It happens?

Monkeytraps is one of my favourite mental health professional blogs.  It’s about control, relationships, and monkeys… well less about monkeys, and more about control.  Steve Hauptman (the author) writes some really interesting posts; so when I saw the latest one titled Just the world, I was curious as to what it was about.  This was my sister’s birthday after all, the perfect day to be challenged slightly…  However, there was no way I could have anticipated what actually happened…

Steve wrote about how each of us form this concept of what is a “just world”… one where good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people.  I admit, that I fall into this thinking, regarding myself and my past… I was abused because I was bad, evil, asked for it, provocative, a slut, a whore… the list goes on. I don’t judge others in this way; but for myself, I lay it on thick!

After describing this “just world” scenario, Steve gave the punch line… we buy into this concept of a “just world” because it gives the illusion of control.  Talk about a kick in the gut…

All of my life I have strived to be perfect.  I got as many A’s as I could, while panicking over every B and C; I played sport above my age grade; I was silent; I didn’t cry; I did everything within my power to be perfect… Because if they saw how perfect I really was, they would stop…  They would leave me alone.

But I knew that they saw the evil in me.  They saw how dirty and disgusting I was; so my focus of control changed.  I no longer wanted them to stop, as I was beyond redemption.  Instead, my only purpose, was to stop others from being hurt.  As I grew up, I thought I had succeeded with this aim… I wasn’t aware of any whispers about other girls being taken to “those” places. My sister seemed troubled, but “fine”.

It wasn’t until I finally admitted to my mother what had happened about five years ago, that she said “was one of the boys J. Doe?  Because I was talking to his mother the other week, and she was telling me about the historical sexual abuse charges he is facing”.  At that point, my idea of a “just world” collapsed.  I had failed.  I hadn’t been enough for them to not hurt others; and I hadn’t spoken up so that others would have been spared.  My illusion of control crumbled…

I was unable to see beyond this being my fault… my control… my fault…

I still can’t.  I can’t accept, as Steve suggests, that there is no “just world”; but instead, the  world is a place where justice is possible, and that shit happens.  It can happen to good people, or bad.  It doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t discriminate, it just happens.

But if that’s true; then maybe one day, a long, long time ago, I was maybe a good person?  Maybe?

But bad things happen to bad people, so maybe I was bad all along.  I came into this world screaming, and didn’t stop for six months.  I was difficult and evil, even then.

Please let me have saved at least one person.  Please.  Please don’t let what they did to me, be for nothing.  There had to be some purpose beyond their needs and wants?  There does, doesn’t there?  There must.  That is why it’s easier for me to believe it was my fault, my evil, my badness attracting the inevitable karma of equal badness to balance out the universe.

Funny thing is… we used to say “shit happens” all the time growing up… “Shit happens, and then you get over it”.

As a note: I never think anyone else deserves bad things to happen to them.  Please know that.  I always turn it in on myself, but never hold that thinking for others.  I’m always devastated to know of any pain to any other living thing.

Now playing: The Verve Pipe – The Freshman
via FoxyTunes


19 thoughts on “It happens?

  1. Bad things happen to good people, too. You were a good person then, and you are a good person now. None of this was ever your fault. The evil and filth you feel is a reflection of their foulness, not yours.

    On a completely different and totally random note, I read something in a book recently – “You can live in shit, but you don’t have to lie down in it as well.” I know this has nothing to do with your post (except for the word “shit”, but It reminded me, that’s all. 😉

    Please take gentle care. Sisters birthdays are sent to test us in many ways. ((hugs))

    • Hi Kerro,

      Yes, Steve was very clear in his post that bad things happen to good people. That’s where the “shit happens” comes from… it happens randomly to anyone, whether they be good or bad. It’s easier for society to believe that bad things won’t happen to good people, because then it’s less likely to happen to them… but it does happen to them.

      Take care,

  2. Strange the thoughts we think. I often ask God, the universe, and/or whatever-powers-that-be to send to me the pain, heartache and misery, so my family can be happy. I do believe bad things happen to good people, and I don’t want them happening to my family. So, pile it on me because I’m already useless and worthless and miserable. I’m already a failure, so tear me apart World and rub salt into my wounds -just let my family be happy. I don’t deserve happiness or health or peace. I wasted my life being me. I don’t deserve good -only bad.

    But then it gets complicated because people say what you project out into the world is what tends to come back at you. If you think you can’t do something, you tend not to be able to. However, no child sends anything out into the world that would warrant the World sending horrific abuse to the child.

    Is all just a coincidence when good things happen to those super-positive, always-happy people we all know and would like to pummel their faces to a pulp? If so, why are they so lucky? Why did my mom’s best friend’s children always make straight A’s, and were first chair in band, and won science fairs, and excelled in sports, and went on to do great things as adults… while, I just plain sucked at everything? Though, why did their mom die of cancer while my mom survived alcoholism and cirrhosis with a transplant?

    I know I’m kind of combining two concepts in this comment. Bad things happen to good people & life is what you make it. But where does one begin and the other end? T’s are always talking about taking responsibility for yourself our your actions and your life. How do we know what we’re supposed to take responsibility for? Because, then we take responsibility for something and they tell us THAT wasn’t our fault. Well, which is it?

    All that said, I don’t believe any child is to blame for sexual abuse. It’s just an evil (and/or sick) person who takes advantage of a child for anything remotely sexual. Of course, if I were sexually abused, I would swear it was my fault.

    CG, I don’t know whether your suffering saved anyone back then. But, your life experiences and suffering brought you here to this point in your life and molded you into the person you are today. I wish no bad things ever happened to you. But, I am thankful you are who you are and you are here sharing your insights and ideas. You’re helping me now.

    Take care,

    • Hi rl,

      I’m sorry that you ask for everything bad to happen to you… almost like a sacrificial lamb. You don’t deserve that. You deserve happiness and wellness, just like everyone. You are intelligent, funny and tough… you’re not useless or worthless!

      I always wonder what supposedly happy people hide. I worked with someone who appeared happy and healthy… until the day the Police turned up one day and took her away for questioning. You just never know about anyone. We all wear masks.

      Did you read Steve’s post? It talks about the randomness of events. That can be difficult to comprehend, but I think there is also a form of liberation in there, if you can work it through.

      I think taking responsibility is a separate issue. If you assume that everything is pretty much beyond our control… then isn’t our responsibility based on how we react? Do we try to use the skills we’ve learned? Do we try different things? Do we extend ourselves a little bit at a time? Do we do the best we can in any situation – even if that best is getting out of bed?

      Thanks rl…

      Please take care of yourself…

  3. CG, you know that I recently tried to reach out to someone to see if I could somehow prevent any abuse that may be taking place. There’s a point where we have to realize that we can’t control everything. And yes I know that part of this is about control, believe me I get it.

    You were a kid CG. What exactly were you supposed to do to stop others from being what they were determined to be? All you could do was survive. You tried in the only way your young mind could think of, to protect others, even though it was impossible because that wasn’t in your control. Doesn’t that tell you that you’ve always been a good person? Only good people care about the safety of others even when they’re being hurt themselves.

    You’re pulling a “me” by having a double standard about yourself. Only I’m allowed to have double standards in judging myself. 🙂

    I hope my gentle teasing comes across despite the fact that I’m challenging your viewpoint in what I hope is a non-offensive way. I care about you, you know that. So, I hope that you can try to believe your won statement:”But if that’s true; then maybe one day, a long, long time ago, I was maybe a good person?”

    There’s no maybe CG. You were and are a good person. It’s ok to believe that even if it’s scary.

    • Hi tb,

      I’m sorry, I really can’t put into words what I mean. It’s a jumble in my head.

      No, I strongly believe that I was never a good person. I was, and am; evil and manipulative.

      I know you are teasing… I’m just having a bad life.

      Thank you…

      Take care,

      • Don’t apologize CG. You’re obviously in pain right now and I’m so very sorry for it. You don’t have to worry about explaining. I’ve said what you’re saying here to my therapist before and I know platitudes won’t work.

        Here’s my question (and don’t worry about responding if you can’t) is your sister’s birthday the trigger for this or is something else going on? If reading the “shit happens” post opened up so much pain then there must be a reason for it. I’m wondering what that is? I’m not asking for me, I’m asking for you.

        Remember when I offered for you to bounce your thoughts off of me? Don’t forget that the offer is open 24/7…

        • Hi tb,

          I’m just confused. I don’t know anything, or anyone, anymore.

          I don’t know if my sister’s birthday is a trigger. It’s the first time in years that I’m aware of even thinking about it.

          Thank you for the offer. I’m too grumpy though. I need to keep to myself.

          Take care,

  4. CG,

    I don’t comment here much but I read all the time. I want to say I had a similar reaction when I read Steve’s post this morning. A kind of sure shit happens and it’s random except when someone (me) deserves it and is still stuck in it.

    I’m sorry for the pain you are in right now. I’m sorry you found out that others had been abused by your abusers but the reality is there wasn’t much you do to stop there behaviour with you as a child or with any other child. I don’t know if you blame yourself to create the illusion of control or if serves some other purpose, for me I think sometimes it is a kind of punishment I think I deserve.

    Hugs and I hope that you don’t keep to yourself too long.


    • Hi di,

      Thank you for commenting… What you say here echoes some of my thinking. I blame myself to have an illusion of control, and as a punishment. It’s an awful mess.

      I’m so sorry that you think you deserved the abuse. You didn’t, no one deserves that, no one!

      It’s almost become a default mode of operation to hide and withdraw.

      I’m glad you commented…

      Please take care,

  5. Oh CG… I’m sorry you’re going through this emotional turmoil right now.

    This post has been so very thought-provoking for me. I can truly relate to how you are feeling.

    I can also relate to the need for perfection as that’s been a pattern for me my entire life… even today. And I do believe that this need for perfection is absolutely about control.

    For me… intellectually, I know my abuse wasn’t my fault. But emotionally, I wholeheartedly believe it was absolutely my fault, and that I *must* have done something to deserve it.

    My intellectual thoughts will often cross over into my emotions and it becomes a big confusing mess. I’m sort of in that place right now.

    Something else that raced through my mind when I read this is that there’s this whole line of thought based on the ‘laws of attraction’. Most people who subscribe to that line of thought believe that *we* control what happens to us, whether it be good or bad. My ‘estranged’ half-sister subscribes to this line of thought. She once told me that the abuse I endured throughout my life was somehow caused by me, and that I needed to figure out *how* I caused it. She made these statements ‘knowing’ my abuse began at a very young age.

    As I thought about what she said, I became so very angry because I just cannot accept that people are the cause of such despicable acts.

    Based on how my half-sister believes, I wondered if the little old lady who was walking down the street caused herself to be beaten and robbed at gunpoint, and I wondered if the kids who are bullied are causing themselves to be bullied, and I wondered if all the children starving in this world are causing their own starvation… and the list could go on and on. When I think about how my half-sister buys into that belief system, it really ticks me off.

    But again, I somehow believe I deserved every bad thing that has happened to me. I brought it on myself. After all, it wasn’t like it happened only once. It became a pattern, so it *must* be my fault.

    My intellect argues that when a child has endured dysfunction at a young age, they are more likely to fall into dysfunctional scenarios as they grow up. After all, they weren’t taught that they were allowed to value themselves. They weren’t taught how to have boundaries.

    So this is how my intellect crosses over into my emotions and causes my mind to go ’round and ’round with these arguments.

    While trying to figure out the reasons why some people do such awful things, I wonder if they were abused themselves and ended up adopting the same patterns as their abusers. Or perhaps they are just plain sick, perverse, and evil. Either way… intellectually, I know that it is *their* choice, not *ours*.

    I hope you are able to pull yourself into a better place. I indeed understand your thought patterns, and I hope that you also understand, on an intellectual level, that you are not to blame for the despicable acts of others.

    Please go easy on yourself. ~ Mareeya

    • Hi Mareeya,

      Ok, I’ll be blunt here… I think the rules of attraction is a load of bunkum! I think they’re another way to try to control the uncontrollable. It’s a variation on us trying to be ever so perfect, and yet we still got abused… we were not capable of attracting abuse, that was the warped minds and desires of the abusers. You did not attract anything like that… no way!

      I would never do it, but I’d say to your half-sister that she is attracting negativity by judging others and their pain. But that would be lowering myself to her thinking, and that just isn’t worth it!

      I think one of the biggest struggles for us, as survivors, is to believe that we are worthy of anything good and positive. That we are allowed to have self-confidence and self-worth. Because we so easily empathise with the plight of others, but turn the loathing onto ourselves when there is a hint that something has gone wrong.

      It is all so very confusing… I can say this so definitively to you, but not be able to turn that thinking towards myself.

      Yes, we follow the familiar as we grow up… for me that is self-injury and an abusive marriage… it’s familiar, what we know, and “comfortable” or predictable.

      I’m really glad that you can see that the abusers behaviour is their choice. There are other choices that they could have made, but they didn’t…

      I’m trying to pull myself into a better place. The last week of work was a bad week…

      Please take care of yourself,

      • Oh man…Mareeya, your half sister’s comments made me see red and I know other people that share her similar negative and unempathetic outlook about various bad things that happen to others. No empathy. I’m so sorry she said that to you.

  6. We’re responsible for our own actions and only our own actions? The rest is/was not our fault?

    Thank you for sharing this, struggling a lot with this as well at the moment. I know the abuse was not our fault, in any way shape or form, but I totally believe we deserved it and we are to blame.

    Hear your deep pain, CG, sorry you’re suffering so much.
    Thinking of you,


    • Hi Bay,

      I struggle with this as well, but I do believe that we are responsible for our actions. We are not responsible for the abusive actions of others, and we did not bring that abuse upon ourselves. We did not even know how to form the words “please abuse me”, let alone understand what that would mean; so we did not ask for it, nor did we deserve it.

      I think this is a conversation we need to have more often within the survivor community, and within therapy. It seems to effect us all so much…

      Please take care,

    • Hi LSC,

      It was never a good thing that you were hurt. Never. You should never have that burden of thought that if you were hurt, others would be spared… never. No child should have been hurt.

      If we think that if it was a good thing that one child was hurt, and another spared… doesn’t that mean that the abuse was acceptable? I’ll never believe that. The abusers should have been the ones to stop their actions, regardless of what any child said, did, or asked for – they were the ones in control.

      Your little one is so brave to ask, and I understand their thinking… but their pain was never a good thing. I’m so sorry they, and you, were hurt.

      Please take care,

  7. I guess I will never really understand why “bad things happen to good people”. Im always grateful, tho when friends remind me that I’m a good person, then AND in spite of the bad. I wish you the very best and I believe that when the time comes, you wont have to guess what is your responsibility to take, because by then, you will have weeded out those things that belong to others – and let them deal with their own… 🙂

    • Hi Ivory,

      I agree with Steve on this… I think the occurrence of good and bad things are random. I don’t think that’s fair, but then I’m not sure we live in a “fair” or “just” world. I think we do the best with what we are given at any one time…

      I hope you’re right Ivory, I hope you’re right…

      Take care,

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