Difficult Doesn't Mean Wrong
Life is all about making decisions, and some of them are difficult.
When we make a decision that doesn't bring relief, does that mean it was the wrong choice?
When we choose an option and we feel terrible, does that mean we didn't do the right thing?
Join in today as we discuss how difficult it can be to make hard decisions, and how sometimes we don't feel "better" but it was still the right choice.
We'll look at examples of some of these times and situations, as well what to expect when we still don't feel good after a decision has been made, but we think it was the right choice.
Because sometimes we won't get the feeling of relief, so we aim for the feeling of peace in the decision.
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Well, It’s Friday. Maybe not for you. If you are listening on a new release day, it’s Wednesday. But at the time of preparing this episode, it’s a Friday for me. It’s normally a Friday when I sit to pull thoughts together. I mean, not in general. I do try to pull thoughts together daily, for basic living… but podcast prep happens for me on Fridays.
But this Friday, today, I’m having a hard time with my thoughts and my feelings. They are all over the place. But instead of trying to push them aside to work, I think it will be better for me, more genuine anyways, to write them here, as I process.
You see, typically I get up really early and start my day while it’s dark and quiet. But I didn’t today. I got up slowly and didn’t get out of bed until my husband was about ready to leave for work. I walked him to the door and said all the goodbye, have a great day, I love you stuff. Cause I’m such a warm and fuzzy romantic. Oh, I know you know I’m lying here.
But then I shut the door and turned to go back in the house. And I saw it. And I couldn’t un-see it. My dog had an open sore on his back, where he had just started losing hair a couple of days before.
AND, generally, we would look into this and get it treated. But today is different. And this sore is more than a skin condition. It’s a sign. One that was coming, and I just didn’t want to get to.
Our big, old boy has had some seizures. He now has dementia. He has good days and bad days with his dementia, as well as good days and bad days with those stiff hips of his. Long gone are the days of jumping on the bed and taking up half the king size mattress all night long.
Some days he wonders who we are. Somedays he forgets that he has been house trained for many years. Somedays he gets into the garbage, which he didn’t even do as a puppy. But everyday we love him and say, ya, that’s annoying, but he’s our baby. So, we’ll deal with it.
We said we’d watch for any signs of suffering. For any signs of distress. And we’re here now. The stiff hips are becoming more painful. The confusion is becoming anxiety-provoking for him. And now this sore. This open wound. I look at it and it feels like it might be connected right to my heart.
So, I emailed the vet this morning. I emailed because they weren’t open yet, but also because I didn’t want to hear myself say aloud, the words that I typed instead.
And now I sit. Sure, I am sitting awaiting a reply, but I’m stuck in the meantime with all of these thoughts and feelings while I am supposed to be writing an episode.
I’m certainly not the first or last person who has been in this moment. A moment where you know you are about do something that you can’t go back on. A decision has to be made that will be devastating either way. Something has to end. It’s going to hurt so badly to make this call, but how can you not? There is a price to pay here no matter what is decided.
There is a cost to the decision before me. And even when I weigh it, and think I know the right call to make, it doesn’t feel better.
If you’ve never had a pet, never had to consider having your pet put out of their suffering, you could very well still know the feeling of this experience.
Sure, there could be many differences. No one’s experience is exactly like anyone else. But there are circumstances that you may be in right now, knowing you need to make a really big decision, but no one answer brings complete relief, as you consider your options.
It could be leaving a job that you’ve enjoyed, or where you love your co-workers, but you have to move on for some reason. Maybe you have to find more hours somewhere or a higher paying position.
It’s ending a relationship that you know is not healthy. But you can’t forget the good times either. You can’t forget the dreams you had for the future or the plans you made together before it turned into what it is now.
It’s moving out of a neighborhood that feels like a family, but it is time and it’s the right thing to do. It’s necessary. But that’s where you planted the tree when your first child was born. That’s where the kids grew up. That’s where the last big family reunion was held before you lost that special loved one.
It’s emailing the vet to say I love him so much that I don’t want him to suffer. But can we come in the back door and leave the same way. Cause I’m already a mess just thinking about it.
There will be times when we need to make really tough decisions. And they are the right decisions. Even though they don’t make us feel better.
It’s those really difficult feelings though that tell you did it all right. That you tried all you could. That you put in all the effort possible. That you loved.
I’m looking to end my dog’s suffering. But in doing so, I’ll be creating my own. And that is the cost of trying, putting in effort, loving. A cost affordable when compared to feeling like you didn’t do enough.
Now there can be the issue of looking back with regrets. Saying to yourself, now that you’re in a place of saying good-bye, I shouldn’t have tried so hard for so long. I shouldn’t have put the kids through all those years of hoping for a different outcome. I shouldn’t have endured that stress for that long, just to end up ending things now anyways.
But that is how you get to now say goodbye, knowing, that you tried everything. You gave it your all and then some.
You never had a crystal ball to know where it was going, so all the hope in the world is what you carried. And that’s not bad. That’s in fact beautiful.
That’s how you know to your core, that you did everything you could for someone you loved. You made the best decision you could, with the information and hope you had at the time. And no one can do more than that for someone they love. Now, you are doing that very same thing again.
You are making the best decision you can, with where things are at now in life.
The other difficult matter that rises when making tough decisions and believe me when I tell you I’m feeling it now, is the feeling of betraying.
It’s feeling like you’re betraying the company and people because you have to leave the job. You’re betraying your neighborhood family because you decided to move. You’re betraying your own family because you put up boundaries. You are betraying your partner because you have to end this toxic relationship. You’re betraying your friends because you can’t live the lifestyle you have been trying to live with them…
You’re betraying your family pet because they trust you to love them, take care of them, always be there for them, and now you are preparing to say goodbye to them. It feels like a betrayal to all the love and kindness and companionship and trust that they have shown to you over the years.
That’s why many of those good-byes include the words, “I’m sorry”.
But making the best decision we can, to end suffering, end unhealthiness, end toxicity, is not betrayal. It is a kindness to ourselves and others, even when it hurts to do so.
So, we make the decision. And it hurts. It’s hard. Our hearts break as we do it and then we wait for the relief to come. We expected it to come. And yes, our hearts can heal and grow and keep beating. But often before that experience, we get the questions that want to torment us:
“Are you sure you did the right thing? Are you sure there was no other way? Did you try everything first? Did you try hard enough? How could you do this?”
And we analyze these questions, don’t we? We try and try to answer them in some fashion that reassures us that we did do the right thing. We think and think and think the whole situation through again and again making sure we did in fact make the right decision.
But oh, the anguish it would save us if we realized that it isn’t our mind asking those questions. Our mind already knows we did what we needed to do.
It’s our heart asking. It wasn’t ready to let go. It wasn’t ready to say good-bye.
My heart is hurting for what I need to do now. For what my mind knows we need to do but my heart is not ready to do.
Because my mind remembers the good time, the fun times. My mind remembers my beloved dog in a t-shirt and sunglasses. I remember him cuddled in bed with my kids. I remember him tripping me in the kitchen because he constantly needs to be at my heels. I remember him being there through so many hard days for us. It’s so hard because I remember when it was so good.
Somehow I will have to sit and say, “I’m sorry” and hear my mouth say good-bye while my hearts screams NO… there must be something we haven’t tried yet.
And my mind will argue with my heart and all I can hope to do is leave saying, “yes, it was the hardest decision, but it was the kindest decision. It hurt. But it was still the right thing to do.
I will not walk away feeling relief. But I will aim for peace.
Grief is the price we pay for loving, but it will always be worth the cost. Grief is the indictor that we have loved and lost. It does not indicate that we have made a mistake.
So, in honor of my dog Hendrix, I will end this episode vowing to be more like him as I go forward in life… knowing I made a very hard decision, but it was made out of love.
And I pledge to be more like him by loving genuinely, taking every opportunity to make my presence known, napping as much as I can, and never saying no to a treat.
Whatever decisions you are faced with today, whether you’re ready to make them or just know you need, I pray for you peace. Even if you can’t find the joy or happiness in what it is that is the right thing for you to do, I do pray peace all over your heart.
Until next time friends, this is Tina saying good-bye for now… and we’ll speak again soon.