Tuesday, September 05, 2006

On being a victim

Sometimes it takes more courage to be the victim. To admit that we were hurt or betrayed or deceived. To admit that we were wronged.

What frightens us about these situations is the knowledge of our own vulnerability. What if we cried out and no one listened? What if the person who wronged us couldn't care less? What if we were the ones who ended up being abandoned, ended up alone? Better to put a brave face on the whole thing, to preempt being let down by others by letting down ourselves.

Sometimes we say "It's okay, I understand", not because we truly understand but because we are too frightened to reveal how bewildered we are. Pretending to understand denies the other person power over us, makes us look less helpless, more in control. Sooner or later, we come to believe it ourselves.

Believing it ourselves requires having an explanation though. Which is why we now have to take the questions we were too afraid to ask and find answers to them on our own. This sounds harder than it is. Driven by our need to find reasons for everything, we move easily from the plausible to the certain, selectively finding 'evidence' for whatever theory happens to appeal to us. This sort of rationalisation not only gives us a basis for the understanding we have already laid claim to, it is also a wonderful way of occupying our time - numbing us to the emotional reality of the hurt and helping us experience a sense of self-efficacy based on our 'superior' powers of observation and thought. And if the explanations we come up with happen to be the ones most flattering to us, so much the better.

This, incidentally, is where faith comes from. God is an attempt to justify the unfair.

And should evidence contrary to our theories arise, we deal with it by positing a special relationship between us and the person who has wronged us. "Nobody else understands him / her the way I do" we tell ourselves. This not only lets us ignore what everyone else is saying, it also creates a special bond between us and the person who mistreats us - a bond that compensates for the relationship we thought we had. This is the love of the oppressed for the oppressor - every slave knows his or her master's needs better than anyone else. And believing in this unique connection allows us to look down on other people, to return scorn for their sympathy, disdain for their support. It is the armour in which we fight against the hands reaching out to help us.

People who have a real connection understand how little they really know about each other, how different they are and how poorly they understand those differences. It is what keeps them interested in each other. People like that don't need to rationalise.

When we finally get around to forgiving the other person it is because we wish to establish our own dominance over them. Forgiveness is a claim - it not only suggests that we have enough emotional distance from the situation to be able to forgive, it also implies that the person we are forgiving cares about us enough to value our forgiveness.

Sometimes we choose to be the bigger person simply because we need to feel bigger.

Sometimes dignity is just another cop-out.

And sometimes the opposite of all this is true and the other person really is sorry and we really do understand and really could forgive, only then we go read Kierkegaard or Greer and we think maybe we should be asserting ourselves more and we refuse to trust our instincts and end up alone and unhappy.

Only thing is, you end up alone and unhappy anyway. At least this way you have the satisfaction of knowing you fought back.

P.S. Don't ask. Let's just say it's been that kind of day. The beginning of a new term always gets you asking the big questions.

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the saint said...

very well put..

Anonymous said...

To be a victim and to understand that one has been a victim is an understanding of the true nature of human effort for survival.

It pains a lot. You feel like doing something which disrupts your natural fabric. Something your friends and well-wishers won't even dream you might do.

Everyone is vulnerable and most of the time no one listens. We cry when we are forced to have pesticide laced vegetables and drinking water. We cry when we don't have the money to pay the debts. We cry when we don't crack an interview which could have changed almost the entire course of our life.

And we are always abandoned to think to introspect sometimes with no results. We cry when we can't make the last four runs in an over. We cry when we miss the fucking penalty. It is always the rules which screw up the things.

Pretending is an art. Not everyone masters it. Your girl might be cheating and you say "It's okay, I understand". You don't get a raise you say let me wait before I change the job. Pretending is hope. You pretend nothing has happened. Anyone who masters this art wont' feel anything. It is called Pseudo-enlightenment. You pretend to live.

Explanations are always biased. They are so biased one can feel cheated sometimes. They are toxic and spoil the whole game of observation of the soul. A person cannot live with a biased reflection of life pretending to be living unless he has mastered the art of pretending.

Faith is the perfection. Having faith in something is telling a lie to our own mind. To live a life with faith attached is the most painful thing to do. For faith is so powerful one cannot distinct it from the dream that we keep on weaving around ourselves which in reality might not be there. Faith does not require anything. It is blind. It just completes the cycle of human pain by relieving it from the real world which has no faith. And which is so difficult to live in.

Understanding something can be understood. But trying to understand someone and that too a human is never to be understood. To know someone is trying to know ourselves. Comparison is the word for understanding. You understand then the first thing you will do is comparison. And then the ruin follows. For you can never have an equal comparison for a human being does not have a rational mind. It just pretends to have one.

Forgiving is another form of submitting the soul to the other party. It means losing. You should never forgive. Just forget. To forget is greater than to forgive. You will forgive your friend for bitching about you but you will always remember that he might do it again. And if that happens it means you have not learnt anything.

hoooohhhhhh......hey your post was amazing. I just tried to be a smart ass on this one. I hope you won't mind. I just wanted to copy your style. I could not resist. It is crap(not yours) but it let me release so many things at one go. You can't even imagine. Thanks.

Hey your page says I don't have a user account. hmmmm..


The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

"Sometimes we choose to be the bigger person simply because we need to feel bigger."

That's so true. Whether we really feel that way or not, it does so much for our self image. How mant times i've seethed inside and put a smile on my face and said 'It's ok.' Also I think there's a power trip involved in taking the moral high ground.

Kusum Rohra said...

What frightens us about these situations is the knowledge of our own vulnerability.

God is an attempt to justify the unfair.

This is so poignant. How I wish it weren't true.

Tabula Rasa said...

you *did* catch the big answer that came two instalments ago? (number 754)

Anonymous said...

u couldnt have put it any better.... yeah we do things which we never want to do... just because it'll make others feel better i would say... "i understand"...never really wanting to understand...or even trying to..

ggop said...

Great observations. I will keep what you said about people with a real connection with me.

ggop said...

Great observations. What you said about people with a real connection and the slave oppressor dynamic drew my attention! I'll keep that in mind.

The Black Mamba said...

Well said. You should catalog this and put it under the dewey decimal code sometime. Will help people get over their hurt/betrayals etc better.

Being the victim is a cop out too, but as you say, so is everything else.

The trick I think is to see things/events for what they are - that is, tell yourself, you will go through tougher times and worse betrayals and you just need to move on and prepare for those instead. And by that I don't, by any stretch of imagination, mean that you should undermine the power/impact this particular experience has had on you or how hurt you are. No, but realize that you will have to have the courage(?) to face the worse, to just have a chance at getting the best.

And have to quote a faiz here :)

Hum kya karte kis reh chalte
Har raah mein kaante bikhre the
Un rishton ke jo choot gaye
Un sadiyon ke yaranon key
Jo ik-ik karke toot gaye.


Ye raatein jab at jayengi
Sow raste in se phootenge
Tum dil ko sambholo jismein abhi
Sow tarah ke nashtar tootenge.

The poem and your translation. (PS: cross promotion rules!)

Anonymous said...

Strange that I happened to read this today of all the days, it hit too close to home.


Falstaff said...

saint: Thanks

anon: Interesting. Agree with the first paragraph - in some frame of reference we are all victims.

shoe-fiend: Yes, exactly.

kusum rohra: It wasn't true as in life wasn't unfair, or it wasn't true as in we didn't need God to cushion the blow?

tr: Yes, of course. I doubt there's a PhD comic out there that I haven't read. After all, one has to keep tabs on one's own life. The 754 answer doesn't work for me though - I come home from office to avoid noise and people.

anon: Thanks

ggop: Thanks

BM: :-). You're quoting Faiz to me now, are you? I agree. I think the key is to learn to accept that loss happens and not to try to hide it from other people or from yourself. As Faiz puts it:

Tum nahak tukre chun chun kar
Daman mein chupaye baithe ho
Sheeshon ko maseeha koi nahin
Kya aas lagaye baithe ho.

and besides - aur bhi gam hai zamane mein muhabbat ke siva. No?

N: That is strange. Sorry?

drifting leaf said...

hey fal...
made a lot of sense and yet none at all...
sometimes the only way to go is to let it go...

Kusum Rohra said...

I meant, it wasn't true as in we didn't need God to cushion the blow.

Your questiong led me to think about life not being unfair, I liked the thought for about 7 seconds and then realised nah life being fair would be so unfair. It will ruin all that you can learn, experience and cherish too.

Fkk said...

is that brainfuck programming language in your profile ??

Anonymous said...

Sorry? Whatever for? Had an intense day and found it strange to find some similar thoughts being voiced by another.

Liked the post though, well written.


Waj said...

True..coz by the end of the day you are always alone...
seemed like some put my thoughts in words :)
keep up..

zen babu said...

Very well put. And eery, because it hits really close. Refusing to accept oneself as a victim may indeed be an untrue mask that we wear, and yet it is not more untrue than any other fronts that we put on. If you haven't succeeded in love, you may as well build an illusion of dignity around it, convincing yourself that if you've loved, you can't possibly lose. If you're helpless in a situation, you may as well reclaim some of the seemingly lost area of influence, to avoid the feelings of powerlessnesss. One has to have either tangibly validated love or feel-good dignity. It is impossible to carry on without damaging bitterness if one has neither.

And sometimes, the other person really can't help it. Sometimes, it boils down to a choice (s)he has to make, one out of two ways to react to a circumstance. You would have made one particular choice, you would want them to make the same choice and no one could possibly have known that they would make the other choice until they actually do it. Sometimes, you actually understand them, maybe not completely, but atleast better than the other people. Those who offer the supporting hand and the contradictory explanations are also rationalising, and one maybe in a much better position than them to rationalise. The rationalisation is usually done not in face of any verifiable evidence, but aginst the suspicious corners of our own rational minds. And while it's unfair to disdianfully scorn that hand that's trying to support, one can expect that the person in question be spared of the scorn by those who try to help you. Sometimes, in the absence of any objectively, empirically known truth, it's simply a question of giving the other person the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, one doesn't need to forgive, just to trust.