Victimhood, Compassion, and Time Limits
(I have provided false names below for any family or friends I have that I mention on this blog. I’m not going to provide their real names. I have edited this post a few times since it was published to fix typing errors, or to clarify a thought here or there.)
This post is a follow-up to my last one,
I read about a judge many years ago who was asked to comment or rule on obscenity laws. People were pressing him to define what, exactly, constitutes pornography.
He replied by saying something like, “I cannot really strictly define what it is, but I know it when I see it.”
Those are my sentiments exactly when thinking about victims, victimhood status, and so forth.
I cannot give a hard and fast time line on how long anyone should be “permitted” to feel hurt or grieve over a tragedy in their life before they need to be confronted about it and gently nudged to seek help, or can be considered to be wallowing in victim status.
But I do know it when I see it – usually.
I would like to provide examples I’ve come across personally, in real life, that I’ve seen online, or that I’ve seen in articles or on TV shows.
Some people repress trauma that happened to them when they were younger, for whatever the reason.
They repress the emotions or events associated with said trauma until decades later.
I read in a book once about a 42 year old man who went to see a psychologist, who asked the man to describe his family.
The man mentioned that his father died when he was around eight years old, and he started to sob heavily. The doctor asked why he was sobbing so much.
The man said it just dawned on him that though his father had died while he was a kid, his mother and his uncle never helped him to grieve.
He was never asked about his feelings. Nobody ever reminisced with him over his father. His mother and uncle never took him into therapy when he was a kid.
As a result, this man had never grieved his father at the time the death occurred. This man arrived at mid-life with bottled up, repressed pain.
For him, because the pain was fresh and new (because it had not been dealt with when he was a kid, nor was he even aware on a conscious level he was filled with this pain), I have a lot of compassion.
All the people you see me discussing below, I am assuming, based on what information I have, that they are not dealing with repressed pain. If they were or are, I would be more willing to re-evaluate my position on these specific individuals.
JAMES THE MORBIDLY OBESE GUY
I sometimes watch a reality television program about obese people.
In the vast majority of cases, I cheer on the people on the show.
One 600 pound woman was filmed visiting a therapist. The therapist asked her if she knew why she over-ate, or if she remembered when her over-eating began.
The woman said, yes. She said from the age of 6 to 16, she was raped by her biological grandfather, she used over-eating as a coping mechanism, and figured if she packed on fat, it would act as a suit of armor to keep men away.
I had compassion for her. I got it. I could understand what drove her to become so large, why she turned to food.
She was also willing to do the hard work – going into therapy, cutting calories, following the doctor-prescribed eating plan, and exercising. She lost weight.
Most of the people on this show have similar stories as that one woman’s. They experienced some kind of pain early in life and food became their “drug of choice.”
There was one obese guy on the show, James K., who I did not have compassion for.
You can watch a snippet of this guy’s story here (which I think shows his elderly father being carried on to an ambulance):
James K’s Health Scare (You Tube)
This guy, James, implied in one scene of the show, that the reason he over-ate is because when he was around 15 years old, his mother died, and the day or two after her funeral, his family home burned down.
Ordinarily, I would feel quite compassionate towards someone whose mom died and whose house burned down.
At the time of the filming of this show, this guy was around 46 or 47 years old.
James had a long-term, live-in girlfriend who was 55 or so years old, and they had a 16 year old daughter together.
This man was so obese, he had to defecate on a “pee pee pad” on his bed. Then his wife would have to roll him over to one side while his teen daughter wiped the fecal matter off his rear-end.
The mother pulled the kid out of school so the kid could care for the obese father, because the mother found it to be too much for her alone.
Additionally, every morning or so, some adult men family members or neighbor men would come over to help the girlfriend bathe James. They would help her lift and shift him around in the bed while she and the teen daughter cleaned him off.
James K’s elderly father took out a second mortgage on his home to pay the $10,000 fee to transport James K via ambulance from Kentucky to see a weight loss surgeon, “Dr. Now,” in Houston, Texas.
Before the trip, a few months before, using the internet, Dr Now sent James K. a diet to follow. The doctor told this guy that if he went by the diet, he would lose at least 30 (or was it 50?) pounds before even getting to Houston.
James did not follow the diet, but he kept over-eating things like big hamburgers, sausage patties drowned in gravy, and so on.
From the very moment James K. arrived in Texas, he made no effort.
He also whined all the time. James whined to and about the paramedic or EMT guys who were there to lift him and push him down ramps and into ambulances.
James had a heart problem, spent a few days in the hospital – and still kept over-eating fatty foods. Most people would find having a heart issue a “wake up” call and take dieting more seriously, but not James K.
At one point, I believe James K. lost about 50 or so pounds because Dr. Now forced the guy to stay for a month at the hospital, where the staff kept him confined to an 800 or a 1,200 calorie- a- day diet.
Before James left the hospital to continue dieting on his own, Dr. Now reminded James K. of the special diet he was to be on (no carbs, no fried foods, etc).
Did James follow that diet? Only for a few days, then he began emotionally abusing his girlfriend into bringing him cheese-cake and fried rice with egg rolls.
James K. was weighed by Dr. Now later and had put on around 80 pounds.
James K. was not only…
-Damaging his own health (the doctor said his fat was probably going to kill him in a few years), but
-His wife broke down in front of the camera several times through-out the episode to say she was broken and drained (physically and emotionally) being a care-taker to James,
-His teen daughter was pulled out of school to wait on him hand and foot, and
-His elderly father was $10,000 in the hole on his house to finance James’ trips to Houston.
But James K. just blew that all off to keep stuffing his face with food.
And, if you asked him why he was doing all this, he might even say he is a victim, and that he over-ate because his mom died when he was 15 years old.
Anyway, he not only did not lose weight after going to Houston, but he packed on MORE weight.
Do I have any compassion for James?
I don’t care if his mother died when he was 15 or his house burned down when he was 15 – he is now 46 years old and can choose to make different choices, and ones that don’t involve hurting or limiting his teen daughter, his long time girlfriend, or his father.
But all James K. cares about is himself and stuffing his face with more biscuits and gravy, and I no longer care what the motivation is behind it.
The bottom line, regardless of his motives or rationale, is that he’s hurting himself, his family, and he refuses to make even the most modest of lifestyle changes to overcome it.
BETTY THE LONELY FORUM LADY
Years ago, I used to visit a forum where women talked about various problems, or they’d yak about their relationships.
One lady, whom I will call “Betty,” said her best friend of X number of years, Lori, “ghosted” on her. She said Lori stopped answering her calls, e-mails, blocked her on Facebook, and so on.
Betty said she felt devastated by this, because she was super close friends with Lori for years, Lori was like a sister to her, and she was not given an opportunity to apologize to Lori if she had offended Lori in some manner.
At first, I felt compassion for Betty.
Then I continued reading her post, and my sympathy gauge went down several notches.
Betty said ever since Lori faded from her life, she had been deeply depressed.
(Note: for years, I used to have clinical depression myself. I saw psychiatrists and took Zoloft for many years. I know what it’s like to have depression. I also still deal with anxiety and panic attacks.)
Betty went on to explain in this forum that ever since Lori went away, that she, Betty, had taken to staying in bed all day, in the dark, with the blinds drawn, and the sheets pulled over her head.
Betty said this had been going on for the past 4 or 5 years.
(FOUR OR FIVE YEARS.)
Just like Betty, I’ve had a few friends dump me out of the blue as well. Sometimes, they do so without explanation or warning, and yes, it stings.
I just had an online friend of mine, Patty, recently ghost me and block me on social media. This was in the winter of 2016, as a matter of fact. I had no idea why this friend did this. It was unexpected. I will return to Patty in a moment.
The part that grabbed me in Betty’s story was the “four or five years ago” part.
Now, I cannot give you a firm timeline on when I believe being sad over being “friend-dumped” is.
I cannot say if the time limit on being in despair over being friend-ghosted is, or should be, three weeks, two months, or a year, but I feel really okay stating that four or five years is too damn long.
I don’t feel the least bit judgmental or mean saying, “Holy hell, four – five years is an awful long time to spend down in the dumps, to the point you spend every day in bed with shades drawn, over your friend ghosting on you.”
While I find many of the editorials by groups such as TGC or Desiring God tone deaf, stupid, and insensitive, they occasionally contain a grain of truth in them, such as this one, which received a lot of incredulity at various spiritual abuse blogs recently:
Am I defending that editorial in toto? No. I find most of it moronic.
Is friendship acceptable? Yes.
Does God want or expect us to get some of our needs met via other people, including friends? Yes, I believe so.
I am not “anti friendship” at all.
I do find a grain of truth in the idea that some people (not just women, contra John Piper’s “Desiring God” site) get “too” attached to a friend.
(And I do not mean to suggest, a la Desiring God’s site’s author, sexual undertones, either. I am just talking about people who get too emotionally dependent on a platonic buddy.)
In the case of Betty the Forum Lady, my god. She allowed her pal Lori to become so central to her life and to getting her emotional needs met that her entire life collapsed to the point she was in bed for FIVE YEARS with the curtains drawn closed.
Her life was put on hold for 4 – 5 years over a failed friendship. I feel very comfortable saying or feeling that is not normal behavior, nor is it a healthy reaction.
Do I feel sorry for Betty about Lori? No, I do not.
At some point, Betty crossed over from being legitimately victimized, you might say, to creating her own hell and choosing to stay stuck in Victim Land. So it’s pretty difficult for me to have compassion for her (over this).
As for me and my online friend.
Yes, it hurt, and I was deeply angered, when my online friend of ten or more years ghosted on me in the winter of 2016. I pouted and cried (off line) over being ghosted by this person for about 2 or 3 months.
Had this same scenario happened when I was in my 20s, I probably would’ve been hurt or angry for years. Maybe two decades.
Now that I’m older, with life experience, and have shifted my paradigms on how to deal with betrayals, and pain, I was able to push through the pain much faster.
I changed my thinking – the loss was not mine, it was my online friend’s. I also told myself, and believed it, that, “I will be okay without her. I will make it through this.”
And I was okay. I bounced back within months.
As a matter of fact, without warning a few months later, this person re-friended me on social media, started e-mailing me again, and she began sending me posts on Facebook once more.
I was surprised, shocked by this. I had already moved on, and in all honesty, I was slightly annoyed that she wanted to re-friend me, since I had already written her off and had moved on.
But I rolled with it, and just stayed friends with her.
If your friend dumps you, it’s natural to be upset for a few weeks or so, and while I can’t say where the exact time limit on this should be, eventually, I feel fine declaring that your attitude should one day be,
“Screw that person! The loss is HERS for missing out on the awesome-ness that is me. I will be okay without her. Some day, I will make a new friend, so who needs her!”
The solution and answer to being friend-dumped, among so many other painful things in life, is not to stay in sorrow mode, weeping away on your pillow for FIVE YEARS in a darkened bedroom.
Had I known Betty personally, I would’ve doled out compassion to her the first year or two of the friend-dumping, but if she was still “boo hoo-ing” and crying over it into a third and fourth year, I would’ve withdrawn emotional support for that.
She was in need of Tough Love and a swift kick in the pants to get her butt out of her bed sometime after a year or two, as far as I’m concerned.
MY BROTHER BRAD
I have an older brother. Let’s say his name is “Brad.”
Some time in the 1990s, Brad married “Tiffany.”
Tiffany was a crack addict and later became a heroin addict. She was fired from various jobs for embezzling money.
Tiffany would goad my brother into hitting her – she was a very argumentative person. She would steal money and things from my brother to pawn off to buy more drugs.
All of this created a lot of stress for my brother.
My brother was also fired from about 2 or 3 different jobs (ones that paid any where from like $80,000 to more a year) for viewing pornography on his work computers.
Some time from around the late 1990s into the early 2000s, my brother dealt with his marital stress by phoning our mother out of the blue and just launching into tirades against our mother by screaming vulgarities at her.
(My brother would sometimes do the same thing to me.)
Up until I got to around my late 20s, I felt compassion for my brother for all this.
I felt bad for Brad that his wife Tiffany was taking advantage of him, using him, blowing their paychecks, and so forth.
Sometime into my early 30s, though, I stopped having compassion for my brother in regards to his horrible marriage because it dawned on me he was choosing to stay in this terrible marriage. (He and his wife had not even so much as consulted a marriage counselor.)
I don’t talk to my brother so much any more, but our older sister sometimes phones him once or twice a year, and she in turn will update me on his situation – and it’s the same as always.
Brad’s wife is still a drug head, their marriage is still strained, Brad is under-employed.
Out of the 2 or 3 times I have spoken to my brother in the last few years (after mother died), it was the same song and dance from him:
“Woe is me, my life is tough, I was fired from another job, my wife is still on drugs which creates problems for me, I am currently under-employed at a job that doesn’t pay much, I am so unhappy and stressed….” (etc).
Do I wish my brother had a happier life? Yes.
But I also now realize he’s chosen this path, he chooses to stay on it.
He chooses to stay with the “Drug Head” wife, and he chose to view dirty pictures on more than one job’s work computer during work hours (which is what got him terminated from a job or two and landed him in a late night, minimum wage job).
Brad could just as easily get the wife into counseling, or divorce the wife, or stop viewing X-rated filth on work computers – and he’d have a much more happy, financially secure, life.
MY FRIEND DORIS THE CONSTANT COMPLAINER
For approximately 7 to 9 years, I had an online friend named Doris (not her real name), who was probably about eight years or so younger than I am.
For many years, over the internet, I consoled her over every crisis she had. And there were many.
Doris had student debt she couldn’t pay off. Debt collectors kept calling her. She was having a difficult time gaining steady employment.
She was single, she wanted a boyfriend, and worried her obesity would be a turn-off to men.
She lived with her parents and her 28 year old brother.
Doris was always angry because her kid brother would do things like eat the last Oreo cookie in the house, which she had wanted to eat.
She complained bitterly when she got a chip in her nail polish. (Yes, I am serious.)
She complained bitterly to me when her parents accidentally broke the battery in one of her three lap top computers.
Doris became an atheist for a couple of years I knew her, because she felt there could be no God, since she was so unhappy in her life.
She spent those 2 or 3 years complaining very bitterly about what a jerk God was, how she hated God, and so on.
I just listened in sympathy and told her how sorry I was her life was going so poorly.
In all seriousness, all these things (things like having chipped nail polish) would lead Doris to send me long, private forum posts or e-mails where she would complain and threaten to commit suicide.
As far as Doris was concerned, she was a victim. A VICTIM.
Everyone else was always to blame for everything in her life, and she wanted and expected sympathy. Everyone else was out to get her, including God. She was always angry.
After years and years of this behavior from her, I no longer had compassion for her.
I remember even in the first few months after my mother died, and I informed Doris and the other ladies in the forum about it (about four months after my mother’s passing, I gave them a very brief status update about how I was coping at that stage), she shortly there-after replied one day to that one update of mine by saying she was infuriated because her brother just drank the last Coca-Cola in the house that she had wanted.
I’m not sure how being deprived of a soda pop can compare to someone who is still in the early stages of grief over losing their mother, but there you have it.
I’d say Doris is one of the people I’ve met in my life who enjoys playing Victim, being in Victim Mode, and who has no intention of bettering their life or moving on.
These types of people might be rare, but they are out there.
The Hippy Musician Guy
There is another reality television program I sometimes watch. It’s about people whose homes are so filled with trash or collectibles that there houses are magnets for roaches, rats, mice, or their homes become condemned.
Depending on the particular person and set of circumstances, I sometimes have compassion for the people on this show. For a few I’ve seen, no so much.
There was one show where a 60 or 70 year old guy moved in with his 93 year old mother who had bad hips and had to use a walker.
The mother owned the house, it was hers.
The son did not care.
He filled up the house and yard with junk and old drums and guitars. He did not care that his mother could not safely navigate the home and might trip and fall on his crap.
The mother’s insurance on the home was revoked because the code inspector guy said the house was too unsafe with all the junk in it.
The show never did quite explain WHY this guy was a hoarder.
The near as I could tell was the sister of the guy said he was always immature for his age – not mentally deficient, but that he was just unwilling to accept adult responsibility his whole life.
This guy showed little concern for how his selfishness and hoarding was hurting his elderly mother.
And you know, while I had boat-loads of sympathy for the elderly mother on the show, I have zippo, zero, none for the 70 year old son.
(A side note here: I think the elderly mother was probably pretty codependent, and should have stood up to the son, but as it is, I have a bit of sympathy for her, and none for her son.)
I don’t care what early life event drove that dude to shore up old drums around that house, all I can see is that as an adult he refuses to step up to the plate, do the right thing, and put his mother’s safety about his own problems.
The Elderly Twin Sisters
On another episode, there were elderly twin sisters who were sharing a home.
Their home ended up being condemned because it was filled with (literally) four feet of trash in all the rooms and filled with debris, cat droppings, and rats through-out, and part of the floor was rotted away.
The city evicted them.
A psychologist was called in and asked them for their family history.
Both sisters started tearing up, and one said she thinks they hoard trash and hold on to items because their big brother was killed in Vietnam when they were ten years old.
These women were not really dealing with repressed grief, from what I could tell. They were cognizant of the fact that they were still aching for their brother.
Again, normally, I’d have all sorts of empathy for someone whose brother died.
These women, though, were in their 60s or 70s, and their way of ‘non-coping’ with that death (the trash collecting) led them to being evicted from their home and creating a health hazard for their area, for their neighbors.
Some where along the way, while these twin sisters were in their 20s, 30s, or older, they should have reached out to someone, somewhere for help.
They knew, on some level, they had not completely dealt with the loss of their brother.
You do not deal with pain and loss in life constructively through trash collecting, hoarding, eating food, drugs, alcohol, or via causal sex – it’s up to you to get yourself into the therapy, or figure out some other way, a healthy way, of resolving childhood pain.
I may have had compassion for these sisters when they were in their 20s with this behavior, but they were in their 60s or 70s now and have shrugged off getting help for decades.
At some point, you have to look at your life and see your manner of dealing with prior tragedy is not working out and you need to try something else.
So I cannot really say as though I was oozing with compassion for two elderly sisters who were allowing a family death from 6 or more decades earlier(!!!) to still influence their life in a negative way.
At some point, it was their responsibility to get themselves help to cope with the death, whether it was through therapy, attending church, journaling, athletics, picking up a new hobby (that didn’t involve collecting trash), taking anti-depressant medications, or what have you.
I have an older sister, “Janice.”
For over 20 years, she had a live-in boyfriend named “Donnie.”
Donnie was usually unemployed, sat around the house all day playing video games, and wouldn’t even do housework. He cheated on my sister with other women.
For the first ten years of their relationship, I felt sorry for my sister.
“Janice” would always call me or write long letters complaining about how Donnie was lazy, he wouldn’t take out the trash without being nagged, he wouldn’t help pay the bills, he wouldn’t rinse his dirty spoon off, but just leave it in the sink.
By the 15th year of listening to the same set of complaints about Donnie, I had had enough, though I bit my tongue. I just sat and listened while Janice complained for hours about the guy.
At the 15 year mark, though, I did tread quietly into the arena and prod her. I asked her, “If Donnie makes you so unhappy, why do you stay with him?”
Her answer here is irrelevant.
What happened was, she remained with him for another five or six or about eight years after I asked her that question. It was another 5 – 6 or more years of her calling me to complain incessantly about what a loser, lazy, hose-bob Donnie was.
By this point, my empathy meter was on empty.
My sister spat at me in one of her temper fits once that she always has to make do for herself, nobody ever helps her (not true – my parents and myself have helped her financially and emotionally before; I also helped her in practical ways, like I helped her pack, cleaned her home and lifted heavy boxes when she moved to a new home, etc), so, she said, since folks don’t help her, screw other people and their problems.
She was not going to help other people anymore, she said, since nobody really cared about her.
My sister thinks of herself as a victim, much of the time, though maybe not all.
When Janice verbally abuses me, and I finally started calling her out on it a few years ago (for the first time ever in my life), she justifies her angry tirades by saying I should pity her because her life is so difficult, her job is stressful, and so on.
Well, you know, I’ve experienced pain, stress, and loss in my life as well, but never once did I turn around and take that pain or stress out on Janice.
Janice was choosing to deal with her job and relationship stress by taking it out on me.
Janice thinks she is the only victim in the world and the only person who has experienced heartbreak or frustration, so it entitles her, she feels, to scream and yell at me and one or two others in her life.
But concerning her long time boyfriend, Donnie, Janice had me listening to the same set of complaints about this guy for around 20(+) years. (TWENTY plus LONG YEARS.)
I went from having compassion for her over this, to feeling irritation, because it hit me, if she had it that bad with the guy, she could always break up with him – but she stuck it out for 20 odd years with the guy.
Sometimes, people create their own Hell by refusing to change anything.
MY MOTHER – A Mixed Bag
My mother is a mixed bag. I feel that my mother partly deserves compassion because she was acting out of ignorance, and partly, not so much.
I finally realized, a few years after my mothers death, that her problem was codependency, and her clinical depression was a symptom of that, as it was for me.
None of the handful of psychiatrists we saw over the years diagnosed either one of us with codependency, which they should have done, but they were either inept quacks or were greedy.
I think the shrinks wanted us to keep rolling back into their offices so we’d have to pay for the anti-depressant pill scripts. We really didn’t need those pills, if only someone had educated us about having boundaries and being assertive. But I digress.
In some ways, I think my mother was largely ignorant of the way she was, so I don’t hold her fully responsible (well, I partially do, but it would take me another page to explain why, so I will skip it).
However, there was one incident with my mother that caused me to stop viewing her as a victim, or as deserving of compassion.
Remember Brad, my brother whom I mentioned above?
For approximately a ten year time span, any time my brother was angry at his wife, he would phone our mother to take it out on Mom.
My mother, being the passive, sweet, compliant doormat she was, would simply sit, in tears, and put up with Brad’s screaming phone calls, where he dressed her down and spat insults at her.
My big sister, Janice, and I finally came to terms with Brad’s snotty behavior a few years before.
(Janice was the oldest in the family, Brad the second oldest, and I was the youngest.)
From the time we were kids, Brad was always an arrogant, insulting jerk.
By the time I got to my mid or late 20s, I was so used to Brad’s garbage that I had learned to tune it out. I also made a deliberate choice not to allow his insults and rants to make me feel bad.
My sister was the same, she learned to tune him out rather than get hurt or angry by Brad’s rants.
So, my brother’s rants no longer angered or hurt my sister and myself. We just ignored him or blew him off.
Not our mother, though.
My mother took every rant-filled, nasty Brad phone call to heart. She would be left in tears after every one of them.
One day, I found my mother sobbing at the breakfast table, quite heavily.
I asked her, “Did you just get off the phone with Brad, and he was being mean to you again? Is that why you are crying?”
She was crying so hard, she could not speak, so she only nodded her head “Yes.”
My heart went out to my mother in that instant.
I figured, maybe if I taught her what I know, it will change her perspective, and in the future, when Brad yells at her, it won’t upset her.
I then explained to my mother that Janice and I had learned to tune Brad out years before – he had been treating us horribly since we were kids – but because we expect no different from him, it doesn’t get to us any longer.
I told her, if you try that approach, maybe his nasty calls won’t make you cry any more.
My mother replied to me, through sobs, by saying,
“But you’re just his sisters – I’m his mother!“
That one comment by my mother left me in a state of shock, hurt, and anger. I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing.
In that instant, I went from feeling sorry for her to not feeling anything – I no longer felt sorry that my brother upset her.
For starters, my mother was communicating that my sister’s and my feelings did not matter, but hers did. That was a crummy thing for her to say or think.
Secondly, it suddenly hit me that my mother has been choosing, over many years, to participate in this sick dance with my brother Brad.
She was choosing to participate in her own verbal abuse.
I remember months before, I was making a sandwich in the kitchen, and I overheard my brother screaming at my mother over the phone. I heard Mom say, “Stop it with that language, you know I don’t approve. If you don’t stop it, I am hanging up the phone.”
A little while later, when she was off the phone, I asked her what Brad’s reaction was to her scolding.
She said, “He got quiet for a moment, then he apologized and said, “You’re right, I know you don’t like the “F” word, I’ll stop. And then he did clean up his language, so I was able to stay on the phone with him.”
My mother was capable of putting boundaries in place if she chose to and wanted to – as she did in that rare instance – but the remainder of the time, she permitted people, like my brother, to bull-doze right over her.
There was absolutely nothing preventing my mother from standing up to my brother in other phone calls where he behaved obnoxiously, but she choose not to do anything about it.
That is when I stopped viewing my mother as a victim in these on- and- off- again rude phone calls from my brother and realized she was contributing to the abusive dynamic herself, by her own behavior.
I do not condone my brother yelling at our mother. He was obviously in the wrong to do what he did. I am sorry those phone calls disturbed our mother.
But as time went on, I realized that the onus was also on my mother to stand up to the idiot and tell him to knock it off, which she never did (save the one call where she told him to shut up with the ‘F’ word).
THE KIDNAPPED DAUGHTER
Around 15 years ago, I read an article about a Christian woman who went camping overnight with her husband and three daughters. (I think this lady was also later interviewed on television about this later.)
When this woman awoke at the camp grounds the next day, her youngest daughter, who was only around age 7 or 8, and who had been in a separate tent from hers, was missing.
As it turned out, her daughter has been kidnapped.
The kidnapper knew the women’s phone number (I think he got it from the daughter he had taken) and spent the next 15 to 20 years calling this women at her home a time or two per year to taunt her that he had her daughter, and there was nothing she could do about it.
This guy also was calling the police and taunting them, telling them, ‘you’ll never catch me.’
This woman said she was consumed with total hurt and fury at this man for all those years – which is quite understandable.
She realized after so many years, that by holding on to the fury and rage at this man that she was hurting herself and her remaining daughters.
She spent about every waking moment thinking about her lost daughter and fantasizing about killing the kidnapper, so that she was neglecting her two daughters and her husband in the process.
She decided it was time to move on. She chose to forgive the man.
She said she did not “feel” like forgiving him, but that she made a decision, in spite of her feelings, to forgive him. She spent months doing this, every day, she’d have to forgive the man all over again, and she said she prayed a lot, too.
She said she finally got to the point (years into this) where she let go of the anger and the hurt and arrived at inner peace.
One day after this, the man called her to taunt her some again.
This time, she was calm with him.
She told him, “My daughter always liked her hair braided, and she liked ribbons in her hair. Will you please be sure to braid her hair for her, and give her ribbons for her hair, if that’s what she wants?”
She said the kidnapper grew quiet at that point, then blurted out that he had killed the daughter years before.
Eventually, the police found the guy, arrested him. I don’t remember how the rest of the story panned out.
I was struck by the fact that this woman chose to forgive the guy – not for his sake – but for herself, because she realized the anger was only hurting herself, and years of her life had passed.
She had not been fully present in the lives of her remaining daughters during all the years she was consumed with thoughts of revenge, and so on.
Her story sometimes comes into my mind when I am thinking about my own life and how to get past painful things.
So there is a list of some people, (aside from the mother of the kidnapped daughter), who I can think of, off the top of my head, who I only have spotty compassion for, or for whom I have none at all.
I think in general terms, I’m an understanding and compassionate person, but I have observed some people in life bring on their own troubles via poor choices, or remain in their troubles, because they refuse to change. They make a decision to stay in the same place, or they never seek out help.
I cannot really say exactly when someone needs to move on after something painful, but I’ve seen or known some people who have clearly over-stayed their visa in Victim World.
Some people create their own Hell, or even if they were thrust there by someone else, they choose to stay there and not lift a finger to get out.
I am reminded of this:
From Careers360 site:
Similar, from a Huffington Post religion blogger:
Jesus said in the Bible that bad things are going to happen to you in this life, that this is a given.
It’s inevitable you will experience pain, disappointment, and people letting you down, abusing you, or taking advantage of you as you go through life.
But I guess the question is, how are you going to choose to handle those bad things when they do happen, or if you’ve already been through them?
It’s ultimately up to you how to deal with it.
Some ways of dealing with pain and problems are healthy and constructive and can be the exit out of misery, while other choices will keep you in the misery.
If you’re not sure which is which, or how to get to freedom and that exit, perhaps you need to research it online, or see a therapist, or join group therapy, to get help in figuring it out.
You’re not the only person in the world to experience pain, abuse, death in the family, and so on – ask around, or do reading online, to figure out how others dealt with these situations. Maybe what worked for them can work for you, too.
I have sure learned this in the reverse:
I see these TV shows about obese people or hoarders and have learned that the way to deal with abuse, depression, abandonment, feelings of rejection, or sadness is NOT to over-eat myself to 600 pounds, or to collect so much stuff that my home is covered under three feet of trash and attracts rats, then has to be condemned by the city.
You can learn a lot from reading about how other people dealt with tragedy and pain in life.
You can learn to avoid making the same mistakes they did, or take a cue from the things they did that were successful, and apply those to your situation.
I am currently (and have been) undergoing one or two difficult things in my own life I am fighting, the last few years. I am hobbling along the best I can with what resources I have. I am on this journey, too.
This song is not one I was ever terribly crazy about when it first came out, but it is highly applicable to this post:
Below, Wilson Phillips singing “Hold On”
(You Tube link, official video, and the video is on this blog post, farther below)
Why do you lock yourself up in these chains?
No one can change your life except for you
Just open your heart and your mind
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry
Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can you hold on for one more day
Things’ll go your way
Hold on for one more day
Or are you comfortable with the pain?
You’ve got no one to blame for your unhappiness
You got yourself into your own mess
Lettin’ your worries pass you by
Don’t you think it’s worth your time
To change your mind?
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
If you hold on
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