This past week, Lee and I were having lunch in a local restaurant. Seated very near us was a table with 3 women. They were talking rather loudly so it was impossible not to overhear bits and parts. At one point, one of the women said “he ruined my life!”

I never heard another thing any of them said because I sort of became lost in thought on that topic. Is it possible for one person to ruin another person’s life? I didn’t get to ruminate on that too long because before too long, Lee was snapping his fingers in front of my eyes saying “Come back.  Where’d you go?” But I did set it aside in my mind to ponder later.  

I’ll be honest, I don’t want that to be true. If someone can ruin another person’s entire life, then that is a singularly disempowering statement. In this moment, I think I’m settling into three possibilities.  

  1.  Maybe it’s possible for someone else to significantly mess up another person’s life – for a time. Maybe having a terrible marriage during your 20’s makes your 20s seem horrible. But hopefully the ruining can be limited to the 20’s following the end of the relationship. Hopefully the person can take what they learned and build a better future by avoiding coming within miles of someone manipulative and terrible forever after that. I always want to believe that people can survive terrible things and come back stronger than ever.  


  1.  Maybe it’s possible for person A to ruin person B’s life if person B keeps it forever in their head that their life is ruined. If person B can’t see past the wrong-doing to recover (like in scenario 1) then the retelling of the story of “my life is ruined” over and over will create the reality of a life ruined. But that implicates person B in the “ruining” of the life.  


  1.  Someone’s life is seriously impacted by an injustice. For me, this includes someone being wrongfully accused of a crime and being imprisoned for most of the rest of their life. Or perhaps a drunk driver plows into a car and takes away the victim’s ability to care for themselves ever again. And yet, the forever optimist in me stillwants to hope that the victim of such a terrible situation would find a way to make their lives worthwhile. By the grace of the Divine, I’ve not walked in those shoes, so I can’t really say for sure. I suspect that for some people that’s a ruining. And for some exceedingly, extraordinary people, they find a way to rescue the meaning and purpose of their lives and find joy where they can.  

I know that every life is different. Our lives are often driven by the past and our perceptions of that past. Recovering from trauma and abuse for example, can take years of therapy to heal. Our perceptions of our own strength is also a part of this. If we see ourselves as strong and able to overcome, I think we can. How our lives move forward is most often based on how we see the present and the future as well as how we have processed the past.  

I’m curious. What do you think? I’m still turning this around in my head.  


With you on the journey,






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