“Repeat after me, ‘I am not a victim,”.
I would hear this from a bitchy ex-girlfriend of mine quite often when I would mention how unfairly I had been treated, or how it is sometimes near impossible to overcome the inertia of multiple large setbacks which I have faced all of my life.
I’d repeat it, to shut her up. (Not that she ever took her own advice.) But I don’t think I ever once believed it. Still don’t.
In all fairness though, she is not the only person I have encountered that made use of this mantra, either for their own good, or against me and my world perceptions. And while I may complain about certain things less now than I have in the past, one thing I haven’t changed my mind on is how ineffective this “I am not a victim” thing is for me.
The fact is, I am a victim.
That’s right, I said it.
I understand that in theory not seeing ones self as a victim is supposed to establish what psychologists call the “internal locus of control”. It’s the perception that we have within ourselves the power to change our negative circumstances. We make things happen, as opposed to them happening to us. No outside force is responsible for the situations in which we find ourselves.
Clearly, those that came up with this concept never had to deal with some of the things that I, and other that are Too XYZ have had to deal with, through little to no fault of their own.
I’ve suffered more set backs then I care to remember. I have been poor all of my life. More then once I have had my stability shaken when circumstances I had come to rely on were destroyed. I have had zero career mentors, stumbled on virtually no lucky breaks, possess almost no network, failed at several creative endeavors, never held down a true full time job of my choosing, and outside of my recent freelance writing endeavors have never once been given a chance to be paid to make use of my true talents.
Through it all many of my friends have been either apathetic or disloyal. I have had almost no sounding board for any of my ideas or fears. I get no visitors. Few phone calls. So I often must assimilate my life struggles alone.
All of that despite my best efforts to the contrary. As a result I sometimes battle bitterness, fatigue, depression, (not clinical), hopelessness and loneliness.
Yet I am supposed to state with conviction, “I am not a victim,”?
Do I know of what I am a victim? Not with any certainty. Are there those in the world that have been victims of worse things than myself. Of course. But that doesn’t stop me from owning my own victimization. You should own yours as well.
For you see by owning it, we can fight against it. We can acknowledge that for whatever damned reason we are struggling more than the average person. We have been put through more than our fair share of discouragement. We have not succeeded the way we thought we would. The way we were told we would. The way we know in our hearts we are equipped to, if only given a chance.
If we immerse ourselves in trying to accept the ever so important internal locus of control when dealing with lives that have been a little Too XYZ, we are forced to conclude there is something wrong with us. That who we are is not good enough and must be changed. That we are lesser people.
To me, that is the one way in which I choose to not be a victim. I won’t be told by people who usually have no idea what it has been like to struggle as I do that I am to blame for everything that has happened. I tried it before, and you know what? It made me feel terrible about who I am. It made me feel like damaged goods because I haven’t found a niche of success where most people have. Because I haven’t chosen to do exactly what people tell me to do in every aspect of life just for the chance to gamble at possible success. (No guarantees of course.)
It’s ok to call yourself a victim, so long as you are doing your best to escape from it. If you are anything like me you’ll think you have escaped it many times over, only to be thrown back down into even further victimization. Blame something, if you need to, but don’t blame it on your own unworthiness. If you are fighting hard in the only ways you can, you are worthy. Sometimes it really just isn’t your fault.
Repeat after me, “Sometimes, by God, I am a victim. But not forever.”