The Christmas Victim

2002_blue_room_christmas_treeEven though it’s Christmas time, lately I’ve been noticing how everything is all about me.

Me. Me. Me. Me. Me.

Which is strange, because I feel like all I do is give, give, give, give, give.

Not too long  back I read a book which discussed how certain patterns are maintained in life because someone is hanging on to their victim role. I thought about this. “Nope, not me. I don’t walk around victimized. I’m a ‘doer.’ I don’t take things sitting down. This is not me.”

And I skipped happily along.

Along comes a dream

Then, like in a movie or good book, I had a strange dream. I don’t have many strange dreams. (Thank God. I don’t want strange dreams, and I don’t want strange voices.) What was strange about this dream was that I woke up abruptly from my dream right as I was saying, “We’re all playing our own victim role in life, I guess…” Hmmm. Okay. Not so strange. I hear you. We all talk in our dreams. And notice, it was my own voice. So I’m safe still. Not hearing strange voices.

But what was strange was how I went from hyperdrive, lightspeed dreaming to an abrupt, hard stop, with complete awakeness and those words literally reverberating, echoing in my head. Like one of those balloons they used to make when we were kids. Remember those? The big, tough balloons with long rubber bands attached, and you’d sit there and bounce the ball back and forth: boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. That’s how the words were in my head, until they died off slowly, like the sound of a freight train chugging away from me in the night.

In the loud, dark silence, I grabbed my pen, and I wrote those words down. Scribble. Scribble. Scribble. You’re supposed to write your dreams down, they say. So I wrote it down. I never turn the light on. I just leave a pad by my bed and scribble big, hoping it will be legible in the morning. It rarely is. I don’t know why I bother.

“We’re all playing our own victim role.”

Then the magic happened. Over the last, oh, I don’t know, six months since I dreamed that dream, I’ve seen it!  Watch. Do you see it too?

“Why is it so cold? This weather sucks. Nobody should live in -37 degree F  (-38 degrees C) weather.”

“Why are you up so early? This is my time! No, I won’t read you that book. This. Is. My. Time.”

“Target and Office Max didn’t have the gift I needed. Now I have to go to Wal-Mart. Kill me now.”

“I have four kids I’m homeschooling. Does she really think I have time to talk on the phone an hour? Does everyone think homeschoolers just sit around and read all day?”

“Where is my husband? He said he’d be home early today. This is not early.”

Did you see it?

The victim. I’m playing the victim role. All day. All day.

The weather is the weather. It’s NOT out to get me.

Kids wake up early sometimes. They do. (Remember when you were a kid and you woke up so early on Saturdays that all that was on TV was the screen with those stupid colors? And the ear-splitting, high-pitched, strident sustained tone? Oh, maybe you had cable. I only had an antenna to pick up three stations: Indianapolis, South Bend-Mishawaka, and Ft. Wayne.) My kids aren’t out to get me (yet).

Wal-Mart didn’t send me an invitation. The phone didn’t walk up to my ear. And my husband didn’t go break that kid’s arm so he’d have to operate on it and eat a cold dinner.

I made myself the victim in all these simple, daily situations.

I’ve shared this victim idea with my husband, kids, and some friends. We now have fun walking around poking out each other victim roles. “Oh, you’re such the victim.”

Besides moms like me, kids love the victim role too:

“I didn’t do it.” “It’s not my fault.” “You always blame me.” “She always takes over.” “She pushed me.” “Why does she get to, and I don’t?” “You always take her side.” “She never helps.” “I didn’t have time to practice. I had to go to my sister’s dance show.” “Why do I have to do so much math every day?”

Of course, husbands are good at it too. And friends. And bosses. And really, just about all of us. Especially at Christmas.

We didn’t get the cards out; we just had so much to do. My gifts shipped to the wrong place; I was being rushed out the door while I was typing in the shipping address. Don’t the radio stations know this is the only time of the year to play Christmas music? Why are they playing that stupid song instead?

Or– I don’t even celebrate Christmas, the stores are so busy, and all I want is a flipping loaf of bread. People are so stupid and needy and trashing the earth with all this crap they buy to feed the need. The music offends me. The words “Merry Christmas” offend me.

Find the victim in the feeling

Me. Me. Me. Me! You see it! We’re all playing our own victim roles. Think about it. Let me know what you think!

Is there a victim hiding behind our anger, fear, irritation, and/or overwhelm? Is there? It often takes me a while to see it when I’m irritated, but then when I step back, I am learning to see that I have placed myself as the victim being acted upon. Sometimes it’s my headache acting on me. Sometimes it’s my kids. Sometimes it’s the weather. Sometimes it’s even the radio station not playing Christmas music.

Yes, there are times that people truly are victims, like abusive relationships and war. Perhaps the feelings that the victim role bring about were placed in us to help prevent us from being placed in situations where we are dangerously victims. I don’t know.

All I know is that for me, the victim mentality is not a necessary piece of my life. I will not accept it.

Well, from my heart to yours, here’s to a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or just a great December 25th. Embrace the season. Embrace every single bit of it. The late cards. The lines. The weather. The stupid radio DJ’s. The UPS. The different cultures and sub-cultures screaming to be heard. All of it.

They make movies we love about this stuff! It must be worth something! God have mercy on us.

The best to you,

Terri

PS: The book I read with a section on this was called The Loving Diet, Jessica Flanigan.

16 thoughts on “The Christmas Victim

  1. kemkem

    Yep! Great post. We do seem to love playing the victim role 😀. I sometimes do it too, even though l try to be conscious of it and remedy the situation. I do wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season.

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Ah, thanks for reading, Kemkem—all your travel posts make me feel like a “travelless” victim. Ha! But I’m laying the ground for great travels with my kids later. Can’t wait to show them the world.

      Reply
      1. MEH

        Terri- Good post. Gives one pause, does it not?! As for travel. Whenever we knew someone was traveling, no matter where, we asked them to mail us a post card (we were sure to give them our address!) from their trip. What fun to go places vicariously through others’ adventures! Made us feel a little bit as though we were actually there. Okay, so it also did evoke a wee bit of jealousy. My kids loved those cards. 30 years later, we still have them and often asked people to send us one in the mail. Kids are grown, and we never got to go places, but we still have memories. Merry Christmas, Terri!

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Thanks, MEH! Thanks!

        I love to travel. I hope my kids do too. One set of grandparents sends them postcards from their travels. We have a Bush’s Baked Bean postcard somewhere! 🙂

        Peace and joy to you. Probably feels like yesterday the kids were young?

      1. gabriella

        I wouldn’t go so far as to call it being a victim. I just call it whining. Definitely catch myself at it sometimes. Before I go shopping, I check availability of the product I am seeking on line. Some stores have on their website how many of the item is on the shelf and which aisle. Saves me a lot of time because I do not enjoy shopping.

        CBC radio is 100% Christmas music today and tomorrow. They’ll have the Queen’s message tomorrow.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Sure. That’s why I went skipping along merrily from this idea when I read it. My whining isn’t “serious!” Everybody knows Terri is a “whiner” (but also a “whiner” who eventually does something about what she whines about usually).

        But since the election here, and then with the extra stress of Christmas, the victim role idea grew and grew in my mind and heart. I don’t know. Just play with it a little. One time, when something at the office really “GRABS” you, just try framing it with you as the victim. See if you can frame that anger, fear, irritation with you as the victim. Just try it. 🙂 Then, if it flies, do it in smaller irritations. I don’t know. Maybe it’s no good for the majority. But when the baby starts screaming, my eight year old needs help with her zipper, I’m trying to chop an onion, and the phone rings, then I feel like a victim. When something on FB rubs me raw. When the weather is bad for 14 days solid. Like something is “after” me. We all know nothing is! It helped me to put a stop to that. I’m not a victim. That can’t be good for GI tracts and headaches to think that one is a victim in daily situations like driving, child rearing, espousing, dealing with insurance companies, etc.

        Hey! I tried the CBC radio. My laptop said it couldn’t be streamed except in Canada. Maybe I didn’t do it right. So, I just went back to Pandora.

        Have a happy new year!!!! Do take care! And hope work is good!

  2. Lesq

    Ah the victim roll that we all know and have milked so well in our own needy, mental states. I climbed out of that dark black hole years ago when I became a dedicated yogi with a true yogi mind-set. After reading the The Power of Now about six year ago, I changed my whole mental and emotional state. I have grown into someone I can honestly say I like/ love. My contentment, gratitude, joyous heart and serene and peaceful state is so far removed from my type A
    frantic /pleasing/family doormat/complete perfectionist personality traits. It can be so liberating when the heart and mind work together and true gratitude leads to a daily blissful peace. I have found that, but one needs to realize it is inner changes that heal and grow us–loved ones, friends, acquaintances, strangers they don’t change–you change the way they affect you and your responses and actions to them. I have learned to take in, absorb, process and keep my mouth quiet. I don’t speak as much as I always did and ignore what I was never able to. My opinions are mine and that doesn’t make them right or wrong. They are mine and unless asked they are not given a voice. However, for a once big mouth I am quiet and extremely serene. I found deep inner peace in a quiet part of my life that I carved out. Who wants in enters in peace, otherwise unknown to them, they are mentally locked out. My relationships are far from perfect, I just adjust them to work for me and the selfish, advantage taking, harsh tongued parts of people’s interaction get left at my locked door to my peaceful existence. It’s a journey and it’s been long, but ever so rewarding. Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year to your whole family. I am so grateful for you and your beautiful ad brilliant mind, your spunky and witty personality and your blog friendship. Your the best!😍

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Good morning, Lesq! That sounds so calm and soothing. I honestly relaxed just reading it!

      I’m going to be cheeky. 🙂 : I think I’d have that too, if I didn’t have four kids. 🙂 Ahahaha. I’m laughing at myself, but in actuality, they’re giving me the biggest ride of my life. I can forget mindfulness, meditative prayer, and solitude in exchange for “Mom—I don’t have any underwear.” “Mom, we’re going to be late.” “Mom,”—-CRASH—“Oh, never mind, the baby just pulled the glass bowl of chili out of the fridge and now it’s busted all over the floor…”

      I don’t get hung up on the distractions like how their hair looks, if they’re running when they ought not be, if they forgot to say “please” and “thank you”—but the day-to-day stuff gets me (I have a fit thrower toddler! It’s quite cute but trying.). I keep trying to redirect and refocus my thoughts, but I think the only thing that’s really going to get me there is that they’re growing older!

      I know you have grown kids. I have hope? 🙂 Yes?

      Merry Christmas! May God bless you and keep you forever and ever!

      Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Thanks, Christine. I’ll go read your post as soon as I can. I’d have done it already, but four of my favorite people ever in the world victimized me at 5:15 this morning (MY. TIME. Hee. Hee. Hee.) I don’t know. The victim idea just helps me re-frame things. I have the best friends and family ever, so they all get me. There’s nothing in my life that I should feel victimized by. So to kind of realize that that’s what my brain was doing, well, that helped me. Different strokes for different folks!

      May you have a wonderful day and life each day!

      Later!

      Reply
      1. gabriella

        Whenever I am tempted (oh yes, the devil tempts) to feel sorry for myself I think of my grandmother. She lost her father in a gold mine cave in when she was a girl. The mine owner, a grof (translated to ‘earl’) provided her with an education. Then there was WW1 and all her brothers were killed. Cannon fodder for the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Then there was her marriage, 6 children, 1 died in infancy, then her husband was cut in half by a locomotive leaving her a widow with five children, the youngest aged 15 months, during the depression….then a famine… then WW2…. then having her house seized and being deported with two of her children to a dp camp for ethnic Germans….surviving more privation and being released back into a communist country, eventually getting to Canada where she didn’t speak the language and where she raised me. How did she manage? Self discipline and she read the Bible and prayed every evening before bed. She died of stomach cancer in her mid 70s. She really never got a break in life did she? Was she perfect? Heck no. But if not for her, I’d be nothing. I owe my toughness and resilience to her.

        She never labeled herself a victim. I have no right to do so for myself. I have been through some truly truly awful stuff in my life but I owe it to my grandmother to keep on keeping on. Hers are the shoulders I stand on.

        Whose shoulders do you stand on? Whose legacy do you want to carry forward?

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Absolutely. What horrible circumstances throughout her life. What tragic loss. No, I see no break there for her in her life. This is the kind of life that must have been taken truly one step at a time. How she could pick herself up and take care of others every single day is amazing. A testimony.

        These are the mindsets which I’d love to know more about. Mr. Bremler, a Jewish neighbor who lived next to me in an apartment in pharmacy school, fled pre-WW II Germany, lost all his family there in concentration/extermination camps, served in our military—yet he explained that he harbored no resentment. How could he, he asked, explaining that if he did, it would overwhelm him.

        It is good to have things put in place. But still, it is easy, for whatever reason, to feel overwhelmed by certain things, even if someone is walking a harder lot in life or has walked horrid lives involuntarily. By teaching to recognize small thoughts as perhaps “victim thoughts” then it may allow one to change a pattern. We all have different constitutions, there’s no doubt!

        To answer your question. My mom and dad aren’t perfect, but I stand on their shoulders in gratefulness.

      3. gabriella

        Lots of people had lives like that. I know people who spent years in Siberian work camps. And women who somehow through luck managed to avoid Soviet soldiers raping them. Or my aunt who hid under the bed when the soldiers came to execute her (for what, I have no idea). Two of my uncles were sentenced to Siberia for stealing firewood. Twice. They somehow escaped from the train, both times. And they were all of them proud to have survived.

        When a highly educated intelligent woman who is financially well off such that she can have four children at home and make the choice to home school them and is married to a supportive spouse, a woman who has had the freedom to make her own choices in life, where is the victim?

        I have a woman patient, a teacher, who burst out crying in the dental chair the day after Labour Day. She was bawling her eyes out about how much she hates her job. She’d just come back from 8 weeks vacation in Europe with her two children where she thoroughly enjoyed being spoiled rotten by the relatives. I gave her the time to finish everything she had to say. Then I took a deep breath. I told her ‘you really need to be careful who you complain to because there are an awful lot of people who think you would think you have a wonderful life.’ I also told her that ‘complaining doesn’t solve anything. It’s focusing on the negative. Decide what it is you DO want and work towards that goal.’ She was wallowing in self pity. I gave her a gentle slap upside the head. A bit of a reality check. It actually had an effect as the subsequent years have indicated. But what I said to her came from the heart. I think that makes all the difference in the world. Cred is earned.

        I find that the Christmas season turns otherwise rational people into idiots. Weddings are even worse. Now weddings… wow. That’s a whole nother level of insanity. Listening to the radio prior to Christmas, it was all about shopping shopping shopping…. Christmas is NOT about shopping.

        Over here the ‘bookkeeper in chief’ (moi) unplugged the phones so she could sort out the year’s worth of bank statements, bills, and other assorted financial detritus. Meantime outside a blizzard has started up. The whiteness of the snow is competing with the darkness of night in the city. I’m keeping phones unplugged. Have no intention whatsoever of explaining to anyone why no one picked up the phone all day today and being told ‘it rang and rang’. I don’t work until Friday so I think I’ll just keep it all unplugged. Peace and quiet is a precious commodity. 🙂 Why on earth do I need to be ‘available’ to anyone with a finger who can push a button? I don’t even want to hear about it. Fehhh.

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