Once upon a time there was a victim. Terrible things had been done to her body, mind, and heart. She hid her real self behind layers of body fat, for protection, and kept herself numb with workaholism, drugs, and alcohol.
She no longer felt her pain but she also no longer felt her joy.
Then, something beautiful happened. She woke up one morning and asked herself whether there was something wrong with her life. She asked the crucial questions, "Is there something wrong with smoking pot all day long, with getting drunk whenever I drink? Is there something wrong with having random sex with so many partners?" She wondered whether her life could be different...better, somehow.... But she couldn't imagine how.
How many of you have a story like this? How many of you haven't yet reached the "crucial questions" chapter in your story? How many of you are ready to write that one?
"Victim" is a story of life that many of us have carried, either for a short while or for decades. The most important thing to know about being a vicitim is that it IS a story you tell yourself about past traumas or hurts. You may not believe me now, but there are other stories to tell yourself. That's what recovery from childhood or young adult wounds is really all about -- changing our stories.
Whether your trauma and pain were suffered in your body, your mind, or your spirit/heart, this is true. You are the only who who can transform that pain and victimhood. You are the only one who can rewrite your story. Help is helpful -- therapists, EMDR, anti-depressants, metaphysical healing, faith community -- all these types of help and many others may be helpful to you. Try anything you think will help and you can afford, and stretch yourself to afford more than you think you can. Do all that.
And...in the end, it's all about you rewriting that victim story.
No victim likes hearing this. When my therapist first asked me if I wanted to be a vicim forever, I was deeply wounded. I felt betrayed for a minute, abandoned for a minute more...and then I answered, "No. I don't. What's the alternative?"
To be a victim is to suffer, to be deceived and cheated, and to be sacrificed -- that's what Dictionary.com says. To stop suffering, to stop sacrificing our real selves to the deceits and cheats of the past, we must let go of that label. We must become a person who refuses to be sacrificed, and become one who "continues to function or prosper in spite of" our pasts. We must, at least, become survivors.
Telling ourselves stories of survival is a great leap forward from telling ourselves stories of victimhood. Even better, we can tell ourselves stories of thriving. We can narrate how we prosper; are fortunate or successful. We can tell the story of how we grow or develop vigorously; how we flourish.
These shifts -- as fantastical as they may appear to you -- are within your grasp. For sure, your wounds are different from mine. Your coping mechanisms may be similar, or very different. Maybe you're less into drugs, alcholol, overeating, and overworking, but prefer: controlling, hermiting, over-excercising, under-eating, compulsive shopping or gambling, hoarding.... We are all very creative with our coping mechanisms. But if they interfere with thriving, it's time to boot them!
The first step is asking the crucial questions: Could it be that some of the ways I live my life are just ways of "getting by" as a victim of my past? Can my life be better than this?
At the root of these crucial questions are three others that are more fundamental: Am I truly happy with my life? and Do I think I could be happier? and Do I want to be? If your answers, respectively, are no, yes, and yes, then it's time to change your story. It's time to become your Self-governed, Ego-aware, Leading, and Free S.E.L.F.
My first book, Just Be Your S.E.L.F. -- Your Guide to Improving Any Relationship, can help you on your journey from victim to survivor to thriver. Check it out!