For a long and painful time, without even realizing it, I was a perpetual victim of life.
The thing is, I could have remained in that role until the end of time. I had a horrifying victim story.
As a child, I survived thousands of atrocities of sexual abuse and deep psychological violence. As an adult, I repeated these traumas over and over again, seemingly stuck in an endless loop that just kept piling more and more complexity onto my C-PTSD, digging the hole deeper and deeper.
I didn’t believe that I would ever escape the cycle of abuse. I didn’t even understand, yet, that I had the right to say “No more,” or the ability to choose a different life for myself.
In my distorted belief system, which I blamed my abusers for, I was broken, damaged, and helpless. I was doomed to a life of chaos and insanity, so why not just keep giving in?
Everything felt hopeless. I had surrendered to despair.
After all, why would anyone healthy and living in their integrity want anything to do with me? Perhaps, even more importantly, how would I even be able to receive the love and kindness I said I wanted when I hated myself so much?
I spent decades prostrating myself in a multitude of ways. Giving myself away to anyone who would have me in a perpetual act of self-sacrifice. I didn’t believe that anyone would even want me around unless I did anything and everything (I thought) they wanted me to.
My self-worth was well below zero. It was deeply in the negative: self-hatred. My value of myself was directly proportionate to how others valued and treated me. It depended on whether they loved and approved of me.
Unfortunately, the people I surrounded myself with capitalized on that opportunity to control me. More importantly, I allowed them to, without even realizing it. Because of this, I stayed in the cycle of learned helplessness and victimhood for the better part of my life.
I took on the role given to me at birth and became a martyr. In my self-righteous thinking, I was good and everyone around me was evil and abusive. I was a helpless victim of a toxic and unfriendly world.
It took me many years of deep work to finally understand that I was choosing to see people and the world through the lens of my own flawed perceptions. That I was hand-picking them based on a set of false beliefs in order to stay in a role that was more comfortable than self-ownership. That I was choosing to be a victim.
It also took me many years to learn how to start setting boundaries and saying “No.” To take full responsibility for my own poor choices. To let go of the story of what had happened to me and feel safe enough to actively choose a whole new one.
What it really took was the most violent and insane relationship of my life finally ending for me to realize that I even had a choice. In a state of complete desperation, I finally understood something fundamental: no one was coming to save me but myself.
My mind ruptured, and there was nothing left to do but start to examine my own beliefs and make better choices. Choices that reflected the life I said I wanted, the life I didn’t believe I could have when I chose to believe that I was a victim of everything.
In other words, I woke up to reality—and it wasn’t glamorous. I saw that I was no longer the trapped little girl from childhood, but a grown ass woman who was choosing toxic people and a toxic life. Who was now a participant in repeating the cycle of abuse, herself.
I saw that I was choosing to believe my own toxic thoughts, to give my power away to everyone and everything outside of me, and to remain helpless victim of life and circumstance. The good news was, this also meant that I was the one with the power to change everything.
Perhaps not so miraculously, as I began to actively choose my life, everything around me shifted accordingly. I finally began living the life I’d only ever said I wanted.
It began with giving myself permission to do so, which was absolutely terrifying. After all, when I choose my life, then I am accepting full responsibility for it, and there is no one left to blame when things go wrong.
There are no more “bad guys” to project my buried childhood rage at when something falls apart or I’m wounded. Not even myself. Because in accepting responsibility for my own choices, I must acknowledge that I too am human and make mistakes.
I now choose to take full responsibility for myself, and to stop shifting blame to external circumstances. I choose to be a grateful recipient of all that life has to offer me, and to find the lesson and opportunity for growth within whatever arises.
This came from shifting my perception of the world from life happening to me to life happening for me. I’ve come to understand that how I choose to engage with each new offering that life brings me colors my entire reality.
I have stopped wallowing in my old stories and started to write a new narrative. One where I am the active co-creator of my own destiny, taking actions that are in alignment with the life I truly desire. Now that I am open to receive them and choose them, the opportunities that make my life beautiful (relationships, adventures, work) have come flooding in.
If it sounds too simple, it really is.
Are you taking responsibility for your own choices? Or is life still a series of unfortunate events happening to you?
Because after three decades of waiting around locked in the high tower of my own perceptions, I can tell you one thing with certainty: no one is coming to save you but yourself.