I have a no-longer friend who is a constant victim. Their helplessness makes me angry. I know it shouldn’t, but I’ve been on the receiving end of their agression for many years and was never able to sort it out properly until now.

I was chatting about this to one of my other friends, saying that I feel helpless and can’t help them. In fact, my attempts at interaction make me lose my temper and make things worse. I know, adults should be able to keep control of their tempers, but I didn’t manage to on this occasion.

He said a very telling thing: if you feel like a victim then you are a victim. This was a very penetrating thought. It isn’t anything to do with your environment, your victimhood penetrates everything you think and are. If you think everyone hates you then they will, and your mind will create the colours of their hatred.

This reminded me of what the one of my teachers talked about when I studied English Literature a long long time ago: the pathetic fallacy. In essence in Romantic literature as the hero dies the sun sets. It’s more obvious in paintings but is there in written literature as well.

The person I am talking about lives in a world totally dominated by this fallacy. I used to think like this a bit, I would see motivations that weren’t there in other people’s behaviour – in fact most people do not care what you say or do as long as you let them be. The inconsiderate behaviour of others isn’t a conspiracy; they’re just inconsiderate and selfish – neither of which is a crime or particularly premeditated. If you talk gently to most people and say you aren’t happy about something they will listen, and probably be a little surprised, usually their reasons are very good and you realise you were being a little silly. If you start from a position that they are out to get you and act in a dumb, agressive, hostile fashion they will not listen because your behavior cues their defenses and they will be out to get you.

But how do you tell someone this when you are one of their enemies, if not the most hateful of all?

I can’t, and of course the feelings and the pain are real. I can’t do anything about it, either, because I just lose it and add to the burden they think they are carrying.

I suppose I have learned something valuable, even if it does make me feel sad.