I had an odd realization yesterday, poking at things on facebook and following rabbit trails where they lead on the internet. I was reading an article about how kids raised in strict (or strongly religious) homes react differently to some situations than others, and there were about 50 examples given, some by friends and observers, and some by people who had moved out and still lived very much the way they did at home, and some of the struggles with being a functional adult from that kind of situation.
One of the things that stuck out, over and again, was
the inability to make decisions. I can not begin to express that panic I
feel when I am asked to choose something if I was not prepared to know a
choice needed to be made. I even do it when eating out, reading the
menu and mentally preparing myself for The Choice. It's not about the
food, the price, the company. It's The Choice.
There was a
moment in my youth I can only barely remember that was echoed recently
as someone said in an authoritative tone, "You need to make a choice"
with a pause, and an expectant face, that was losing patience.
CAN NOT DO THAT. I tend to have panic attacks when UNEXPECTED CHOICE
presents itself. And I don't mean I get a little nervous, I mean full
blown tachycardia, WHAT EVEN IS HAPPENING, NO NO NO.
that I don't know what I want even, because when I know there is a
choice I can prepare myself for it to an extent. It's the surprise
choices, where I can't just go, I'll do what (that guy) did. I'll have
what he's having. Whatever you like, I don't mind, honest.
only just realizing that I do this all day every day when put into any
situation where cultural expectation requires choices. In a restaurant, I
ask what others are getting, and will frequently get what someone else
is getting. If it's a familiar setting, I will order the exact same item
every single time, so that I do not have to make THE CHOICE. The safe
(I know I can eat this) choice. Or I ask a friend what they like there.
Let them pick.
Even when it came to going back to school I had
so much anxiety picking out my classes. I was so thankful there was a
guidebook telling me which classes I needed for my degree, and roughly
in which order to take them. My work schedule made it easier to go, "I
can only have classes that are during these days and roughly between
these times." I also could make these choices quietly at home or in the
library, instead of having a panic attack trying to pick my classes like
I did for first semester.
So, when someone tells me, in any
tone, any setting "You have to choose" I freeze. I can't choose, please
don't make me choose. I can not even handle the responsibility of
choosing. PLEASE NO. I will choose neither. I can't choose.
have no idea whether this really has anything to do with how I was
raised or if it plays into my mental health stuff, but realizing it is
terrifying. How can I be a functional adult if I can't make choices?
is no training that I am aware of, that I can take to help me learn how
to choose. That it is okay to choose. That no one is going to be angry
at me if I choose wrong. That there is not truly a WRONG choice.
I am such a headcase.