I am a victim of myself.
I need to admit something: today I terrified my family. If someone had said or done to me what I did to my family today, I would have had a heart attack. I won’t get into details, but I can assure you it was messy, dramatic, and definitely uncalled for.
I sat down with my boyfriend, and we chatted about everything that had gone on.
“I feel like I’m a burden.”
“I feel like I can’t tell anybody my troubles or else they will get too stressed out.”
“I feel like I need to play the peacemaker.”
“I feel like all I want is to be happy, and I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”
He reminded me of two very important things:
First, there is only so much you can do until it is out of your hands. There are things in my life that I wish were different, but they are out of my control to change. The sooner I accept that and do my best to move forward in a healthy way, the sooner these things I can’t change will feel less important. Less like they’re my fault.
This brings me to the next thing he helped me realize. Although he didn’t outright say this, as he was preaching to me about how not everything is my fault and how I’m allowed to speak up about my needs, I realized that I am the victim. And I hate it. But I love it.
The thing is, I don’t want to be the victim anymore. I think I’ve felt like this for a long time. In fact, I tricked myself into believing that I let myself be empowered, and that I moved on from this role of the “helpless one.” However, this was just an illusion. I have grown so accustomed over the years to being the victim that in times where I feel empowered, I subconsciously freak out and find a way to sink back into that “please help me, I’m so broken” persona. Interestingly enough, most of the time I’m not blaming the world for my problems. I don’t stand and point fingers at others. I stand right in front of the mirror, point directly at myself, and say, “this is all your damn fault.”
Have you ever heard of the Karpman Drama Triangle? If not, let me briefly introduce you to something you’ll probably find yourself caught in on a regular basis (because if you haven’t identified these roles we play in relationships, then you probably haven’t done everything in your power to interrupt these patterns).
The theory is that we shift back and forth between these roles; we’re never just one of the three personas. I’m sure there have been points in my life where I’ve been a Persecutor or a Rescuer, but I tend to find refuge in the role of the little old Victim. And yes, there are people in my life who step into the role of Rescuer or Persecutor to aid in keeping me tied down to being the Victim, but that’s not the point at all. Because, just like anything else, the only way to get yourself out is to do the work yourself.
It is very easy to slip into this role when you suffer from a mental illness, mainly because you desperately need the help of others to lift yourself back up from the darkness (it’s very hard to recover from an eating disorder, addiction, depression, or any other mental illness alone). And don’t get me wrong, others can help drag you down to the bottom of the triangle. People were constantly telling me that it’s not my fault, that I did nothing wrong. People kept telling those around me to be gentle and kind, reducing me to an egg—capable of cracking at any moment if not handled with care. They were absolutely right, I did nothing wrong. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have to do anything to help myself. It’s not up to everyone else, it’s up to me.
I am not a fragile egg. I am an empowered woman suffering from an eating disorder. And I have the power to fight back and make a change. This is how you can drag yourself out of the dirt, pull yourself up from the bottom of the triangle and out. You don’t have to be the victim if you’re asking for help. Asking for help doesn’t make you a weak, powerless egg. Go to the mirror, point at yourself, and say, “you have the power to change things and help yourself, even if that means asking for help.”
I find myself bouncing back and forth between blaming others when I engage in behaviors and blaming myself. Today, when I went on a rather large binge, I kept thinking, “this is all your fault, you made me do this, I had no other choice but to retaliate against you by eating this entire box of cereal in one sitting.” And then I’d think, “I have all the power to stop this right now, but I’m just not good enough, strong enough, smart enough to do so. This is all my fault.” Never did I think, what can I do right now to help myself get through this? It’s not about stopping the binge/behavior once it’s already began, it’s about supporting yourself throughout it. Taking it one step at a time, giving yourself care and love throughout it all. Giving yourself forgiveness once it’s over and moving on.
We don’t need anybody to save us from our eating disorders. When I was in treatment, I felt like it was the therapist’s/dietitian’s/nurse’s fault that I wasn’t getting better. Or I felt like I wasn’t good enough to recover because if this program is so tried and true and it’s not working, then I must not be worthy of recovery. But the reality is that I wasn’t voicing what I needed or working on what I could change.
Change is not as clear cut as people make it out to seem, nor is the path to happiness. The truth is that it’s messy, and scary, and it feels easier to put the pressure on others to make these things happen. But the truth is: nothing is ever going to happen if you put your happiness on other people. If I can stand up, hold myself accountable, and with everything I have fight for change and happiness, you can to. Be gentle, be kind, be forgiving. You have all the power.