The Dangers of Playing the What If Game
What if my sister were still alive? Would we see each other once a week? Would we chat on the phone all the time? Would we still be the best of friends? What would she be doing?
What if I had gotten in that car instead of staying at home because I was on crutches after getting hurt in a Backstreet Boys mosh pit a few days earlier? Maybe I would have sat where my sister was, and she’d be alive today.
What if we try another time? Will we get a healthy child, or will we just put my body through hell again.
What if I loved my job? Can I find a way to love profession? Can I find a way to make 7 years of advanced education worth it?
What if I could cry on my mom’s shoulder each time we’ve lost a baby? What if my mom could give me advice and share her words of wisdom? What if I could just have a conversation about the weather with my mom?
What if we didn’t adopt our lovely puppy 4 years ago? What if she were better trained and didn’t pull on her leash when we go for walks?
What if I didn’t steal my now husband’s keys the night we met? What if I didn’t force him to strike up a conversation with me? What if we never even met?
What if a guy paid more attention while he was driving? What if he didn’t miss a stop sign and drive straight into my family at 110km/hr?
What if we didn’t experience RPL, and we didn’t lose a single baby to miscarriage?
What if we didn’t get our lives organized before trying to have children? What if we didn’t upgrade (or downgrade depending on your perspective) to the family cars? What if we didn’t buy our family home?
There are a million what if’s. It is such a dangerous game to play. I game I refuse to play 99% of the time. I take every step possible to avoid the what if game at all costs
But here’s the thing about the what if game, if you play it honestly without glorifying the outcome, the answers can be scary. Here are a few examples:
What if we didn’t adopt our puppy 4 years ago? She would have still been rescued by our puppy adoption agency and she would likely be living with some other family who would love her to pieces. But, I would be lonely. She has kept me company through each miscarriage. Each time, once we are pregnant, she stays by my side sort of like my very own dog shaped shadow. She’s cared for me in the way that only a dog can.
What if I never went to that Backstreet Boys concert and hurt my knee? I would have had no excuse to not be with my family that day, so in all likelihood I would have been in that car. Likely, I’d be dead, my sister would be dead and my brother would also be dead. There simply wouldn’t have been enough room for all of us. So, my Dad could be the only one left alive.
What if we hadn’t experienced a miscarriage? Can I assume that we’d have one healthy baby by now? No, I cannot. I cannot even assume we’d have a baby. Maybe our child would have died later in the pregnancy and been stillborn. Or maybe we would have a child who is not healthy. The ideal world says we’d have a healthy baby, but who’s to say that we would?
So, here’s the thing about the what if game – it’s pointless. I can make all these assumptions about how life would have turned out, but honestly, we have no idea. We have no idea about the decisions we would have made under different circumstances. For example, if my mom and sister never died, who’s to say that I would have chosen to go to the university I did, which is where I met my husband and it was with my husband that we adopted our puppy? Just like the chaos theory states, I firmly believe that one small change in life, has the potential to affect every single thing that happens next.
And that’s why playing the what if game is not worth my time. The idea that I can calculate what would be if for one different decision or one different outcome, is just stupid. Life is too complicated to think one small change would not affect everything that happens next.
So, while in rare moments of weakness, when I think about how different things could be, I always remind myself that it’s extremely unlikely that everything else would be the same. And so while I may wish for changes within my past, I also realize that one, I cannot go back in time to make said changes and two, the changes would likely change my entire life course. And, as much as some of the things in my past suck, for the most part I love my life today. And in order to enjoy what I have today, I accept the past as just that, the past. I can remember, I can honour, I can laugh and I can be sad for what is gone, but I can also look forward to a life of possibilities. I choose to spend most of my time looking forward with hope and optimism. What do you choose?
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