Growing up, I took on the role of fixer-upper. I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I could talk some sense into the adults around me, I could keep our lives from continually falling apart. My role in the family was to be the sane one, the stable one. Don’t get me wrong, my parents did love me. I was the center of their worlds. However, they could have served me best by making their mental, spiritual and physical health a priority; instead they chose to use spending time with me as an excuse to avoid facing their issues. I was their emotional scapegoat. They needed me to be small, dependant. And I played that role well. But deep down, I was seething. I wanted my independence. I wanted parents that I could have rational conversations with, that I could lean on for support rather than always having to be the “calmer-downer.”
And guess what? As I moved through life, I continued to play that role. I got into friendships and relationships with troubled people who consumed much of my time with their issues while being unable or unwilling to reciprocate any sort of help. I let these people dull my light. I would get so resentful, eventually exploding and cutting people out of my life for good. But not long after they were gone, guess what continued to show up? Yep. More problematic people, who would come into my life as fun and carefree individuals and slowly “burden” me with their drama, addictions, hand head games, then leave when they had sucked me dry. I began pushing people away, before they could hurt me first. On the surface I had a lot of friends and acquaintances, but deep down I felt alone and misunderstood, just as I had growing up.
What I didn’t realize was that I was calling these people into my life. It was like my internal dial was permanently tuned to the frequency of needy, high maintenance people who could not provide me with long term, fulfilling relationships. These people were actually some of my greatest teachers, because, by triggering me, they shone a light on those parts of me that I had not healed. They made me take an honest look at how the way I was showing up in the world as creating these unwanted situations.
Only recently have I realized that I have been taking on the responsibility of “waking up” other people. I’m making a conscious effort to release this perceived responsibility, this role that I’ve taken on. The truth is, I can’t fix anyone anyway. I can serve the world better by being my most authentic self. By making sure that my emotional, physical and spiritual needs are met in healthy ways. By surrounding myself with a tribe that uplifts and encourages me while being there to hold me accountable.
Now, when a theme keeps popping up in my life that I don’t like, I pause and evaluate what role I am playing in that story. Am I the victim? The martyr? Am I trying to be everyone’s saviour? The next step is to be willing to release that role. It begs the question of who I really am apart from all this role I’ve taken on. The prospect of stepping out of that role can be scary. Sometimes we get so caught up in the drama we lose sight of who we are apart from all of it. The first step towards loving yourself is getting to know who you are, stripping away all of the roles that you’ve taken on and really be one with yourself.
Ask yourself who you would be if you’d never been hurt. If you weren’t carrying around those deep wounds. Who would you be of none of the trauma, abuse, heartbreak and garbage happened to you? Because that person is really you, and is beckoning for you to heal and return to an integrated state.
I find that many people are walking around carrying a lot of victim energy. Now, there is a vast difference between acknowledging that you were a victim and actively taking on the role of victim. Acknowledging the fact that you were a victim of some wrongdoing, acknowledging your hurt and telling your story can be very cathartic, if not necessary for healing. Everyone has a right to tell their story, the good, bad and ugly parts included, and be heard and supported. The trouble comes in when we begin to identify with the role of victim.
We live in a world where bad things happen. Just like the flu virus is kicking around, not being discriminatory about who it infects, sometimes those bad things just happen to undeserving people at exactly the wrong times. Deep down, I think we all know that. But when something bad happens, we tend to try to assign a meaning to it. This or that happened because we are unlovable, unworthy, or deserved to have this or that happen to us because of some perceived wrongdoing. When you think thoughts like that over and over, they turn into beliefs. And holding such negative beliefs about yourself will only attract more bad experiences that will serve to further validate these beliefs.
Just because you were hurt or traumatized or abused doesn’t have to mean that you will walk through your entire life as a victim. This is a lesson that took me a long time to learn; that I get to define who I am, not someone or some circumstance. For me making a change took stepping back and taking an honest inventory of my life, and looking at how past events had shaped how I was showing up in my present day world. I had been oscillating between the roles of victim and martyr, and of course the “supporting cast” who showed up in my life were narcissistic abusers or messed up, unstable people who drained me emotionally and financially. I took away lessons from those experiences, and I’m still working on changing certain patterns. But at least now I know that before my external situation changes, I need to work on changing the way that I am showing up. I need to be reminded to patient with myself when I slip back into old patterns; lasting change doesn’t happen overnight.
Sometimes, it just takes walking away. Saying no to hanging out with that person who is doing nothing but dragging you down. Blocking and deleting people whom you called into your life from a place of pain rather than love. For me, this is a tough one, especially for me as a woman. Feminine energy is naturally healing and nurturing, and not to mention there are ingrained societal expectations of women to be sweet and polite, even at the expense of their own needs. Now, I’m not suggesting anyone be rude or cruel to another person. But do not be afraid to exit a friendship or relationship that is binding you to a wounded part of yourself.
I will leave you with this though: just because you recognize that there are beliefs and behaviours you need to change in order to create a different story for yourself, does not mean that you are “wrong” or “bad” now. When I came to the realization that I had been repeating patterns over the years, finding myself in the same chaotic situations with myself as the common denominator, it was hard to not start blaming myself. I should’ve learned my lesson the first time. I wasted so much time.
That line of thinking is akin to taking a course in school, and then blaming yourself for not knowing all the material from the beginning. The whole point of going through the course is to learn the lessons. Some lessons may be quick and easy, while others may take a few tries to fully grasp. We are in the continual process of figuring out what works for us and what doesn’t. Having an openness to be fluid and make changes from a place of self-acceptance rather than condemnation is the first step towards living your most authentic life.