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Invisible Blame

“I’ve waited long enough!”

“No one should have to be this patient!”

“Why does this world always do this to me?”

“I never have any luck!”

“I don’t see other people having these problems. Why do I?”

Do any of the above sound familiar? A friend? A family member? Maybe a sibling or even a spouse? Perhaps a fellow employee or someone you engage at the store--a clerk? Cashier? Teller?

When the going gets tough, do you know who's to blame?

At one time or another, we’ve all been witness to fed-up, aggravated people throwing their hands up and expressing their frustration with life by blaming what I call “the elusive, invisible man.”

This “man” takes many forms in our mind. We may be referring to God or the Holy Spirit that moves here on Earth.

We may be blaming people from our past--like ex-husbands or wives who betrayed our marriages and made us unable to trust again.

We may be waging a personal war against a parent who left when we were young or a parent who did a poor job of raising us.

It may be a variety of people in our past. But whoever it may be, it becomes the personification of that which we curse when times are bad or things are relentlessly challenging.

We look to the skies and raise our fist. We smile the mocking grin and say, “Are you happy now?” As if Mother Nature herself put together a plan to make your particular life challenging and difficult.

The moment gets tough, and we shrug and say to our friend: “See? This is my life. Things never go right for me…”

Bob is a frustrated 35-year-old salesman. He sells auto parts. He got a business degree in college where he earned average grades. His parents had saved since he was born to put him through college and insure his future.

He was grateful and is respectful of them, but he also moved back home after college and lived with them for more than 10 years. He only recently got his own place; an efficiency apartment.

He got the auto parts sales job in his first year out of college, and once they gave him a company car and an expense account, he had a pretty free-wheeling time. Without having to pay rent or finance a car, all of his money was his to blow.

When business took him out of town for a few days, he could pay for the hotel out of pocket for an extra day or two and turn a Thursday business trip into a long weekend. He made friends and had acquaintances all over the country.

When he got home, he dumped his laundry in the basement, sat down to one of his mom’s good meals, and slept on the couch in front of the TV until Monday.

When management options came available, he readily turned them down because that would have put an end to his fun. Who wanted to get so serious so young?

But now he’s been with this company 13 years. Like his college grades, his numbers are average--not great, but not bad. Good enough to keep him employed.

But recently, a new territory opened up and his zone manager assigned it to one of the new kids--a 23-year-old who seems a bit more bushy-tailed than Bob.

As Bob rises on this particular Sunday morning and gazes at his aging face in the mirror, there’s a knock on the door. It’s the landlord. Bob is late with the rent and must give him at least $400 by Monday.

Bob closes the door and begins to dress to go to his parents’ house. He’s going to have to borrow the money from Mom again.

He looks in the mirror again as he puts on his coat.

“Why does this world always do this to me?”

“I never have any luck!”

“I don’t see other people having these problems. Why do I?”

Tamara is a single mom. Her son, Max, is the apple of her eye. His pictures adorn her cubicle. He is “her little man.” All the girls at the office fuss over him when Tamara brings him around.

Tamara gets a lot of help from her parents. She’d become pregnant with Max in the summer after her senior year of high school, and she’d elected to put college off until the baby was born.

Funny thing was Max’s father sort of moved on and the job of raising a child was left to Tamara, who had no income and was of course living with her parents. She asked if she could live at home until “she got on her feet” and her parents complied.

While her mom watched Max, Tamara started classes at the community college, but wasn’t really that interested in any subject in particular. After a year of that, she quit and told her parents she needed to get a job to take care of her responsibilities.

With no real marketable skills, it took her six months to find that job, and it was merely data entry work; part time, no benefits, hardly enough to “take care of her responsibilities.”

But hey--at least she was working, right? Better than hanging out on the couch all day as she had been for the last six months. And anyway, Max would be five next year, and when he was off at school, things would be easier for everyone and maybe then she could go back to college to get a better job.

But for now this is good enough, and Tamara loves to go out with the girls from this job, they are so fun and they really understand her. As Tamara checks her make up before she and her friends head off to their favorite Friday restaurant, her father is on the other side of town withdrawing money from his savings account.

This money was going to be for the cruise he and his wife had been looking forward to, but Max was growing and needed clothes and the cost of his special asthma medicine was high, too, since Tamara did not have a health plan and the public assistance she got had some limitations.

As 7 p.m. rolls around, Tamara glances at her watch and rolls her eyes. “I gotta go,” she tells her friends. They protest and tell her to just call her mom and have her put Max to bed for her.

Tamara shakes her head: “No, no--I don’t want to get another lecture for blowing off MY kid. This is my life; see y’all Monday.”

She climbs in her car and starts the engine. Her dad filled the tank last night, but she never even looks at the gas; she just assumes it will be full. She adjusts the rear view mirror and looks herself in the eye.

A moment of truth? Of self-actualization? No.

She merely says:

“Why does this world always do this to me?”

“I never have any luck!”

“I don’t see other people having these problems. Why do I?”

See, folks, we should only believe in one invisible man; the same one we’ve been praying to since we were old enough to speak. That doesn’t make us extra virtuous or anything; it simply ensures that when our troubles test us and form our lives and relationships, we don’t suffer the misconception that there is something that is “due” to us simply because we were born.

The favors that others contribute, like parents, can create the illusion that only good things should come our way and any time we have trouble, someone should run interference and make it all better.

Fact is, we need to make our own lives better.

Fact is, it is usually only us who make our lives worse.

“Why does this world always do this to me?”

It doesn’t. You are simply unprepared when things go badly. Things happen to everyone--not just you.

“I never have any luck!”

Actually, you’ve had quite a bit of it so far. How about preparing for the worst once in awhile so you’re not so surprised next time “the luck” doesn’t tumble your way.

“I don’t see other people having these problems. Why do I?”

How about you figure that one out on your own.

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at rdc@clevelandmetroparks.com.

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