I’d spent a great deal of my marriage hearing that I wasn’t capable of making decisions. “Make a decision… but not that one,” was something he said to me often.
It was infuriating to decide what to have for dinner or which route to take to go somewhere and then be overruled. “Why did you make that?” “Why did you drive that way?”
It got to the point when I would ask him what he wanted to eat or which direction I should drive (since he wanted me to drive so he could criticize every move I made). Then he would yell at me for not making a decision.
Needless to say, I was terrified about having to make them without his approval. It was a no-win situation.
When he was dying, his demands grew and his criticisms escalated to the point that I didn’t know how I was going to survive after he died.
After he died, I had to make all kinds of decisions–find a funeral home by 8 a.m. because the hospital doesn’t have a morgue, decide how many death certificates to get (I got a bunch, just in case), choose which route to drive to pick up my younger daughter from her grandparents’ house, buy a car–so many decisions in the middle of grief fog compounded by the belief that I wasn’t capable of making decisions.
Then I realized that it didn’t matter. They were my decisions to make, and I would do the best I could. Some were out of necessity—choosing the funeral home based on its name. Some were good—getting a dog. Others were ridiculous—declaring I’d never date.
As I made more decisions in the next few months about all kinds of things, I realized that I was (and am) capable of making decisions that benefit my family and me. I realized that my sense of direction wasn’t as lacking as he always said it was.
If a decision turned out not to be great, I would make another decision. For example, I bought a car that I thought was economical and reasonable, but within two years, I knew it wasn’t serving my family anymore. So I traded it in and got something that still works for us.
I was able to quit my corporate job and work for myself so I could be more accessible to my kids. I said yes when a friend asked me out on a date (and said yes to every date after). I drive to destinations on whichever routes I want to. I bought the car I wanted because it fit the needs of my family with dogs.
I don’t regret any of those decisions.