Snapshot: My daughter and I arrive at the Hamburg airport one final time, after days of saying tearful goodbyes to friends, to Germany and to the city we had called home since she was born. I take my six year old girl's hand and we walk through security towards our gate. In a few minutes, we'll be onboard an Airbus, heading back to America, for good this time.
After almost 20 years of living in Germany, learning the language, making a life there, giving birth to my daughter there and then going through hell there with my imploding marriage, losing most of my former friends and all of my former lifestyle, scraping for menial jobs and finally hitting rock bottom financially ~ just inches before I lost it mentally ~ I finally decided to heed my parents' advice and head back home to America. Once I decided, that was it. But I had taken months to make the decision, mainly because I was desperately trying to use my head while resisting a huge change that would mean a radical shift for the rest of my life.
Relevant fact: Making decisions has never really been an issue for me. Sure, if it's a big decision then I'll mull things over, marinate the pros and cons for awhile. However, I usually make decisions with my gut, not my head. And once I've decided, I've decided; that's that.
But close to two decades in a controlling, immature marriage wore me down like a No. 2 pencil during final exams. By the time we boarded that plane, the real Pamela was nowhere in sight anymore. She could barely even stand up, let alone show up. But I knew I had to stand up for my daughter. So we left, escaped, ran home to Mum and Dad. Thank god they were there for us.
Like many women of a certain age, I have made quite a few radical decisions in my day. Some of them have proven for the better, while others... Well, let's just say all experience is useful experience. My decision to move us back to the States definitely proved successful and in the end, essential to our surviving and thriving. One thing I have learned is that trusting my gut ~ call it intuition, a higher power, my guardian angel ~ usually trumps tortuous decision making processes by miles.
Snapshot: When my daughter is born, she takes five days to enter the world. Talk about resisting big change! She must already know that she'll be entering an emotionally hostile environment, because she holds her position until the very last hour, stubborn and strong. Thankfully, she has that strength from the get-go because I almost don't make it. Just after she's born and the midwife places her on my chest, my exhausted body decides to shut down. My internal organs freeze, temporarily paralyzed.
Things happen fast. The midwife whisks my daughter away and practically tosses her to her father. I watch the skeletal three-days-before-Christmas staff at this university teaching hospital frantically call for more help. Meanwhile, I lose half of my blood supply. I watch my then husband look at me helplessly, holding his baby and having no idea whether she'll ever know her mother. I watch a flock of medical professionals quickly focus their concentrated, determined faces all around me. I see what seems like dozens of IV tubes suddenly sticking out of just about every vein in my body. The flock says a lot of things in German and a few of them massage my uterus from the outside. I don't know why they're torturing me like this because it seriously hurts worse than the four hours of back labor I just finished a little while ago. One thing I do know: There are no decisions for me to make at this moment.
I wake up on a stretcher that two EMTs lift out of an ambulance and wheel into a building. I think I ask them questions but maybe I'm dreaming. I wake up again in a room with a few other beds, a sink. I'm so very thirsty but I can't get any sounds out. Can't speak. Finally a nurse comes over and sprays something wet into my mouth. This goes on for a long time. I try to ask for a drink of water but she can't hear me.
I wake up on a stretcher again, in an elevator in another building. I'm wheeled to a maternity recovery ward, where my parents and my then husband greet me and hand me my amazingly strong and healthy daughter. This time, my decision comes straight from my gut, loud and clear: Stay alive to be this amazing little person's mother.
Sometimes, we don't even know when a big decision has to be made. Many people who narrowly escape death come back knowing a sense of purpose in life that they didn't have before. For me, that purpose was being strong and speaking up for my daughter. But it took me a few years to gain the strength to do that. A tiny seed had been planted in that hospital. Without even realizing it, I watered and nurtured that seed with lots of tiny steps. Eventually, that seed grew into the strength to recover my silent Self from wherever it was hiding so that I could truly do the term "mother" justice.
Snapshot: I'm driving my 13 year old daughter home from her dance class on the other side of our little Cape Cod town. She's taller than I am, so of course she always sits in the front seat now. We're happily chatting about her favorite dance teacher announcing her first pregnancy. My girl's talking about how excited she and her friends are about the little dance baby's arrival. We come up a hill and around a curve. Suddenly, I put my hand up and ask my girl to hold that thought.
Something is not right here.
Two sets of headlights are pointing straight at my car.
This is where my angels take over again.
I don't know if they are drag racing or if one car is drunkenly trying to pass the other. All I know is that I have ZERO time to make decisions. One of my hands pushes down firmly on my horn while the other serenely steers the car and points it towards the middle of the road, the double yellow line, straight BETWEEN those two oncoming cars. My car apparently makes the alpha decision, because those two cars part like the Red Sea and drive right around me. I keep calm and drive on.
This decision is probably the most radical decision I've ever made. Why? Because I don't even think about it for one blink of an eye. I decide to give up all thought and control to the ones who protect me. I call them my angels.
One thing I know for sure: That decision saved my life and my daughter's life that night.
Since that night, I've been ruminating on the radical decisions I've made in the past. Move to another time zone. Get married. Have a baby. Live again. Get divorced. Escape across the Atlantic with my child. Fight for custody, for courage, for confidence. Win it ALL. Completely remake my attitude and career. Live again. Give up control to my angels. Live again.
Honestly, I've followed my gut on most of my biggest decisions. True, my gut hasn't always been as healthy and in-tune as it has become more recently. But I know that trusting my gut, trusting my inner voice, giving it up to my angels has brought me to exactly this place in space and time. To this place where decisions are easy to make. Where nothing really rocks my boat anymore. To a state of combined serenity and purpose, of peaceful mission if you will.
My mission is to help you get there, too.
Do you have trouble making decisions? Do you constantly second guess your Self? Is regret a big part of your decision making process?
Maybe it's time for you to get radical.
© 2014 Pamela Wills Coaching
Your Speak with Confidence Coach Pamela Wills teaches business women around the globe how to Fight the Fright!TM and overcome fear of public speaking to grow their success and positive impact. Get her FREE PDF “50 Instant Confidence Boosters” at www.PamelaWills.com