Saturday, July 7, 2012

Are We Simply the Sum of Our Own Decisions, Really?

I was listening to my iTunes the other day as I was cleaning and a song popped up that I haven't listened to in years.  It was the song "Homecoming Queen" by Hinder.  Now, this group isn't one of my favorites, never has been, honestly, but a friend bought the CD and let me rip it to my computer, so I did.  Listening to the song hit me somewhere near dead center and got me thinking, "Are we really only just the sum of our own decisions?"  The lyric that hit me was in the chorus, "She's a casualty of all the pressure/That we put on her/And now we've lost her for good..."

It's a song about a beautiful girl, the homecoming queen, who succumbed to the pressures of life and ended up a junkie and how no one really knew her and what they were doing to her and how the song writer would have saved her if he could.  It's very analogous to life.

While I firmly believe we are the sum total of our own decisions and I firmly believe in personal responsibility, how many times have we made a decision just to make someone else happy?  How many times have we broken under the pressure of another's expectations and not done what made us happy in lieu of what someone else perceived as the 'right thing?'

This song really got me to thinking about my own decisions in life and how, so very often, I have made decisions based on what others wanted versus what I wanted.  I did this just to escape from their pressure.  Even more disturbing, I think, was my foray into addiction.  While I know that I do not have an addictive personality, I spent a year of my life either drunk on whiskey or high on marijuana.  Oh, at the time it was a blast!  However, now, I am older and wiser, and I know that I like whiskey and pot and I know that imbibing regularly could take me down that path again.  I will, on occasion, have a glass or two of Jack.  It's like a bittersweet reunion with an old friend, however, it's an old friend who isn't good for me, so when we reunite, I remind myself of this fact and I'm okay.< The addictive haze I found myself in at that time was due, mostly, to the pressure I was under from everyone else.  I recognize that now.  I took their expectations and hefted them on my shoulders and simply couldn't move, so I drown myself in mind-altering substances in an effort to convince myself that I could, indeed, walk and push forward.  As an adult I have found better coping mechanisms, but not without a lot of trial and error and even some backsliding. I am a lot like the girl in the song.  Everyone else had all of these dreams for me, yet no one bothered to ask me what my dreams were for myself.  No one bothered to foster those dreams.  No one bothered to encourage them.  Their myopic view of my life encouraged them to poo-poo my own goals and dreams of happiness for their own lost dreams, so they could live vicariously through me.

Unfortunately, that didn't work out so well for them.  I spent the first 10 years of my adult life married to a man who didn't give a crap about anyone but himself and how much money he could make.  When I finally left, he stalked me relentlessly until I disappeared off the face of the Earth.  Even then, if he say a friend of mine, he would ask about me, digging for information.  I spent the first two years after my divorce terrified that he would show up at any point in time simply to harass me.  You see, he was an addict (I blame his doctors for this) who ultimately cheated on me and couldn't believe I would have the gall to leave him and when he found out that the grass wasn't greener on the other side, he used every tactic in his arsenal to get me to come back.  He used everything from terror and threats to charm and lies.  Then, he died and I was free.

Now, I sit at this blog, jobless and nearly desperate, yet I don't feel the weight of the world upon my shoulders.  I don't feel the frustration many feel.  I simply can't.  I've come to a point where I know that I am both the sum of my own decisions and the decision of others to pressure me, but I don't blame them.  I don't lament my bad luck.  I don't project my own bad decisions upon others, nor do I blame them for pressuring me into decisions, or maybe pressuring me into thinking I had to make a decision.

Each decision I have made in my life has led me to this point.  It has placed the people in my life who I need and it has given me so many lessons to learn.  How can I say that it has been bad when I have had so many grand adventures?  How can I say it's anyone's fault but my own?  I can't.  It's not been bad.  I'm sure there aren't many people in this world who can say they bought their first luxury car just after they turned 25, and they worked their ass off for it.  I did.  It wasn't given to me.  I worked hard for it.  Two years later I bought my first brand new vehicle.  Once again, I worked my ass off for it.  I'm quite proud of those things, but then again, stuff comes and goes.  Ultimately, life isn't measured in stuff.  Life is measured in how you touch the lives of those around you.  Life is measured by your deeds.

So, instead of lamenting our bad luck or blaming everyone else, the economy, or even fate, look at the good things in life.  Just because things have been difficult, doesn't mean we have to beat ourselves up over it.  Difficulties arise when there are lessons to be learned and learning those lessons are the most important thing.    People were put in our lives for a reason.  They pressure us, they push us, they may drive us mad, but in the end we still have the ability to say no and to go our own way and find our own happiness.  What are you doing?

Brightest blessings my friends!!


  1. Your Right sweetie, "It's not what to you in life that matters, what matters is how you deal with it."

  2. I have always thought, that we make those types of decisions under pressure, because in the end, we will use that knowledge to give someone else a hand up, when they find they are trapped in the same type of situation. I hope that during your time there was a "hand up" for you. Very well written.