I was thinking about the cycle of suffering we go through, blaming our behaviour on trauma we encountered. For example:
Toby has trust issues because his partner divulged his private secrets to his friends.
He uses that as an excuse to be tight lipped with his next partner.
But that’s not really the root of his issues, if he was perfectly healthy he would be able to bounce back from the betrayal.
We are always able to trace back our traumas to childhood, ultimately blaming our parents.
Surely we had no hand in what happened to us as children?
So what if, for the sake of argument, we assume we did get a choice.
In Buddhist karma, a lesson is repeated until it is learned.
What if we get a lifetime to heal and learn from pain, and whatever we didn’t get to process we take into our next life. Remember, even if you don’t believe in reincarnation, bear with me!
What if in his previous life, Toby never got over his trust issues.
So when it was time to choose a new life, he chose these parents who would again hone in on those same issues.
My first thought was why wouldn’t he choose loving parents who would never give him issues in the first place?
Maybe the goal of life isn’t to be happy, but to learn.
Maybe we won’t understand as long as we’re alive.
But what this hypothetical thought experiment does is give us back power.
It gives our suffering meaning.
It helps us not think in terms of good/bad people, abusers/victims, but only circumstances.
Some of us go on to become flawed parents ourselves, some forgive their carers and some do not.
That’s all fine!
There’s no pressure to find meaning in anything,
but I like thinking I have a choice.
If I believe that I started this life fully aware that my parents had their own issues that stopped them from giving me the love I know I deserved growing up, I feel liberated.
I almost don’t even care if this is true or not.
What I hope is true is that in a lineup of parents, I would choose them again for this life;
I wouldn’t be who I am today without the pain and forgiveness they taught me!
That doesn’t mean I forget what happened, I still work and enforce boundaries for my sake.
But I don’t do so out of spite for others,
but out of love for myself.