Young, Sick and Invisible

My illness has shaped me,
But it does not define me.

Paving Our Roads in Life: Do Intentions Actually Count?


Desert road

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”

- Proverb

Society and my own experiences have taught me mixed messages about the degree to which intentions actually influence the outcomes in life. Recently, I’ve found myself going back and forth in my head debating how much value “good intentions” really hold as I’ve been stuck at a crossroads in my life for far too long now. I know that I’ve almost always had the best of intentions: Wanted to be a good person, treat people well, follow the rules, make everyone proud, do well, and excel at life. I’ve never wanted to upset anyone, make them angry or sad, never cause anyone problems or worry. Be strong and independent, yet someone likable, someone everyone wants to be around. Even though that’s a lot of rather vague umbrella words and statements put together I feel like it sums up in a nutshell how I’ve tried to be and live my life. I repeat over and over how blessed, lucky, and grateful I am and I do believe that without a doubt. However, I’ve also had many people and circumstances take me down, cause me what feels like inescapable grief, pain, and loss and I can’t figure out why or what I did to deserve such hurt. Is it all really just coincidence or bad luck? If so, what does that mean for me and for society?

On the one hand, society does take intentions into account. The way our judicial system treats charges and convictions of slander and libel, for example, rests significantly on whether or not the accused had malicious intentions. The difference between manslaughter and premeditated murder could mean the difference between a life with the possibility of a future for the accused or a sentence of life in prison or even death. Ok, so society does care about intentions…being a “good person” with “honorable intentions” does matter. That makes me feel better because by probably a combination of nature and nurture I can’t help putting a lot of effort, energy, and emotion into my good intentions. But, especially in a world where bad experiences have taught me the hard lesson that most people are really only thinking about themselves and their good intentions are often superficial or a façade being someone who cares and wants to always do the “right thing” can be exhausting, painful, and lonely.

So on the other hand, I’ve seen, and been the victim so to speak, of countless examples that prove the quote I included with this post to be true; good intentions can mean absolutely nothing and even backfire with horrific results. Also, having “bad”- selfish, malicious, devious, cruel, and hurtful intentions can often have what society esteems as fabulous results. Many successful businessmen and politicians (ahem.,..cough cough) have happily steam rolled over others to successfully obtain wealth, power, and even fame, achievements society prizes.

I worked extremely hard in graduate school, tried to everything I could to prove myself, had the best intentions and ended up being targeted because of my age, gender, and fact that my advisor felt threatened due to her own circumstances. She took her position of power and her pain and turned it around, consciously or not, on me. Unfortunately I could do nothing to prove that and her word that I “was not capable” far outweighed any claim I could have made. So, despite my best intentions, she squashed my life and career plans and dreams- all of my hard work, time, and good intentions ended with me devastated and broken, struggling to recover and refocus.

I tried to love two narcissists after waiting until I was 21 to even hold hands with anyone. I didn’t know what I was getting into with either, but I was loyal to a fault, tried to be there for them, help them, encourage them through their struggles. I ended up deeply hurt and scarred both physically and emotionally. Meanwhile their lives have gone on with little to no realization or impact on them of the lasting hurt they caused me; I often feel like roadkill, nothing more than a casualty in their journey to do what they wanted and what they needed to deal with their own pain in their lives. I was nothing more than punching bag to soothe their personal demons. I had the best intentions; I wanted the fairy tale. Even just for them to be happy. Or ok. I believed my good intentions and love could help and fix them and our relationships. Wrong is a gross understatement to describe the truth about that belief.

Even my health- my Raynaud’s, DSPS etc. My Mom will sometimes get sad and frustrated seeing me struggle with my conditions and ask “why you?” I don’t have a good answer. I try to tell my Mom that there has to be a reason and we just can’t understand or know it right now. But I sometimes can’t help questioning why if I’ve always had good intentions, tried my best did I end up with these issues?

I’ve even had experiences when I’m sure my doctors wanted to help, relieve my symptoms, improve my quality of life and prescribed me medicine only to have the side effects make things worse for me. Friends have gone through even worse situations with doctors and medicine. I find myself asking “if the outcome is the same, do the intentions matter?” “If there is still hurt, devastation, negative consequences that aren’t just easy to fix the intentions can’t change this or fix the outcome.” “If someone is successful or highly regarded, or powerful how much do we care about how they got there?” It can be discouraging, frustrating, and confusing.

I do believe in karma, but in a lot of situations I’m still waiting for it for myself and for others, both good and bad. Maybe good intentions on their own aren’t enough? That’s the painful lesson I think I’ve been slowly learning the hard way. And I’m still trying to figure out the part what else I need and how to instill it in myself to push forward in my journey to get “unstuck” then finally find and realize my dreams.

Until next Friday,

Amy L.

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