Thursday, December 27, 2007

Who ya' gonna blame?

It's been far too long since I've blogged, but the events of the recent past compel me to do so now, if only to knock the cobwebs off the page. I have plenty of excuses for not visiting this space more frequently: elderly parent (and surrogate parent) health issues, pressing deadlines, and the usual suspects of scrambling to keep the fiscal wolf from the door. But let's put those excuses aside for a bit, and allow me - if you will - a few moments of rambling.

I have participated in a few other blogs in the last few months, and to my credit, have made myself an enemy. A particularly sad individual, who wails at the inherent evil of anyone who might remind him of the woman who "done him wrong." Hating liberals, lefties, Democrats, New age believers, Buddhists, women, and pretty much anyone else who doesn't share his rage. It's their fault that his wife left him; all would have been wonderful, had those horrible instigators not encroached upon the idyllic life that he and his woman shared. They just filled her head with all kinds of occult nonsense, and transformed a wonderful woman into a man-killing machine.

I'd like to say that I've never cast blame on anyone and everyone for my own misfortunes; there have been a couple of times in my life when I raged against any and all who wouldn't offer me the succor I demanded. After a bit of time had allowed me to cool off, however, I realized that the single common factor in every one of my failures was myself. It took no small degree of effort, but I eventually realized that blaming everything but myself not only failed to resolve the situation, it made me look like a whining little boy. Of course, at that point, a whining little boy was exactly what I was. I was hurting because I hadn’t gotten what I needed / wanted, and the best way to hide from the hurt was to slather it with a thick coat of anger. Even considering the possibility that I was acting out of my own pain – and the fear of suffering even more pain – was intolerable to me. So the wall stayed up until I grew strong enough to tear it down.

I won’t try to tell you that once the wall was torn down, it stayed down. Heck no… fear has the insidious ability to sneak up on us, and we have the tendency to synaptic response when we are confronted with it. Each new situation carries with it new challenges, and new temptations to revert to that state of whining adolescence. Our job as adults is to try and recognize that whining kid before he starts shooting his mouth off and defining us as whiners. When I see my new “friend” demanding his rage, his pound of flesh, and the agreement of all who will listen, my initial response is to pat him on the head and tell him to grow up a bit. When he gets really obnoxious, raging ever more loudly at anything resembling reason, I eventually disengage from the discussion.

You see, I really liked getting into bar fights once upon a time, but that time passed many years ago, when it occurred to me that wading into an unnecessary fight didn’t make me look stronger; it made me look like an insecure asshole. Even though I emerged from the majority of those confrontations less bloodied than my opponents, I found that even when I “won,” I felt diminished. And when my enemy du jour fell short of being an even match for me, I ended up feeling pretty dirty. It actually felt better to be bloodied than to know that I had taken advantage of another’s weakness. And that’s how I started feeling with my new opponent. I received private messages from other participants, congratulating me on having shown him for what he really was, yet such accolades felt empty. I had added to the hurt of someone who was obviously overwhelmed already; hardly something to be proud of.

In the final analysis, I can’t blame anyone else when I fail to live up to my own beliefs, any more than the other guy can realistically blame anyone else for his own failures. Will I be nicer to the guy? Probably… by working really hard to avoid getting sucked into his game of fear/hurt/rage. Will I continue to respond to his more ludicrous judgments, directed at anyone not within his little circle of acceptability (like the “circle of trust” in Meet The Fokkers)? Probably. Hopefully, I’ll remember to avoid the pissing contest aspect of it, however. If I need that, there’s a biker bar not too far from here…

Oh, and by the way... My ex-wife left me because I wasn't a very good husband. What she did to accomplish leaving was simply the best way she could manage to get it done. Wasn't the best way, perhaps, but it worked. I was angry for awhile, but nowadays, I can look her in the eye and honestly tell her I love her, and she can do the same with me. Perhaps the fact that we live 4,000 miles from each other helps, but I like to think there's some maturity in the mix, too. On both our parts.

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