As we go through this process, Mindless talks a lot about the pervasive self-pity he held onto, almost like a security blanket. He talks about how he blamed G-d, parents, me, bosses, essentially everyone but himself for his problems. Oh, I see it, but not just in him. I see it in me. Not to the degree that Mindless discusses. I have fought thinking that way all of my life because I did not want to repeat my parents mistakes. I did a post about “the victim mentality” recently. Here’s the thing, I think I’ve done it in some ways without even realizing it.
I have a hard time saying no. I get upset with myself for not saying no when I do not want to do something. I put myself in the victim role by agreeing to do things I don’t want to do. For example, volunteering at my child’s school, I was asked to take the lead on a project I just really did not have the time, patience or desire to lead. The commitment grew, expectations grew, and my time and devotion to the project grew. Not because I wanted to do the project, but because I didn’t say no to it and therefore felt committed to see it through to the best of my abilities. Yet, I spent too much time being angry at myself for not saying no. This put me in the victim role. The thing is, I had a choice, I have a choice.
There are other examples of similar situations. I tell myself “I must” or “I should.” If I do get up the nerve to say no, I feel I must explain myself. Beyond some polite, “I just cannot take that on right now,” I don’t need to list off the reasons why. From now on instead of telling myself “I should” or “I must,” I think I will phrase it as “I choose to.” Perhaps this will help me to face that these are my choices.
In another way too, I think I adopted this victim mentality more than I realized. When I think of my past, before Mindless was even a part of my life, I think of all the things I went through as a child. I convinced myself that because of what I had survived, I had paid my dues and therefore would not face such deep difficulties in my future. Also, I held on to those memories almost as an award of distinction and honor, saying to myself “Look at what I survived.” I defined myself by wearing this label of “I survived, I overcame, blah, blah, blah. . .”. The problem with this thinking was and is twofold.
First, you never know what the future holds. Just because you’ve survived difficult things in the past doesn’t mean that your future will be free of difficulties. It just doesn’t work like that. Second, I am no longer that child, she does not need to define me anymore. I can be who I am in the present and the future and I don’t need to wear some label of the past (good or bad). Yes, it will always be a part of what made me into who I am today. Yes, I have learned many useful lessons along the way. But, those experiences are not the totality of who I am today. That would give the past way too much power over me still. I choose to not give it that power. I choose! One day, I will choose the same for what has happened between Mindless and me. I am not there yet, but I do see it as a choice to be made when I am ready. Maybe that is what forgiveness will mean to me. Hmmm?