I am not the experiential lies that try to keep me “stuck”. Past experiences will NOT keep me trapped as a victim to my circumstances.
Recent events have caused me to think about the word victim. There are terrible, terrible events that have happened in my life – where I would be defined as the victim. These are the events that happen where no amount of boundaries would have protected me because someone exerted their power and control over me and did unspeakable dehumanizing things. Yet, there are also circumstances, simply being female – in a patriarchal system in and outside the church that also causes me to be a victim. These masquerade as meaningless, everyday life occurrences but can sting like a thousand paper cuts on the soul. On many occasions, someone walking in their ignorant entitlement – takes advantage of my time, my kindness and my grace. It looks innocent on the outside, but what comes across is an attitude and sentiment that states, “you are not valuable enough for me to make the effort to treat you as an equal – you are female and I am male. My condescending and dismissive behavior will show that male trumps female, and therefore I treat you as less than.” Believe it or not this situation occurs in ministry settings, among co-workers, in a marriage and among family members.
The truth is, at some point in our lives we will all take on the victim role. When we look at the Karpman Triangle (a popular tool used in trauma recovery, perhaps you have seen it in a counselor’s office) . The role of victim is defined as someone who believes they “can’t change what’s happening to me.” There is a lot of helplessness and the self-talk often sounds like this: “I can’t do this alone.” “I have no power to change anything.” Victims seek their safety by denying their own power and submitting and surrendering their power to other people (often times men) and surrendering their power to make choices. If you would like more information on this model take a minute and watch this explanation here.
Victims often can stay “stuck” in this mentality, especially those of us who have been sexually abused in childhood. They were trained to have no voice and the door knob on the outside of their body allowed anyone to enter at anytime. Remaining in the victim role – is a safety seeking behavior that allows one to survive for a time – but cannot be a long term method to thrive in life.
My meditations on the word victim have been centered around me asking myself these questions: “Yes, these circumstances are unfair, but what will I do with what has been done to me?”
“Will I stay stuck? Or will I fight like hell for healing, truth, goodness and glory?”
“Will I remain powerless? Or, will I use my voice and learn to speak up when someone crosses my boundaries or dismisses my value as a person?”
“When I feel victimized, what will I do to stand behind my boundary line and get safe, stay safe or protect my resources?”
“How will I remember that this is NOT about the other person – but it is about me. How am I feeling and does my behavior in this situation align with my values and the strong woman that I want to become?”
As I grow in my recovery, I have learned that in order to break free from victimization I must use boundaries. I am in charge of protecting HER, the girl that God designed me to be. Part of the journey back to myself is me learning how to take ownership for her resources and steward them wisely. I will no longer allow people to victimize me again and again – whether it is by a small repetitive paper cut or a sword thrust into my side.
I will lay a boundary to take responsibility for HER; her finances, her time, her energy, her emotions, her intellect, her resources, her health, her body.
My boundaries are not about anyone else except HER! I cannot control if a man is going to treat me dismissively, but I sure as heck can stand behind my boundary and state what I need and want for emotional, spiritual and physical safety. My boundaries will protect and guard my heart. Essentially I am learning to live out a God designed way of stewardship.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. –Proverbs 4:23
“A prudent person foresees danger (emotional, physical, financial, spiritual danger) and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” -Proverbs 22:3
If I stay stuck and live a boundary-less life – will I lash out? Avoid? Drown myself in bowl of ice cream? Will I stuff my feelings down and make excuses and justify their bad behavior – convincing myself that it was okay to treat me poorly? OR: Will I take ownership of HER feelings – own the feelings and choose to use this circumstance as an opportunity to learn and get stronger. Using and exercising my voice, authority and power.
For example, if another person’s habitual pattern of behavior, has caused me feelings of anxiety, discomfort, resentment, depletion, anger and fear. I have a choices:
- I can shove all those feelings down and continue to allow this person to treat me this way because I’d rather have them like me than to be honest with them.
- Risk exposure to their behavior again – knowing that they will continue this same pattern leaving me feeling more discomfort, anxious and resentful – because I am too afraid to speak up and I am afraid of their disapproval and explosive anger. (Which sadly means, I choose self-annihilation over authenticity and value due to people pleasing tendencies)
- Realize that I am training people how to treat me. I can use this circumstance as a lesson to observe my own behavior, collect data on my emotional responses and respectfully state what I need and what I will allow my heart to tolerate and not tolerate. (I ask, “What is this event teaching me about my mind, heart and emotional responses?”)
If I choose door #3, I believe I am living out the process described in Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Meaning do not merely sit there stuck in victim role taking on more and more toxicity. Stand up! Move away – take cover – don’t participate – don’t engage – say NO – say “I can’t allow my time to be used this way” – say “I will not accept abuse, lying, cheating or threats” overcome the evil that seeks to set up shop in your heart by standing behind your boundary and not allowing yourself to become resentful, numb or depleted – but do something that is within your boundary to drain the poison and fill your heart back with peace and goodness. David described this draining of toxicity in Psalms:
“Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.”
I refuse to hand over my VOICE and HER POWER to anyone. I will not stay stuck as a victim. I can say when my peace has been compromised and then I can turn away from the event, the person, or situation in order to maintain my peace.
In their book, Boundaries for Your Soul, authors Alison Cook and Kimberly Miller penned, “When you practice Spirit-led self-leadership, you’re cultivating an internal garden that helps the wild and magnificent parts of you grow together in a peaceful and integrated way… Gaining a greater sense of internal order, you become FREE to focus on your God-given purpose in the world.”
Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I would rather seek to step out of victim role and become free by using boundaries to protect my resources and take a leadership role over HER; rather than trying to grow a garden in a barren, depleted and resentful wasteland that has been sucked dry by other’s who seek to devour, consume and destroy.
My Dear Sister,
Do NOT relinquish your VOICE, AUTHORITY and POWER to anyone, any circumstance, or event. YOU have choices and you are BRAVE enough to stand behind your property line and do your work. Seeking to maintain your peace by stewarding her finances, time, energy, emotions, intellect, resources, health, and body.
Today, which will you choose?
- To shove your feelings down and enable the maltreatment to continue?
- Risk exposure to a pattern of behavior that is harming you? Rationalizing and minimizing why the harmful behavior “okay.”
- Take data on your emotional temperature and use your voice to regain your peace?
What might be stopping you from choosing number three? Is it fear? Fear of loss, someone’s anger of disapproval? What would it cost you to speak the truth and turn away from evil and then work to maintain your peace? Are you willing to pay that cost?
Sister, God says you are WORTHY of the fight for peace – and His heart is for the wild and magnificent parts of your heart to grow together in wholeness.
“The time will come when I will heal [her] wounds and give [her] prosperity and true peace.” -Jeremiah 33:6
“HER life will be like a watered garden, and all [her] sorrows will be gone.” -Jeremiah 31:12
“SHE will walk beside quiet streams and on smooth paths where [she] will not stumble.” -Jeremiah 31:9
You are not alone.