Cutting the Cord

There’s nothing I hate more than being a victim. Not that I, like most humans, don’t wear the mantle on occasion. Whether it’s being cut off in traffic, overcharged for cable television, or blamed for something I didn’t do, like hit the garage while backing out — which, by the way, the car did, not me. The point is, it’s downright easy to be a victim. Such a meaty role to play, we tell Shakespearian-worthy accounts of how we’ve been wronged. With an almost perverse pleasure, we share our upset because everyone will agree it is an egregious thing to be transgressed upon — whether major violation or minor misdemeanor — nobody deserves disrespect, and everyone merits equity, appreciation, and reasonable rates for cable.

Wait! Did I just imply I’m victim to my cable provider? Well, yes. For whenever you hear a tale of woe, especially any sort of chronic complaint, we’ve painted ourselves a victim. Of course, “chronic complaint” would be a genial way to describe the utter frustration I feel towards the telecommunications behemoth who avariciously overcharges while cornering the market.

Every time I call this provider to lower my bill, I’m sold a new “bundle” costing more. I finally realized the inherent discord of their use of “bundle.” While they’re selling the idea of bundling-up, you know being warm and cozy, they really mean its slang usage, i.e. you’re about to drop a bundle. I am just one of their many victims, uh, I mean customers, getting bundled.

There’s a problem with being anyone’s victim; it’s disempowering and self-defeating, no matter who’s the antagonizer, the cable provider or the bully, which may be redundant. The crux is, once you realize you’re a victim, deal with it and move on. Do not stay in the role. It is worthy of no prizes and for sure has no benefit package.

I’ve come to hate the role of victim because I’ve spent a better part of my life owning that title. The moniker came to me as a package deal, along with my family of origin. I’m a victim of incest, a term I no longer use and only mention to point out my deep-rooted understanding of the victim role. From a young age, I looked out at the world through glasses that were powerless and dim. I’m not sure when, but at some point, it entered my consciousness that I was on the short end of the stick and likely to cultivate the victim status throughout many areas of my life. This identity was part and parcel of who I was as a child. I can’t remember a time it wasn’t so. Just like having hazel eyes, there was no choice — a key component of victimhood.

Although it may be true we are victims, the label doesn’t serve us one iota. This is different than the need to grieve and feel pain; that’s a separate, whole, and holy factor that needs its own time. There it is, time. A salient concept, for being a victim has a tense. All meanings intended, but here I feature the verb tense, as in past, present, or future. No doubt, I have been a victim and you, too. But, are we making it present tense right now, this minute? What story am I telling today? What chronic complaints do I keep alive? 

There are easy answers to this, like cutting the cable so as not to support exploitative conglomerates. And there are hard answers as well, ones that require us to cut bigger cords to the past in order to heal weightier wounds. 

Even some of the most difficult challenges in my life have eventually shown me that I can move from victim to student, purely by asking, “What is this here to teach me?” That one question is the key to the jail of victimhood. It allows me to own my experience and mold it to what’s next, which sets me free. Being a student in this university of life has many gifts, from degrees to, best of all, a light at the end of the tunnel. Oh, and Netflix.