There’s always a reason..

“Everything happens for a reason”.

The biggest piece of bullshit I have ever heard. It is bullshit, right??

“Choosing hope and faith over anger and despair has saved me, not because I believe there is some puppet god out there calling all the shots, but more like I have to have faith and hope in myself, that I can be worthy of all this suffering. That all of this will add up to something meaningful for me, and that I will, in turn be able to give something meaningful to the world.”

People told me that there were no accidents, that there are reasons for everything. At the beginning I was just struck dumb by those people, those platitudes. The idiocy. But as I started to adjust and got angrier and angrier I could have straight out killed them when they said it. What could possibly be the reason, the good, the fucking Plan in a 51 year old man with a wife and son, and a talent and being that was the focal point of my life, dropping dead. There is no good in that. None. And if you tried, still..TRY to tell me that I will cut you…either physically or, cut you out of my life.

But as time passes I see that I cannot live with all of those absolutes, that I have to look at things differently so that I can function wholely in this world. I stopped doing that, for a while, with the booze. And I don’t want to be that person again (or non-person).

And as I drew hope back into my life I had to let go of a lot of thoughts and attitudes that were keeping me down, holding me back. But not this one. Nope.

Today, however, I read the above quote from a sober friend of mine whom I admire very much. And it stopped me in my tracks. Because it felt true and it felt different from “there is a reason for everything”. She didn’t say that, she said she hoped that her suffering would allow her to be meaningful in the world.

A huge difference. And when I read that I felt something lift, another little piece break open, something true….not only for her but for me too. It’s not the thing that happened, it is our reaction or response to it.

What happened is fucked, but so was my reaction to it, for a very long time. I could see no reason for it, so there became no reason for me. I internalized it so completely that instead of this horrible thing happening to TOM, it became that it happened to me. And while I had to sit in the rubble, Tom became the ash, literally. I was still alive, though not happily. And my reaction was to lose faith, lose hope.

I got hope back,  if I hadn’t  I’d be dead. It started with my grief group and now that I lead the groups it’s coming faster and stronger. When I got sober I really began to see hope  where all I saw before was the rest of my life stretching drunkenly before me and then I’d die., And while I have lost any faith in a god (I never really had it to lose), I have more faith in myself, my behaviour and reactions and abilities and that is also hopeful. And I find meaning in the work I do, the weddings and the grief group, and if I had any other shitty job I could find meaning there too. This is what is incumbant on me, this is now my job, my hope and my faith… to find and bring meaning into the world. Because Tom can’t, even though he did bring so much while he was alive. I have to do it for me, for Tom.. And so, while there was no reason or good about his death…it’s now about my life, not his. It’s about the meaning I can find and pass on into the world, that makes my suffering worth it. That makes it meaningful for me and thus for the world.

Also, my willingness to look at this has changed. I could never see how anything positive could come of this hideousness, and now, with help from friends, my clients and my own self, ME,  I’m beginning to accept the  idea that there just might be a tiny, minute drop of positive in anything (or the pony under the pile of shit, if you can hold your breathe long enough to dig).

“There is a crack in everything that’s how the light gets in”, a quote from Leonard Cohen on a bracelet I have.  There are cracks also  in long held beliefs, things we thought were so true, held so deeply…cracks that allow another idea to come through, another way.

And, as I know full well, once that crack, that point of grace opens, I had better jump through it, because who knows when it will open again. I need to throw myself into this discovery, explore it and use it in every aspect of my life going forward. Holding to that hope and sense of faith in myself, in me. That’s a very odd perspective for me and one I now have to learn to cultivate. Not overnight, just begin, one day at a time.

Learning has always been one smack over the head at a time for me.

SMACK : Hope.

SMACK: Faith.


Add yours →

  1. I needed this. I was one of those “everything happens for a reason people” until my brother-in-law killed himself and my sponsor at the time gave Matt and I that platitude. I realized then how truly offensive that statement is for someone grieving.

    I think there’s a time and a place for it and I do believe when I lose a job or a friendship or even get a speeding ticket – I believe there’s a reason. A lesson. A new chapter, an open door where another closed, a reminder to pay attention.

    But when someone you loved dies, most definitively NOT appropriate.

    I love you.

  2. Michele, this is such a great transition. I imagine I would’ve felt the same way, not just at the “everything has a reason” bullshit–which could be used to justify the Holocaust for godssake–but also at the random, indifferent cruelty of the universe. To turn away from the anger and feeling of injustice toward hope, to recognize your strength in surviving it, to feel the connection it gives you with others…all mind-blowingly sane and life-affirming–a door opening wide to a different way to be.

    So, so glad you got smacked around.


  3. Hi Michele, I saw this poem today and thought of you. I hope today finds you well.


    Enough. These few words are enough.
    If not these words, this breath.
    If not this breath, this sitting here.

    This opening to the life
    we have refused
    again and again
    until now.
    Until now

    David Whyte, from “Where Many Rivers Meet”

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