Walk into any grocery store to buy orange juice and deodorant and you'll have a decision with which to contend. Which of the 25 types of orange juice and the 62 types of deodorant do you want?
We've got a lot of little choices like this everyday because we live in a culture based on consumption and individualism. What can YOU make? What do YOU have? What do YOU do that's special or different? It can be wonderful in so many ways. There are ingenious and gorgeous creations all around us (but there's plenty of crappy plastic shit too).
The blessing and the curse of individualism is that it comes at the cost of no longer having an assumption of one's place, role, or purpose in the world.
The number of choices and options we have are dependent on wealth and privilege, but everyone has to choose their cereal, politics, mate.
And a challenge of choice, is doubt.
Did I make the right choice?
Did she make a better choice than me?
When we no longer have the village -- when we don't share the rituals and traditions passed down over the ages -- we have to recreate the wheel of family, life, love, parenting and to hope we do it "right." It's a freeing thing to be able to decide what's right for ourselves but it also leaves us floating, unanchored to culture and tradition.
And so, we wonder if we're making the right choices. Should I stay in this job or go back to school? Should I move to another state? Should I get married or cohabitate? Should I breast-feed or use formula?
And the hardest thing about all the choice is that we don't talk about the doubt that almost invariably comes along with it.
I see it all the time in my practice. People wonder about the choices they've made but feel that their doubt indicates some kind of problem. They think that most of the folks around them are confident and secure in all their "right choices." It's that kind of illusion that keeps us feeling alone and questioning our paths.
So I'm going to bust some of the doubts open. The following is a list of things that many, if not most, of us have thought about or worried about, or felt. If any of them resonate it doesn't necessarily mean that nothing needs to change, but it often means that you're just normal.
If you've sometimes thought:
"I wish I'd never had kids." You're normal.
"I hate my spouse." You're normal.
"Parenting sucks." You're normal.
"I don't miss my spouse when he/she's gone." You're normal.
If you've sometimes felt:
Like nobody really likes you. You're normal.
Like you'd rather not wake up in the morning. You're normal.
Like you're just making it up as you go along. You're normal.
Now, remember the bell curve. If any of these thoughts or feelings are frequent and haunting, you should probably talk to someone who can help. But most people have thought and felt all of the above at one time or another.
We need to accept the dark parts of our selves and support each other through the messy trials of love and work and self-esteem and parenting. Life is beautiful and hard. By talking about, and being able to laugh (and cry) at, our warts and bumps we can remember and see the beauty of our shared humanness.