My husband calls it having a case of the “I don’t know whats.”
This phrase pointedly refers to my regular bouts of indecision. He gleans much pleasure in being able to sum up the inner workings of his wife’s psyche with this witty maxim.
I live my life in a constant swirl of wavering resolution, ranging from what clothes I should wear to what to have for dinner; short sleeves or long sleeves? Spaghetti or hamburgers?
Why am I so afraid of making the wrong choice?
For the most part, my husband stands by and lets me work through these little internal skirmishes on my own. Sometimes however, he will become exasperated by my painful affliction of “straddling the fence,” and just make a decision for me.
“Hamburgers. Tonight we will grill hamburgers. There. Decision made.”
Am I relieved he made up my mind or mad he stole control? Oh, I don’t know!
“I picked you!” I always tell him. Sometimes, I think that may have been my one and only act of certitude.
Insignificant and humorous as it may seem, the realization of this trait brought me to a screeching halt.
I became aware this problem did not encompass only minor aspects in my life. I realized, this IS my life. I have always been this way and the problem has gone hand in hand with the big decisions as well as the small ones.
This issue came into focus a few years ago. I was struggling to decide if I would remain at my current job. In fact, I was thinking of changing careers altogether. What had been the problem? You guessed it….I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I really never have.
I always envied my high school classmates who went off to college with their 4 year plans and their undisputable goals. Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief. Seriously, how did they know? I knew I wanted something, I just had no clue what it was or how to figure it out.
Unfortunately, a life long battle with mental illness reared its’ ugly head in 2016. The symptoms of Complex-PTSD, Anxiety, Depression and OCD became unmanageable. Hidden skeletons tumbled out; the closet was open and the mess in full view.
The decision was made for me…I could no longer work.
Today, I understand these indecisive tendencies stem from a life long battle with depression, anxiety and OCD. Years of therapy and introspection have helped me to conclude that I was never given the skills or latitude to sort out who I was or what I wanted.
Growing up in an abusive home with an emotionally unstable mother left no room for the personality of a young girl to grow and develop. Teenage angst is happening now…20 years late.
Throughout my working years, I had been successful, despite my unorganized and faltering disposition. Well-respected and hard-working, I made a decent living and excelled in my position during a 16 year tenure.
Every hint of fear, doubt and self-hatred was hidden from the world. Feelings of inadequacy and qualm were pushed down deep inside, where torment and destruction operated in seclusion.
I was a master of disguise. (Well, except from my husband!) I never saw the implosion coming; who would? When you sweep a problem under the carpet, the world can’t see it, but neither can you. You know it’s there, but it’s so much easier to pretend otherwise.
Did I choose the career I had committed to for so many years? Not exactly.
Thinking it would be temporary, I applied for work after a short stint at college. I had left school due to depression and needed time to heal. This job was a placeholder until I figured out my next move.
Remarkably, the ball started rolling and I didn’t stop it. Promotions poured in and I decided to stay without pausing to think about long-term goals or personal desires.
Disorientation of self-worth has a way of creating limiting beliefs. I felt lucky to have a company who wanted me, despite that fact I may not have wanted them.
I stayed because I didn’t have the confidence to leave.
In the back of my mind, I often wondered…would I be happier in a different career?
I had a co-worker who left her position and dropped to part-time status while completing her degree.
One night, over drinks, she confessed uncertainty in her path after graduation. This feeling didn’t bother her at all. Her current situation was simply unwanted; the future would sort itself out.
I couldn’t decide; was she taking crazy pills or was she the bravest person I knew?
Today, I’m in my late thirties. I’m unemployed. I’m trying to heal, recover, discover ways to function in the world again. I am still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. It scares the hell out of me.
It’s not a case of “The I don’t know whats.” It’s mental illness. I understand that now.
Mostly, I just want to stop being afraid of making a wrong choice so that I can move forward and simply make a choice. It gets awfully frustrating being rooted to a spot by fear and doubt.
Even now, I want to delete every word I’ve typed. I thought I liked them but now I’m not so sure.
Dinner, tonight? I’m mostly, almost positive, it’s certainly without a doubt, spaghetti…absolutley…I think.