By Ox Drover
Donna’s great article about Victory, of a sort, over a sociopath the other day got me to thinking.
Just what is “victory?”
My wonderful stepfather was a young basketball coach when he got his first real job coaching for a very small rural school which had not had a winning game in over a decade. The team was dispirited and had no real expectation of ever winning a game.
One of the local coaches bragged that he would beat them “by a hundred points!” at the next game. The team thought there was a good possibility that that coach’s team could do just that. However, it is “good sportsmanship” for a coach playing a much weaker team to let their second, third, and fourth strings get a chance to play, and to win over the weaker team, but not “tromp” them.
Daddy thought this other coach’s brag to stomp and tromp his team was poor sportsmanship so he made a plan. When the fourth quarter started and Daddy’s team had the ball, they “froze” it (which was legal in the game then) and wouldn’t either shoot the ball or take a chance on losing it, so passed the ball from one of Daddy’s team members to another the entire quarter. They didn’t make any points, but they kept the other team from even getting their hands on the ball the entire quarter, and thus making points against them. Daddy’s team didn’t win, but the other coach didn’t win by his “hundred points” either. That little team went on the next year to win their division championship because of the confidence that Daddy inspired in them.
Sometimes “winning” or “victory” can be interpreted in different ways. I’m also reminded of the old Country and Western song, the “Winner” where an older man and a younger man are in a bar talking. The younger man wants to be a “winner” in bar fight brawls, and the older man is educating him on what is “winning” and what isn’t.
Sure, you can get into a fight and you may inflict more damage on your opponent than he inflicts on you in the fight, but like the old man said, “He gouged out my eye, but I won.” Sometimes it is better to walk away from a fight and not lose more than you have already lost, or allow your opponent to take another “pound of flesh” in your attempts to “get justice.”
It isn’t always about getting what you deserve, or victory over them, or even seeing that they get “what they so richly deserve,” sometimes, I think, “winning” simply means keeping them from taking more out of you and, like Daddy’s team, “freezing the ball.” Sometimes, it is like the would-be barroom brawler, walking away (intact) with the other guy yelling curses in your direction.
It is emotionally tough to watch a cheater “get away with it” when they have ripped us off, and go “waltzing away” unscathed and apparently the victor. It eats at our sense of fairness to let them “succeed” and not pay a price for their bad behavior.
Yet, sometimes, “discretion is the better part of valor” to use an old phrase, or to “be a live dog, rather than a dead lion,” and “retreat and live to fight another day.”
Those victims who are not able to fight for a “victory” of any sort, I don’t think need to feel that they have “failed” because they chose not to fight the sociopath.
Too many times fighting the psychopaths are like “fighting a circular saw,” as my grandmother would have said. It “just isn’t worth it,” because the damage to yourself will be worse than you can possibly inflict on the psychopath. They stack the odds so in their own favor, that even if you “win,” you end up like the old brawler sitting in the barroom, broken and so gravely injured yourself in your effort to gain a “victory, of sorts” that in retrospect the price was too high.
Sometimes, it is better to walk away a “loser” but still intact, and with your head held high, using the energy and resources you have left to focus on healing yourself, on recovering what you have lost in terms of finances and strength, and take care of yourself. To me that is also a “viable victory.”