We know these people. They walk among us and to us they look “normal”. They have challenges like the rest of us, and they have survived a ton of shit. But then they get stuck in that role of survivor and use their story as who they are, rather than moving on to how they can use it to help themselves and others. These are smart people, they are just lacking an awareness of their patterns. Think of the widow that wears black for 15 years, or the jock that made the winning touchdown with 1 minute left in a game that was tied. Upon meeting them they re count the death of their husband or the winning touchdown ad nauseam, to the point that “widow” and “jock” is what you remember before you remember their name. I’m talking about them.
When you use your back story to garner sympathy or praise in an attempt to keep people around you that let you be the winner at the pitty party or your own popularity contest, it is manipulation.
I know this, because I did it. I walked around for years like “look at me” “look how awful it was for me to go through” “look at what I overcame”. In the beginning, I did it as a deliberate attempt to make sure people knew just how bad others treated me. I conveniently left out what I had done, or failed to do in the situation. Why is this so bad? Because the people that you are attracting to you by telling your story countless times are not being attracted to the real you, they are being attracted to the story of you. The one that you are telling, and more than likely not telling in it’s entirety. Why do we do it? Some people need to feel special by accepting people’s sympathy – which is dangerous because sympathy wears off. Other people do it because they love a crowd around them. They can’t be alone and they don’t care who their crowd consists of. Married men, other people’s partners, family of former friends. This is just as dangerous as sympathy. These people will eventually leave too and then they cycle repeats. I know this, because I’ve done it.
Long ago, before I had any real awareness I was what I now deem a “collector”. I had my set of friends that I have had for years, some even decades, but then I would go about collecting a crowd. Mostly of men. I would keep this one here because he would tell me how great I was. This one over here for when I felt unloved by my current boyfriend. And the unhappily married one over here that I would tell all of my woes too, because I liked to hear him tell the romanticized fantasy story of us running away together. With other friends, I would call her because she liked to party and I felt a great need to imbibe. Or her because she would indulge me and agree that everything that went wrong with my marriage was my ex’s fault. Or her because she would agree that what I was doing was ok…if I would have told her. What did they all have in common? Not one of them would ever call me out on my shit. I had un-intentionally manipulated a world for myself where everyone I encountered on a daily basis only knew me by my hand crafted story that ended with me being the greatest person on earth. The survivor of the largest personal crisis ever. Eventually, as I became more of who I actually am, they all left me or I had to leave them. The emergence of my real personality, less the “victim turned survivor” part of me, confused them.
Lack of self worth. That is what all of the above came down to. The re-telling of the oldest story of your life where you emerge victorious and then reside at that place instead of moving on. The “friend” collecting, the man collecting…it is all manifestation for deep sadness yet to be propelled from your psyche. Maybe people reside there, like I did momentarily, because they are so traumatized they feel they can’t move forward. Maybe they got addicted to the mask that they wear and they know that without it they would be different. That if they took it off, their world would change. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the change would be bad, but they don’t know that so they prolong it. What it does undoubtedly mean though, is that they would have to sit for a while. In stillness, and just be until they remember who they really are. Because if she removed the mask, sat with the sadness, the inadequacies, the loneliness, she would eventually dispel them all. Then, and only then, she would hear something…her true voice. The first thing that it would tell her is that she is not her story. The second thing that it would tell her is that it is time to take that story and move on to do some good with it. If she listens even closer, it will tell her how.