Ask Dr. Ceren: Overcoming regrettable choices

Q: Never before in my life have I stopped and thought about the choices I was making. I acted on impulse, picking friends for the wrong reasons. I realize now that my friends were wrong for me. At the time, they were people who were as shallow as I was. All they cared about was hanging out at bars and getting drunk. It took a whack on the head to shake me up. This whack came after I was let go of a well-paying job because I couldn’t keep up with the demands. Now, I can’t find a good job because I have no real skills other than sales and the economy is bad.

My girlfriend wasn’t true to me. She had a part time job as a nanny and I supported her. After losing my job, I couldn’t afford our rent, so she moved in with a guy she picked up at a bar. I don’t have money to meet my so-called friends for a drink and they stopped calling me.

My aunt invited me to move in with her in Seattle. She is very intelligent and offers good advice and a nice place to stay for free. I hate it there, but I can’t afford to stay here as I never saved any money for a rainy day. Too much boozing, too many laughs at nothing - now I’m paying the price. Shall I try to stick it out borrowing money from my credit card or return to Seattle where my aunt offers to help me?

A: You know the answer to this question, but seem to want validation that the choice to move to Seattle where you have an aunt who loves you and offers to support and guide you is a good one. It is obvious that you need to do things differently than you have in the past. Already, you are changing by considering your choice. This seems to be new behavior for you.

You also have come to the realization that the choices you have made were poor, which is also new for you now. You hadn’t considered your future until you were “whacked” in the head by the job loss, and the vanishing of your fair weather friends. Sometimes it takes such events to awaken the person inside you to come out.

You say you hated Seattle, but you don’t provide the reasons. Perhaps you were immature when you lived there and responded to superficial things. Perhaps you didn’t enjoy the weather. But for you, it is gloomy here now – not real wet weather, but the pouring out of your disappointment.

We may base our feelings about places on the experiences we have had there at a given time with given people, having little to do with the location. True, the climate isn’t as sunny as it is more often here, but the economy may be better in Seattle, and most of all you probably have a true ally in your aunt where you seem to have none here.

In making choices, it is always better not to be impulsive, but to carefully think through and examine the possible outcome of each decision. Which one offers a better chance for a better life? It is also never too late to change course. Many people change careers and locations several times in life, depending on circumstances and opportunities that come their way, or that they create.

Regard this time in your life as a fine opportunity to change course from spending time in shallow activities with shallow fair-weather friends to more meaningful activities with real friends with whom you share your newfound values. You can appreciate deep friendships rather than what you’ve recently experienced.

Consider too, that since you seem to have spent a good deal of time at bars, you may have a problem with alcohol. Do you drink when you are alone, or as a social lubricant? If you are a problem drinker, AA offers meetings day and night at a multitude of locations. AA is a terrific support service.

Making choices is a challenge. You seem ready for it.