Because I Decided To

Someone once asked me.  In a hushed tone.  In the midst of a discussion about having been molested as a child:

“How can you be happy and be…..okay?’    She paused and said “when others can’t?”

I knew my answer mattered to her.  I knew it was important.  Though I did not know the depth of ‘why’ it mattered.  I assumed I knew why she was asking.  And I was wrong.

I felt I had to answer with care.  And without embellishment.

My answer:

“Because I decided to.”

My embellishment:

I wasn’t always okay.  I wasn’t always happy.    Looking back it seems like I made the decision to be okay and things changed.   Insert:  finger snap.   Like that.

It wasn’t that quick of a change.

It was gradual.   But it was consistent.  It was progressive.  And it was a very good decision.

I learned I had choice.   And my choice was ‘to be okay’.

I had too many days when I did what I had to do.   Did what I was obliged to do.  Did what I thought was expected of me.   I couldn’t let go of that and decided I was okay with not being able to let go. I  kept doing what I was supposed to do and felt responsible for.  That’s a good thing.  But I added things to my day.  I added education.   Interaction.   And fun.

I don’t need sadness or pity for what happened in my life.  It’s part of who I am.

If tomorrow I woke up sad I now know that I can make the decision to remain sad, or to do what I need to do to be ‘okay’.

I’m not saying that every single moment of my life is ‘okay’.   But I am saying that I have the knowledge and the ability to make ‘me’ be okay with where I am, who I am, what I have.  Sometimes I might allow myself a moment or two, or a day, to not be okay.   And that’s my decision as well.   Sometimes I need to not be okay so that I can fully face what it is I need to address and work through.  Sometimes not being okay, is okay.  It helps with clarity.

Deciding to be okay gave me permission to accept that I am good.  I am not bad.  Bad things happened.  To me.  Not because of me.  I have as much right to be happy as anyone.   But no one can hand me happy.   I had to stand up out of my sitting-still-waiting-on-life-to-happen  way of thinking.   And I had to walk.  I had to take steps.  One step at a time.  Sign up for school.  Open my mouth and express an opinion.  Put energy in to what I valued.  I had to believe I had value.

I learned about self determination.

Where I used to look in the mirror and see nothing, nothing but me…. Nothing.

And then I decided.   I am going to be okay.  I am going to be, and find, goodness.

I now look in the mirror and see me, and nothing else but me.    And I am okay with that.

I hope she remembers asking me that question.

And I hope she decides to be okay.

And happy.

The very simple answer to how I can be okay….. is because I decided to.

I wrote this in 2013 and I am happy to re-read it and believe it, and live it, still today.

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47 thoughts on “Because I Decided To

  1. Very well written Collen. Life is filled with choices and we are the only responsible for our choices.
    No matter what we have been through in our lives, we have the choice to live in the pain or try to go on in a positive way and find a path as we like.

  2. niaaeryn says:

    I have no words but I am grateful for your candor, insight, patience, positivity, and strength. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Hugs for your strength to make your life YOUR LIFE and no one else’s. 💜

  4. This is absolutely wonderful Colleen and I’m sure it is exactly what some people need to hear. Because I have a personal experience with mental illness I know that some people are so extreemly traumatized that they don’t have control of their “thinking.” For those people I would like to say, find your strength. Do your best to find your strength and once you do that you will gradually be able to gain strength over your own thinking and can then be able to choose to be “okay.” Thank you for allowing me to have my moment of clarity Colleen and if you have anything to add to this I think that would be wonderful because I’m sure you have great wisdom in this area.

    • Thank you Priceless. I think you are right about being ‘traumatized’. I’m not an expert and can only speak from what I personally know. But trauma…it can do some sad stuff to us long after the event of the trauma incident. I don’t have much wisdom, but I have compassion and an understanding of what trauma can do. I appreciate you sharing Priceless. My biggest gift to my self was freeing myself of the shame I felt for what someone else did to me. It was huge. And knowing I could do something for me. We can’t all heal the same way. My way worked for me. I just want others who may understand what I understood, to know they have that choice. God bless you Priceless!

  5. ksbeth says:

    yes, we can choose to accept life and be happy, or to struggle against it, and not. when we welcome in ‘okay and happy’, we are welcoming a way of getting through life with open arms and eyes and heart, instead of living in fear and guilt. baby steps will get you where you’re going, and the path is not always forward, but we get there. bravo, colleen.

    • Thank you Beth. Those baby steps sure add up over the years. I know some days my steps were minute, some were leaps, sometimes I stood still or even stepped backwards. But I lived so long without moving at all that when I did, even the missteps could feel like a gallop. Thank you, again.

  6. Lisa Heider says:

    You are an amazing woman Colleen.

  7. inmycorner says:

    You seem to make very good decisions, Colleen. I agree with you that so much of how we live – not what we live – is a decision. It takes courage, though, to step out of the comfort of not being okay – and into the bold world of being okay. Being okay means you are now expected to live. Bravo that you have done so – and you have helped others to be okay too because of that decision.

    • Stacey, that is it! It was uncomfortable, often, stepping in to life when I spent an awful lot of time shielding myself from it. In many ways. Sometimes I did indeed feel courageous. Other times, fearful and unprepared. Other times, I don’t know what I felt. But I let myself feel. And experience. And it has been wonderful. And if there is one person out there who needs to hear that they have that choice, they really really do but just don’t know it yet…I hope they get this message. They do, have choice. And their choice can be, to be okay.

  8. mewhoami says:

    Excellent post and even better is your response to what you’ve gone through. We can either allow bad things to break us or to make us. You’ve obviously chosen the latter and that’s wonderful. I too had things happen as a child and although for years I was not okay, I eventually became okay – because I chose to. I forgave and even learned to understand; not justify or excuse however. There is no justification. But, it’s ultimately our choice whether or not we allow bad things and the bad choices of others to ruin us. Like you, I chose to live anyway.

    • I’m sorry you went through something too MeWhoAmI. Like you it was many MANY years before I decided to be okay. I wrote a while back a piece I called “I Am Not Ashamed”. And I’m not. It was a huge weight off of me to choose to be okay and to choose to be who and what I could be. And I was NOT going to be what someone else did to me. So…..I’ve been working on that ever since. Thank you, for living too.

  9. That’s something I never knew about you and I’m sorry that it did. On the other hand, I’m glad you came through it will with glowing colors. I think a lot of people don’t realize that being happy is a choice. You are a beacon of hope for all of us.

  10. tric says:

    I think there is a time when we have no choice, recovery for a while drowns us. With help from others and for some professionally I think we begin to thread water and breathe once more. It’s at that point I chose to move on. He’d taken so much I wasn’t giving him one more day, so like you I decided to.
    I wrote a poem the other day which I want to submit places so can’t publish on my blog I’ll send it to you. I think it might speak to you.
    Your posts remind me of me, we have lived through unhappiness but wow do we enjoy being happy.

    • Please send it Tric! I look forward to reading it.

      You know what was difficult is that for a very long time I didn’t even really understand my hesitancy to live well and joyfully. It’s only when I allowed myself to speak and think about it that it came to me so clearly and simply “I DID NOT DO THIS” and “I AM NOT WHAT SOMEONE ELSE DID TO ME”.

      I’m glad you are enjoying happy with me Tric. I hope others, many others, join us!!!

  11. Mustang.Koji says:

    We are all glad you decided to be OK, Chatter Master. 😉

  12. reocochran says:

    It is not easy. I won’t assume to know what you experienced but at the battered women’s shelter (The Lighthouse in Lancaster, Oh) I was able to truly empathize and listen fully engaged in my emotions. I think sharing tears and tissues really helped us to do intake paperwork together. Each story held its own sadness and discomfort or abuse.
    Sending hugs to anyone out there who is still holding their story inside themselves. Thank you for your sharing this 2 year’s ago, and now, again. I am not sure I was sharing our journey or pathway with you then, Colleen.
    I like your statement. “Because you decided to” … move forward.

    • Thank you Robin. I am familiar with the Lighthouse because of work! 🙂

      What happened to me happened when I was a child. And it took me well in to adulthood to realize that I had the ability to stop feeling the way I was feeling. To stop hiding from life.

      I so appreciate this: “Sending hugs to anyone out there who is still holding their story inside themselves. ”

      I hope for so many Robin, to find their choices.

  13. russtowne says:

    Reblogged this on A Grateful Man and commented:
    I love this post. It is a wonderful reflection of Colleen’s spirit and I hope it is an inspiration for all who do not feel okay today. With Love,
    Russ

  14. Annette Rochelle Aben says:

    The power in our choices! ❤

  15. I have known people who need this amazing message! Thank you!

  16. I am so happy you decided to give your beautiful message light. Thank you for such a wonderful gift.

  17. duncanr says:

    I have no words to express how I feel on reading this post

    my parents brought me up to believe a man should protect and respect women

    sadly, I found – when an adult – that so many of my female friends/partners (and both my wives) had been emotionally, physically, and sexually abused by men

    it makes me angry and ashamed of my sex

    big hugs to you, Colleen, for putting up this post

    (((((((((( hug )))))))))) xx

    you (and tric) are brave , strong women who I admire – who don’t let yourself be defined, or limited, by your life experiences, but forge ahead, treading your own path

    go, girl !!!

    • Duncan, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this. Don’t be ashamed of your sex. The only persons to blame for these acts are those persons. Your sex is full of wonderful, kind, caring, protective, supportive, empowering and beautiful people. Look in the mirror.

      Thank you, though, for being angry on my behalf. It makes me feel good.

      Hugs accepted and returned Duncan. 🙂

  18. markbialczak says:

    You made a tough decision, a wise decision, the best decision, for yourself and the world. Thank you for sharing, always, MBC, and your dedication to staying true.

  19. “I’m not saying that every single moment of my life is ‘okay’. But I am saying that I have the knowledge and the ability to make ‘me’ be okay with where I am, who I am, what I have. Sometimes I might allow myself a moment or two, or a day, to not be okay. ”

    Same strategy for help to fight depression whether with or without meds.

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