“May your choices reflect your hopes. Not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela
This quote was one of the writing prompts for last week’s Friday Reflections. However, I had already written about another prompt, and in fact, didn’t find out about this prompt until I’d written my post. Since this quote is very fitting for my life, I thought I’d write on it now.
I have often been guided by fear in the choices I made in my life. For most of the eight years of my institutionalization, I have feared taking the leap towards independence. This led me to reject my husband’s idea of having me live with him, which he had voiced long before our wedding. I’d rather live in a supported housing accommodation, because I was deathly afraid of the situation I’d been in when living independently in 2007. At the time, I’d not coped from the start but I’d been on the waiting list for mental health services and the crisis team didn’t feel my situation was serious enough. Ultimately, it took me becoming suicidal in another city to get me the help I needed.
By letting my fears dictate my choices, however, I was not taking chances, for taking chances requires taking risks as well. Because no supported housing place could accommodate my needs, I remained in the institution for presently almost eight years.
I had a boyfriend and later a husband, of course, and I was and am totally in love with him. My fear guided my choice not to go live with him, because I feared if I needed to be admitted to the psychiatric unit again while living with him, he’d abandon me. Never mind that he stuck with me through eight years of institutionalization.
yesterday, I saw a thread on a Dutch eating disorder forum I particpate on that asked where you would be in ten years. I will write a more elaborate post on this later on, but what it taught me was to have hope. Still having an optimistic attitude from last Friday’s meeting with the social worker, I realize now that I need to let this hope shine through when I make my choices.
I remeber in high school needing to make SMART goals. The S stands for “specific”, and it had as an explanation: “Write down what you want to achieve, not what you want to avoid.” For example, you’d write down “pass Latin”, not “not fail Latin”. The Mandela quote I started this post with, illustrates the difference: while in a way, “pass” and “not fail” are the same, “pass” is based on hope, “not fail” on fear.
Back to my situation with regards to my going to live with my husband. I have often based my goals on fear, saying for example that I wanted to avoid being overburdened. I could reword these, saying for example I want to be supported. That is a much clearer, but also much more optimistic goal.