The Addiction to Playing God…Why People Really Get Off on Inflicting Pain on Others…

Have you ever asked yourself how does a perpetrator become a perpetrator?  How can some of these people do some things that are down right evil to someone else?  Well, most of them were victims first.  See, there is no power in being a victim (well, unless someone uses it as a manipulation device, but that’s another post), but there is a plethora of power in being a perpetrator – they in fact have the power to inflict pain on others.  At their fingertips and at their will, they can cause pain to someone else any time they have the thought to do so.  Playing God can be addictive.  Even more addictive to those individuals who have carried some sense of powerlessness throughout much of their lives.  Stir this ingredient in with them gathering data about someone else’s vulnerabilities and you create a very insidious recipe.

Most heinous acts have been done by people who have had similar heinous acts done to them, otherwise, it probably wouldn’t have even been a thought.  But let’s lighten the load up for a minute.  Victim/Perpetrator behavior isn’t necessarily when someone does something gruesome, as a matter of fact, it happens on a smaller scale most of the time.  Think about when you go to a restaurant and you see a group of people running a waiter around like crazy only to leave them an insultingly meager tip.  Or the co-worker that seems to have it out for you –  you can’t take a piss without them tracing your whereabouts so they can report to the boss that you aren’t working.  Or a friend, whom you shared very private details of your life with, your vulnerabilities, your insecurities and they take that information and do the very thing to you that hurts you the most.   I’ve experienced all three of these scenarios.

Last week, I did a post called Making Peace with Salt-Dropping Frenemies based on a recent experience about some former friends just abruptly ending our friendship and not telling me why.  As hurt as I was, I had to go inside and ask myself what is it about me that keeps choosing toxic people to connect with.  Is there a perpetrator and/or bully inside of me?  And the answer is yes, there is.  I had to be brutally honest with myself about that.  I’ve cut someone off before and not let them know why.  Granted, it wasn’t for very long, but that person was very hurt by my actions and was very, very vocal about it.   And I had to further go inside and ask myself why do I do that.  Truthfully, it began as a defense mechanism, it was created as a way to protect myself.

Growing up, I was picked on quite a bit in my neighborhood because I was different.  When I got to school, it came in waves.  Sometimes there were periods when everything was smooth and at other times I didn’t want to be there.  It really wasn’t until I got to high school that things got better and remained that way until I graduated.  Elementary up until 4th grade and 10th-12th grade were some of the best memories I have of school.  Everything in the middle was a painful blur because I was going through so much trying to figure out who the hell I was.

So to say I was victimized is an under statement.  I knew what it felt like to be ridiculed and be an outcast.  I knew what it felt like to have my very best friend turn on me because she found new friends and I no longer fit the mold.  I knew what it felt like to get laughed at when I got on stage to perform or for a group of girls I didn’t even know to start rumors about me because they were jealous of how ambitious I was.  I knew what it felt like to have current friends start acting funny with me when I would get glowing reviews about my performances or projects I would create.  I knew what it felt like to have an entire neighborhood of kids want to fight me because they “heard” I was talking about them behind their backs although I hadn’t even seen any of these people since the summer before.  And I knew what it felt like to like a boy, he like me back, but be too embarrassed to show it because I was seen as this geeky, goofy hippie who was trying to save the world.

So when I sensed any of that shit about to start up again, a part of me would shut down and I would immediately cut off the culprit.  Not only did doing that keep me safe, it also gave me a sense of empowerment.  I got to get “them” back.  I got to make someone else hurt just as bad as I did.  I got to punish them and have the power for a change.  However, this behavior came with some arduous consequences –  I lost some good friends and some potential boyfriends because of it.

I became somewhat self-righteous, would punish for the most minute character flaw.  “Cut them off” was something I lived by.  It wasn’t until my mother pointed this out that I really took a serious look at it.  She said, “DeAara, people are going to fuck up.  They are going to let you down, make mistakes and will let you down again.  It doesn’t mean that they are not your friend, it just means they are human.  Don’t punish everyone for what just a few people did.  Everybody is not like that.  And you have no idea what they may be going through, so stop taking everything so personally.”  It took  her telling me that a few times before I really got it.

And the lesson was cemented a couple of times after that.  A couple of years ago, I fell out with one of my dearest friends.  I wrote her letter and expressed to her how I felt about something I believed she did and told her that I felt it was best if we end our friendship.  She emailed me back a very heated response and expressed that she was shocked, angered and hurt by my wanting to end the friendship and said, “You have no idea what I’m going through right now.”  But ultimately told me that if this was the way I wanted, then she’d honor my wishes.

I felt so sad and hurt by something I thought she did, that I really didn’t take those words in until months later.   Those months later?  My boyfriend of that time completely flipped on me, sold me out, did to me what had often been done to him and the one person I knew would understand what I was going through, I couldn’t even call, because I ended our friendship months before over something that could have been resolved had I just gone to her and let her know how I was feeling.

So, I had to eat a slice of humble pie.  I sent her a heart-felt letter letting her know how sorry I was about how I handled the situation.  And I also let her know how much I missed her and that I really needed her right then because I was scared and was in so much grief I thought I was losing my mind.  And she graciously reached out to me back with nothing but forgiveness in her heart.  She let me know that she had been wanting to call but was afraid I would reject her.  I let her know that I felt the same way and we made an agreement to not ever let anything get that bad where we couldn’t go to each other and talk it out.  Right then, I knew I didn’t want to play the Perpetrator/Victim game anymore.  Too many people get hurt.  And real power is generated from within, from Self and from a place of love, not from the pain One inflicts onto others.

I also had to honor that part of me that can cut someone off, because although it hasn’t always been used in the best way, overall, it’s purpose is that of a positive nature.  It can sense bullshit pretty easy and form a protective light around me when someone does have malicious intent towards me.  If I am severely violated, cutting someone off is not very difficult to do and I know that it comes from a genuine place because I harbor no ill-will towards that person.  I am pretty much indifferent.  I don’t need any closure, to be heard, or any of that if someone has fucked me over bad enough or too many times – they essentially become a no-thing.

If I cut someone off and I harp on it or them, then I know I am either grieving the loss or maybe that’s not what I needed right then.  Maybe I needed to say something to them, maybe I needed to listen to what they needed to say to me.  It’s a skill that I now use and reserve only for those people who have severely violated me and those I am relative to.  I don’t know if those people who have cut me off will ever tell me why, maybe they are indifferent now too.  Maybe that is my karma for when I did it to other people, I don’t know.

What I do know is that I have to continue to let go and release things that I cannot control and be okay with that.  I can’t make anybody come to me if they have a problem with me, I can’t make anybody do their work, get help, or see something from my perspective.  I can’t make anybody like me, love me or accept me.  What I can do and what I am doing is becoming the vision I want to see.  I can like, love and accept myself.  I can forgive myself for any wrongdoings I’ve done in my life.  I can be my own best friend and I can put my energy into those people who also feel this way about me and once again, accept me because of and in spite of myself.  And that’s where real power comes from.

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3 Responses

  1. u are realizing u have the power to seal ur own happiness. Sometimes, it can be really hard to find out the ‘truth’ even w/those whom we feel the closest. There are things even ur bff wont tell u w/certain issues. A lot of the reasons for this-emabarrassment, not wanting to burden ur friends or not wanting judgment from ppl or sheer denial of the problem.
    After mths or yrs drift by, it can seem almost defeatus to come back into the person’s life. That is my thing, after all of this time, I am initiating contact-i then think of “What did you say bout me when we weren’t talking?” Would ur tru bffs let u know that? I know stuff is “my shit” and the other person may not intend to hurt my feelings but bcuz i have that narcissistic attitude, i allomst ‘will’ the person to just say somthing fked up and if they do, then i wanna go into that and sometimes i can be ruthless, cold, mean and say off the wall shit to

    folks so sometimes it can be better to stay away. But that is what i am willing to do and at times i impose that on my friends/fam i want them to do the same for me, tell me the deep shit that u feel about me. At least if i do get upset, i will get over it, but i will always know u r a real mf. That is how I know that it was meant to be for us to connect again!! Real MF’s don’t die!!

    Also, i have had to take a look withn as well, find out what it is that is making me snap in a situation that does not call for it. And, like u, i found most of the evil began in my childhood. I am making peace w/those that i have hurt and will never be able to bind with as well as those who have hurt me w/no justification at all. I had to calm the abrasiveness, instead using the abrasiveness to aggressively save for retirement, actively seek freedom from work for someone else, fighting against the Machine and raise my chidren to be aware, alert and ambitious.

  2. I don’t know how I missed this Mel. But I’m glad you dug the blog. You’re right, it takes courage to go inside and be honest with yourself about how you show up. It’s hard for me as well, but what’s the alternative? To lie to myself? To keep putting myself in fucked up situations and having to pick up the pieces when things go to shit? I can’t live like that.

    And that’s how I know you are real, because we can go there and still be friends, we’ve gone there many times and we are still connected. We will let one another know how we feel no matter how tough it may be. You are truly one of the realest friends I’ve ever had and I love you just the way you are!

  3. Why thank you, dont ever change sweetheart!

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