One attitude I had prior to D-day that led me to a lot of trouble was the tendency to always paint myself as a victim. This was a self-centered and childish tendency to see the world as all about me. It also hurt me, by giving me an excuse not to try to improve myself and my lot, physically, mentally, emotionally, morally, as a husband, and as a father. It led me to blame others, including God or fate, for my happiness or lack thereof, rather than work toward happiness. Ultimately, it led me to cheat, lie, lead a double-life, and lose all touch with my wife, kids, and what really matters to me in life.
For example, my mentally-ill mother taught me that some people are just born more athletic or stronger and others are born smarter and more academic. She taught me to believe that if you were not born with those natural abilities, there was nothing you could ever do about it. Untrue. In both sports and academics, despite some genetic inheritance, most of what leads to success is dedication, motivation, practice, an open-minded quest for knowledge, discipline, and persistence. No Olympian just lazed his way to victory on the back of genetic gifts without hard work. No inventor ever just visualized a new technique or device without building on years of study and thought. But, I subconsciously bought into my mother’s excuses and blaming fate. I essentially told myself I was not a natural athlete. So, I set myself years behind physically by failing to try. I essentially told myself I was naturally smart. So, I set myself behind academically by failing to work, assuming academic success would just appear due to my natural intelligence. Crap.
Here’s another example. As an adolescent I told myself some guys just naturally get girls and others don’t. Never mind about hygiene, confidence, humor and approachability, taking care of yourself, being patient, and enjoying socializing without insisting it end in sexual conquest. I thought some guys just go to a club with a bad attitude and only thinking of sexual conquest and invariably go home with a girl. I never considered that maybe they put a whole lot more effort into it than that. I never considered that maybe they weren’t at the club only for an obsessive quest to get laid. So, I got very angry at myself and at God or fate when I sought to get laid and failed, without having the right preparation and the right attitude. And, I gave up quickly and easily.
The common theme here is that I didn’t see myself as an actor choosing my destiny and being responsible for my success or failure. I saw my successes and failures as gifts or curses from God or fate. I got angry instead of getting a plan. I was the victim, not the person responsible for my happiness or lack thereof.
As the victim, I didn’t think about the pain I would cause others by cheating and lying. I thought, woe is me, I deserve more sex and self-validation, even if I have to be evil to get it. As the victim, I wallowed in self-pity, believing my pain, real or imagined, was more important than the consequences I was inflicting on my wife and others.
The only good news out of this is that I have learned one measure of my progress in R and self-healing. Do I want to be the victim? Am I tempted by self-pity? If so, I’m not working on R, I’m working against it. Do I want to take responsibility to help myself and my wife? If so, I’m at least headed in the right direction.
If I wallow around in victimhood, blaming old partners, parents, ailments, or whatever for my condition, there is no way I can help my BW. If I do that, my wife could do a whole lot better without me.
When I talk to God now, I’m also talking to myself. God, give me the strength to take responsibility for my life and to make the best of it, for me and for my loved ones.