Archive for victim mentality
We are conditioned not to talk about family secrets. I was taught in so many ways that ‘some things are not talked about’ and I was so afraid of the consequences of bringing shame on my family that I ignored the solution to overcoming the mental health issues that I had. Rejection from my family when I was a little child would have meant death. I believed as an adult that it STILL meant death. I had to overcome that fear.
Even when the family members are dead, the victims of dysfunctional family situations are very often STILL just as afraid to reveal the family secrets, which is very telling about just how deep this fear goes when it comes to the belief system.
People told me that they didn’t have a choice about keeping the secrets even when they became adults. I agreed with them because not taking my choice about telling enabled me to have an excuse to not have to do the work that it took to take my life back. I had to look more closely at what it meant for me to believe that I didn’t have a choice. I had to see that it wasn’t that I DIDN’T have a choice as much as it was just that I didn’t KNOW I had a choice.
This belief that I could not, must not tell was rooted in victim mentality and I had to keep in mind that this “victim mentality” is how I survived a childhood of abuse and emotional neglect. Victim mentality was my friend when I was a kid. It saved me. It was hard to understand that victim mentality was not my friend anymore. My mind warned me constantly NOT to see things differently, believing with all my heart that the only way to survive this life was to operate in that same child mindset that kept me Read More→
Sometimes facing the pain seemed so overwhelming that I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to face what I had to face in order to get on with my life. I didn’t want to feel anything. I had survived by shutting down my feelings and by shutting down my needs. I didn’t want to feel or be aware; it was much too frightening.
This was the spin; the vicious cycle.
But I must have wanted to live. There was a tiny spark in me that didn’t go out. There was a tiny flame that belonged to me and a determined little flame it was. That spark was determined to live. The “how to go about doing that” was the problem. I wanted to be free but there were certain chains that had to be broken. Certain things held me back and because those chains formed when I was so young, I didn’t realize they were even there. They were familiar; they were part of me. I thought they helped me, and even thought they were “saving me”. I was afraid to break them and emerge into the sunlight. That was the spin that I was caught in. I had lived in “survivor mode” for so long that it was all I knew.
Survivor mode is the shut down place; not feeling, not needing, not facing the truth. Survivor mode is the only way to get through any kind of childhood trauma. But as an adult it was in my way. It became one of the road blocks to freedom.
Victim mentality believes that being compliant will keep me safe. Being compliant means Read More→
“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost” Anonymous
I came across this quote the other day and it caused a multitude of flashbacks to rush through my brain all at once. At first glance I thought “yes” this is true, but very quickly my mind was filled with all my old fears; I learned to FEAR losing love and at the same time realizing that this was not the way that I was loved at all. It was communicated to me that it didn’t matter if I was lost or if I was never to be seen again and I lived with the fear that I might find that out to be the truth.
As I got older and sought love from outside my dysfunctional family, I believed that it was how much the object of my desire proved his need for me, his longing for me, his fear of losing me, that PROVED his love for me. This was how I had been taught love. And most of my boyfriends sought to possess me more than to love me.
Today I am thankful that I came out of the fog of victim mentality. I am grateful that I don’t live in the dysfunction that was my entire life for so many years. In honor of the American Thanksgiving, I am posting a story of a not so great family holiday incident which took place during the process of “emerging from broken;”
Several years ago now, when my husband Jimmy and I were going through the process of repairing the damage done in our marriage (which was after I had gone through my process of emerging from broken), we started to see the dysfunction in our relationships with our parents and extended family.
When we embrace ourselves as valid and worthy people, there are bound to be changes that take place within the family dynamic. Our families were no exception. Busting through the fog is not something that happens overnight, but as we started to stand up for our individual rights, over time we began to notice that Jim’s father was fighting back quite a bit.
The problems started to become more obvious to us when “grandpa” (Jimmy’s father) wanted our daughter to help him put a new roof on a shop, but he made it clear that he would pay her at the end of the job, and he would pay her what he thought that she was worth. As I said, Jim and I were coming out of the “fog” but we knew what his father’s idea of “what she was worth” was. It would end up being pretty much nothing. He kept bringing it up, this business of not paying her until later until finally I asked him for clarification. He got mad. Eventually he asked what minimum wage was, and when we told him he got upset and said that he had more time than money. Our daughter didn’t get asked to help with the roof again. The thing is that she would have done it just because but HE kept bringing up this whole money thing as though he would DECIDE her worth, and it was really De-Valuing to our daughter. Jim was having memories and realizations of his own about the lack of value his father had constantly put on him.
Then came the day when his parents demanded Jimmy help them with something when he was in the middle of some important farm work of his own. He finally said that he couldn’t do it because he had to get back to his own work, and his father was stunned… How dare he put his OWN work first? The truth is that Jimmy had never put his own work first before. AND he was constantly reminded by his father of how inefficient that he was as a worker, and that was a spin he lived in all his life ~ finally Jim said no to something his father wanted and things started to get tense.
It was because of the whole one sidedness of the relationship that we really began to realize that Jim’s father never once regarded anything that Jim (or I ) did as important. That he was only interested in his own agenda. We were in our forties with three children of our own but we were being controlled by his parents.
Then came the Christmas Eve that his parents came over to tell us off and attempt to put us back in our places. They tried to make us submit to them, to bow down to them as we had always done in the past. In front of our children, they reprimanded us, told Jim that his business was a disaster, that he had made a mess of things and that it was my fault because I was a bully who had dictated how the farm should be run and had been allowed to make all the financial and business decisions even though in reality, nothing was a mess at all, and the reason we were in marriage counseling was because I was not ever included in any of the decisions about the business OR about how we spent money.
We were really stunned and at some point during this lecture from Jim’s father, we fell back under the spell of his control and abuse. We got told off. I was stunned realizing that something really bad just happened although I wasn’t really sure what the heck it was. Even though we tried to put up a fight and stand up for ourselves, the fog surrounded us again.
And then his father was happy again. He got his authority back because we submitted to him. His order was restored. He was in charge again, he was on the throne. And we all went into the living room and opened Christmas presents. I felt like I was dreaming. It all seemed so horribly wrong and yet it was so familiar. I watched my husband relax as though the whole world was restored back to order. And in so many ways, it was. Familiar, safe, comfortable; according to the way that we live under the reign of an abuser Jim was safe, as long as his father was not upset with him. It was as though Jimmy believed that his father could still decide whether or not Jimmy lived or died.
After all the present opening and gift giving was done, and everyone was” oh so happy” we revisited the plans for the Christmas family get together (which had been planned but had never been confirmed because Jim and I were not being compliant) and we were told “No” they were going home. They informed us that they were going to let us “think” about what they said to us and then they left. It took us a few hours to realize that we had just been punished, but it didn’t take us long to realize that this is the way that it had always been. We started to remember all the other punishments. We had to do exactly what Jim’s Dad wanted, we had to submit to his authority, we had to be who he wanted us to be and do things the way he said we should or we would pay the consequences.
No equality or equal value, no respect. His definition of love (obedience and compliance) did not apply to him. It was all about power and control. His control.
And we were great victims; we were always compliant and even PERFECT victims
but when we said no more……
They said goodbye.
But that was their loss. You may think that this story doesn’t have a happy ending, but think about it. What did we lose? What did we gain? We don’t have to live in that nightmare anymore.
Today I am grateful and extremely thankful for the fact that no one dictates what I do and don’t do. No one tells me who I am or who I should be. I am grateful for my freedom and wholeness, emotional recocery and for the fact that I no longer struggle with depression or dissociative identity disorder. I am grateful that we live in the truth. I am grateful that my husband wants to live in the truth with me, and that in our marriage I have equal value, respect and our children know the real definition of love. I am grateful that I got my life and my voice back. I am grateful that I got my identity back and that the fog is gone. I am grateful for each one of you.
Happy Thanksgiving! Please feel free to share.
With love and gratitude ~
Darlene Ouimet with thanks to my husband Jimmy B for contribution to this post.
Related post; The beginning of Emotional Recovery
When I decided to tell the Chris Story ~ the story about how Prince Charming was a Murder Suspect, I intended to write one post. I intended to keep the focus about my belief system, and highlight the fact that I missed and or ignored the red flags because of learned unworthiness issues resulting from child abuse and child sexual abuse and invalidation. That was the first post.
But the commenter’s and private e-mailers wanted more. They wanted to know what kinds of red flags exactly. I could see the benefit of sharing more of the details and highlighting the actual red flags, and for sharing a bit about my rational for disregarding the danger signs. So that was the second post.
As I write this post, I have not yet published the second post “Dangerous Men, Red Flags, Victim Mentality”. When I finished writing that post and did my final read on it, I felt stupid. I thought I was really lame for missing so many of those blatant red flags. And worse than that, the way that second post reads I didn’t really miss them; I just ignored them. I considered not publishing the post. I felt insecure. I felt “dumb”. I felt like no one else would have EVER been so stupid as to stay with that guy knowing everything that I knew. This is exactly the type of thinking that kept me in the cycle of abuse and in victim mindset, covering up for the things I think are MY fault instead of exposing HIM and telling my truth.
I questioned myself, “what the heck was wrong with me back then?? How could I have let that stuff go? How could I have gotten into that relationship and then left myself, in that situation? What was so great about “that guy” that I didn’t dump him? What the heck did I think was going to happen?
And I heard the thoughts behind the thoughts ~ “I didn’t think, I didn’t care, I didn’t know; he could have changed, he had been damaged and he needed me, what if I was wrong about him? What if he killed me if I tried to dump him? What if he was the best that I could ever do? What if I dumped him and found myself alone for the rest of my life……. Sometimes he was sweet, sometimes he was tender. He was charming. He looked like a movie star… he called me “baby”.
And the even deeper thoughts~ playing detective was exciting. It was a way of proving to myself that I really DID have a brain. Being afraid of him was thrilling. Getting away with knowing that he didn’t know that I knew…. (When danger has been a part of a sexual abuse history, sometimes danger is a turn on; danger is familiar. And in this particular story I find it interesting to note that I was NOT at all sexually attracted to this guy, so the thrill of danger had more to do with validation.)
Sometimes I tell myself that I am just making excuses for myself. (which also comes from upbringing) During that time with Chris I had dissociative identity disorder. Since I have recovered from DID, I look back and see it differently now then I used to. One of the things that I did that is common for anyone who dissociates, (not just dissociative identity with multiple personality) is that I “separated incidents”. I did not put all the incidents and red flag events concerning Chris, in my mind at the same time. In a way I put them through separate filters. I believed that each one was separate and had nothing to do with the other one. I disconnected each red flag from the prior red flag. Think of it this way; each event or red flag had its own sealed envelope. In my mind, none of the red flags were related. That was how I learned to cope with child sexual abuse. I broke off from myself, and left my body. And I learned an intricate system of coping; disconnecting and separating related events, too scary to look at, too scary to stop, too powerless to stand up for myself. That is how I learned to deal with life; by separating incidents and by disconnecting. And so ~ there I was, all grown up in a dangerous relationship with a dangerous man, disconnected and ignoring all the red flags.
(And it is by reconnecting first with myself and then with the events that I discounted and ignored and eventually blamed myself for, that I became whole again.)
The desire to make excuses for myself has its roots in the same belief system that I write about all the time. As a child I believed that I could change, and if I changed then I would be loved. So I felt insecure about telling the story because I grew up being told (Not always in words) that I was wrong; that I had a faulty memory and that I was the real problem. I was trained to keep the secret; don’t bring any shame on the family and I was told (not always in words) to find a way to cope with it myself. I was also pretty young when I believed if there was a problem that I caused it, made it up or exaggerated it or misunderstood it and I learned that the best coping method of all was to disconnect myself from it.
But I have learned that I am not the problem. I am not the one that made things up or twisted the truth around, (other than in my own mind in order to cope with it); I did not exaggerate, and if anything I diminish the stories; I do not have to keep any secrets; I am NOT wrong and there is nothing wrong with my memory. So I published that post. And I am publishing this one too!
Thanks to everyone who has shared these posts on facebook or other sites and to everyone who has participated in conversations here and on the Emerging from Broken facebook page.
Please feel free to add your thoughts, feelings and stories.
Keep striving to move forward!
This post is continued from the last post ~ Prince Charming was a Murder Suspect.
I remember the first time I met him. His name was Chris. I recall noticing that he was extremely good looking. I don’t remember exactly what we talked about, but I am sure it was a professional exchange. He had to sign in with me before he made his outside rounds for hospital security. I noticed he told me something that conflicted with something he had said in a prior conversation. (first RED FLAG covered with my own victim mentality) He said that he had never been married and then in a later conversation he said he was involved in a divorce. Instead of asking for clarification, I ignored it, telling myself that the misunderstanding was mine. That conflicting piece of information was delivered exactly at the same time that he started flirting with me. I was far more interested in him flirting with me than I was in recognizing the red flag. But he was a dangerous man.
We started dating and because he was in the middle of a divorce, he said the car was actually his ex wife’s car but they were sharing it. Long story short, he started to borrow my car. I suspected something was a bit odd because I had found the name tag part of my key chain (the part with MY name on it), on the floor under the seat of my car. (Next RED FLAG protected by my own victim mentality)I didn’t say anything to see what he would do. The next time he borrowed my car, the name tag was back on my key ring. I let it go. Why was he pretending it wasn’t my car? Perhaps my question should have been “why am I in a relationship with someone that I don’t trust?”
He told me that his fiancé had been killed in a car accident and he was grieving over her still. The problem was that he also told me that the police suspected foul play in the case of her death. I got a kind of cold shiver down my back when he told me that. (Another RED FLAG disguised by the grooming that I could not trust my intuition) I ignored it, just like I had always learned to do. I wondered how she really died and if HE had anything to do with it. Perhaps my question should have been “why am I in a relationship with someone I don’t trust and even consider might have had something to do with her death?”
He was only 23 years old. He had been engaged to someone who had died, and he had been married and was getting divorced. He told me a lot of other stories that made me question how much living this guy had possibly had time to do at such a young age. But I didn’t question him. The foundation my emotional maturity was built on victim mentality so I didn’t think of making sure or asking clarifying questions. And once again, I didn’t question myself about why I was in a relationship with a dangerous man that I didn’t trust.
As with other men that I had been in devaluing relationships with, I wanted proof that he really was playing me. I needed proof before I rejected someone because I had a lot of respect for rejection; I felt that I had been wrongfully rejected and I needed to make sure that I was not doing that to someone else. Victim mentality, (which had been taught to me by abusers, oppressors and controllers) taught me not to validate any warning signs. It taught me to always question myself first. It taught me that I must be the one that is wrong. And I also grew up with the completely wrong definition of love. I believed that HE needed me. I could not possible hurt his feelings with questions. I was confident that if I made him feel loved, he would change and I would no longer need to be suspicious of him.
I memorized a phone number I saw on his worksheet. It was listed as his home phone number. (He told me that he didn’t have a phone and finding out that he did should have been a red flag too.) That night, about 3:30 in the morning, my girlfriend at the hospital helped me stage a “person to person phone call” to that number. A woman answered and my girlfriend, playing the part of “the long distance operator” informed the woman that she had a person to person call for Chris. It was obvious that he was sleeping in the same bed with the woman who answered the phone. (Another RED FLAG) I was on a third line with the television on a snowy sounding station, and when he answered the phone; my girlfriend (the operator) confirmed that it was him and then apologized for the bad connection, explaining that she had “lost the caller”. (we hung up) I decided that I could not confront him because I had done something sneaky in order to catch him. (I didn’t consider that I had just caught him in bed with another woman; rather I was willing to see my own fault for faking a long distance phone call. My rational was that I could not accuse him of lying to me if I was also lying to him.)
I never told him that I knew about the other woman. He got suspicious and told me a story about how he was involved with an emotionally distraught stalker woman he was having trouble getting away from, but he assured me that it was over now. (More Red Flags) And I ignored it. (gag)
This crap went on and I ignored MANY more red flags, until he faked the death of his mother on the other side of the country, insisted that I go to the funeral with him, then explained that he couldn’t get flights to the province she was in but that we would have to drive about 12 hours from the airport that we could get to. Did I mention that he had tried to talk me into making him the beneficiary of my life insurance (he said If I really loved him I would) (RED FLAG) and that I had lied to him and told him that I did it? And still I didn’t say “I don’t believe you” but I found the number to his parents house and faked another operator assisted long distance phone call. She wasn’t dead.
I called the police. They ran his name and sent a squad car over. He was the prime murder suspect in the death of his fiancé. The case had never been solved. He certainly was in fact a dangerous man. The police were very concerned about me and I was placed into 24 hour protection. (I should have been concerned about me, but I wasn’t. I thought the whole thing was exciting. A real rush and a great story. All I could think about was the other boyfriend ~ the one that I loved so much except that he cheated on me ~ he didn’t seem so bad anymore and so I phoned him. Groan….)
Chris was a compulsive liar who had never been married nor had he ever been a cop and although he worked outside rounds for a major Security Company, he also didn’t have a driver’s license. Even they hadn’t checked him out. In order to bring him in for questioning the police arrested him for unpaid parking tickets. (that was the best they could do) They slapped a restraining order on him. While they were trying to catch him (he had to go to the fake funeral first) I got protected. (at least until one of the married police officers wanted to get cozy with me….. but that is another story)
Have you ever ignored a blatant red flag? Please feel free to share.
Knowing the real truth is what set me free;
A book I found that is very helpful and assisted me in believing in my intuition again as well as regaining the memories of many red flags I ignored over the years, is “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker.
Related post : Dating after Sexual Abuse; Is this Love?
When I accomplished something I was told in so many ways that it didn’t matter, it was no big deal, or the credit was given to someone else. This was a big part of my continuing depressions; that I was just so “nothing” and that I didn’t count. I was used to it. Although in some small ways I still fought to be validated, I gave up pretty easy. I was used to being “not important”.
On your journey to emotional recovery and wholeness, have you ever spent any length of time living with the validation that YOU WERE actually a victim? It was exploring this fact that changed things for me. This was the real beginning of emotional recovery. All my life I was squished; I was told that I was nothing and that I would amount to nothing. I was told this, not so much in words but in the way that I was disregarded, brushed aside, not heard and mistreated and by the way that I was taught false messages about love and by how I was defined by everyone else rather than accepted and encouraged to be ME.
I had to realize that I had become comfortable with wrong treatment. Being unimportant and always trying so hard to find someone to say that I was important as I had no way to validate myself (I had no frame of reference for that) I became comfortable with being discounted and unimportant.
I started to beat myself up; I started to reprimand myself about the things I did wrong, told myself to try harder, told myself that I was lazy. I took over invalidating myself. And there I sat. Stuck. Wanting someone to TELL me that I was worth loving, but never believing it if they did tell me. The big dark secrets of having been sexually abused and chronically depressed had long ceased to be anywhere near what I thought to be the real problem because I was still very young when I believed that the real problem was me.
I was in my forties when I finally really looked at things from the perspective of having been a victim. Finally, I validated myself as someone that had been unfairly treated; a child who had been violated; an innocent person that had been taken advantage of. A child that had not been empowered to know she had any worth. That was when the real emotional healing began for me.
I stayed there in that place of validation, realizing that I had been a victim and placing the blame of the responsibility in the proper place, (not on myself) for as long as it took for me to get to a new place of understanding. I had to look at my life through a new grid; a more truthful grid and had to validate myself without any self blame, long enough for me to be ABLE to move on.
There were times that I felt guilty and full of shame for allowing myself to indulge in feeling sad for myself and the life that I had lost because of this, but I kept going; it was what I had to do ~ validate myself and the trauma that I went through.
This was a key part of the journey to wholeness for me. I tried to get over it and let go of it for over 25 years… but until I faced it, relived it and validated that it happened, that it was WRONG and it was not my fault etc… I didn’t seem to be able to move forward with my real life.
The point of the process towards recovery and emotional healing is not to blame ourselves. And it is not to blame everyone else either, at least not forever. I had to place blame/responsibility where it belonged long enough to find a way out of that darkness by recognizing the truth about HOW I got to the state of emotional brokenness and chronic depression in the first place.
How do you feel about this first step in your own recovery journey?
Related posts ~ When inspirational material triggers self blame
What is Victim Mentality? I was going to look it up and post a lovely clinical definition, but I thought it might be more effective to just write about what I have learned about it. The term “Victim Mentality” has such a nasty “feel” to it. It sounds like something awful, something that we don’t want to examine too closely, and we certainly don’t want to actually have it.
For many years I thought that victim mentality was when someone thought that they were hard done by, that they felt sorry for themselves, and that they made excuses for why they couldn’t have a great life because of something that was just too hard for them to accomplish or something too hard to get past. I did not think that I had victim mentality, but I also didn’t know what it was. I thought a victim was someone that had been victimized, bullied, assaulted or otherwise traumatized, but also I thought a victim was someone who had been or would be looked down on or pitied. I thought someone with victim mentality felt sorry for themselves. I was getting self pity and victim mentality mixed up. I have a very different understanding of what victim mentality really is, today.
It is believed by many that victim mentality is focusing on what you haven’t got, waiting for things to happen instead of making them happen, finding excuses, blaming others, and other things related to those concepts. For anyone struggling with depression, overcoming abuse, trauma and the resulting low self esteem from all that, this list doesn’t help at all. This list won’t get anyone closer to any solutions. It tells me what NOT to be without addressing the issue of HOW I got there in the first place. I spent years before I really faced my issues, just trying to BE positive; focusing on never having, doing or feeling any of the things on that list. One of the most dangerous results from trying to change my attitude before I knew where it came from was that I learned to take the blame; I learned to be accountable for the mistreatment that I was dealt. I adopted the “positive attitude” that I was responsible for my results, and therefore if I got treated like crap, this backed up the idea I already had; that it was my own fault!
That kind of accountability led me to believe what the abusers taught me in the first place; that I deserved it!
I ended up in a serious and chronic series of depressions.
I realized in my process of emerging from broken into fullness and wholeness, that I had victim mentality all over the place in my life but not exactly the kind of victim mentality that is commonly understood.
My understanding of victim mentality today is;
~believing that If someone doesn’t seem to like me, it is my fault. (and that it is up to me to make them like me)
~When someone says something nasty to me, I think that I have done something to offend them and that I did something to deserve the offensive treatment.
~believing that if I try harder, the abuser will love me and stop hurting me emotionally, physically spiritually or sexually. (accepting that being hurt by them is my fault.)
~believing that the success of the relationship with another person is totally up to me. Not realizing that I believe they can have boundaries, but I can’t.
~believing that love is something that I can earn by being who someone else wants me to be, and spending my energy trying to figure out who that is and spinning about just what they want me to do.
~Not considering my own feelings, hopes and dreams or that I can fulfill them; expecting them to be fulfilled by someone else~ and doing all of the above to try and make that happen.
~and one of the most important points of all… Victim mentality is when I think that I can’t make any changes unless THEY say that I can.
Positive thinking was something that came in really handy and made a positive difference AFTER I sorted out the foundation of the problem. When I understood victim mentality in this new way, I was able to sort things out from a different perspective which was a big key to overcoming the past.
Keeping in mind that this is not an exercise in negative self talk or in adding shame or guilt to our already sensitive belief systems, and in the spirit of empowering each other, will you consider adding to this list of what victim mentality really is and or what it really isn’t to you?
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time!
Related posts ~ I organized my world around Trauma and Abuse
“Most people have been mistreated to one degree or another in their lives, but the experience of being mistreated alone does not cause someone to develop a victim’s outlook. It is only when a person is abused and then left to deal with it on their own that the victim mentality begins to form. The abused child begins to organize his/her world around the wound.” Mic Hunter author of “Abused Boys the Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse”
This is so true and it is such a good point. In my experience this is not about any one kind of abuse; this statement is true for all types of abuse. It is also important to understand that it does not matter how many times we experienced a trauma or traumatic event. If we did not have help to deal with it at the time, the consequences are deeper, greater and more difficult to live with. When we are children, we have no choice but or organize our world around the abuse. We have to accept it somehow; there is no other option. When we can’t fathom the “why” did this happen we can easily sink into depression, develop behavior problems, physical illnesses, nightmares and all sorts of other manifestations result. When we can’t make sense of what happened or is happening we find other ways to cope.
In my case, coping methods often caused new problems, and I developed coping methods to deal with coping methods, all because I thought they kept me safer; I had childhood depressions, I got physically ill, I withdrew, I made up stories to get attention. (which made it easy for everyone to say that I was the problem in the first place) I was too young to deal with the abuse myself and when my thinking started to derail, (as it is bound to do when we are coping with overwhelming burdens on our own) it just got worse.
Not being seen as an individual who had emotional needs, just by itself, is cause to develop coping methods. If not being heard, not having a voice or trying to have a voice and having no impact is devastating to an adult, how much more so devastating would it be to a child? It is no wonder that we develop coping methods. It is understandable that depression, eating disorders, ill health, stomach aches, nightmares, nervous habits and behavior problems develop.
I tell a story (Psychological abuse ~ How Self Doubt Grows) about how I was not protected from a psychologically abusive teacher when I was in grade five which clearly represents the progression of the struggle to be heard and protected. I had to deal with and process this psychological abuse on my own. I didn’t come up with TRUE conclusions. I sunk into a depression and got really sick. Because this situation was not dealt when it started, the teacher, the abuser, got away with it and her devaluing attitude and psychological abuse towards me got worse. I concluded that my only course of action was to ‘try harder’ to win her favor.
Abusers enjoy watching their victims struggle to suck up to them. As a victim I thought it would work to bend myself into a pretzel for the controller or the person who was abusing me (this is true for physical abuse, sexual abuse and all psychological abuse) and as a victim I believed when it didn’t work that I just needed to try harder, work harder to find the right “key” the right way to prove that I was worthy of the abusers love. Abusers become like a puppet master, enjoying the game of seeing just how far the victim will go to please the abuser. Just how much of the spirit of this victim can the abuser break? It is as though the abuser establishes their own value by how much control the victim gives them and how hard the victim tries to be what they want, but it never ends. It is never enough. These puppet masters always want more.
When I began the process of looking at the things that happened to me and how I processed them as a child, and then looked at how my belief system developed, I realized that in some ways it was the after effects that were the most damaging in the long term. So many of the beliefs that I adopted as the truth, were developed because no one helped me deal with anything. As children we cannot deal with any kind of abuse or devaluing behavior on our own with any kind of effectiveness. As adults we must remember that we were merely children and it was not our defect, nor are we to blame, that we could not overcome the traumatic event on our own.
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Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;
When it comes to parent child relationships I often feel as though I struggle to explain or communicate the difference between how I felt about the past when it was in the past, how I felt about it when I was in the healing stages of it and how I feel about it now. This comes up a lot on the blog and on the facebook page for Emerging from Broken so I thought I would write about it.
This blog gets hundreds of views every day. The comments don’t reflect that though, and I get these private emails from people who don’t want to write publically, especially about parent stuff. By some of the questions that I get asked, I understand why this is; most of us have really big loyalty issues when it comes to our parents and our parent child relationships. This has to do with several things; our belief systems, our upbringing and the way that society frowns on anyone revealing family secrets ~ even if the whole family could recover from the pain of the past if they were revealed ~ some things are just taboo.
I sometimes wonder how different my life would be today if my mother were willing to pursue wholeness and freedom herself? How different would it be if she were willing to work on our mother daughter relationship stuff with me? But sadly this isn’t the case.
I know one thing for sure, it would not change the past. What happened, really happened and it was dysfunctional, devaluing and abusive much of the time. So my decision was to get on with the present and future and to do that I ended up having to deal with the past. (Again) But this time I went deeper then I had gone before. I ventured into previously uncharted waters. The truth about my parents and just how dysfunctional the parent child relationships were.
When I talk about anger and blame towards my abusers as well as my parents ~ anger and blame were a necessary part of my healing. I had to look at the truth ~ almost from a neutral point of view if I were ever going to heal from it. I can only say this in retrospect as I didn’t realize that this would be a key before I did it.
I was so wrapped up in should and should not’s and because I believed expressions like “if you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future you are peeing on today” I was stuck. So I had to look at what my life story was as though I was looking at it through someone else’s eyes. Some of the events of my life were shocking and yet I didn’t think so. I felt guilty for feeling even a glimmer of hurt or anger towards my parents, especially my mother because I felt so sorry for her. It was almost easier to just accept the blame for our difficult mother daughter relationship.
If someone else told me the exact same things had happened to them (that had happened to me) I was horrified. I could feel justifiable anger, outrage, shock, disgust, sadness, sympathy compassion and love, but I could not feel these things for myself about my own life or about the things that had happened to ME. I can’t stress enough how convinced that I am that taking a look at my life story through different eyes was one of the biggest keys to the eventual restoration of my emotional health and overall mental health. This was also one of the biggest keys to overcoming depression. Seeing things from a neutral view point, was a huge key to my overcoming dissociative identity disorder and the integration of all my “alter personalities” and a major key to my wholeness and freedom.
As a child, I surrendered all my power over to my parents, teachers, and elders. When those people treated me with less value then I deserved or abused and controlled me in ways that were not acceptable, I complied and surrendered even more of my will. I had no choice as a child. It wasn’t a decision I made, it was survival and it was necessary. But this became my way of life and when we live under dysfunctional control, we become accustomed to living under dysfunctional control. This becomes a habit that is familiar and even comfortable. I grew into an adult in this familiar comfortable fog and I continued to give control to the abusers or controllers. Often when we are adults this control and abuse is psychological and emotional when it comes to our parents but none the less is in not really love. It is not a healthy, functional, love based parent child relationship.
But there I was in it anyway and in order to survive and cope I convinced myself that it wasn’t really wrong. “My poor mother didn’t know any better.” (true but so what?) Until I had nowhere else to turn and I was an emotional mess and I realized through getting some help to navigate through the false and the true, I suddenly realized that if I remained “loyal” to my parents, and if I didn’t want to look at this stuff that had happened to me at their hands through the lens of truth in order to place the burden back on them and realize that this was not my fault, then I was actually giving them control over MY recovery and my will to recover, in order to protect them. (as we have learned to do our whole lives)
This isn’t about loyalty. I was fighting for my life, and I had to get really honest. I had to accept the past the way that it was ~ the plain honest way that it was without the loyalty and excuses that I consistently made for them all my life. What I am trying to express in this blog is about emerging OUT of victim mentality and into wholeness and freedom and real relationship.
In love and in truth,