Playing 'Victim' No More

I've been stepped-on, written off, abandoned, judged, ostracized, and burdened.

OK, are you thinking, "Self-pity, much?" I'll be the last one to believe I am perfect; I'll never want to be, and I know full-well that in any life situation, it always takes two to tango. I know that I've learned more than I could have imagined from everything good -- and bad.

It's been an awful lot of "fun" over the past two years figuring how coming to terms with my sexuality in the best manner possible, fighting to stay in recovery, and learning (even after traditional and Christian therapy) all over again, how to deal with the many emotions that flood our everyday lives.

Many questions pop into my mind: Am I overly sensitive? Why am I angry? Do I still raise walls to protect myself? Am I too assertive? Do I love too much? Are family/friends accepting, or am I forcing my opinions on others? Do I truly accept myself?

Yes, I realize my mind happens to do a few more miles than the average marathoner, but I hope this entry resonates with a few readers. This is why I am outlining why I can't stand playing the victim in my life -- not to my illness, not to the thoughts around my sexuality, and definitely not to people I've been afraid to be honest with. When I finished my graduate research and focused on phenomenology, I knew that my lived experiences would contribute to something, someday. And I now knew that I would no longer play that role.

1) You've been hurt, but don't play a victim.

Yes, I get it. I was hurt. But, hasn't everyone? Most of the time, we never see it coming. It's often something so painful it sticks with us longer than we would ever hope, and we never want to go through that same experience again. In fact, our own self-criticism tells us we are at fault for believing something bad would never happen. But, we cannot play victim.

When we are in a healthy state of thinking and cognitive processing, we can learn from those experiences, forgive and move on. But when we're not in a healthy place, we tend to remain stuck, reliving the victim in ourselves over and over.

Through personal experience, I've learned that if I don't push myself to remain open to my interpersonal surroundings, I'll probably secure myself an unfulfilled existence. When I am 80 years old (Lord willing) and in my rocking chair, and reflecting on my life, will I see a life lived open to others, or will I be reminded of a life wasted on being closed-off and full of regret? I don't want to be stuck in the experiences of the past which may have prevented possible healing of the heart.

When playing victim, we often deal in terms of "should have's" and "could have's" in interactions with others. The unfortunate preoccupation with "rights" and "wrongs" and "could have's" and "should have's" is unrelated to the real problems that we are all faced with. Even worse, anger and persecuted feelings are bottled-up inside, becoming the perfect breeding ground for vengeful thoughts which can contribute to a miserable existence.

Look, I played victim to the struggle with my sexuality for 25 years, and I played victim to an eating disorder for four; it's about time that I take responsibility for what I am able to take responsibility for, and enjoy the valuable time that I have left.

2) I'm criticized and not fully accepted, but I won't echo the victim.

People will often believe you are too sensitive, say you're too emotional, too intense, too serious, too much of a perfectionist, and, often times, too unreasonable. You're told you think too much, worry too much and take things too personally, or, perhaps, are just plain crazy for your beliefs.

We are all unique. Whether it is our attitudes, feelings, experiences, or outlook on life, that is what defines the human race. There is no one like us in the world. There never has been an exact replacement of us, and there never will be. Differences make life interesting, and yes, perplexing. The unfortunate thing is that these differences can often lead to unresolved conflict and stress.

I've had to maneuver relationships with family, friends, and others who claim to accept me as I am, yet secretly harbor resentment or an irrational fear of something they don't understand (probably a 4 on the Riddle Homophobia Scale) -- even after knowing me my entire life. My responsibility is to forgive both them and myself for allowing miscommunication. You should never feel apologetic for being honest about how you feel; the process in how the honesty comes across is where the hang-ups occur.

You may feel "different" from everyone you've encountered in your life, and perhaps you always have. You view what is going on around you and at times feel like you don't belong. But, again, don't echo the victim.

People who appear to live the happiest lives often accept the distinctiveness of those around them. They are not on a mission to change them, correct them or invalidate them. The happiest individuals first and foremost accept themselves -- for who they are, and who they will be, and accept the differences (whether they agree 100 percent or not) of those around them.

3) Be honest and face your feelings, but don't be labeled a victim.

In facing one's feelings, it is important to note that feelings do not necessitate explanation. They are automatic and people's feelings cannot be judged as good or bad, right or wrong. I had to learn through recovery that being honest is not always easy; people won't like what you have to say, and you may even lose people in the process. But, it is more beneficial to experience feelings, such as anger, than to deny them or engage in behavior in an effort to avoid them. Remember, you are not responsible for how people react to what you have to say, and you cannot take responsibility for their happiness.

When we become angry, we do so because it gives us a sense of control in our lives, and permits us the false sense to block out the possibility of being hurt. Anger hardly is a manifestation of an issue we truly believe is responsible. So, whether you have been angry over something incredibly ridiculous (in hindsight), or are holding onto anger for something that you legitimately believe was wrong, are you honestly able to feel positive regarding where that has taken you, or how that anger has affected others? If not, then stop and change your direction.

When we allow ourselves to be labeled a victim by making an excuse not to be honest with others, we somehow believe that by accepting ourselves as a victim, the rules don't apply to us. When you are completely powerless, then and only then are you considered a victim, and that's a hard-hitting definition because we are almost never completely helpless and almost always have some power in a situation.

Don't allow the world to make you into a victim and definitely don't allow a societal label or situation persuade you into being a victim. Whether you are LGBT and encounter resistance every day of your life, whether you suffer from an illness that no one seems to understand, whether you have lost, or are going to lose a loved one, or you are simply struggling to find out what your purpose is on this big green and blue ball, create an alternative for the 'victim' which hides in each of us.