So, I've realized something in the past few days as I set up my own apartment with the Nanobots: I AM MAKING DECISIONS. Big ones, little ones, medium ones. I picked out an apartment and decided to move myself and my children into it. I have decided that Wedded Asshole gets the Nanobots every other weekend and no matter how much he rages and no matter how many nasty texts (followed by loving texts) he sends I'm not changing my mind. I have decided on a company and policy for renter's insurance and auto insurance. I have decided on the eye-searingly bright tie-dyed shower curtain BECAUSE I LIKE IT and I also like my eye-searingly bright towels in different constrasty colors BECAUSE I LIKE THEM.

I am deciding that no, I do NOT want to buy that ugly-ass kitchen table, even though it is $30 at the Love of Jesus Thrift Store (yes, folks, it's a real thing. All of their proceeds go to a local battered women's shelter.) because a) it is ugly and b) it doesn't come with chairs, so I'll end up having to more money to get some. But I DO want to buy the $60 table at the Valley Mission Thrift Store because a) it is NOT ugly b) it is real wood, and c) it includes the chairs.

This kind of thing may seem like not a big deal, but it's HUGE for me. For the past 15 years of my life, all decisions have been taken out of my hands. I didn't get to choose any of the furniture or decorations in my house. I would be handed something that my husband or his family had picked up and was expected to be grateful for it because they were saving me the money/trouble involved in getting it myself. But that meant I didn't get to pick out my own silverware. I didn't get to say, "No, I don't like those plates. I want green plates," because that would have been ungrateful and petty and good grief, they're just plates.

But they're not just plates. It's the plates, and the sofa, and the curtains, and the area rug, and the knives, and the coffee maker, and the bedspread, and eventually I'm just a guest in my own home because nothing in it is MINE. And it wasn't just the small things. I came home several times to have my car immediately cleaned out and replaced with a different vehicle. I was expected to drive this new (used) thing, but not to get even a test drive first, or the ability to state what was important to me in a vehicle.

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Another example: My husband decided he didn't want to live in the small town where I had a teaching job and before I knew it, I was not renewing my contract and moving back up to his home town and into an apartment I had no input in choosing. I was expected to be able to somehow find a new teaching job, as a specialist, with only one year of experience.

Not surprisingly, that didn't happen, and the school year started so I had to give up on teaching. And the more I applied for jobs outside of my field, the clearer it became that I was being pushed towards certain positions and away from others, and that these were not the directions I would have chosen for myself. Warehouse, factory, and retail positions were encouraged, positions in professional offices as anything other than secretary were actively discouraged. In other words, I was being led away from a real career, or any position with promotion or leadership possibilities.

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So, right now, I am revelling in the ability to go to the store, decide I need a shower caddy, and buy that horrible pink one simply because I think it goes with my tacky shower curtain. And no one will make me feel like crap because of it. And I can mention casually that I am looking for storage for the Nanobots' toys without coming home from work to a set of boxes that I didn't pick, don't like, and don't think will work well for the purpose but can't return.

Making grown-up decisions kind of sucks. It's hard. It's stressful. But it's also amazing. Our decisions define us (Gandalf says so, and Gandalf is always right.) and when the right to make them is denied, we lose our selves. I am The Decider. I am responsible for myself and for my own life. No one is EVER taking that away from me again.

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