180tread dragging our histories behind us.

Sometimes we fail.  Sometimes, despite all our best intentions we fail miserably.  Sometimes there isn’t enough love to fix what is broken inside of us.  Compassion, empathy, humor, self-confidence these have to be part of the mix we bring.  When we try to force another person into a mold, whether it is an image we have of him or her or of how marriage should work we are doomed before we place our feet firmly on the path.  When  we have no flexibility in our personal views, in our vision of the world we have doomed ourselves to a very narrow future and we doom our partner to unhappiness if they don’t agree.

What am I willing to sacrifice?  Myself? My pride?

What happens when we don’t tell, or worse when we do but the other person doesn listen or doesn’t hear?

I have to answer these questions soon.  Choices are terrible things, aren’t they?

I leave you with this from one of my favorite Broadway shows, I think it says what we should all ultimately strive for.


  1. Making choices––decisions, is the most difficult thing about growing up, in and apart of relationship. You’ve made an important declaration in the identification of your fears. As you pointed out, some of our fears are real, others imagined, others informed by our upbringing and the tapes we conveniently play over in our head, rather than the new, more empowering affirmations that we know to be true. We want to be disassociated from those fears, then when we are, we become afraid again, tethering ourselves to the past which tells us that perhaps our new ventures and aspirations will fail. Fickle, aren’t we? How do I know? Turns out most of us are more alike than we think.

    Now that you’ve identified your fears–put them out in the open, so to speak–they can no longer own or possess you, for you have named them and misappropriated their power. No longer can they stifle you, because they’ve been released. Good news: there is no perfect choice, no right or wrong answers, but rather, there are tradeoffs. Owning the decisions we make and our role in their outcomes is difficult, but amazingly empowering. Then and only then, can we truly walk in our gifts, in our light, and not be as afraid. Learning with you.

    Sidebar: So thankful for this forum.

    • Me also (thankful for this forum), even when it means I put myself out there at times.

      You are so very wise, along with others who gift me with wisdom and an uplifting spirit, I am grateful for the time you spend to answer even the unasked questions. My tears, they are shed because my fears are sometimes all I have left, does that make sense? Gad, I wish it didn’t.

      Letting fear go, it means getting to a new normal. Well you have already seen one of my choices taken out of my hands. Maybe though in someway I demanded action by finally refusing to drop to my knees in fear.

      • Yes. Makes a lot of sense, but you do have more. Just be still, and not overthink it.

        I wish there were as many answers as there are questions. If you’re ever on FB, and as only as you are led, please check out my SomerEmpress FB page. I try to post inspirations as they are poured into me on a more regular basis than I blog. Perhaps some of them might occasionally bless you along your journey. No denomination or religious affiliation, just whatever is revealed to me through Spirit– when I’m still. 🙂

  2. Gray Dawster says:

    Choices are terrible, sometimes we feel like passengers on an unstoppable journey, sensing the outcome but still clinging on to the last hope of something different, something that takes us away from the negativity and the knowing of what will happen. I think embracing the fears that confront us help to combat the inevitability of our situation.

    It is true that life sucks my sweet and great friend but when a door closes or slams shut, another one opens before us, and even though we feel let down and upset, life will be good again, of that I have no doubts.

    Andro xxxx

    • I am sure this is true Andro. It has usually proven so, getting through to the other side though that is the hard part. I will get there, of this I am certain but damn it hurts this journey.

  3. Val you have had some amazing advice given in these comments my friend, and no one but you knows what feels right. December is a month of choices and we are in the process of planning for next years cycle to start. December is also a good month for reaching out to new people within your social circle.. Remember also Val that we meet and greet many people over our life time… Some we only know briefly others are like rocks that keep us stable and help ground us as we lean on them… Life is a series of Choices… and over the years if I look back, I may have thought I had made some terrible choices which were mistakes.. But in hindsight now, I needed those choices, those lessons, and I have since learnt there is no right or wrong way.. There is just ‘Being’… Following what feels right FOR YOU.. no one else. is what really matters..
    For most of my life I did what I thought was expected in life, and to please others, NOW as my 6th decade nears it completion I am at last learning to please me more..

    I am too tired at times to do battle with myself as my internal chatter buts in whispering its But this, and what if thats, I have worked all my life… Sometimes Val we have to just TRUST ..
    I too am coming to a crossroads where work is concerned as Its been extremely stressful and I have been in a dangerous situation more than once, Lone working in mental health has been taking it out of me of late until I have not relished getting up to go to work, which isnt me..
    Fear of the unknown is what stops many of us from just daring to do..
    I know I need fear nothing, for each choice I have made has set me along a pathway of discovery of one kind or another…. Some more pleasant than others but all of them were needed for my journey….
    Trust Val that you will make the right choice, and know sometimes we have to be braver still as we let go of the shackles which some times bind us .. Its not until we clear the fears, and let go of the things we thought we needed, that our life then becomes simpler and clearer as we cleanse those aspects from us. Take the time you deserve and self-reflect on your life, your goals, and what you need to clear out this month. If you know of a specific issue you want to resolve , then focus upon that Val.. Never be afraid to send out your thoughts via the Cosmos and ask for ‘signs’.. You will often be amazed at how the little words will pop up to give you your answers…

    Love and Light dear Val, and Good luck in all your choices xxx
    Sue 🙂

  4. Sounds like you are in a rough spot at the moment. You mention not achieving your dreams as one of your fears, but you don’t elaborate on that. Maybe that is the most important one and the one you actually are in control over (unless your dream is to be the queen of Sheba maybe? 🙂 ) So the good news is you have dreams to achieve!! As a way out of the black hole, maybe focus on that, the other decisions may become clear as you go forward on the dreams.
    Anyway, I wish you good luck on the decisions you have to make and a lot of dream time.

    • Some of those dreams are tied into how others progress, how I am able to function within work and life commitments. All things seem, at least right now, to be tied together.

      I am simply struggling with a difficult point right now. Decisions and choices that have to make.

  5. Too many of us clip our wings even before we try to fly. We allow the safety (or at the illusion of safety) to weigh us down to the ground and we end up crawling in the mud when we could be soaring in the sky if only we would take the chance.

    I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. I just DO. I want to launch my own news/entertainment site in the latter part of 2014. Why? Because I’m tired of waiting for someone else’s permission to tell the stories I want to tell. Sure, I still need a steady paycheck, but I’m tired of answering to a boss. I’ll be 58 next month and I’ve been answering to bosses since I was 18. When do I get to be my own boss?

    I refer back to the great Nikki Giovanni who said, “A lot of people refuse to do things because they don’t want to go naked, don’t want to go without guarantee. But that’s what’s got to happen. You go naked until you die”

    Get naked and go do things.

    • This Jeff is likely some of the best advise I have been given in a very long time. The getting naked part, the taking risks part; hard at our age, but yes likely time.

      I was independent for years and thought I needed a steady paycheck. Still think I need one, but perhaps you are right.

  6. Hi Val, I haven’t read your blog for a while. I have been using the wordpress reader and for some reason your postings don’t appear on my following list. I often think of you. So tonight I came looking for you and I find that you are in a dark place. Which I am very sorry about. I can’t offer much, except this:

    Sometimes I find your blog difficult to read because of the pain and angst that I find there. But why I don’t worry too much about you is the strength of your words and ideas; you are completely in touch with yourself, you are no fool, you know what’s going on. How can you fail? If I had been through half of what you have been through and still be able to write in the way you do – with such humanity and understanding then I would be amazed at myself. Oh yes, and the anger. Given parts of your history, anger is the least that you should feel. And now fear and doubt are in the mix; and I hope you find a way through it.

    Good wishes to you.

    • Bill, Hi it is nice to see you again. Fear is simply something we feel when changes are on the horizon I think. Doubt? Well, yes I suspect doubt is not new but I tend to worry at it now and then, self-doubt is a hazzard isn’t it?

      This will pass, it will. I am going throught this because it is a necessary part of life. Not a happy part of life but needful. Where I am right now, it isn’t good or healthy. It is time to make my way to a better, healthier and happier place. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt only that to get to where it won’t hurt I need to get walk through a bit of fire.

  7. As someone who is single with no prospects to speak of, I don’t share these fears. I long ago reconciled that I won’t have that special someone at my side. But that’s okay. I actually enjoy my solitude. I don’t feel like I’ll never be loved again, because I have my children, my siblings, and my friends. They all keep me going, fill my hours. And writing, which is a solitary occupation, fills the rest.

    • I have been so cut off, my friends so distant from me physically I find this fear itself devastating.

      Things change though don’t they?

      • When you say your friends are so distant physically, I’m guessing you mean they live far away. My suggestion, if that’s the case, is to plan a trip to visit those who you’re closest to, and when all else fails, make new friends where you live. I have some good friends in Seattle, so last year I visited them twice. This year I can’t afford to, but I keep them in my heart and look forward to the day I’m able to plan another trip.

  8. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Hi Valentine,
    That list of fears is pretty spot on! That dying alone, that does happen out there. It’s true. And ALWAYS rocks me when you find someone has died but it’s not discovered until months or years later. Recently in a block of flats, a man was discovered to have died alone TWO YEARS PREVIOUS. Neighbours smelt something gross, did complain, nothing was done, years rolled on. My gosh, incredible. How alone is THAT, that no-one notices..

    On the cusp of antiquity – what is it you work in, Valentine? I didn’t know your work was so horrible, didn’t realise it – well, no, you love your work but it’s the ethics in the place, the disregards. You know when I got retrenched in August – I wanted to leave, oh, I hated where I worked, the people, the falsities, the boss herself… but feared going out mid 40s looking for work. Thank mercy they did what they did though! I’ve landed work, in a law firm in a suburb 20 minutes drive away. I’m tired of this gig, but the people are nice, at least. I can’t believe you drive 4 hours though!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Valentine, I’m very interested to hear what happens. Indeed I understand you, “hoping tomorrow will be better”. You know it won’t be. Good luck with your choices, sincerely.

    • First, my commute time is only a round trip once on Sunday and once on Thursday. It is really no different than flying someplace, I just choose not to fly if the commute is less than 5 hours. This is one of those choices I make. Travel is simply one of the parts of my work, I have always done it. I work in IT, I have been in consulting for over 20 years.

      The issue of ‘antiquity’ is in part the speed at which things change. For women, we struggle with ageism.

      • WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

        Ah, ageism, Valentine – just what I feared when I was retrenched.

        A round trip commute twice a week I guess isn’t that bad. Driving can be really meditative (depending on the traffic!). I’m glad though you enjoy what you do. IT is so special – we SO need it. Drives you nuts when things don’t work with IT.

  9. frigginloon says:

    OK, Valentine, just remember this is coming from a loon. Close the friggin doors and open some windows. The only way to move forward is to let it all go. Everything. Fear is just the worry of the unknown. If you look back on some of the worse times in your life , you got through it, you survived, it placed you somewhere new. Every action has a reaction. While you are standing (or sinking) in the place you are in at the moment you can’t see the light. Open that friggin window , even just slightly….. the light is waiting. You can’t change others, you can’t make people like you, nothing is a sure thing. Deep down YOU know things have to change. The moment you fight that fear things will happen, good and bad. Why do you think you have to open a wound to let all the toxins out? So you can heal. Stop prolonging the agony Valentine, it is time to heal.

    BUT if all else fails take comfort in this ” If you love someone, set them free but if they don’t come back, hunt them down and kill them”
    Love The Loon xxx

    • In my heart? Hell I know all of that, I do Loon. Even in my head I know much of it. I am slowly cracking the window, truly.

      As for hunting it down, no think I will just let it go.


      • frigginloon says:

        Ah, you go girl. Once that window is fully open and that cool breeze is blowing and you can see all the opportunities this crazy world has to offer , you will finally exhale. Life can be such a bitch…. which reminds me, I have to slap my guardian angel again 🙂

  10. Choices,,, and worse yet, the consequences of taking the wrong steps… I understand that. I understand the feeling of having bodies all around you yet feeling so alone. It is raw, unsettling and a lack of balance. I hope you feel in a better spot soon and may your choices be the ones that work best for YOU above anyone else. xx

    • I think sometimes we are paralyzed because we aren’t always alone and can’t always just make choices for ourselves. There are always others involved.

      I tend to look down the path and not want to hurt others, even when they are hurting me.

  11. Fear can be paralyzing . Many years ago some co-workers tried to make me look bad. No-one noticed because they were subtle but enough to fill me with fear. I couldn’t quit and I couldn’t be transferred. I’d put in too many years to throw it all away and I had a daughter to support. This lasted a couple of years and it almost broke me but I refused to give in. At the end of the day I arrived home worn out.

    Debilitating, that’s what fear is. We all make choices. Some are easier to others. I know this doesn’t help but I wish I could.

    • All the reminders help. All the stories also help. Sometimes we think we are alone in our fears, we aren’t are we? We also aren’t alone when we step of the cliff, we have friends who are there to either fly with us or to catch us when we get to the bottom, to make our landing gentle. I often forget this.

      Thank you for your story, for the reminder.


  12. AirportsMadeSimple says:

    The word “transition” maybe?

    Val, first, I think you don’t give yourself enough credit. I think that (based on the few conversations we’ve had), you are always reaching, always driving forward (no pun intended), and always pushing to find your personal 100% best. It’s the “if you’re going to dream, dream big” or “I’ll be the same age if I do this thing as I will if I don’t do this thing” feeling—whatever that is today.

    I ask myself: “What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen?” Then, I attack each scenario as if it were to really happen. Sometimes, simple knowledge is very helpful, and I find that then the situation I’m facing isn’t so catastrophic as I’d thought, and I would live through it.

    I’ve lost everything twice. I’m on my second marriage. I’ve almost died at least 3 times. I get your fears–they are valid, so give yourself the credit you deserve for being so strong. You are stronger than your fears—I DO know that for sure.

    If it weren’t for your past and your resiliency, you wouldn’t have the world’s best bullshit meter!

    Hang in there, D

  13. Thank you for sharing your fears, Val. I know these feelings. I was there yesterday. Today is a bit brighter. I appreciate your raw honesty, my friend. There’s always a place for you here in the Andes, should you want to cash in some frequent flier miles.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Thank you Kathy, you just brought tears to my eyes. You might just find me on your doorstep if for no other reason than some respite. These feelings are sometimes crippling.

      Hugs back


  14. Have you noticed that all of life’s big choices tend to accumulate and then you have to make a whole bunch of big and difficult decisions all at once? It is overwhelming and frightening because they cannot be addressed individually.

    Good luck with your choices, my friend. I am close to needing to make a couple of them myself.

    Shouldn’t life get easier as we get older?

    Hugs, my friend. Lots of them.

    • Yes, I have noticed that and Yes, it should get easier dammit.

      I suspect some decisions / choices will not be in my hands rather just things I will need to adjust to. Others, well they will simply be things I will have to choose between the devil I know and love and the devil I know and fear. Does that make sense?

      thank you for the hugs, I think I need them now and will like need more of them in the near future.

      • You make perfect sense, actually. Life is complicated and you DO have to look at your choices the way you are now. Of course that doesn’t mean the outcome , either way will be bad.

        Hugs again.

  15. “We hope, rightly or wrongly we can fix what is broken in ourselves and that our baggage will match theirs so our travels are along the same roads.” That’s an achingly beautiful phrase. Forgive me if I’ve missed this in a prior post, but what do you do for a living?

    I don’t like fear. It’s debilitating in part because there’s so much we can’t control about the future. I hate to think of you in a stressed, anxious state. Hugs and Kisses coming from Colorado.

    • I have been in consulting for many years, specifically in IT and even more specifically working as a project manager. I work with a very specialized software product most of the time, though now and then branch out. I have also worked across Organizational Change and within the Supply Chain. Most of the industries I have worked with are very male dominated, including Defense, manufacturing and Airlines. I don’t know how I got there.

      I hate fear, you are right it is debilitating. I will get through it I suspect. Thank you for caring.

  16. Dear, Val,
    “Fear” is a horrible thing.

    I feared much more before Kay. It’s weird, but after her murder, my fear, somehow, is different….because I think, “What the hell can happen to me that is more atrocious than that?”

    Always appreciate your perspective, wisdom, and voice.

    LUV U. Xx

    • You are one of my true heros you know. I feared much more once upon a time. Now my fears, well they are different but all connected. I know what they are connected to, but somehow cannot seem to let them go entirely.

      Love back

  17. Dear Val
    what a brave and brilliant analysis of the fears and choices before you…The only thing I can say is that in situations where I have to choose, I now ask myself ‘is this right for me’, and sometimes this means saying or doing things that are quite fearful, but there is the knowledge that I have been true to that inner self… and as you know, that need for the soul to have its say is what is pushing you to make all these choices and decisions – I think… forgive me if what I’ve said is not right for you…..

    The other thing I’ve found is that when I take a huge risk… somehow the universe supports me… as though if we’re brave enough to jump off the cliff, the angels will catch us !!!!
    Maybe that’s nonsense too… we all see things so differently . But I feel for you, and want you to know that I’m with you XXXX

    • Valerie – that is exactly the right thing! It is only the taking that blind faith leap that is so absolutely frightening, even when we know it is the right thing.

      I have taken so many of them in my life. Not all of them have ended as I expected. Not all of them have led me where I expected. Oddly though I have rarely regretted them when I looked back.

      It is just that first step, that first blind faith leap off the cliff that is so frightening.

      I so appreciate your friendship and wisdom.

  18. I wish I had advice (I’m shitty at advice), or words of wisdom (I’m not all that wise), or even something magical to make it all better (but, Happy Potter has a corner on the magic market at the moment ….)

    So, I’ll simply sends hugs and lots of good energy your way, in hope that, in some small way, they help….

  19. Val, I share your selection of fears — they strike a chord. If only we had access to a crystal ball so we could know in advance where our choices might lead before making a decision that could prove irreversible. I wish you well with yours.

    • I think they are likely somewhat universal fears, maybe especially for women. Strange isn’t it that we feel them more intently. I tend to look at these as if I am shaking those snow globes, sometimes for a very long time. Eventually the snow settles.

  20. A thought provoking post. I can remember being almost at death’s door and recovering only to be plagued with panic attacks for some time afterward. I had a wise GP who gave me a book to read called “IT.” The message for me was that regardless of the situation 99.9% of the time our fears had no basis and we needed to realize that and fight against that panic with the knowledge there was little basis for it to happen. Of course there is the reality of a chemical imbalance which needs to be dealt with through medication first and then a healthy lifestyle when that clinical issue has been resolved. Now I have an understanding of my situation I’ve been panic free for several years and am confident it will never happen again.

    • I know where my fears come from. Truthfully, I know where each of them come from, I can name them either with a person or a historical point in time. I know where the dark thoughts come from, I know why the stories are there. They are not fantasies, but histories. I know I should not allow them to control my choices Ian, pragmatically I know it. Emotionally, well that is a very different story.

      So now I try to put away my stories and think through what is good and better for me. I try to look pragmatically at a future and not feel fears fueled by history.

  21. Choices, decisions, or by any other name all bring about change which is often more fearful than the decisions. Change is difficult but living in your life in “limbo” is equally as painful! Forgive my simple minded reply! I will be thinking and praying for you!

  22. I fear the choices themselves. As in, “If I choose this, will I regret it?” I’ve been in choice purgatory on more than one occasion, paralyzed by my inability to take the leap a certain choice required. For most things, I’m extremely decisive–I can decide in seconds. But for major life changes? Those are scary. Good luck with the choices you’ll have to soon make. I hope they cause minimal bumps and bruises.

    • Thanks Carrie, I suspect some of them will ultimately be painless and others will be like having a building fall on me. Either way, they are all past due. Sucks, but has to be done. There will be no peace in my world until I create it.

  23. The interesting thing about choices is that they often don’t work out exactly how we fear (or hope) they will. So I hope that whatever choice you have to make, you are pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

    • The strange thing I find about decisions, life choices and major changes is they seem to all pile up at one time, making huge adjustments rather than small ones. For me they seem to come about every 10 years.

      Right now? My only response is, “I am getting to old for this.”

  24. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    Choice is a wonderful thing, although sometimes individual choices are not especially pleasing.

    It is hard to say goodbye to one thing that has worked, but if what made it work was unilateral sacrifice, the hardship might soon be eased by the goodness of ceasing sacrifice and, with time, finding all that was out of reach when so much energy went into just trying to keep a fading flame alit.

    Useful reflections, huh? Best I can do from my phone on the freeway . . .

    Sending love.

  25. Val some choices are terrible. Many choices we must make are those we will be affected by for the rest of our lives. There can be a real fear associated with making the wrong one, or just making one you know is right, and you don’t want to do it.

    For me the best way to do it is to simply ask what is going to make me happiest in the short term. I will always favor the short term over the long term.

    I also chose to write this whole comment without using the word starting with a T. H, and ending with an at.

  26. Hugs is all I can offer – I have many of the same fears. I wish for you to find the right solution.

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