She strikes again – from a letter from a devastated, though tactless couple, came a topic that rattles around in my mind quite frequently.  This post, and especially the comment made by Shandra, just pulled at me.


          *For the sake of this post, we’re not talking about things that cause people pain like fighting cancer, death, infertility, or other things we cannot control.  We’re talking about one person deliberately hurting another.*

          When something bad happens, there are generally two paths: make it better in whatever way you can, or make it worse.  Of course, there are degrees and variations of both choices, but essentially, that is what it boils down to.  For those who choose the first path, this can mean not allowing the same thing to happen to someone else, or helping others in the same situation create a better outcome for themselves.  On the other path, you have the people who make it worse.  Some of these people just blame everyone around them for what happened, creating more tension and uncomfortable situations.  Another way some people make it worse is to perform the very same hurtful deed.  Whatever the choice, you’re still, more or less, walking one path or the other. 

          My mind tends to wonder about the latter path.  Why do some people feel that when someone does something hurtful, it is up to the rest of the world to make up for it?  And how, exactly, does one make up for it?  What is the exact price for years of abuse?  How much do I have to give to make up for a malicious firing that resulted in a state of homelessness or extremem poverty?  Or for an act of arson that lead to the death of a loved one and loss of every possession?  Is there a list somewhere of debt and how to break even for said debt? 

          In my mind, shit happens.  You will have bad days and good days.  That means you will have days when you are angry / hurt / distraught / disturbed / depressed / paranoid (etc.) about what and who hurt you.  You will take it out on those closest to you because you trust them to be able to bear the burden.  You will curl up in your own shell.  You will eat too much or nothing at all.  You will sleep all day or not a wink.  Whatever you do, you will not cope in a healthy, productive way…  Then you will have good days.  You will look back on your hurt and know that you will not allow it to happen again, that you will fight and do anything and every thing you can to help yourself.  You will talk about it, help others who are fighting the same fight and healing the same hurt.  You will take care of your body’s physical needs and tend to your emotions in a healthy, productive way…  That’s normal. 

          What isn’t normal, or healthy, or productive is to walk around the rest of your life, with a chip on your shoulder.  It is not fair to demand others make up for your pain.  Even the best of friends may slip and "forget," making a comment or joke that is hurtful to you because of your experience(s).  Even a spouse or significant other may say something you feel is completely insensitive, with the idea that they are consoling you or offering helpful advice.  No one can know what is in our hearts and minds every second.  You can’t ask that, and knowing that, you can’t ask them to make up for, or null your pain.  Only you can do that.  What is there to gain by thinking that everyone owes you something because you have lived through trauma?  You owe it to yourself to keep fighting, to keep taking steps to deal with what has happened.  Ultimately, you are the only one who has to sleep at night with what you have done.  Would it be easier to sleep knowing you are doing your best to come to a place of peace, or to try falling asleep seething with anger that people are still not giving you your dues? 

                   No one is entitled to a life of ease because of past trauma or difficulty.  It would be nice if there was a "consolation prize," for going through some rough things, but it doesn’t work that way.  You can either let your past consume you, or you can walk away from it, lesson learned about how to avoid it again (if applicable), and how to help others in the same boat.