Let's Talk Why AgainI have had a situation come up in my life that brings the why issue directly into focus. I find myself saying "The Why Does Not Matter" in a completely different context from a SM.
Teenager with a really messed up background, foster care, early drug exposure, parents were addicts and physically abusive ends up rebelling, stealing, having angry outbursts and lying to anyone and everyone to get her way. She lives with friends of the family who are stable but know the child's situation and constantly make excuses for her behaviors by saying "Yes what she did was wrong but poor thing, look at what she's been through" or "She just needs more time to get used to what it feels like to be in a loving home" or "We haven't been perfect foster parents and she's had it so tough. We will get better and then it will be easier for her and she says she will make better choices next time." Does her background matter when it comes to serious behavioral choices that impact the family, the legal system, the child, her long term future and the entire stability of her relationships with other people?
No. The why does not matter. It does not matter if this child is doing these things because she is possessed by the devil or if it is because she knows she can get away with them, the law and the consequences are the same no matter what. When this family hypothetically makes excuses due to this kid's poor early experiences they are teaching her that because something bad happened when she was little there are no consequences to her choices now.
When we chase the why -- especially when we seek to blame early childhood, previous relationships or whatever else that is 100% on them to fix for themselves -- we are overfunctioning for them and looking for ways and reasons not to rock the boat with consequences. We are looking to excuse away their behaviors for our own reasons of guilt about other things that have happened to them or looking for reasons why we may be to blame, because they have already had a tough life.
No matter how tough the life their lives will not improve when we enable them to continue to make choices that should have consequences. That goes for out of control children who are rebelling and testing limits just as much as it goes for spouses. At the end of the day it is THEIR problem to resolve. This teenager I know has had a tough life. She really has. Her journey is going to be hard. I don't wish it on anyone. But she has to walk her journey and heal herself. It's no one else's job, responsibility or debt but her own.
She will attract the overfunctioning types who will try to take care of her and they will end up in a codependent dance, possibly resulting in a dysfunctional relationship such as many of ours. And at the end of those marriages, the why will not matter either. Only the choices she made and "our" choices not to enforce consequences. Not enforcing them actually robs her of a chance to grow and learn something new about consequences, expectations and love versus pity.