Life has so much to offer. It’s hard to say No to anything—I want to do it all! Chemo fatigue, however, can be instant and debilitating. Living with it has forced me to constantly prioritize where I put my energy. I can do something for an hour or two and then I need a rest. If I allow myself a whole day of activities, I know I will spend the next day laying around in a zombie-coma. A weekend trip requires a whole week of recovery. Choosing one thing makes me not choose many others.

A lot of the things I have had to say No to involve helping out. As a former nurse, this seems especially cruel—I used to be a need-filling machine, always saying Yes to anything someone asked. Saying No now has forced me to examine my behavior. Looking at this whole area of my life, it became obvious that I set myself up for a lot of “rescue” behaviors. I started calling it Hero Status. It’s the role I place myself in. I have called it Making A Difference over the years, as if that puts it on a higher spiritual plane. But how much of it is actually feeding my ego, how I need to see myself in the world in order to justify my existence?

I was meditating on this when I saw the bigger picture: The Hero is one point in a triangle of roles that work together—the Victim, the Perpetrator, and the Hero. No one wants to be the Victim, and it is also distasteful to think of oneself as the Perp. That leaves the Hero, the one who is going to save the day and rescue the Victim from the Perp.

Of course, the roles are not so separate. No one is really just one of those things. I wish I’d never done anything that hurt someone else, or myself, but I have. And I’m human, so it’s guaranteed I will in the future. I sure don’t want feel like a victim, but there will always be the bad choices of other people to deal with. If I set myself up as a hero, I fool myself into believing I don’t have to be the other two things. But being the hero helps to create and perpetuate the triangle. It shoves people into the other two roles that I have rejected.

The solution is to step back and realize that I am all three things. Not only that, but everybody is all three of those things. We are all victims and perpetrators and heroes. We are all of these, and more. If I take one more step back, I see that these are all part of the human condition, of being a physical manifestation on a planet full of other physical beings. I still need to take responsibility for my actions when I hurt others, but maybe I don’t have to take it so personally when someone hurts me. And I want to help others, as long as I am not hurting myself while I do it.