You’re wounded and angry. Someone close to you, who should love you, hurt you instead. This person might be a parent, a sibling, a child, a friend, a partner, or a spouse. Whoever it is; where you once had trust, you now have fear. You were attracted; now, you are apprehensive. You had love, but now you have loathing. You don’t know what to do. Should you stay, or should you go? Put up with it, or give it right back to him? Retaliate or bury your feelings? If neither choice seems good, it’s because neither choice is good. You wish there was another way. Some way that affirmed your experience as a victim but didn’t leave you weak and vulnerable. A way that facilitated change and showed mercy, without opening you up to more disappointment. Some way to be firm, but not rigid.
Luckily, there’s a way. The road out of here can be a long, long road, often not well marked, the choices are confusing, but there’s a way. The ultimate destination is complete, authentic Reconciliation. Not everyone makes it all the way to Reconciliation. Your counterpart will not be ready for reconciliation exactly when you are. She may never be ready at all. In fact, if you have been hurt enough, you might not even want to go to a place called Reconciliation. Seeing the person who hurt you and interacting with him, may already be a few steps too far. Well, relax, you don’t have to reconcile if you don’t want to; but, I think you’ll agree that you can use some Personal Peace.
Total, genuine reconciliation with the other person requires a collaborative effort that some people cannot do; cannot or will not. Both parties must take responsibility for their share of the solution. If you have a counterpart who won’t do his share, you will not make it all the way to Reconciliation. Luckily, you can make it far down the road without their help. You can make it all the way to Personal Peace, which is a kind of reconciliation with yourself. Personal Peace is a pretty nice place.
However, spend any time with people who have been victimized and you’ll see a lot who are stuck. They are nowhere near any kind of Personal Peace. They are the wrecks that have gone off the road and camped out rather than repairing and moving on. They are those who try to take shortcuts, get caught in loops, and travel far, getting nowhere. There are the Impossible Martyrs and the People Who Can’t Steer. There are whole tribes of other inbreds, settled into villages in the back country: The Deniers, The Discount Pardoners, The Helpless, The Big Babies, The Ax Grinders, The Righteous Idiots, The Scab Pickers, the Re-Traumatized, and the Ones Who Can’t Admit They’ve Done Anything Wrong. Beware the traveling troupes of thespians who specialize in playing the victim but are really just a band of bandits. They are the strongest reasons there are for getting on towards Personal Peace.
Spend too much time feeling victimized and you’ll be at risk for becoming one of them. The Road to Reconciliation, or even Personal Peace, is so difficult, poorly marked, and treacherous that few people travel it without losing their way. Remain in this radioactive country for long and it’ll deform you. Loiter in the Land of the Victims and your own mother won’t recognize you. You’ll go from being a victim, to becoming an offender. You’ll become a monster who eats children to satisfy your insatiable hunger for vindication.
Being a victim puts you in a perilous position. It’s hard to get justice. You’ll often act out and harm someone, either someone you believe caused the pain or anyone close at hand. Loved ones get the worst of it. Then, when your partner feels harmed, he may harm you right back. Around and around it goes. You could avoid all that by dealing directly with your feelings before you seek justice, so you don’t need to act out and injure anyone else.
Everyone is a victim, somehow. There are enough bad parents, bad neighborhoods, bad teachers and schools, nuns with rulers, thugs with guns, ruthless terrorists, selfish boyfriends, narcissistic girlfriends, vicious trolls, sexual predators, reckless drivers, treasonous spouses, ungrateful children, exploitative bosses, racist cops, corrupt, lying, demagogic politicians, and cantankerous elderly to go around. These people and their actions don’t bring out the best in you. When you don’t know what to do with the harm they cause, you become one who does harm. Before anyone becomes an offender, they were a victim first. They were a nail that became a hammer.
In this series, we’ll go on a tour to study the people who have not progressed on the Road to Reconciliation, or Personal Peace. I’m sure you’ll recognize something of yourself in many of them. If you do, that’s a good sign. It shows that you’re willing to be open minded. Then, you can be safe as you pass through. If you don’t think you could possibly be any of them and are offended that I even suggest it, then it’s already too late; you have already been altered. A vampire has bitten you, and you have become one of them.
There are many hazards on the Road to Reconciliation. Woe to anyone who tries to go that way without a guide.