Responsibility deflection

By on May 24th

leaving zion

Photo by Kai Schreiber used by Creative Commons license

Tavi and I were hanging out on the back patio this morning when one of my neighbors came down the alley in a small moving truck. She used her remote to open the sliding lot gate, and as a friend guided her from the alley, she proceeded to take the corner little too tightly. The side of her truck mashed up against the gate, dramatically knocking it off its rail. She backed up, took the corner wider, and made it into the lot. She hopped out of the truck looking understandably frustrated, and the first thing she said was this:

"Fuck that UHAUL bitch for giving me such a huge truck…"

It's worth noting that the truck was not at all huge. It's also worth noting that the gate will be fine and it's not a big deal, but the moment was such any icky example of responsibility deflection. "FUCK THE WORLD FOR THAT THING I JUST DID TO MYSELF."

I see this kind of thing a ton in the comments on the Empire. We did a post a while back about offbeat divorce, and the author advised trying to do it without divorce lawyers, if you can. All of us who watch comments were busy that afternoon, and within a couple hours the discussion spiraled into darkness, with commenter after commenter sharing their special awful reasons why they HAD to have a lawyer, the ways that THEIR ex was uniquely psychotic, why they were specially exempt from this advice. 20 comments in, and every single one was about divorce lawyers — despite the fact that that lawyer issue was one tiny aspect of the post.

I mean, I get it: sometimes you need a divorce lawyer (there were some great examples about situations of abuse), but readers basically fixated on this one point, and then once the ball was rolling …. all anyone wanted to talk about was how they were the terrible, negative exception to this very sane, constructive guidance.

I saw this yesterday on my motherhood identity post on Offbeat Mama, too. Right away, we got a couple comments from mothers with specific situations that meant they COULD NOT HAVE IDENTITIES. One reader snapped, "How nice for you," and went on to explain that she was a single mom with five kids in a new town with no support. "Having an identity outside of my family simply is not an option for me."

So first: wow. That sounds really hard. But second: wow. It's fascinating to see the way these we sometimes put ourselves into victim/"I have no choice in the matter" mode. It wasn't my fault I hit the gate — that Uhaul bitch gave me a huge truck! My situation is uniquely difficult in ways you can't even fathom, so of course I am exempt from having any control over my response to it. Rather than put my energy into figuring out how I might be able to improve my situation, I'd rather spend my time explaining why my situation is so uniquely shitty that it could never be anything other than shitty.

I gotta say, I TOTALLY get it — I have my moments in the muck of feeling angry and frustrated and GAH fuck everyone why is it all so hard and none of it is my fault fucking fuck fuck fuck. Those moments totally are important and necessary. But just as necessary to me is finding a way OUT of those moments… finding your way back to "Ok, that sucked. What can I do to deal with it now?"

How do you do that?