Life is all about experiences: some are good, and some are bad. But experiences are what make up our perceptions and perspectives. It is through experiences that our story is told.
I have a friend who wrote a powerful book a few years ago. Roxanne became a close friend who unexpectedly passed away recently. But in her book, she shared about her life experiences in the world of sexual abuse and human trafficking. From an early age, she was sexually abused by her father and brothers. This led into the world of human trafficking, with her brothers in the role of traffickers. Because Roxanne’s experiences with sexual abuse started at a young age, she never understood that she was a victim, and instead formed a protective cocoon around her where she told herself that there was nothing wrong with her life, but life also became meaningless to her.
Although Roxanne lived many years in a cocoon of secrecy and confusion, she finally reached out for help. Through intensive therapy, she was able to acknowledge her role as a victim and then healing began. Roxanne then authored the book, But I Thought I Liked It and Other Lies… How we come to know that life isn’t the way it should be is often uncovered through our behaviors: anger, substance abuse, depression or aggressive actions. I met Roxanne at a Human Trafficking seminar and was enlightened by her openness and honesty. Through healing, she found truth.
In Peterson’s book, Maps of Meaning, the author noted that the world can and should be viewed as a place made up of experiences. The purpose of the book is basically to determine how we have come to know, to represent, to understand and to value. Its focus is literary, philosophic, psychological and religious ideals.
Maps of Meaning provides a language for talking about things that keep us awake as children and adults: the monsters of mortality, pain, and chaos. The author notes that the human mind does not create monsters. Instead, they grow there. The self-devouring dragon, the Ouroboros, is the most dangerous dragon that our mind produces. Per Peterson, the Ouroboros encapsulates the existential cycle of humans: chaos to order, then back to chaos…and so on and so on.
Maps of Meaning repeatedly explores the necessity of action. Action requires values held by the actor. An absence of value leads to the belief that life is meaningless. But Peterson also cautions about rigid values that can lead to fascism or oppression. Humans continuously struggle against both extremes. Human trafficking victims often reach the point of nihilism and find that life is meaningless through oppression. Helping rebuild values of worth and independence is the challenge of any therapist working with victims of human trafficking.
I think literary professor Joseph Campbell summed up the meaning of life in the most positive of ways: “Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the questions when you are the answer.”
 Roxanne Fawley, But I Thought I Liked It and Other Lies… (Kalamazoo: 5 Fold Media, 2014).
 Jordan B. Peterson, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief (New York: Routledge, 1999).
 Ibid, 68.
 Ibid, 80.