samedi, novembre 24, 2012

The faces of victimhood

If you didn't have so many things going on, said a friend to me today, you'd feel angry instead of helpless.

She may be correct.

Torn between work and family, I've had so many stressful moments this fall that I really haven't figured out when to grow a spine and when to curl up like a snail and hope the rain stops soon.

And I've often felt like a victim of circumstance. 

Given a little time to think this past week, I've been wondering about the many faces of victimhood.

There are events that make victims of other people -- wars, rapes, racial oppression.

Sometimes oppression can try to mold human beings into victims. Apparently Italy has had a recently rash of domestic violence, now chillingly termed "femicide." 

Institutions can victimize people in ways that they don't even recognize at the time --large investment banks were really good at this over the past decade (and may still be). Anyone want to say mortgage-backed security?

And then there is the squishier kind of victimhood.  Letting men you are pretty sure are married chat you up on online dating sites with their endless tales of woe.  Getting involved in a long debate with some other dude about why you don't want to date him.

Apologizing when you don't need to apologize, because, darn it, someone's always wrong, aren't they?

Taken to its illogical extent, this often seems ludicrous.  My son got up to go to the bathroom last night, and when he alerted me to his presence (we share a bathroom) I said " I'm sorry, there's no one in there" a moment of linguistic lunacy that will most likely go down in family history.

Taking more responsibility than you need to own.

Trying to make something come out right when the other person isn't invested in making it work.

Letting people criticize you on the basis of superficial observations -- and then brooding about the slam for days. 

Or feeling like a failure because you are trying to do an impossible parenting job without help.

No question that sometimes I find taking responsibility that isn't always mine easier than actually trying to find a solution that works well for everyone -- or facing the conflict that may occur if I have to claim my own inner adult.

I'm embarrassed to read these words on the screen - coming as they do from the mind of a middle-aged woman, they bespeak timidity.

No wonder some have made that mistake in judging me.

But I'm not, I assure you, always fearful. Principles are precious -- and the blood of the principled eccentrics flows through these Jackson veins.

Sometimes I battle with grace.  Often without. 

But as difficult as this time has been, I still want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and say -- hey girl, you didn't fold under pressure.

After all, I have a choice --  and I choose self-respect.

Let the spine begin.

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