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Take Charge of Your Choice

Photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash

How many times have you heard someone place the blame on their upbringing for why they are a certain way?

It could be something as simple as, “My mom always made the recipe this way, so I do too. That’s how I grew up learning it.” Or, “My dad was tight with his money so I am too. That’s why I’m cheap, I guess.”

It could be something as drastic as, “He grew up watching his father beat his mother, so that’s what he learned.”

Or, “My dad left when I was kid.” From the person who leaves their kid.

After all, violence begets violence.

Absence begets absence.

But does it have to?

It seems we are entering a new wave of victim, in which because someone was subjected to violence or a bad childhood or an absent father, they are now allowed to treat the people in their life as less than. Or because someone was diagnosed with a mental illness or a substance addiction, they are given a reason (sometimes translated as an “excuse”) for why they lie, or steal, or verbally abuse their partner, or their children.

Or, as kept popping up in 2017, because someone is labeled a sex addict they are taken to treatment instead of owning their own misdeeds — or, in some cases, crimes.

There is a huge flaw in this victimization.

It is the flaw of choice.

We strip people of the all-powerful ability to choose when we allow them to blame their actions on the actions of those before them. Choice is our greatest weapon — and it can be used for good or for evil. If we allow those who use it for evil to have a pass because they had a bad childhood, or they are addicted to heroin, or they were diagnosed as bipolar, we do them a disservice.

We take away their choice, and we take away the ability for them to choose goodness or, at the very least, kindness and empathy.

If you feel you are mean to your partner because you are bipolar or have another type of personality disorder, make the choice to seek treatment. If that treatment isn’t working, speak to your doctor or therapist and press forward. Be your own advocate to ensure you are getting the care you need.

If you have a problem being faithful to your partner, do them a favor and fess up to it, if they don’t already know. Own your mistakes (or your choices), give them a chance to decide if they want to work things out with you, respect their decision, and then, most importantly, work on yourself. Even if they leave, work on yourself. Don’t moan about your damaged childhood or your strained relationship with your mother and point to her as the reason you are a serial cheater. Instead, take control of yourself as a person and do better.

This can (and oftentimes should) include seeing a qualified therapist, your doctor, or other healthcare professionals.

Photo by Miguel Salgado on Unsplash

There is no addiction or mental health disorder in this world that gives you the right to impede on the health and happiness of others.

If your family and friends support you through your treatment, that’s great. Take and cherish that support. Let them learn what you’re struggling with, and what that struggle might look like as you get well. Let them accept that, and be there for you. Or, if they won’t accept it, let them leave. But do no treat them like trash as they walk alongside you, and try to leverage your illness as an excuse or a reason.

I myself have suffered from a few mental health challenges. I understand what it feels like when the black cloud of depression and the racing winds of anxiety swirl around and over and on top of you, and you feel like you would rather cease to exist than to spend another minute breathing in this wonderful world.

I also understand the desire to psychoanalyze and blame someone in your past or your present for what you are going through.

Perhaps they deserve the blame. Perhaps their perspective is different.

Either way, they are not living your life for you.

They are never going to shoulder the burden you carry.

If you were abused, if you were beaten, if you were degraded — you were wronged. But your abuser will never walk in your shoes. As unfair and as awful and as wrong as it may be, that is your responsibility alone.

And it is also your responsibility to deal with that burden so that you do not repeat this sick cycle with your family, with your own children.

Get out of your own way. Take back your choice. Don’t let your past drag down your entire future. Do not be the victim of your entire life.

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