This personal growth thing is hard. We have to admit so much about ourselves that we don’t like. Oftentimes, when we do admit it, there is little we can do about it at that time. We have to sit by and watch as we continue to follow the programs and patterns, but fully conscious. It’s like that Stephen King story Autopsy Room Four, we’re undergoing an autopsy, completely aware and powerless to stop it.
Recently I had to admit a hard truth to myself. I played the victim.
Whenever something went wrong in my life my first thought would be ‘why are you doing this to me?’ No one was exempt from this, not even Spirit.
‘Why is this happening to me?’ ‘Why can’t I just get what I want?’ And to Spirit: ‘Why, if you’re oh-so-powerful, can’t you just give me what I want?’
It took me weeks of lower back pain for me to admit that I was playing the victim. I kept reading the lower back entry in Inna Segal’s book, but nothing resonated. Not of course until I was ready to admit it.
The next few weeks was the period Victor Oddo talks about where you are aware of what you are doing, but have no idea how to stop it. I can’t remember which clip it was now, as I’ve seen so many and taken notes for so few. I just remember him talking about the part of the awakening process where you are aware of your patterns, but unable to do anything about them. His loosely paraphrased advice was to just let them be. You are aware, which is more than most can say.
So, I let it be, which was probably the best thing I could ever have done. I had no idea how to break the victimhood mentality, and nothing I read came close to telling me what to do about it. So, I did nothing and remained aware of my thoughts and actions that aligned with this victim program.
Then the revelation came. Two events this year that told me that I had released the program and moved into unchartered territory. It still feels odd to me that I reacted to these situations in this way, but I know that’s my ego still trying to get traction.
The first was the first week of January. I had arrived at Krishna Village Yoga Retreat in Northern NSW, set up my tent and gone about my day, doing yoga, kirtan and their workshops. During one of the workshops it began to rain. I didn’t experience anything more than mild concern. Surely the tent was waterproof. Besides, I had set it up as I normally do, so it should be fine.
Well, it wasn’t. I got back to a partly soaked mattress and puddles on the floor.
I quickly realised I had not set up the tent properly, the outer tent was touching the inner layer: anyone who knows anything about tents and rain knew this was a bad mix. So, in the pouring rain, I set about fixing up the pegs and separating the two layers in the (vain) hope to stop it getting worse. By the time I finished this I was drenched and my hands and feet were doing that wrinkly thing that fascinated us so much as kids.
That night upon bedtime, I saw that water was still getting in, my bags were wet and the mattress was now completely soaked in one corner. Watching the water drip from the ceiling of the tent, I knew it was going to get worse before it got better.
I sat there and decided there was nothing I could do about the tent or the mattress at 9 o’clock at night, but there was somewhere I could sleep that was warm and dry. The rest I could deal with in the morning when the rain had stopped and reception had opened. I had to wait until 9.30 am to get answers, but I was able to get a good night’s sleep, dry my mattress and buy materials to prevent any further rain damage the next morning.
Instead of playing the victim and laying limp in the rain, I decided to find solutions. This was not happening to me, it was just happening and I had to find a solution. It, like so many other things in my life, wasn’t personal. It wasn’t about me at all. It just was.
The second thing happened about 3 weeks later. I got a phone call from my boss saying that the person I was replacing was coming back because his transfer fell through and my contract was no longer available. In one phone call my plans for this year had fallen apart. No more security. No more guaranteed Europe trip. My already booked Cambodia trip was now a bit more complicated. Gone.
This happens in teaching, and happened almost two years ago at another school for different reasons. When it happened last time, I began to stress and worry about what I was going to do to pay the bills. I was also really looking forward to teaching a set load and getting to know the kids on a personal level, building relationships and watching them grow. But now, I would be back to casual teaching, where you get to know many students, but not on a personal basis. You go in, ‘babysit’ them, you leave. Sure, you are still teaching, but you don’t get that emotional connection.
That time, I instantly fell into the spiral of the victim – why was this happening to me? Why can’t I get what I want? I will say it happened again later that year when it was week 10 of term 4 and I had no work for 2017. (It was the Wednesday of this week that I got the phone call for the job I got last year – talk about 11th hour!)
This time was different. Much like the Great Tent Fiasco of 2018 (yes, it is an event worthy of an endearing title!) I remained calm, at peace. I heard the news in shocked silence and accepted it. Even better, I began to laugh. I would think of it all afternoon and break out into deep belly laughs. It wasn’t hysterical laughter, I just found it funny. Spirit had thrown yet another curve ball in my direction. There was literally nothing I could do to fix this problem, I had to wait it out.
Like the rain, it wasn’t personal – things in the other person’s life hadn’t gone to their plan and now it was affecting me. I could let it upset my happy, or I could accept it and try to find a solution. I contacted another school I knew was looking for someone, but they had filled it only 2 days prior! This just added to the hilarity of the situation.
I think there are two things that helped me to overcome my victimhood mentality. The first is finally understanding that nothing in life is personal. People don’t go around doing things to us, they do them despite us. They are going to act a certain way, whether we are there or not. This is their program at play and it often has nothing to do with us. Things don’t happen to us either, the weather isn’t out to get us, as far as I know it isn’t even conscious! It just rains when it needs to rain, despite our plans.
The second is acceptance. It has taken me a long time to learn this lesson of acceptance. Accepting things as they are and for what they are. Eventually we might be able to change them, but first we have to accept that they exist.
I first had to accept that I was playing out a victim program before I could release it and move forward. First I had to accept that I had not been given what I wanted, regardless of how powerful Spirit is, there was a reason I had been steered in another direction. I just don’t know what it is yet.
And I don’t know what this year will hold yet either. I do know that I will get heaps of casual work. I do know that I will have more time to pursue other passions. Spirit has a plan.
I just don’t know what it is yet.