I just finished reading a beautiful post by Jodi Chapman titled A Game I Never Want to Win where she talks about “The Suffering Game” people play. I am sure you all know this game. It’s a one-upmanship game and the goal is to be the one who has suffered the most. Here are the examples that Jodi gave. Maybe you will recognize this in yourself or others around you.
Someone asks us how we’re doing. And we reply, “Oh, I’m honestly not that great. I haven’t felt very well this week, and I’m thinking of going to the doctor.”
They respond: “Me, too! I haven’t felt healthy in ages, and after going from doctor to doctor, I feel that I’ll never feel well again.”
Or maybe someone asks you how work is going. And you reply that you are feeling overworked and could really use a break since you hadn’t had a day off in a month. To which they respond, “Tell me about it! I haven’t had a vacation in years, and even if I did I would be so busy taking care of everyone else that I wouldn’t get to rest anyway.”
Or maybe someone asks you about your kids, and you tell them that they are okay for the most part – although your daughter is starting to rebel a bit lately. And they respond, “That’s nothing! My son has been rebelling for years, and I just know that he’s going to turn into a criminal one of these days.”
I don’t know if people do this to try to relate or if they just really do want to be the “biggest sufferer,” but I have to agree with Jodi, this isn’t the kind of game I want to play either. I do have a friend who delights in this kind of game. Not only does she want to be the Queen of All Sufferers, but she also wants others to suffer as well. She gets a sick sense of joy out of revenge, kicking people when they are down, and stirring the pot that is already boiling over. She likes to capitalize on your pain, your troubles, your worries. She enjoys taking pot-shots at people. And her favorite is to pick, pick, pick… especially if she knows that you are sick or just not feeling too well. She says that is the best time to pick at someone because their defenses are down and they can’t come back at her with a witty remark. She will come up with a scheme of how to hurt someone and then ask me if I want to join her. When I tell her things like “No, I get no joy out of hurting someone or seeing them suffer,” she laughs and says, “Oh, but I do!” She really is quite sinister sometimes.
Sometimes I ask myself why I am still friends with this woman. My usual response is that I’ve known her for 36 years and she is like a bad habit I cannot shake. And other times, I think I remain her friend hoping that some of my love and compassion will wear off on her.
Like Jodi says in her article, and I wholeheartedly agree, we should be striving to spread happiness and joy, to lift one another up, to show compassion to those who are suffering. She calls this “The Feel Good Game” and it is definitely one I would much rather be playing.
How about you, dear readers? Which game do you play? Which game would you rather be playing? Know someone who plays “The Suffering Game” and want to talk about it? Share your thoughts with me in comments.