Strong Series Part I: Victim Pie
I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become.
I am excited to introduce a three-part series this week called the Strong Series. I snaked the title from my web designer, developer, and good friend Josh Rogers, I wish I had thought of it but I didn’t. Last week before launching my post Thursday, we were texting and he asked if the Strong Series was going to kick off that week? Hmmm…I hesitantly answered no, fearing I had forgotten about a brilliant blog series I couldn’t recall. Well, no was right because I didn’t have a brilliant series, however, the name was just too good so I thought I’d go with it and give Josh credit on the back end. Josh, this one’s for you.
For the next several weeks, let’s explore three dangerous roles we fall into in relationships: victim, rescuer, and persecutor. They are familiar roles for us all, so hang in and don’t blow me off quite yet! Chances are, you have played all three of them, even when relating to yourself.
If it’s not one thing it’s your mother
Everything in life is relational; that’s why we must explore the trappings and toxicity we fall prey to when we inhabit these three roles. They are insidiously subtle, making it nearly impossible to detect when we move into and through them. Why? Well, chances are we observed others modeling this behavior around us growing up; building them somewhat into our structural, relational DNA. Look, I’m not blaming it on your mother, I’m merely saying she may not have had the best teacher either and was doing the best she could at the time. When we understand the cold hard facts behind victim, rescuer, and persecutor, we can easily recognize the payoff involved and bust their chops, making it easy to access a way out of those childlike corners and into our true, brave selves.
So what’s with the “pie” situation? I thought you’d never ask. Honestly, victim is perhaps the most easily delicious of them all. Like pie, playing the victim has a wholesome veneer. I mean, it’s not straight up Death by Chocolate cake porn or anything. No way; pie is soft and fruit-filled and we comatose on it at Thanksgiving making it… virtuous. V is for Victim Pie Virtue…until you simply can’t look at food anymore and feel like you might just vomit. Wow. Okay, No more v’s.
It’s tricky and downright painful to sit in the victim seat. After all, legitimate hurt and/or harm have landed us squarely into this role and it feels horrible, powerless. Yet oftentimes we stay in victim far longer than necessary. When I sit in the victim chair, it feels throne-like initially but only leads to isolation, loneliness, and fear. There is always a payoff to this destructive spiraling behavior, otherwise our wise adult-governed self would remain in the driver’s seat, NOT our reactive monkey brain. Here are a few payoffs of the victim role:
- Avoiding responsibility (“it’s not my fault” or “look what they did to me”)
- Getting attention
- Collecting sympathy (Poor, pitiful me…)
- Getting to be “right” (in order to justify a resentment)
- Proving myself to be “wrong” (in order to justify low self worth)
The Way Out
The minute that comfy victim Lazy Boy starts to feel dusty and dirty, smelling like one or more of those old payoffs, I invite you to ask yourself one simple question: What is my part in this? At the core of that victim mentality is a need attached to a wound, a need that I must tend to. If I’ve had a misunderstanding with someone and feel betrayal or judgement, my need is self-compassion and perhaps an honest conversation for clarification and resolve. I must own my part in making that happen instead of having a pity party in the fetal position on my bedroom floor like a petulant child. When we own our part, we create a new, powerful way forward. We now assume the role of creator in our experience, cashing in the small but familiar payoff we grew accustomed to receiving. This shift of responsibility is incredibly simple, yet super attractive and life-giving in relationships. That is, unless you forward them this post instructing them to read it because it might be “helpful”. Oh boy, then you may need to stay tuned for Part III: The Persecutor…
p.s. In honor of today’s tasty topic, I leave you with Ms. Patty Griffin’s Making Pies. Enjoy!