My Gift to Myself: Leaving Victimhood

by | Mar 25, 2021 | Blog | 0 comments

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Many Choices

The choice to not choose victimhood is a gift to myselfThere are many choices to be made throughout life, including choosing victimhood. I have encountered many people throughout my life who live in victimhood. Victimhood is people who can’t move beyond the past. Instead, for people choosing victimhood, the past becomes a reason to not live in the present and not plan for the future.

My mother was one of those people who chose victimhood as her way of living. She lived in the past regrets, and all she talked about were the mistakes that she had already made. She regretted not going to Julliard to pursue opera singing and classical violin. She regretted getting married and having children. On and on, the regrets would go.

I grew up watching my mother choose victimhood time and time and again. I told myself that I would never do that to myself. I didn’t learn what to do as a functioning human being, but I knew what not to do. The only problem with what not to do is that I didn’t have any examples of how to NOT live in victimhood. Imagine my shock when I realized that I have been choosing victimhood.

Defining Moments

I have always had a belief that we always have a choice. I used to look at it as a choice to be a victim or not. I had no idea that I was choosing victimhood. Right at the beginning of Dr. Edith Eger’s book, The Choice, I realized that it is a much deeper choice than that. She writes about the difference between victimization and victimhood. 

Victimization comes from the outside of us. It is those things that we have no choice, like my mother and father being abusive. I could do nothing about that. Even as I grew older, and I could have discussions with my mother about her abuse, I could do nothing about that. 

Victimhood is what we can affect. It is the internal belief system about ourselves. When we incorporate the belief that we are less than or worthless like I did, victimization becomes victimhood. I told myself that I was worthless and that nothing I did was ever good enough. I continued to say to myself those things throughout the years. I kept myself in that prison of victimhood.

No One Chooses Victimhood

I don’t believe that people would choose victimhood if they were aware of what they were choosing. I do think that once you become aware, that is where the choice comes into the story. Once you know that you are trapping yourself within victimhood, then you have the choice. And with that choice comes the ability to break yourself free from that prison. 

I didn’t know that I was keeping myself in prison. I only knew that I was in pain, and I was doing what I could to numb that pain. To not think about that pain and to keep it away from me. I didn’t consciously choose to put myself there either. I had watched my mother keep herself in that prison for so long. I thought I was so different and that I wouldn’t fall into the same trap.


Choosing Victimhood

I learned from the best about both victimization and victimhood. Even while victimizing me, my mother was solid within the victimhood realm. I recall thinking that if she chose not to be a victim, she would be in a better place. For her, it was always that things happen to her, and they are always bad things. She never felt that she had any choices. And so she chose the easier route, that of the victim. 

I didn’t think that I had picked up on keeping myself within victimhood, but I did. I think it was subtle because I didn’t talk about how I was feeling on the inside. Some of the descriptions that Dr. Eger uses for victimhood are me. It is like being stuck in the past and not having healthy limits or boundaries (people pleaser here!). 

The most significant way I have kept myself in victimhood was that I discounted my pain. I made myself feel bad for feeling that pain. I made myself feel bad for having that pain, to begin with. After all, I got out. I survived. What did I have to cry about? And so I kept that pain with me, wrapping myself in a pain blanket.

Choosing Me, Not the Past

There are many choices that I made throughout my life. That is life—lots and lots of choices. And you never know which one might be the right one if there is such a thing as the right choice. We make decisions based on the information that we have at the time. 

I always thought I never went back to my past, and I kept moving forward. I continued that forward momentum to try to outrun my past. As I have written before, that is impossible. You can run only so far. I did not realize that I was choosing victimhood by keeping my past ever-present. 

In December 2018, I made a different choice. To turn around and face my past and find a way to free myself from that prison. I am no longer choosing victimhood and my past. I am choosing myself and the way forward. Part of that way forward is through reading books, like Dr. Eger’s The Choice. And now Dr. Eger’s book, The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life.

Gift to Myself

Dr. Eger writes, “That was then, this is now. The past is behind you, now is the only time that you can affect or influence.” That is so true. By allowing my present to overshadow by my past and choosing victimhood, I have been trying to change things that I cannot change—running from something that will always be a part of me but does not have to imprison me. 

To free yourself from the prison of victimhood, Dr. Eger, in The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life, suggests I go back to a moment in time. A time that I was hurt by another’s actions, no matter how large or small those actions were. So this was hard for me. I fully admit to being snarky in the beginning. I thought to myself; there are so many, how will I choose? 

When in reality, it pains me to have to sit with myself long enough to delve into the details enough even to begin to remember those moments. And so I make jokes about it, and I try to distance myself from those memories. But like all things, that which makes me the most uncomfortable is where growth occurs. Like all things, there is a first step we must take.   

That first step for me is that I am no longer going to choose victimhood. To do that, I am going through each of the twelve lessons in Dr. Eger’s book The Gift. Reading this book and going through the exercises will change the way I perceive myself and the world. That is my gift to me.

Sharing this helps others realize they are not alone


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