I am finding I’m having a tough time dealing with some people’s success. I’ve become bitter and resentful, particularly when I perceive that someone whose path has been clear their whole life has the gall to tell anyone how they, too, can be successful or otherwise tell them how to live.
Shut the hell up.
I get annoyed on several levels. First, there’s the person who’s never lacked anything a day in their life who has the nerve to criticize others for not being able to completely overcome their shortcomings. Case in point….I once worked with a man, someone I considered a friend, almost like a brother, who went on a rant one day because some woman had made the news because her son had been killed in the crossfire of a drive by shooting in her neighborhood. My co-worker didn’t want to hear of her sorrow…”why didn’t she just move, if she’s in such a bad neighborhood?” Well, gee, member of the most privileged race and gender whose toe has never dipped below upper middle class, maybe you have the money to physically move your family and pay for a more expensive apartment in a safer neighborhood after coughing up a security deposit and first and last months’ rent, but this woman, obviously, didn’t. Truthfully, I didn’t know her situation, I was just so irritated that this man couldn’t see past his own experience. “I’d move, why didn’t she?”
I worked with another person, a woman who was NEVER my friend, who also was completely out of touch with anyone else’s problems. Zero empathy. Rich parents, still married, no major problems, illnesses, crimes, etc. that affected her family. I lost track of the “let them eat cake” comments that she made. She married a wealthy man, and when she had their first child, was able to become a stay at home mom. A spoiled, shallow woman who no longer had to work in a cubicle and more than likely hired someone to take care of her children. Puke.
Then there’s the youth, someone whose got the energy and the drive and the opportunities, living in the time that we do, to do far more with their lives than I could have even had I not been forced to perform oral sex on my babysitter at age 6. Even if all those years of abuse had not happened, when I was in my early 20’s, no one was making their living doing half the cool things kids are able to work at now. There are kids making a living off of posting videos on YouTube, for pete’s sake.
Lastly, there’s the broken ones, the misfits like me, who are open about their pain, their losses, their mental health issues, etc. These are the ones I least begrudge their successes, but they are painful to watch. Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, whom I’ve mentioned before, is screamingly funny. She lives in Texas with her husband and daughter and makes a living as a writer. Her first book has just been released. And she suffers from depression, anxiety, and admits to self-harming. And I literally feel a pain in my stomach when I read about her accomplishments. Her book is on the New York Times’ bestseller’s list. She appeared on CNN. She made a short with Wil Wheaton and Jeri Ryan. She’s awesome. And I think I hate her.
This may seem like a non-sequitur, but I read an interesting article on victims in our society. It pointed out how hurtful it is to go to the politically correct extreme of never blaming the victim. That’s not to say there aren’t some people who truly meet the definition of 100% blameless victim. Children usually fall into that category. But smokers who develop lung cancer? Many have cried “victim” and sued the tobacco companies. As loathsome as “Big Tobacco” is, do these people hold no responsibility themselves? What about the chances we take? What about people who go out and get drunk and do dumbass things. They drive and get themselves and their passenger killed, like Jackass star Ryan Dunn did. I read of so many people acting as though this was a “tragic accident” and “poor Ryan”. He was driving over 100 miles an hour, drunk. He not only killed himself, but his passenger. He paid the ultimate price for his stupidity, as did his friend who was stupid to get in the car with him, but his loved ones continue to pay.
And, don’t hate me on this, but the whole Natalee Holloway thing pisses me off. Yeah, it sucks that she was murdered, but for an underage girl to go out drinking and get in a car with boys she barely knew in a foreign country….it boggles the mind. And it happens all the time. This article I read describes this kind of victim as such:
“Victims With Minor Guilt: This category includes victims who with some thought, planning, awareness, information, or consciousness could have expected danger and avoided or minimized the harm to themselves… choosing to get drunk (the minor responsibility is for electing to be completely helpless and unconscious, at the full mercy of others, in a situation that has the potential to be dangerous).”
Another part that stood out to me…
“alleviating all women or any victim from any and all responsibility to predict, prevent, or even unconsciously invite abuse, is to reduce them to helpless, incapable creatures, and in fact, re-victimizes them.”
So, now is when we get to the point. When I was six, I was a victim. 100% innocent. My abuse continued until we moved to Texas, when I was nine. Then my brother started bullying me. I’d get smacked and pushed around at the drop of a hat. I remember getting backhanded if I was in the passenger seat and he couldn’t see past me when looking to the right when he was driving me to school. Not, “can you please lean back a little?”, just SMACK. By that time I had had enough of this abuse crap, and went to my parents for help. My brother proclaimed his innocence, and my parents accused me of being a liar. For years my mother accused me of hating him and just trying to get him in trouble. I admit, I did grow to hate him. But then, when Josh died, I laid that hate down at my brother’s feet and told him I didn’t want it anymore. He wasn’t worth the effort. To my shock, he apologized. He admitted he knew he had been awful, and was truly sorry. On that day, I got my big brother back. Since then, though there’s been times we’ve ticked each other off, we’ve built a relationship that I cherish. He’s the only person in my life who’s hurt me who has actually admitted to it and apologized for it.
But, I have to admit, I’ve let the abuse I received as a child serve as the pedestal from which I’ve ALLOWED myself to be a victim. Will stood me up in high school. Poor me. I got involved with a schizophrenic drug addict who (gasp!) killed himself. I’ve let a good part of my youth slip away without ever taking the risks required to do any of the grand things I’d hoped I’d do. I crawled into a bottle of Jim Beam, gained weight and went dateless for 7 years. I had the power to change, avoid, or overcome any of these problems/issues. And I’ve often told myself that I have, in fact, overcome them. But that’s a lie.
Hubs and I were talking today about me pursuing one of the many crowdfunding opportunities available these days. I posed the question, “what would I ask for funding for?”
Husband: Your repurposing stuff. Your business. Arr Bazaar.
I got irritated.
Me: What would I do with any money I raised?
Husband: Advertise your stuff.
Me: I’ve gone down that road before, remember? When I tried to sell jewelry.
Husband: But this is different.
Me: Yes, but it’s still ME trying.
And then I turned on the tv and saw this kid, this “photography student”, advertising a smart phone by demonstrating the awesomeness of the pictures he took with it while skydiving. And I hated him.
In not entirely unrelated news, I’m able to see my shrink on a weekly basis, at least for a while. The psychological equivalent, hopefully, of having my name legally changed from “poor me” to “kick ass self”.