these choices we make

I’m starting to come to terms with something that I’ve been fighting against my whole life.

The idea that no matter how much love, encouragement and support we give, we cannot change another person.

I have watched family members, former friends and myself make some pretty poor choices over the years.

Some of them less revocable than others. Some of these choices are made over and over and over again. Addiction for example. Or bitterness and self-pity that pushes everyone away no matter how hard they try to hang on.

I do believe that our childhoods shape us in profound and far reaching ways. But I don’t believe that it ends there. Otherwise, why would we be given the chance to live so many more years as an adult than we had as children?

And yet I know people, too many people, who believe that they have been permanently handicapped by the circumstances and events of their childhood.

I too sat awhile on this boat. And sometimes I try to reach out and jump aboard again. It’s known. It’s easy. It’s a bloody good excuse for messing up.

But what is the point of that? What is the point of spending decades mulling over issues rooted in the first 16-20 years of our lives?

I’ve had people express their commendation as to how far I’ve come and how much I’ve achieved despite some far-less-than-ideal situations as a child. But for me, it isn’t about bravery, courage, or proving someone wrong. It isn’t about “achieving in spite of my experiences”. I am motivated only by the desire to find and hold onto what we all really want.

To love and be loved. To be content. To find purpose and fulfilment in our lives.

There are stories all over the world of people who defy incredible odds to have the lives that they always dreamed of. A small number of these people become household names. I suspect that the majority of these people just get on with things and probably don’t spend much time talking about where they come from or what happened to them as children.

But there are so many people who for whatever reason are unable to break out of the cycle of poverty, abuse, addiction or other circumstances that they find themselves in as children. It seems to mark them forever.

I know that privilege has a huge part to play here. I will never deny the immense difficulties and barriers to success faced by others that I have been spared from.

But I think if we put that to one side for a moment, most of us can acknowledge that we all have choices. And no one, no matter how hard they try, can drag us to a better, safer and happier place. That is our job and our job alone.

Tragically, some will never make that choice. All we can do is accept that. And keep on loving anyway.