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Finding My Part when I’ve Been Victimized.

28 November 2017

Like most people in the world, I have from time to time been the victim of other people’s egregious or criminal actions. Though, thankfully, it’s rarer than for many others. But I’ve been exploited, abandoned, abused, and used – mostly in minor ways – just like everyone else. These have set up some persistent resentments in me. And resentments are toxic to alcoholics. They fester, suppurate, and eventually explode into rage or relapse.

One tool we use to ameliorate these consequences and risks is the fourth and tenth step work we do. One crucial aspect of this is finding my part. In nearly every resentment, I can find something which I did that aided the outcome – even if it’s just a small choice I made that I could have or should have made differently. This does not relieve my victimizer of any culpability. But it does help me learn, and let go, and make different choices in the future.

As an example. When I bought my house in ECC, it had several major problems not revealed by the inspection, but surely (though not provably) known to the sellers. Now I am probably getting ready to sell it again, and these problems may cost me $100,000. They’ve already cost me about $25,000. This represents a huge percentage of my entire net worth. This is going to affect my retirement, and my long term financial stability.

If the sellers knew of all this, it is their fault for selling the house with the undisclosed problems. They are responsible. But I have a part as well. I was too excited, and made decisions too rapidly. I ignored feelings of discomfort and dismissed them as my ordinary anxiety. I didn’t take the good advice of friends, or BB, who advised me, and instead plowed ahead with my own foolish path.

I let my desire for the location and the fabulous bathrooms overwhelm my common sense. And as a result, I ended up in a situation that made me easy to take advantage of. I bear responsibility for my actions, which were part of the reason I ended up in the situation I’m in now. And I have to deal with the consequences. There’s no other remedy.

Finding my part allows me to take concrete action about next time: listen to my misgivings, allow others to inform my decision-making process, fire a real estate agent I don’t trust, etc.. It doesn’t mean I’m to blame for being taken advantage of – the criminals and users who did that are to blame. But I certainly could have behaved differently that would have enabled me to be a less opportune target.

And of course, in some situations, I don’t have a part. But in every single negative event in my life, save one, I’ve been able to find an aspect under my control at the time that I could have changed. And that gives me power over my future. It doesn’t guarantee anything; I’m capable of making the same mistakes or new ones. But it improves my outlook and gives me agency.

And more importantly, it helps me be less anxious and resentful about my current situation, and therefore less likely to suddenly find myself in a situation where I feel the need to drink about it. Life gives what it gives, I take what I can, I do the best I can do given my experience and options, and the rest will take care of itself. I am fortunate that a house misadventure will not bankrupt me.

And I am even more fortunate that I have a system of living whereby I can look at myself, and not cast stones (justified or not) uselessly at others. I have to move forward. As my friend Hope Jahren said about houses, “Easy come, easy go.”

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