What Benefit Do I Derive from my Victimhood?

Due solely to transportation problems, I dropped the psychologist I was seeing in Portland.  We accomplished some valuable steps forward, but I have been forced, through public transportation, to miss as many of my appointments as I have made..  Today, I returned to a psychologist I worked with a few years ago.  I relaxed into the appointment, happy not to have to start at the very beginning — I told her about the blogs, and my friends, my family and what I am trying to accomplish.  We talked about my exercise regimen, and the immense value I find in that.  Finally, she asked me if I needed to be in therapy.

I started to cry — I didn’t think of it then, but that question felt like just one more person not believing me when I say something is wrong.  But I knew that was not why she asked.  I told her about issues of anger and sadness I was still dealing with, and I gave her examples.  Apparently, my bent towards passivity came into play, because she looked at me, tilted her head, and asked me, What benefit do you derive from your victimhood?

I was taken aback, and couldn’t really answer the question.  She told me to think about it, and we would talk again at our next visit.  Well, I thought and thought, and I am still thinking, and I know the answer is likely more complicated than my first response.  But here it is:

I don’t get any real benefit out of my victimhood.  In fact, the only reason I come up with, on first effort, is one I know is flawed, but nevertheless, I am going to write it down.  I nurture my victimhood because, if I don’t feel sorry for myself, I firmly believe no one else will.

I talked this over with sister S., and she asked me why I would want anyone to feel sorry for me.  Again, the first answer I came up with is likely not the complete or correct answer, but it’s a place to start.  I feel, and have felt for most of my life that no one believes me when I say that I’m sick.  Now, I know that isn’t literally true, but since I was young, I feel I faced diabetes alone.  As it so happens, I learned recently that my diagnosing doctor told my parents to have nothing to do with my problems with diabetes, lest I become dependent on them for the rest of my  life.  This might have made sense, if I were 18; but I was 14, and a pretty immature 14, at that.  My parents were following doctor’s orders — the responsibility was and is his alone.

Please, excuse my tantrum, but that pisses me off.  I don’t know that I would have done everything differently, as concerns my health, but I have to believe that some sense of comfort might have formed a defense against my worst tendencies.  Who knows, I might have learned to cope with diabetes in far more positive, less harmful ways.  And that might well have provided me with a more hopeful, joyful attitude and life, and lessened or removed my tendency toward victimhood.

Although I remained emotionally immature for decades, time did pass, and I got along.  Never really well, but for a while, in my twenties, I married a sweet guy, whom I did not appreciate anywhere near as much as he deserved.  I was so invested in not being content; even when I was content, I wasn’t.  And I blamed my husband for the problems in our relationship.  In fact, I blamed him still, long after our marriage ended.  Only in the last couple of years am I able to accept my responsibility in the difficulties of that marriage.  And, of course, it’s way too late to change anything now.

Still, this doesn’t explain my identity of a victim.  I realize now the personal stake I hold in the unhappiness of my life.  I think, perhaps, that I am so afraid not to be a victim, because that is the person I’ve been for so many years.  I fear that I don’t know how to be me, without the tale of woe I claimed for so long.  I do forget, at times, to live my misfortune out loud.  Often, however, I manifest the passive/aggressive victim in all her glory.  I still don’t know what I hope to gain from this stance, but it feels as much a part of who I am as the newer, happier, more satisfied me I claim much of the time now.

The conclusion I reached, concerning my victimhood, is that the what and why are not as important as the how — as in how do I change this behavior for a more productive, comfortable, and helpful attitude, with regards to my past as well as my present?  No answer right now, but understanding the question is half the battle, so I have made a good start.

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9 responses to “What Benefit Do I Derive from my Victimhood?

  1. Pingback: Not gone, just busy! | Diabetic Redemption

  2. Hmmmm….given the positive strides you have taken and are still taking with such determination…including seeking help from your psychologist…I personally see you as a survivor.

    • Thanks — I feel that way most of the time, but I have this button — Something is wrong, and no one believes me when I try to tell them. Immediately, I fall back to being a victim.

  3. Judith,
    I really enjoyed the post. I think just recognizing the tendency towards victim hood is a great step you have taken. Have you ever read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl? If not I think you would really enjoy it.
    – Pedo

    • Thanks, Pedo, for the reference — I will go look for this at the library. Recognizing that part of my personality has helped immensely. This will keep me and my psychologist busy for a while. 😎

  4. I know where you are coming from with the victimhood. I can look back and see so much now that I have done, over the years. I just try to remember it and start each day anew striving not to be a victim.

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