Y’know, everyone fucks up. I don’t mean trivial mistakes. We make those all the time. I mean fucking up. Something big, something that can sometimes be rectified, sometimes not. Screw up, cost the company a bunch of money, get fired. Accrue a mountain of debt. Torpedo a perfectly good relationship. Have a few too many drinks and… well, choose your own adventure there.
Some people get lucky; there are no major repercussions from their fuckups. Some people are also lucky in that the repercussions from their fuckups are survivable and repairable (though they might take decades). Take the car to the body shop. Go to counselling. Organize a debt repayment plan. (And in those cases the people are often extra lucky to have a support system to help them.) Some people aren’t lucky, and the results of their fuckups are permanent, scarring in one way or another, to them or other people. And, hell, life being life, some people suffer for other people’s fuckups without deserving it.
It’s not fashionable these days to take responsibility for fucking up. Celebrities and the media show us innumerable ridiculous examples of this. And especially here in North America, litigiousness is the new black. “Event X occurred”, not “I did X”. Passive is the name of the game. Money passes for both a support system and “responsibility”.
What has been driven home again to me in the last while is that yes, we all make choices, for which I believe we should be responsible. But sometimes we seem to decide what the definition of “responsibility” is… for other people. We seem to possess an unlimited capacity to judge. We direct the laser beam of our white-hot disapproval at the results of their actions, not at the causes. “How stupid can you be???” “Oh my God. I would NEVER…” But as Violet so grown-up-ed-ly pointed out to her adoption training class, choices aside, there is a LOT in life for which we should all be on our knees, whispering, “There but for the grace of God go I…” (Or the grace of whom or whatever.)
Choices are slippery slopes, either up or down, and one bad one makes the next bad one that much easier. And thanks to gravity, pushing upwards to make good choices is hard, and pushing downwards to make bad choices is so much easier. Some people don’t have addictive personalities. How they think is framed in reasonable boundaries. They can stop whatever it is whenever they want. Other people can’t stop, even wafer thin choices are too much.
Knowing full well the earth will rebel
Safe in the wide open arms of hell
— Crowded House, Into Temptation
It’s the people who stop the cycle of choices and haul themselves back up the slope, deal with the repercussions, and fight their way to good choices who are impressive, who’re strong. The people who appear perfect, who appear to never fuck up? They aren’t, and as often as not that veneer hides a rot much deeper than yours will ever go.
Someone who can draw out past fuckups, relive them through reconstructing them, and hold them up to say, “Trust me, you don’t know what you’re getting into. I do, and you don’t want to go there.” That is someone who has lived. Someone who refuses to be held captive by the past and by being human and who holds up her experiences as a cautionary tale. That is someone who has grown strong. And someone who is willing to do that, and at the same time throw herself under the wheels of the Internet (never known for being the most objective and forgiving of environments). That is someone who has great power. (And is, I think, just a little bit loco.) 🙂
Truth be told I’ve tried my best
But somewhere along the way
I got caught up in all there was to offer
And the cost was so much more than I could bear
Though I’ve tried, I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…
— Sarah McLachlan, Fallen