I was 7 or 8 when I read my first "Choose-Your-Own Adventure" book. At first, I was annoyed at the inability to read the book from cover to cover. Once I got used to the way the books worked, I was fascinated! I was always troubled when I chose a path that took me to an early demise (I remember one story where I [the books written so the reader is the protagonist] fell into an icy crevasse, and was trapped forever...). I quickly learned that I could go back and start the story over again, just making different choices along the way. If only we could have as many do-overs as I had with those books! In "real-life" it is though the pages of the book self-destruct once they are turned; you can't undo a choice by going back, however, by making a series of choices we can get turned back around in the right direction.
We as humans are born into this world through no conscious choice of our own. We will one day die, and most likely, the choice will not belong to us then. However, for much of the time between those two chance days of our existence, we have the power to choose how our time here is spent. Even the Bible acknowledges the power of our own choices clear back to childhood: "Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right."*
Everyone is given sets of choices in their life; each singular choice is followed by an entirely new set of choices, and so on. Alongside the right choices are the wrong ones. The beautiful truth behind having the power of choice, is that we can control whether we make the right or wrong choices. Even after making a poor choice, we are then given a whole new set of choices; thus, making it (nearly) never too late to change our own destiny.
An abused child can not control what is changed within their environment by their abuser. However, an abuse survivor has as many choices as anyone when dealing with their past abuse. The easiest, and often the most tempting path to choose is the path of a victim; the victim's path is filled with people who will coddle and indulge the victim as they continue to mature, or worse, never mature.
Later, on a less cognitive level, the victim's choices eventually put them back into the arms of another abuser. This self-created cycle becomes an addicting companion to the victim. The cycle would then begin again and continue to run its devastating course until that person (the victim) begins to making choices to break the destructive cycle. This may never happen, or it may take years to happen; unless the person becomes mentally incapacitated, it is never too late to break the cycle.
The alternative to the victim role is the path of empowerment. Abuse, and the emotional grip of an abuser, can be powerful in a devastating way. Fortunately, some people come to realize that: Just as powerful as abusive power, is the choice to use that power to further themselves. By accepting things that we cannot change, and replacing the feelings of helplessness with something that we can control (positive actions), we find a way to gain a powerful and freeing autonomy.
The way we are brought up in our first few years in which we cannot control our own environment will definitely shape many things about us. However, because of the existence of personal power, we have the authority to choose a path on which we can mold and shape our environment ourselves, and ultimately lead a more or less fulfilling life in our years of independence. We can take the initiative and started making proactive choices to grasp our own ball of potters' clay to mold a life of our own.
Many people make the mistake of limiting their future by believing that they are only entitled to what they had at birth, and are then looked at in a bad light because of that false belief. It is never too late to begin making better choices for our lives unless a person is not of sound mind or is no longer living. Not only are we able to choose our own path in our story, we are allowed to bring a notebook and a pencil, and write some adventures of our own!
If it takes a person the majority of their life to figure out how to grab on to their own destiny, then so be it. For it will have been more worth it to taste the sweetness of that freedom for mere moments, then never to have tasted it at all.
*The Holy Bible, New International Version. Proverbs 20:11
"Choose Your Own Adventure" image from: wikipedia.org