The victim is dead.
Here lies the body of victim Twinkletoes – she died feeling sorry for herself for her lack of decent parents, for the all-consuming feeling of being constantly rejected by the people that “should” love her but constantly demonstrated that they did not. She died never feeling like she was deserving of love. She died feeling unlovable. She died having only half-lived her life.
The survivor is born.
Let me introduce to you the newly born survivor Twinkletoes. She is born with an understanding of her own self-worth, with self-respect and with the understanding that other peoples’ perception of her, is not her truth. Newly born survivor Twinkletoes does not think about the things that happen in life as unfair, does not think that the world owes her anything and does not feel small, powerless or defenceless. Survivor Twinkletoes is not a child, but a powerful, independent, strong woman.
Now that the introductions are over, normal service shall commence.
Hi guys. I haven’t gone mad I promise, although something has happened. Since my last blog yesterday which sounded very strong-willed, I went back downhill slightly and started to feel a bit of a victim again. I went off to my session feeling rather pleased to be having a session. I think looking back I was hoping to go in and have T tell me what to do, what to say and what I needed to do to make things better but obviously that didn’t happen.
I ranted, vented, moaned whatever you want to call it, I exhausted myself. T sat with me. She “heard” me, she understood and she validated but she didn’t tell me what to do to magically fix it which was a shame really… however we were (or rather I was) chatting away about it all and I said that it felt as though my mother and my father were both standing behind glass. I can see them but I can’t “get to them” and T said “and they probably can’t hear you either if they are behind glass” and I agreed. I said to T that when I was a child and visited my Dad for the day, he would always ask me at some point in the afternoon (awkwardly) what time I wanted to go home. I never knew the answer to this and it always made me feel very uncomfortable. I told T that I never knew the “right” answer so I would always say very timidly that I didn’t mind, it was up to him.. whenever. He used to get a bit annoyed because he clearly wanted me to decide but I was a child. Sometimes he would say things like “well do you want to stay for dinner or not?” and I wouldn’t know whether he wanted me to say yes or whether saying yes was putting him out and so I would say the same thing, I don’t mind – it’s up to you”. I gave a few examples of these silly scenarios and T said that even when I was a child he put it all on me to decide. He couldn’t ever be the adult, the father and just make a decision and tell me what we were doing. I said that was true and that also I was always so worried about saying or doing the wrong thing and pushing him away that I was always playing the good girl. I said to T:
“Neither of them can handle my feelings. Neither of them can validate how I feel. Neither can take themselves out of the picture for even a moment and try to see where I am coming from. Neither of them can apologise when they are wrong or have hurt me, intentionally or not”.
T nodded her head and smiled at me as if to say “Finally you understand”… it was as though I had finally understood something that she had known all along. It’s one of them moments in therapy where you say something out loud that you just know is very significant and something that you thought you “knew” but only intellectually knew – and now you really knew it like on some deep level.
T then said that no, they couldn’t handle my feelings and that they couldn’t handle their own either. My dad buries his head in the sand and hopes it will all go away and my mother projects her stuff onto other people and is obviously so narcissistic that her grandiose sense of self doesn’t enable her to even consider she might be in the wrong.
I suddenly realised this was true and I suddenly understood the impact this has had on me, on my life so far. I think about them, their feelings and their responses before my own. I am too scared to be honest, I am too scared to say how I feel – I don’t even KNOW how I feel because I lost touch with my feelings a long time ago – if I ever learnt how to feel them in the first place?!
And then I thought “I’ve tried to be a good girl for 29 years now and it hasn’t worked – I am still chasing their love and approval and I haven’t got it so fu*k them! No more”.
I left T’s and went home where I did some housework and watched a few episodes of a series I like, a few hours later as I was hanging up some washing I thought to myself “ooh I haven’t thought about this for all that time, ha!” I was surprised because until this point, this stuff has been consuming me constantly. Not even seconds went by without me thinking about it all. I thought to myself that this was a good sign but wasn’t sure how it had happened. I thought it must just be the power of T.
But today I think I understand that it is actually the power of that realisation. It’s the effect of finally really “getting” something. Understanding something, being validated – heard and seen and, dare I say it… maybe even that belief that it really isn’t my fault. Like, really, it really, honestly, truly and genuinely isn’t (something I’ve heard a gazillion times before and rolled my eyes at because I thought it was just a pleasantry. You know, something you say to cheer someone up or whatever).
I then spent some time Googling (the font of all knowledge!) about “victim mentality” and “how to stop playing the victim” because I decided that I am fed up of feeling weak and powerless and childish. Yes I am hurt, yes I am angry – very at the moment, but I refuse to spend the rest of my life only half living. What a waste that would be.
Here is what I learnt so far:
- People like to feel like the victim because it basically brands them “the goody” and the other person “the baddy”. So I guess you get some sort of approval from that – in my case, approval is clearly something I want so it’s better than nothing right?
- If you are a victim, its safe. You don’t need to risk anything or do anything – you can just sit around in your familiar “victim” status.
- You don’t have to take responsibility because life is happening TO you;
- “Many people think they are entitled to good treatment. The truth is that they are neither entitled nor not entitled to it. The significant issues are what is going on and how do they feel about it. This woman would have been better off actively facing the facts of the situation and acknowledging her emotional reactions rather than personally judging it and feeling victimized by it”; and
- “Maintaining a child victim role leads to chronic passivity. Victimized feelings are very often appropriate to the child’s situation. Children are without power, are helpless and are at the mercy of their parents. Later as an adult, things happen that are sometimes beyond your control and understanding. However, the adult who is still playing the child victim role responds like the deer that sees a mountain lion approaching and instead of fleeing the danger becomes paralyzed. This person just keeps noticing over and over that the situation is unreasonable, unfair or threatening but doesn’t make the appropriate adaptive responses. In the case of the woman mentioned above, the tip off to the fact that she really preferred the child victim role was that she never made any substantial attempt to change her circumstances. Like so many of us, she would rather feel justified in complaining endlessly about her unfortunate circumstances while passively registering her dissatisfaction than actively changing her situation”.
So, I have made the decision to go to this party tomorrow where my dad, stepmum and brothers will be. I will go there and be strong and adult. I will not get caught up in any conversations about unfairness or rejection or disappointment because I will not waste my pearls (T’s phrase). I am going to the party because I WANT to go to it, rightly or wrongly. I know I will only feel more upset if I don’t go and so why bring that upon myself on purpose?
The plan currently is this: Change my thinking from victim, to survivor. Change my mentality from defenseless child, to in charge adult. Try and accept that my father is unable to give me what I would like and try to just accept what he can offer and if I decide at some stage that isn’t enough – well then perhaps I will have to make the tough decision to stop being the one to keep the contact.. we will see.
I accept that I may slip in and out of this mindset. It may feel easy today and impossible next week but I will hang in there.