Victim Mentality (What Happened to Prince Charming?)


victim mentality, recovery, dysfunctional relationship

Okay I admit it! Deep down I had dreams that prince charming would arrive and whisk me away on his beautiful horse and save me from the sad life that was mine. I was sure that being loved and treasured by the right guy was the answer that would solve all the problems and sooth all the hurt. As soon as that guy showed up, everything would be okay and I could start my real life.  (Man oh man I waited a dang long time before I gave that dream up.)

 But I had been victimized; I had a victim mindset and I was attracted to broken men. I was attracted to guys that needed me to rescue them, and for some reason I believed that if I did rescue them, then they would love me enough to make my life worth living.

I had this idea that if I did all the right things and soothed their pain, I could prove how much I loved them and they would love me back. I never noticed that I had this same belief about my parents. I didn’t realize that I believed that love is something that comes from doing something “good enough” for someone else. I didn’t know that deep down I thought that I was missing some key thing which is why no one would rescue me from my pathetic life.

 Have you ever made excuses for someone because you knew that they had been hurt by life? Have you ever stayed with a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, because you wanted to somehow communicate that you would not hurt him/her  like the rest of the world had. Have you ever had a deep desire to prove to someone that not all life is bad, that not all people will hurt each other and that you could be the one person who understands; that one person that could make the big difference?

I had a few relationships like that.

I made these kinds of excuses for others. I seemed to have a soft spot when I knew that someone had had a tough break in life, and I felt sweeter towards them. At the very heart of my heart, I wanted to be understanding and I wanted to think only the best about others; I didn’t want to believe that they might actually intentionally hurt me, so I let it go when they did. I believed these people when they said “You know I would never hurt you on purpose, I love you, you know me” So I was cheated on, hit, forced to do things I didn’t want to do, degraded, devalued, stood up and so many other things and when I complained I was told there was something wrong with me and that I just didn’t understand. They assured me that they loved me so much.  I adjusted and I believed, just like I believed my other abusers;  just like I believed my parents.

 Something that comes to mind when I think about all the boyfriends that I “understood” and believed I could love into wholeness and ease their pain with my amazing love powers, is that I never cut myself any of that same slack. I was always willing to be the one who tried harder. I was always willing to say “oh that’s okay honey, I know you didn’t mean to hurt me”. But I was also always willing to chastise myself and tell myself that I was a bad person.  I never thought that I deserved that healing love power myself.

 I didn’t consider that I deserved to be loved and saved by ME. I didn’t even think that if I loved and cherished myself, that my dreams of feeling and being “good enough” would come true.  I didn’t consider that if someone cheated on me, degraded and forced me, that I didn’t have to take it. I didn’t have to TRY HARDER; I just needed to get out.

 Today I don’t have that same definition of love and I certainly don’t think it is up to me to rescue, sooth, restore value or carry all the burden of the relationship. I have learned to value and respect myself and to look at myself with the empathy that I have always had for the ones who treated me like crap.  I declared my own value and I embraced it and believed it. When I finally figured out how my value had been defined by others, and where they were wrong and why I believed it, I was able to re-wire that belief system and eventually I knew who I was and what my value really was. It is others who treat us like we are not good enough to be loved; it is not that we are not good enough to be loved.

 Darlene Ouimet

23 response to "Victim Mentality (What Happened to Prince Charming?)"

  1. By: workin~on~me Posted: 28th November

    I think I wrote that. I feel like I just read my life. Im beginning to see a point once shared with me about an onion, one layer at a time, the crying that comes when peeling back each layer of skin from the onion. Thankful for this site and this page I just read. Thank you Angela for sending this link to me this morning.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th November

      Welcome to the blog ~ Workin~on~me!
      Glad that you liked the post and that you are here!
      Hugs, Darlene

  2. By: Vivian Palmer Harvey Posted: 4th October

    Hmmm.. Wow!
    Self respect… being able to see that I have always operated by the standards of “others”, doing with my life what made them feel best…never good enough, still never good enough. I was the one who have crawled back looking for a relationship.. believing “they” won’t heurt me anymore if I was just repentant and good enough..
    sort of makes me sick…
    So much manipulation!
    Awareness helps a great deal..thank you…it always seems like under this layer, is another waiting to be peeled away.
    This is gonna take lots of time..I am glad for each layer revelaed..

  3. By: Elizabeth Posted: 4th October

    Great post! I once had a therapist once who told me ‘we do to ourselves what was done TO us.’

    I love the process that these posts take the reader thru, and the opportunity to see things from a different view than we have been seeing them.

    For instance I am now processing finding my mother’s journal from the early 90’s when I lived with her. In the entire notebook, she talks about how mean I was to her, how much ‘contempt’ I had for her, and gives almost daily examples of incidents where I ‘demeaned’ and ‘attacked her’, and went ‘ballistic’ toward her…. She talks of being a failure -and she was NOT one-and how everyone sees her as a failure.She says her children are a monument to her failure as a parent and a person.she says I was the way I was because she ‘spoiled’ me growing up.

    She says in her journal that I abuse her emotionally all the time, that I am abusive of my daughter; that I self punish -to Prove to others that I myself am failure, and it’s to-get this-‘reproach’ others and to make them feel guilty.

    Throughout this over a year long journal, she never writes about my discovery that my toddler daughter had been molested, of my then 16 yr old nieec’s molestation by her step dad, mom’s own mother’s traumatic experience in a nursing home, having her leg broken in a wheelchair when her leeg was allowed to drag the floor- subsequently my grandmother died from sepsis after the compound fracture the injury caused.

    There were alot of traumatic events that year, but all my mom referred to is how mean I was to her, how I ‘picked fights’ with her, how I ‘despised’ her, how much she wished I would leave…..and it was only her love for my daughter that made her allow me to stay.She outlines how no one in the family liked her and how she was now going to live life for herself , and that the behaviors she was practicing with me were that of ‘not rescuing’, not giving advice, not reacting to my ‘rages’…..she actually WAS in therapy at this time…It seems to me she took out her anger at HER parents and her life with my dad and his alcoholism out on me…all that pent up emotion….

    I had been in AA for a few years at this time yet she treated me as if I were an untreated drunk she had to ‘handle’.

    I got the sense reading it that she was talking about someone else, that I was being ‘nade into’ someone she hated and feared,
    My memories of that time are of great fear, grief and confusion about wondering WHO molested my child, what to do to help my child, anger and sadness at my niece’s molestation, and fear about my sister and niece’s safety after my brother in law tried to intimidate my niece; intense sadness at my grandmother’s nursing home injuries that caused her death.I also had been diagnosed with a serious chronic illness in that year and the medication for it was brutal.

    I am seeing more and more that my mother from my childhood on, seemed to insist on being my ‘victim’ and if and when I did blow up after all the picking at behavios, and the mind reading,that was the proof of how mean I was to her. I was helpless as a kid to know how to handle this and even as an adult got very confused by it……If I tried to ‘resign’ from being the bad guy in my family, it seemed there were more and more offenses that were attributed to me.

    But no one in my family- no one- ever commented on the things I tried to accomplish and what I did to try to support my mom, emotionally, my niece, being there fort my daughter ,and any of the things that were HARd, to deal with. Its as if they were all ignored.

    I literally began to wonder at times if I were really being this mean to people and didn’t know it.

    In my life I gravitated toward hurting wounded men, or extremely detached and cold men. None of that ever worked out.

    I think my post may belong in another comment section.Noy sure which one… I do appreciate this blog…its kicking my emotional triggers and its helping me heal finally I think….

  4. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 23rd July

    This is great Jenny!
    Thanks for sharing it with me.
    Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Jenny Posted: 23rd July


    What a great topic….Thank you….I also had some really bad relationships and tried so hard to make them work. Always searching for my worth outside of myself, all the while it’s just waiting to be noticed inside of me. I am learning alot about valuing myself and reading that just solidified that….

  6. By: Jaime Romo Posted: 21st July

    Great discussion. I learned that after I was abandoned, abused and then wrapped in a life of shame, I continued to abandon, abuse, and shame myself and others for many years. The reconstruction process has been nothing short of a rebirth.



  7. By: IAmEchad Posted: 20th July

    I always sought men stronger than me, but the dynamics you mention I find between me and my parents. I always find a reason for their behavior. I call it empathy. Or am I just making excuses.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st July

      I called it empathy too, and I prided myself on it. For me it was an excuse. I never gave myself any of that empathy. I never treated myself as though I deserved an equal bit of understanding or fair treatment. That was where the funky truth lay.
      Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: peter lynch Posted: 20th July

    when i finished your piece, the words of a billie holiday song came to mind: “mama may have, papa may have, but God bless the child that’s got its own, that’s got its own.” what they “have” can mean self-respect as much as anything else.

  9. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th July


    I abused myself a great deal too, and I blieved that I was my biggest problem but I found out that I learned it from somewhere. I wasn’t born abusing myself. That was the truth that set me free…NOT so that I could place blame, because I don’t anymore, but so that I can understand and change it. I could not seem to change it until I understood the history. Now for me, because of the types of abuse that I encountered, it was a bit easier to figure out what happened, but for Carla, (who co-authors this blog) it wasn’t so easy for her becasue she had a whole different kind of upbringing, mostly subtle types of “not good enough” and spiritual abuse. That can be harder to get to the bottom of, but it is possible. I HAD to put aside my self blame in order to dig deep enough to see the way it really was.

    Thanks so much for beign a consistent part of this blog. I value your contributions always. I have nothing but huge love and support for your journey!
    Love Darlene

  10. By: Cyndi Posted: 20th July

    Wow, this was so me! I did all of these things in my relationships with men. I was going to be “the one” who proved they were lovable so they would love me forever and ever. I made excuses for everything they did but over analyzed and beat myself up over everything I did or didn’t do. I put up with so much crap I can’t even believe it now. Great post!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th July

      Hi Cyndi.. me too.

      It is so amazing how many of us did this, not realizing why or even thinking it was somehow “relationship out of balance”. This was half of where my depressions came from… I beat myself up so hard, and never realized that it wasn’t supposed to be ALL UP TO ME!
      Thanks for commenting!
      Hugs, Darlene.

  11. By: Nikki Posted: 20th July

    This is where I am at now in my journey is realizing that I to deserve to be shown compassion, love, and forgiveness. The person who abused me the most was myself. Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying that what others did to me was excusable nor am I putting myself down but just like you have written here “But I was also always willing to chastise myself and tell myself that I was a bad person.” I have been the same way with myself most all my life… actually I thought I had to carry the sins of others on my own shoulders and what God made me realize is that I couldn’t and that it wasn’t my place to do so.

    Thank you for sharing this! : )

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th July

      Lisa Marie,
      I was afraid of everything including losing my husband, but I couldn’t live that way any more and I finally just said to myself, either I do this or I die. I can’t stand the way that I feel, and I want to have some healing. I went for it and I have everything I ever really wanted in my life now; I also have myself back. And the funny thing is that it had nothing to do with having a healthy marriage or the “if someone would just love me enough” thing. It had to do with getting ME back. Being who I was born to be and finding out who that was. When I look back, if I had to lose my husband in order to have my health, then what was I really losing?? My husband ended up going to therapy too, but now we have something that I never in a million years imagined that a couple could have.
      I didn’t think about all this at the time; I just went to therapy becasue I was so tired of life. Thanks so much for being here! Hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Lisa Marie Posted: 19th July

    Wow, where to go with this one. I don’t even know where to begin. I’m pretty sure I’ve been there, I married him when I was 16. He was abused as a child also, but didn’t remember it until after we were married for several years. I am also afraid that if I change, the relationship will go. He isn’t ready to start healing, I think he resents me? I’ve started working on me and letting go of what I can’t control, trying to love me first. I guess if he can’t be part of that, then there is nothing I can do.

  13. By: Christina Enevoldsen Posted: 19th July

    I laughed about the “amazing love powers” because I thought I had them too. Well, actually I do have them but they only work on me. It IS amazing how transforming love for myself really is. My husband loves me as much as is humanly possible, but his love can’t fix my brokeness or fill my emptiness. Love for myself is the only love that can reach those places.

  14. By: Christina Wing Posted: 19th July

    Love this! Yes many times in my life. When we get healthy we attracted healthy people.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th July

      Christina W. This is such a GREAT point. Healthy attracts healthy and thankfully some relationships growth together towards health if both have been damaged.

      Christina E. Self love is likely the most powerful tool that I have! I can’t teach anyone to do it, and for me I learned to love myself by uncovering the false truth that I had been taught about myself; groomed to accept the blame, the shame, and conditioned to believe that I was NOT loveable. This has been a long road but woweee, it is amazing to have come this far!

      Hugs, Darlene

  15. By: Splintetedones Posted: 19th July

    Relationships are so tough. C said to me the other day I’ve got news foe you you can only control urself. Which is a pretty rough nob by itself, right? All Incan do is to run myself and communicate as clearly and positively as I can. I fear of course that in getting better my relationship will haveto go. But I really can’t focus on that now. Me is enough. ;).

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th July

      I was afraid of everything and projecting into the future was almost like an addiction for me! (still have trouble with it) I should write a post about it. It goes like this: if I do this, then this might happen, and if that happens then this other thing might happen… ~ there is a good side of it though, which comes in handy now, but not back then. I am gla to hear that you are going to focus on YOU for now!
      Hugs, Darlene

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