“People only treat you the way you allow them to.”
I remember when I started believing this. It was probably some therapist’s attempt to help me self-actualize. Taking responsibility for my role in all the ugly things that happened to me. It was supposed to make me feel so empowered. Congratulations, I was no longer stuck in victim mode.
Except that I still was. Embracing this belief that I was mistreated because I allowed others to mistreat me is inherently wrong. It’s victim blaming. It’s scapegoating. It’s shifting the responsibility of an abusive situation from the abuser to the abused.
What was my role in what happened? I was the punching bag. I was the doormat. I was the one expected to glue back my broken pieces so they could be shattered again.
You’re probably thinking I’m playing the victim here, but I’m not. I WAS the victim. A person who crawled out of one abusive situation right into another as I attempted to stand on my wobbly legs.
Sometimes what hurts us makes us stronger. We do gain a sense of power. We chant “Not me! Not ever again!” Some of us can live that truth. Some of us can’t. Maybe some of us never will.
I think I’m somewhere in between all that. Some past traumas still wake me up in the middle of the night. I scream, shake, and feel like I’m back in the middle of my own personal war zone. Sometimes there are beautiful moments where I feel I came out the other side.
Do I want to hurt? No.
Do I think I repeat harmful patterns? Yes.
Should I know better by now? Maybe.
Is it my fault? Absolutely not.
I’m kind-hearted and naive in a Disney Princess kind of way. I’ll trip over a rock and apologize to the rock. Yeah, I’m that type of person. This makes me an easy mark. Always has. And since this is the very nature of who I am, I’ll always be an easy mark.
I’ll believe that employer yelling at me in front of a room full of coworkers and customers about how stupid I am. True story.
I’ll believe the romantic partner that calls me selfish because I requested some affection and attention. That happened too.
I’ll believe the friend that tells me the limitations from my disabilities are something of my own making. It’s been said repeatedly.
The “Victim Mentality” is a myth. At least, the way it’s presented. I’m supposed to take responsibility for how I was abused and immediately cauterize all my wounds. I’m supposed to embrace that I deserve better. I’m supposed to make better choices so that I will never end up in an ugly situation ever again.
I have the power to ward off all impending evil. And with great power comes great responsibility.
This ugly situation only happened because I allowed it to. I set the table, prepared a five course meal, and invited the pain/humiliation/trauma into my home. Then I gave them their own key so they could come back whenever they wanted.
If anything, my reality is that I don’t want to invite anyone into my home. I no longer feel safe there. Or anywhere. Not entirely.
When you blame me for the abuse others inflicted on me, you have now made me the villain. You make excuses for the other person. You diminish my pain. You shut me in a room with no sunlight, oxygen, or water while expecting me to bloom.
I didn’t ask to be a victim, yet there it is. It doesn’t mean I’m weak or at fault. It does mean something malicious happened to me and I’m finding my own way to survive with it.
People treat me the way they allow themselves to. Their choice and they don’t need my permission.