Who hasn’t felt like a victim at some point in life?
Anyone who has ever experienced mental, emotional and/or physical abuse, a loss, a heartbreak or tragedy of any kind, will likely have felt like a victim of circumstance.
When something terrible happens to us, especially at the hands of another, it is perfectly normal and natural to feel like a victim, after all, we were a victim of that person, situation or happening.
It can become easy to feel like a victim, to think like one, talk like one, behave like one, to build an identity around victimhood.
However, it’s incredibly important to remember that being a victim of a particular situation or type of abuse, is just that. You are not born to be a victim, you are not intrinsically pre-disposed to be a victim, and you do not need to identify with said victimhood.
There is a subtle distinction: you were a victim of something bad, but you are NOT a victim point blank.
2019 was a rollercoaster of a year for me, full of cataclysmic highs and devastating lows that culminated in the loss of my mother to cancer. Emotionally I was so volatile and I was on a freight train of wild experiences, undergoing a succession of life changes (both good and bad.) When the ride ended, I felt depleted, exhausted and like life had chewed me up and spat me out. I had survived so far, and now I needed a period of rest, to embrace the process of healing and to rediscover myself again.
Moving from a place of victimisation to empowerment can be slow or speedy, depending on how entrenched you have become in the identity. We certainly live in a world that seems to encourage or reward a state of passive victimhood, and it can be tempting to embrace the lack of responsibility and the inaction this entails, but if we are to grow and enjoy life, we cannot stay there.
So, how can you heal?
- There is not a single ailment in the world that exercise cannot heal. It’s also a wonderful way to connect with the body, especially after abuse. Committing to some form of daily exercise also promotes the release of feel good chemicals in the brain, and is, over time, one of the concrete paths towards self-empowerment, a way of feeling at home in and supported by your own body.
- Writing is a wonderful way to connect with what we actually think and feel, versus what we admit to others. Sit in the morning and write three pages of free-flowing thought and feeling. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have anything obvious to say, if you find yourself repeating the same content, or if you find yourself writing things that you aren’t proud of. Commit to these three pages and feel free to write three more in the evening if there is more you need to say. This is YOUR private space to express that which no-one else may know about you.
- Nurturing the self is incredibly difficult for most people. Many are more comfortable with the idea of nurturing others. This can be detrimental, especially if we are exploited by people who expect us to do their feeling and healing for them. Purchase a house plant; you will nurture this plant every day, your goal being to keep it alive! This serves as a reminder that you are important and make a difference to something in this world, however small.
- Our body is the only home we will ever have and caring for it is of paramount importance, and yet we are encouraged to divorce ourselves from our bodies, to numb ourselves with alcohol, drugs, sex, junk food and endless distraction and destruction that cumulates in the body and spreads to the mind. The key is to strike a balance between nourishing the self and enabling pleasure. Often after a trauma, people shut off from pleasure as a form of protection. Buy your favourite childhood treat, order your favourite takeaway. Such rewards will help you reconnect to the importance of pleasure.
- We are mammals, evolved to connect with others for survival and fulfilment. Connecting with the self is vital, understanding your own needs, wants, boundaries and motivators is crucial. Connecting with others, connecting with nature, with our surroundings, is also equally important.
- Understand that you are your own hero. There is no-one coming to rescue you, to do the work for you. If you want something in life, give it to yourself, go get it, do the thing, make it happen. Waiting for someone else is a sure-fire way to be stuck in stasis, off shoring your happiness to outsiders. Every day write a list of goals, dreams, desires, keep them fresh in your mind and at the forefront of your heart – know that you have the power, means and discipline to bring these things to life.
It’s okay to feel like a victim, especially if you’ve been one, but don’t tell yourself the lie that you will be one forever. You can recover. Healing is a choice. There is another side, beyond pain, of peace and serenity, and it is waiting for you.