Bad things can happen to anyone: rape, abuse, a loved one being murdered, a child being taken, going through hard times, ending up on the street, being betrayed by someone… whatever. Very few escape Fate’s axe.
Does it help if someone feels sorry for what you went through after you already found the way to deal with it – most likely by turning the most troubling feelings about it OFF?
No. If you tell them you’re sorry for them then, they’ll likely feel obligated to turn their bad feelings back on: fear, grief, anger, self blame, helplessness… especially that last. So just don’t. Leave well enough alone.
If you feel for them, the best thing to do is try preventing what happened to them from happening to anyone else, including yourself. Help when you can help. Don’t be sorry later that you didn’t. That would be so lame.
If you’re the person the bad thing happened to, then stop and access it as carefully as you can. The best two ways I know of is either to talk it over as objectively as possible with someone you trust that will listen but refrain from the “Oh I’m so sorry!”
If you can’t find such a person, then just write it out. Write out every detail you can remember. Write circles around those details you can’t remember so clearly… or ask people. Sooner or later you may remember all it. Don’t be afraid of doing this. It may hurt a bit, but consider it the autopsy of a problem.
You want to know what, if anything, you could have done differently. If in doing so, you can see that you’re clearly not to blame, then you can at least stop blaming yourself and start looking at circumstances.
It can take some effort to alter circumstances. It might be a simple matter of a dangerous criminal having been released back into society or drunk drivers insufficiently restrained from driving. Not your fault but you could do something about preventing it’s happening in the future, by warning, by education, by law, or by vigilanteeism if need be… whichever action proves most expedient.
Heck, if it’s a stalker and you can’t get a restraining order on him, then do one better: stalk him… scare him off. Don’t wait to be hunted down. Turn the tables. Hunters hate it when the prey charges them instead of ignoring or running from them. Think it about it.
I wish a certain friend of mine had done so. She broke up with a guy she’d been dating because he showed anger management problems he refused to acknowledge but that scared the hell out of her. He couldn’t stand the idea that, not being with him anymore, she might be with someone else, so he stalked her. She tried the restraining order route as well as moving various times but that didn’t save her. The guy pulled up when she was having a yardsale with her kids one day and he shot her in front of them. Now they don’t have a mother.
If she’d turned the tables on the guy, I strongly suspect that wouldn’t have happened. But then I’m someone who can’t stand to live in fear of something or someone if there’s anything I can do about it. I’m very confrontational that way and can think of at least 3 different ocassions where it saved my life. Running gives fear power. Charging it gives YOU the power.
When the father of a 5-year-old boy who was kidnapped, sodomized, murdered, and cannibolized says he will kill the man who did it if he ever gets out of prison, I’m right there with him. He should do that. It won’t bring his son back. He knows that. What it will do is make it that much less likely for the same crime to be perpetrated on someone else’s child. If the so called “justice” system EVER releases someone that dangerous back on society, then society needs to turn vigilanty in its own self defense.
My own opinion is that we shouldn’t even be supporting such scum as rapists, murderers, cannibals, or torturers in prison. The minute they are proven guilty, they should be executed. We shouldn’t have to keep worrying about them. This isn’t about vendettas or the value of forgiveness. It’s about all of being able to feel safe again. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for.
On the other hand, if you can look at all that happened to you and see most of the problem as a result of your own stupid decisions or naievty in trusting the wrong person, whatever, then you need to train yourself not to do it again. Better yet, you need to warn other people about the mistakes you made and why so they don’t go doing the same thing or worse. That’s the beauty of blogging and forumming online if you can’t manage to get a best selling book published: your personal experiences can serve to guide a lot of people out of harm’s way.
Don’t mope. Don’t be silent. Don’t whine. Don’t spend too much time in mourning. Don’t say you’re sorry when you could have helped but didn’t. Don’t wallow in helplessness. Just do what needs to be done.