My therapist gave me the assignment to look back over the areas of my life that I consider failures, the universe pulling the rug from under me, setbacks, gut punches, traumas, or losses, and ask myself what I learned from the moments? Did I gain anything? Would I be where I am today if those things didn’t happen? I’ve always pondered this question. During my time as a therapist and a coach, I tended to stay away from these types of assignments. Why you ask. Because maybe I don’t want to be where I am today.
I find it comical that people assume everyone is happy with their current life, or they assume they should be happy. People say things like if that didn’t happen, you wouldn’t have kids, you wouldn’t have met your spouse, and you wouldn’t be working where you’re working. But do these people ever stop to think, Exactly! That’s precisely the point; had those things not happened, I wouldn’t be where I am. That is the whole point. You have to laugh after that. Because most people aren’t going to be that brutally honest, especially regarding their kids.
But here is the thing. A person can love their kids and be extremely grateful for their kids and still imagine what life would’ve been like if certain things didn’t happen in their life. If the only good that came out of the situation was a child, sure, they love the child now, but the reality is they wouldn’t know that child, and you can’t miss what you don’t know.
I will get graphic in these next paragraphs, so if you are sensitive to abuse or have any triggers to abuse, please skip this next section.
Let’s use the example of a woman that is raped and gets pregnant. She decides to keep this baby, loves and adores this child, and can’t imagine life without this child. Does this mean she can’t imagine life without being raped?
You have a woman abused by her husband and suffered multiple fractions and broken bones. She now lives with a disability, but her story has become one of triumph, and she goes around the world speaking to women about domestic violence. She has a thriving nonprofit and best-selling book. Does this mean she can’t imagine her life without the abuse?
A woman loses her family in a tragic car accident, and now she is remarried and has another family she loves and adores. She is an advocate for road safety and has spoken at congress and won awards. Does this mean she can’t imagine not losing her family?
People don’t realize that it’s not either or it’s and. You can hold space for both, and holding space for both doesn’t make you a failure, pessimist, or even depressed. Sometimes depression is feeling like you can’t feel both and trying to convince yourself you should be grateful for the tragedy because it brought you to where you are, but instead, you still feel sadness and grief and loss and pain and because you shouldn’t feel those things you become depressed.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore my therapist and attribute much of my growth to her. However, while I can look back on these areas of my life and see how they led to another area of my life, it doesn’t negate the fact that I wish those things didn’t happen, and if someone gave me a time machine, I would risk changing my current life to prevent those things from happening. This doesn’t mean I don’t love my children or my husband any less. It just means what I experienced was tragic for me, and I would be willing to sacrifice my current to not experience the tragedy and trauma, and that is OK!
It’s ok to appreciate your current while still mourning your past.