Learning Choice

This may seem a little pitiful but it’s the truth.

I did not learn that I had choices in life until I was twenty-nine years old.

There is so much truth to this I can’t even begin to tell you.

What I can share with you is how I learned that I had choice.

I was sitting in a classroom.  I had returned to college after my second child was almost three.  I was   in need of something and a friend said “hey you should go back to school”.  So I did.    I was taking a class on counseling theories and therapies.  We were learning about, and dissecting, a multitude of therapies.  We questioned every thing we could about the practice of these therapies.   And along comes “Reality Therapy”.

At this point in my studies I was hell bent on getting good grades.  Getting smarter.  And doing something of value.  I felt earning the education by doing the work was value all unto it’s self.   And  don’t you know that the education I ended up getting was far more valuable than I had ever anticipated receiving.

So this day I sat in a classroom.  We started a new theory, or therapy study, about this Reality Therapy.

We start to discuss the basic concept to prepare us for the delving in, if you will.   The basic concept: you have a choice in life.   You have a choice in absolutely everything you do.

The class balked.

No.  We.  Do.  Not.

Our instructor, an – at the top end of middle age – man, stood steady with the theory.   Yes.  You.   Do.

I don’t remember if the scenarios given were from our text or from the students themselves.   But every single scenario presented to the instructor, he gave the choices available.

Someone said “how about if a man is holding a gun to your head and says they’ll shoot you if you don’t give them your wallet????”    Huh?  What about that one?   The students filled the air with “yeah” and “no choice”.   He waited everyone out.

He said “there is a choice”.

Students vocalized disbelief.   “How can you say that?”

Very calmly he said “you can give him your wallet, or you can be shot.   Right there are two choices.”

Someone said “those aren’t choices!”

Instructor said “they are choices.   Having choices doesn’t always mean they will be good choices.   But there are choices”.

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!

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Light bulb moment in my life.   Probably the first ever.    Don’t judge me.

I was 29 years old and had just discovered:

Choice

Options

Doors and Windows

I sat in that classroom, knowing without a doubt that this very moment my life just changed.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I stared at the instructor.  I stared at the book, the words, the meaning.

No drama here.  It was realization.  That control in my life was to be had.  It came in the form of making choices.

As was my habit, if I could explain what I had experienced in school to my family, I would share it over dinner with them.  Reality Therapy was shared a lot from that day on.   So much so, that one night as we sat at dinner I had my head in my hands and said “oh I have such a headache”.   Without missing a beat my daughter and husband said simultaneously “you are choosing to have a headache”.

How did I get to twenty-nine and not realize I had power in my own life?  I had choices I could make?  From the outside it may have appeared I had made choices.  But on the inside, I knew without a doubt that I had let life happen to me.   Things happened and I accepted them.

But when I learned about choice…. I started to learn about me.  And what I could do.

 Lesson learned.  Late.  But oh so well learned.