Pay Attention to Playing the Victim- It's a Killer
“The only reason pain exists is because we let it feed on us and that gives it the power to continue existing (I.R.V)”
― Reshma Valliappan
Over 10 years ago I experienced tragedy in my life that I thought would never recover from (the details of which are not important). My life was literally disintegrating before my eyes. In the midst of my darkest days I would wake up two or three times a night (for months) rushing to the toilet just to throw up in utter fear and terror.
I was, in so many words deeply entangled in a hermetical Bermuda triangle of self pity, deep foreboding, sorrow, and noxious anger. If it was not for my friends and family I doubt I would of survived. But even more harrowing was I was completely unaware of an unconscionably menacing tempest of (self perpetuated) victim-hood brewing inside me. It's purpose was to only destroy my sense of self and take away my ability to navigate through life. It was if my life was on auto-tragedy mode (even years after the storm had passed) which would only serve to destroy the most important people in my life (my family and friends) who loved me unconditionally and stood by me unconditionally.
And I have only to blame myself for creating my victim-hood. My family became the proverbial trash receptacle for the past disaster and I punished them veraciously with my toxic hopelessness. I was like that detestable main character Melvin Ferd in the B movie classic, "The Toxic Avenger." Only instead of channeling my anger, sorrow, and desperation into strength (as a survivor) I shared the toxic sludge of victim-hood with everyone around me.
And then one day I got quiet. The toxic spewing stopped. And it all happened whilst hiking through the hollow caverns of Zion National Park. My father (probably in one last effort to save me from ruin) invited me to travel with him to Grand Canyon, and Zion national park on a father and son photography trip. Some of my best memories is sharing long adventures while taking pictures with my dad.
For the first couple days of the trip I was exhausting to be around. So much so I thought my father was going to leave me right in the middle of the South Basin of the Grand Canyon. But he didn't give up on me. Upon arriving at the massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that made up magnificent Zion my world suddenly became quiet for the first time in years. A sense of peace and solitude washed over me like a filthy car (neglected by its owner) slowly churning through an automatic car wash for the first time in months. I turned to my father and smiled for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. My father, noticing the change in my once sanguine expression said to me softly, "now do you see?" It took me awhile for his words to sink in. And then I got it.
I became quiet for the first time in years. I just needed to get outside (of myself). It wasn't the splendor of Zion that got me there. And despite the tragedy of the past I was still alive. I was still healthy. I was still walking around the planet unscathed.
We become victims because we allow the noise of tragedy to permeate the undeniable softness of life. The present moment. It is only when we drink in each moment of life (for richer or poorer) to we fully taste the gratitude of being alive. And despite one's circumstances (rich, poor, or handicapped) there is always something to love and to cherish. And that is how I was able to see for the first time that the noise in my head was not my reality. It was just noise. Whenever I feel myself succumbing to the noise I go back to that sacred moment at Zion and become quiet again.
Everyday I become quiet when I lay peacefully in bed next to my wife. I bask in my own lucky moment. This moment. Because there is no other. It is these minuscule moments of life (that if we chose to) we can embrace joyfully. Peace can be actively reclaimed despite what is going on around us and despite our personal circumstances. It is then and only then the toxic residue of past tragedy, failure, and desperation cease to exit.
And as Michael (famously played by Robert Deniro in the Deer Hunter) standing atop on the edge of the mystic Alleganys' yells, "this is this!"