“Everything Happens For A Reason”
This saying showed up in most of the feedback I received about last week’s post. I had already planned this post, but I am glad to see how relevant this topic is to many of you.
I have heard this saying more than any other in the most surprising (to me) of places, domestic violence survivor support groups. After any group member shares some of what brought her to the group or relates a current problem she’s having with her abuser via the court system or CPS, someone invariably says, “everything happens for a reason.”
No one else in the groups seems to have a problem with this response, not even group leaders. I think the reason nobody counters the saying is that it is wrapped up in religious views. Most of the women (the groups I attend are women-only) who assert that everything happens for a reason do so because they put the meaning of the experience off on a god-entity with some plan or knowing about how events will play out. Even though it can be uncomfortable to contradict someone in a place they go to for support, I can't help but speak up. I can't let that damaging perspective be the only one presented to someone in pain.
A Thoughtful Response
As one After Domestic Violence reader put it, the saying “frames the abuser's actions as good, or necessary, or having a silver lining. And I don't think there is any reason ever to justify abuse.” I agree wholeheartedly. I think it is up to each of us to choose the meaning that we place on the events and circumstances of our lives.
Stop the Spiral
Looking for specific, absolute meaning behind our experiences can be a great distraction from reality. It can also take up time and energy that would be better spent figuring out what we want to work towards or what we want to leave behind in our lives. I spent years trying to figure out just why I was being abused, when the answer simply was, “because someone decided to abuse me.” I thought that if I figured out a reason for the abuse, I could find a way to make sure I wouldn’t be abused any more. Then I realized that the answer to “why did this happen?” was “because someone decided to abuse me.” That understanding freed me up mentally to move on to figuring out what I wanted to have happen in real-time, not the past.
Questions of the Week
How do you remind yourself that you get to decide what is meaningful in your life? Do you have any little mantras or habits to help with that?
Rebecca encourages survivors of domestic to speak about their experiences and to lean on each other for support.