Ever heard this song by Kelly Clarkson?
I’m well acquainted with it. Very recently, I had a part-time job in a furniture store where the soundtrack included this heartfelt number. And every time that sad, pathetic piano music started up, I wanted to run into the manager’s office and kick the stereo. Many… many times.
See, the chorus of the song never sat right with me
“Because of you I never stray too far from the sidewalk.
Because of you I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt
Because of you, I am afraid.”
Some no good man did something that left her hurt and afraid. (That’s happened to every woman on the planet, right?) And, at least for the duration of this song, she was simply hurt and afraid and whining. No resolution. No power. Just pathetic and blaming him, whoever he was, for her damage.
Whenever I think of this song, I’m reminded of all those pathetic quotes and memes that people are constantly sharing on Facebook about how many “haters” they have, how they’re “cutting people off” who no longer serve them,
or how they’ve been hurt a million times and are still standing.
No one ever posts a quote or a meme saying:
To whomever I have hurt, misused, lied to, “hated on”, cursed out, or
misunderstood in a time of struggle,
I’ve been a hater.
I’m hating on some people right now.
I’d like to do some of the things I see others doing but don’t know how
and that pisses me off.
And make no mistake, we’ve all done something to hurt someone. But no, everybody’s a victim. Everybody’s damaged goods. And too many people want to stay that way. They’d rather keep pointing outward instead of looking within. It’s the blame game that keeps us hurting and attracting more of the very things that hurt us, because we focus on pain as if pain is a noble pursuit, as if being a martyr is preferable to having no one to blame.
Here’s the thing: once I sat down and watched the video, I had a much better understanding of what Ms. Clarkson was trying to accomplish with this, actually beautiful, song. The story depicted in it is very similar to my own. It’s almost identical to the background story for Jane Luck, the decidedly unlucky heroine in my new novel Pretty Little Mess: A Jane Luck Adventure. The self-awareness laid out in the lyrics (whether she actually experienced this or simply is a conduit of expression for those who have) is a necessary part of the healing process. We have to understand the source of a problem in order to solve it.
But I think that’s where the blaming has to stop. Because once you peel back a few layers from the person you’re blaming, you’ll find that the pain they “caused” you could be traced to some pain that they blame someone else for. And on and on ad infinitum. And much of your pain may be stemming from your own interpretation of what was done, or your own assumptions about that person’s intentions–which could all be wrong.
The blows we inflict on each other can certainly be overwhelming. I guess the key is to not wallow in the pain, however difficult the journey to a better place may be.
And the next time you think some “haters” are out to get you, consider this: people like MLK had haters, Malcolm X had haters, Jesus, Joan of Arc, Malala Yousafzai had haters. Maybe you just have delusions of grandeur. Everybody’s not a martyr, and everybody doesn’t need to be.