Life often comes to the proverbial crossroads. Sometimes even literal ones. At times, we see them coming, others we don’t realize it until we’ve made our “turn” and we reflect on what could have been different by taking the other path. We all come to that point in our lives. Be it the small decisions or life altering ones, the choices we make every day are the decisions that shape our lives.
I find myself coming upon one of these theoretical crossroads. With the death of my husband (as previously promised, this blog is not about him, just my circumstances after the fact), I find things have changed significantly for me. Something inside me is broken. I’m not sure if it is my spirit, my will, or just my desire to carry on, but something is different. I’m smart enough to realize it, but not so smart that I know how to mend the brokenness.
My lease on my apartment is coming up in July, should I renew, my rent increases but I know I’ll have shelter for another year. I could find someplace cheaper, as my rent is towards the high end of the scale for what I’m getting. But, as I don’t drive, the location is ideal. It’s close enough to walk where I need to go or should I need something. However, the only reason I live in this complex is because Tim loved it here, and by staying it is a constant reminder of him. Not that I have any bad feelings or memories about the place, I just constantly expect him to come home at some point and I know he never will. The thought of moving fills me with dread. I HATE moving, all the packing and unpacking, and the manual labor involved is exhausting. My gut is telling me to not only move, but to completely leave the area, perhaps the state. To move far away and start over where no one knows my personal tragedy, and I’m not treated like a leper of sorts. But that means not only moving, but either transferring jobs or finding a new one all together. So, it leaves me with the conundrum, should I stay or should I go?
Another choice I am facing is at work. The company as a whole is changing. In the past few years they have upped the pay and benefits, which was great for the employees, but now the expectations have become almost unreasonable. Yes, I make nearly twice what I made when I started, but that doesn’t provide any extra time in which to perform the duties assigned to me. It’s still an eight hour day, a forty hour week. Just because I earn more money, doesn’t mean I magically have more time in which to do the things to earn it. After Tim’s death, I threw myself into work as a distraction, but I’ve had to step back since then and deal with my loss. I get the feeling from my superiors that they do not care about me or my loss, only the output of my work. It’s become all about the level of productivity, not caring about the associates at all. That is not how my company used to be. So I find myself wondering whether to stay, transfer, or find something better suited to the realistic expectations of what can be done.
I no longer speak to my family. I am a recovering drug addict, and I don’t want them around me. My brother is an addict, my other brother is following in our alcoholic father’s footsteps, and my mother coddles them. Not to mention, she deserted me in my hour of need during Tim’s memorial to tend to my brothers addiction and her husband’s daughter’s legal issues with drugs. Something inside me will not let me forgive her for that. I was a fool and held hope that Tim would stop using and abusing drugs, but that did not turn out to be the case. Now that I’ve had that eye opening experience, and have spent many an hour remembering my own struggle with drugs, I’ve made the life choice not to have an addict in my life. Not one, nor the people that enable them. While I am confident in that decision, and there is no more choice to be made, a different choice arises. I no longer have a family, so the starting over with my life fills me with dread. Do I have the strength to do it alone? Can I find the will power to find new people I want in my life, that I can rely on and have that closeness that is now lacking in my life? Where does one even start that journey?
There are stories about crossroads. That if you go to a literal crossroads and (the stories vary) either bury something personal, or pray, or just call out, that the devil or a demon will come and make a deal with you. Whatever you desire most for a period of time in exchange for your soul. I don’t believe in the devil, nor God, nor any aspect of religion, but the idea has become fascinating to me. What would I ask for? Peace? An end to drugs? The return of people I have lost? I’m not sure exactly. I’d probably ask for the ability to accept changes and still have my happiness. But this is a superstition and not a reality.
There are no easy answers in life and we must make the choices we feel best for us. We also must deal with the outcomes of those decisions. I don’t regret my choices, I’ve always had that mindset, the decisions I’ve made in the past shaped who I am now and I wouldn’t be who I am today had I not made them. But I find myself feeling incapable of making the choices I need to make now. Fear is stopping me for some reason. Fear of failure, fear of being alone, and a fear of losing what little I have left. As I will turn 40 this fall, I am unsure if I have it in me to start over as a middle-aged man, when I was younger, I would not have had any problems making that choice. But yet I am at this crossroad in my life. I must choose where I go from here, and be strong enough to accept the consequences of my decision.