Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Bravery

The Bravery - Time Wont Let Me Go
Found at

"Whenever I look back
On the best days of my life
I think I saw them all on T.V.

I am so homesick now for
Someone that I never knew
I am so homesick for
Someplace I will never be "

-The Bravery, "Time Won't Let Me Go"

I was reading Sean Anderson's always stellar blog the other day.

A topic he touched on struck me: "I am not a victim, I refuse to be one..."

I'm glad he mentioned that and discussed that concept, because it is always a valuable thing for me to revisit.

I've only, in the last year and a half of my life, even considered that concept; really, truly considered it. The concept of playing the victim.

I know that blaming someone else for our problems and thus wallowing in self-pity stops us from living a healthy, happy life. That's just a fact. No arguments, none. Period.

What I never used to see was how easy it is to do just that.

I never knew how closely my romanticising of various things in life were just self-pity, victimization, and martyrdom masquerading as poignancy, art, and feeling.

I listened to the song at the start of this post a lot in the winter of 2008 I think, while I was struggling with my weight and other issues of the time.

The song is nothing particularly special, musically or lyrically, but it spoke to me then. The lyrics combined with the music made me feel. The song, like so many others have, evoked a lot of emotions for me: loss, hurt, anger, regret, etc.

Above all else the message I chose to take from that song, without even realizing it, was:

"You're a victim. You've fouled up. Others have fouled you up. Mourn the past and the present. Mourn your future.

Mourn your future, because it is nothing but a consolation, a silver medal (at best).You'll never have what you truly want. You'll never be who you could have become."


I've always liked to think of myself as a romantic in a broad, pretentious, Renaissance-style sense. Someone who relished the gritty truth about life and all the complex feelings it brings. Someone who saw life for the intricate shades-of-grey reality it was, someone who read books, listened to music, and watched films that spoke deep truths and moved me powerful ways.

I know now that I've been nothing but a coward. A coward who tried to substitute a real life (one that actually comes with the various ups and downs, but one where I have have power, responsibility and accountability) for a bullshit life where I pretended I had no power and so could thus play the martyr for any consequences of my reactionary lifestyle (all the while romanticizing this "beautiful, but oh so painful" thing that was "life" - which was not really much more than thoughts, dreams, lyrics, quotes, books, films, and disowned actions.)

I don't want to romanticize life. I want to live it honestly, completely. I know I own my actions and choices. I don't need to hear poignant lyrics or see a moving film to taste reality, I want to envelop myself with reality everyday, standing up for my responsibility in every moment. That is life.

People screwed me up.

Yep. So what?

I've screwed up a lot.

Yep. So what?

Until I stop letting either of those two facts have any hold on how I make decisions, I'll never be able to succeed in righting those wrongs and I'll never become the person I am here to be, for myself and for others.

When I'm honestly and completely free from any victim mentality, it's all possible. And I can do it. I don't have to be a coward, I can be strong.

And I will.

There's nothing romantic about it, but it's real.


  1. Well, I think you're wrong: there is something quite romantic (in the broader sense of the word) about taking the reins of your life and owning up to your own future.

    I have a lot of regrets about the things I've done and the way I've lived my life, but I feel confident in the future I'm making for myself and the way I'm living my life right now. It's a hard journey, to be sure, but really: what was ever easy about the way we were living before?

    Great post, my friend.

  2. I think alot of people who get overweight live in their heads. I would do the same things, live vicariously through books and music...all the while getting larger and taking less of a role in real life.
    Jack is right, there is nothing more romantic and exciting then getting out there and creating the kind of life you want.
    Instead of reading about romance, i can go on a date with my husband and not feel embarrassed by my size...I can put on a bathing suit and go swimming at sunset in California...I didn't do that last time because I would not take off my shorts, how sad is that?
    I am so impatient now because I have wasted so much time, I don't want to waste anymore, life is short.

  3. Friend,

    Let me tell you something...I should just e-mail this.

    Your emotion and the way you say what you say---You shook me with your brutally honest writing.

    You know too much now to ever go back. Once you realize what you've realized---there's no going back.
    What you're doing for yourself is monumental, what your story, example, and triumph will do for countless others---it's just incredible.
    You're a very valuable person my friend, you are a light---

    I can't read anything else right now.

    I'll cheer you on as you embrace life, real life and real happiness---If you ever need a friend to talk to---drop me an e-mail.

    My best always,

  4. Just wanted to say that this was a stellar post :).

  5. Sean alerted me to this post today....he was right...the honesty is amazing, and I love it. I'm here for you if you ever want to email. I'm wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving. :)

  6. Wow what a powerful post! Thank for one of the best posts i've ever read.

  7. I never thought of it as victimizing myself when I've done the kinds of things you're describing here. Mainly because I am usually blaming myself (99% of the time) and telling myself that if I hadn't been such a weak loser, my life would be the beautiful story I want it to be. I always thought of that as taking responsibility, so the victim thing never came into my head.

    But you know what.. I think you're right. Wow. I have to think about this some more.



  8. Thank you....that was a well thought out post and one that is good for me to think about time and again.
    I'm 42...and can't blame anyone but myself now. :) and :(

  9. I've been thinking about this post. I thought about it the other day when I was listening (for the millionth time) to the same sad song about broken hearts and thinking about how much my ex hurt me. And I thought about it again when I realized I'd lost a few pounds and accomplished a new fitness goal, and then immediately started pining for all the years that my life would have been better if I'd started doing this earlier. I've just been thinking about it. I'm not sure that I really know how to be happy. It's terrifying for me to have hope. In order to have it, part of what I must do is to forgive myself, let go of the past, and continue to fight for my present and future life with bravery and optimism. So far I haven't been willing to do it. I've been choosing sadness and despair again and again, choosing to be both the victim and the oppressor in the story of my life.

    Now that I've realized this, I am not sure what to do. Like I said, I don't know how to be happy. I'm not good at it. The thing that scares me the most is the idea of accumulating more wasted years like the ones that are already behind me now. How does a person change in a way that's this deep and this hard? I really don't know.

  10. Wow! A powerful post indeed. Brutally honest! In my life I've become an expert at playing the victim. It's easier to put the blame on someone else instead of accepting responsibility for myself. This time around it's different...I am refusing to play the victim! You are a wonderful inspiration to me!

    I've nominated you for an award. Come by on Tuesday to pick it up!


  11. Great post. In order to create change it's crucial to step out of the victim role. It's scary to leave it though. It means you actually have to take responsibility for living your life.
    weight loss