It’s a Sunday afternoon in the Spring, a lovely opportunity to go for a relaxing ride out in the country.  Such a beautiful day; you decide to park your car and take a hike!  The road you’re on is quiet, almost no traffic or other people. To your delight, leaves, plants, and even weeds along the edge of the road combine to display about a million shades of green! In the gentle breeze, newly blossoming white, pink and yellow flowers bounce on their supportive branches.  Some violet wild iris’ and other wildflowers dance on the ground along your path.  You catch an aromatic whiff of blossoms on a wild apple tree. (briefly, you wonder if Johnny Appleseed planted it!)  Squirrels are scurrying about, birds are soaring in the azure sky…not a cloud in sight.  A delightful surrounding, a lovely road.  You’re thinking “Life is good!”

And then it happens.

You round a corner and there it is:  a fork in the road!  Which direction do you choose?  The road that looks easy, mostly downhill, or the way that is more difficult, uphill from the start? Or, do you turn around, tread back the way you came, avoiding the fork in the road decision altogether?

The choice is yours.

Of course, this analogy applies to Life.  It’s frequently my experience that just when everything is flowing smoothly, I come to a darn fork in the road!  A decision has to be made.

When this happens, we have a choice:  easy, hard or avoidance.

Often, people choose to make no decision; any type of change is difficult and sometimes fearful. Why rock the boat?  We know what life is like as it is, why change anything?  Yes, there are negative aspects of our life, but we know what they are.  We’ve learned how to walk on eggshells, how to avoid fights, how to accept the demeaning and abusive words often being hurled at us.  We don’t know how to deal with a new life; something different is fraught with uncertainty and fear.  So, we turn away from the fork, away from the decision.  And, life goes on, nothing changes.

Others choose the downhill fork…the easy road.  Some amount of effort is required to walk downhill.  It’s possible, in our rush to take the easy road, that the momentum of the incline causes us to run … we gain more and more speed, before we notice the cliff ahead.  In this analogy, the cliff could be attraction to another abuser.  It could be depression or anxiety because we feel out of control.  We find that we are running toward, running to, negative life experiences.  We didn’t turn away from the decision of which fork to take, but we chose not to work climbing the hill.  Not to embrace change. We ran down the easy path, and it led to deeper need to finally make strong choices that improve our lives.  Or, rather than choose the path requiring effort and change, we keep running, straight off the cliff.

If we’re lucky, on the easy path and before the cliff, to our right, we see a hill.  It’s another fork in the road. It’s similar to the hard path that was avoided earlier. Our calves ache from running downhill.  Our thighs burn from slowing our speed so we don’t plunge over the cliff.  Our breathing is difficult and our heart pounds because of the fear of seeing the cliff and knowing it’s not where we want to be.  At that moment we are faced with another choice.  Accept the road we’re on or take the hard path, the steep hill of change and growth.

For our lives to improve, for our mind-set to change so we are able to no longer run toward the disastrous cliff of another abusive relationship, choosing the hard road of change is required.  Those of us who are dedicated to a life forever outside of abuse will eventually choose the hard road.

Embracing personal growth; empowering ourselves with the tools of self-knowledge and self-confidence, are part of our Journey along what we initially consider the “hard” road. As we climb we discover the uphill incline is interesting, sometimes fun, always toward reward.

What is the reward?

It is the gift of excavating our true self.  It is creating a lifetime about which we are able to exclaim “I love the Life I’ve created!!”  It is the personal reward of putting in the time and effort to become Y.O.U.  To Know who you are, where you’re going and to like yourself.

The reward often is becoming confident that you’ll never again attract an abuser.

When Life is flowing like a crisp, clear springtime creek, when it seems like everything is in perfect order… that’s when you’ll come to the fork in the road.  Know that you have a choice; the easy road, the hard road or the option to do nothing.

What will you choose?