Saturday, December 18, 2010

Resentments and Victims

I can always tell when I'm seeing myself as a victim - I feel powerless, hopeless and resentful.  I spent a whole lot of my adult life like that.  By the time I got into recovery I was so angry and resentful I was like a powder keg.  Pretty much everything made me mad.  What I learned was that I was NEVER a victim and would never be a victim - I just lacked the skills to take care of myself. 

Our whole world educates us to see ourselves as victims of "the bad guys."  We're taught to fight - attack those bad guys, make them see the error of their ways and punish them.  It's incredible but we totally miss the fact that this does not work and never has in all of history - either in our individual relationships or in countries.  Somebody wins, somebody loses.  The losers are resentful and plot revenge and spend a lot of time and energy carrying out their plots.  They either get revenge or they don't.  If they do, they never notice that they're no better off than they were before.  Or they don't get revenge, stay resentful and then plot more revenge.  Try to find the happy people in that mess!  Ha!

I'm not immune now from resentment.  What I have is some tools to identify the story I told myself that identified me as a victim.  Then I can think up (mostly with help from someone else) another story to tell myself. 

When I first was told about this idea of never being a victim, I tried hard to disprove it.  "What if I'm captured by Nazi's and put in a concentration camp.  Doesn't that mean I'm being victimized?" I said.  They pointed out that this kind of stuff goes on in the world all the time.  The trick is to use the situation for good.  There are books written about people who were in concentration camps who decided to use their situation for good - one guy wrote a book in his head about what was happening so that he could tell the story when he got out so that something like that would never happen again.  A woman and her sister spent every single day trying to help the other people.  They took care of the sick, comforted the dying, etc.  They had goals and a mission to use their situation for good.

I've used this concept in my own life - not so many dramatic situations, of course - just in small ways.  It completely changes how I feel, how I think, and the level of fun I'm having in my life.  It is really true that I'm never a victim - no matter what happens to me, no matter how other people treat me.  There's always a way to use the situation for my good and the good of other people.  The process starts with me being angry, complaining to the right people (people who won't sympathize more than a minute or two and who will remind me of my mission), and choosing a course of action.  There's no guarantee that I will always win this little game, but I would rather fight back against seeing myself as a victim than lie down and whine!!

I've been at this for over 28 years now.  It can pay off in some terrific ways.  After being hit by a drunk driver, having the love of my life die as a result, and being very seriously injured, I could surely have claimed victim hood, and a lot of people would have listened while I whined incessantly.  I did my share of whining but the whole time I knew that was not the answer.  So as best I could I accepted all the help I was offered, tried my best to do what I needed to do to heal, and look for the lessons I could learn as a result of my situation. 

No comments:

Blog Archive