December 21, 2016

Unbecoming the Victim

Emotional pain is the worst. I was speaking to a friend the other day and we were reflecting on the abundant examples in our experiences of people who continue to talk about things that happened to them ten, twenty, fifty years ago, ourselves included. The conversation ended on the note that it is good to get over things quickly. It ended there because it was the easier way out of our problem of not getting over things quickly.

In the same way it is easy to say all we have said about Toke’s book, On Becoming, because that’s where it ends. We are done after we have had our say. What is harder for us to do is what she did- she “unbecame”, the documentation of which is the singular redeeming factor of her so called “must tell”. Never mind that the writing was hardly novel, the contents sensationalized and pages too few and dedicated again to too few chapters of her life; in it she unbecame the victim of her story. A version that had justified the anger that while keeping her eyes peeled on what everyone else had done was blinding her from seeing what she herself had become.

The expression “making lemonade out of lemons” pricked my ears as I watched Toke explain the reason for the book on her vlog. It was not the only thing she said, just the one that unsettled me because these days we have canonized revenge by throwing around mantras like “the best revenge is your paper”. Is it?

Isn’t the best revenge that you are not seeking it? That your being somebody deserving of love and (fill in the blank) isn’t in your paper or in any other evidence of success? Are we that egocentric that everything that happens that we don’t like is blown into something that should be avenged and everyone we meet that doesn’t agree with us is reduced to a rival- an enemy of progress?

That’s how we have demonized prayer by turning anyone we cannot control into enemies that “Baba God” will punish. Will he?

Isn’t the reality that no one person or situation is ours to control? Doesn’t it almost seem like all our pain in life is trying to get us to that point? But not only do we give God memos on how to do his job, we dare ask him to be complicit in our self deceit of being in control of him, what he does and who he punishes.

Pain -even the worst- wherever it exists in our lives, is there to help us face a reality we don’t want to see and accept. A reality anger quickly leaps to our rescue to camouflage for self preservation. And while we hold on to the anger, addicted to the crutch it gives us to justify even the unreasonable reasons why we should continue to be angry, it grows unrestrained, feeding on us. Anger is the nemesis of the person who holds it and it is so deceptive, it hides behind who we are- “I am angry” and what we own – “my anger”.

Until we can unbecome and see how we are using those stories we rehash to protect ourselves from reality and until we can uncover what we hide from ourselves when we shift the blame, we will continue to be deceived by the anger that we were seating down jeje and (fill in the blank) happened and if not for (fill in the blank) that caused it, our lives would have been perfect otherwise.

Thank God Toke’s book was a good example of unbecoming this anger that is unbecoming of us or she would have wasted her money cheapening her life’s experience into news headlines for a couple of comments and bundle of notes, trying to convince us that she is fine now that she has one more title – published author- and is laughing her way to the bank.

That is if she is.

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