06 October 2005

On The Other Hand

Ruby was a victim.

When I wrote her, she hurt, she was real and I was depressed; however without invalidating real heartache one jot, I came to a realisation. Victims don't exist, except as a frame of mind.

In order to play the victim, it takes a whole society to reinforce the concept. Many times other people are not predators - only a few will be bullish and tell another person directly that they are useless or incompetent, although those few make enough noise about it to appear to be more prolific than they are. Mostly, good people jump to be providers, to reinforce their own sense of value by sympathising, cooing and oohing and volunteering to do things constantly for a 'less fortunate' person. That is still a way to tell the 'victim' that they can't stand on their own two feet, can't do for themselves.

Some 'victims' manipulate this for an easy life; arrange others to run around them to do it all, whilst they do nothing 'because'.

Some feel crushed by it all and believe the line that they are somehow less of a person than others, and live in torment. Some of those try to conform, feeling unable to reconcile their real, inner self with the outer one. The outer, conscious person can buy into the concept that their secret self is not good enough, even try to deny the existence of certain character traits, and end up living with self denial and self loathing, being their own harshest critic.

Some recognise that predator, provider and victim are roles that feed off each other; that each person in the triangle is in some way needy, that you can refuse to play. For them, their bodies or their circumstances may oblige them to accept help, but they become as useful and un-victim-like as they can, with their given talents and skills; and really that's all any of us can do. Its all about balance.

Give because someone asks, not because you feel you could resolve things better than them. Help, if you can, by teaching, by setting an example. Keep your dignity and allow the person you help to keep theirs.

Take cheerfully because what goes around comes around - take because you also give, and not because you feel the world owes you. Take learning above all else, because that equips you rather than simply bailing you out.

Watch your spiritual bank balance; don't shaft others, but don't stitch yourself up, either.

What about Ruby?

Wasted talents are a desperate sorrow. Ruby was on one path in life having fooled herself she could always skip to another. If she had made her choices carefully, made a considered and determined (and most importantly honest) choice every time; if she had lived her life without playing either victim, predator or provider, but simply by doing what was right, then she would have stored up self respect and a sure confidence that she spent herself wisely.

If you are bothered to read her story again, all along the line she fooled herself that 'it wasn't her fault', that she wasn't really making choices, but being herded along. She never decidedly took one path so much as agreeing to detour down it. She volunteered powerlessness.

However much you've messed up, it's never too late to start accepting your own responsibility for how things go from here on in; to start seeing the subtle power games that we all play; and if you can forgive yourself and those around you, then thats the source of a happier ending.

[Soap box back under the stairs now - off to work! xxxxxxxxxxxxx]


doris said...

And you write all this before trudging out to work in the morning? Amazing ;-)

Your timing is impeccable.

You have touched on so many points that I agree with or accept and have put them so eloquently it brings tears to my eyes. But I can be a daft cow so just ignore that last bit!

The one I am currently struggling with is this: "Give because someone asks, not because you feel you could resolve things better than them." I need to think on this one a bit more especially in relation to myself and the way I offer to "give" and then beat myself up emotionally because I have, in the end, procrastinated. (And I already had a post in mind - but as yet unwritten - about procrastination.) This doesn't do me any good and what good does it do the other person - only delays them from pulling out the stops and getting on with it themselves?

The thing I fight with is that we all need some help sometimes and it is the offer than can be enough to give courage to just get on.

And then we have the human condition where we want to help (on the whole). Even if that is a selfish-inspired act we still have that desire.

On the point of "victims being a state of mind" - I would say that is true to a great extent. Doesn't mean that bad things won't happen to you just how you handle it is what really matters. Often it is much easier to cosy down into a wallow of being a victim rather than turning everything into good somehow.

Though I wonder that there is a need to have a stage where sympathy is thrown in buckets before making that turn and climbing out of the victim status? Or does that delay the recovery?

Hmm. Great food for thought!

Milt Bogs said...

I'm a bit out of my depth here Cheryl. I think I must be a self-crushed victim who manipulates. I still can't help feeling that even if Ruby "had made her choices carefully, made a considered and determined (and most importantly honest) choice every time" she would still have felt that there could have been more... if. As I said, I'm a bit out of my depth here so please go easy on me. Please!

zilla said...


I didn't find version 1 particularly strident, but version 2 is definitely quieter and --thoughtful.

You have a lot to say, and many people ought to hear it. :-)

fineartist said...

I believe that people are a mixture of dark and light, regret and victory, sadness and joy, just like life is a mix of these things too. We seek to achieve balance, and hopefully the light is stronger than the darkness.

We all have tales to tell. When we communicate our tales in such a way as to lend understanding and hope to another then we are made stronger by the telling, as they are made stronger by the hearing. The light is made brighter, by the enlightening.

I loved this piece. Yes you were bummed out when you told the tale of Ruby, but you spoke in a way that many could understand. Many times we go through life interpreting everyone else’s feelings, we forget our own. So it is clarifying to remember our own feelings, even when they have changed.

The hope shines through, clearly.