Being a Victim is Not For Life
*[Trigger warning]* speaking about victims of hurt… but also about coming out of it
I woke up this morning with the thought that the three words ‘victim', ‘sacrifice' and ‘battle' all stem from the same root in Hebrew (Korban, Ha’krava, K’rav respectively). But they also share the root of 'coming close', like in intimacy (LeHit’karev).
It’s a common practice in the Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) to look for this inner connectivity in language because the mystics knew that language is not just words floating in the ether between us playing a merely functional role in getting a message out.
Words are units of energy, weaving the space between us into a shared space, an entity in its own right. They carry an edge.
Perhaps because, as I write this to you, it is Easter and Pesach Eve, and my consciousness is plugged into the collective sphere, with its messages of victimhood, stories of sacrifice and heartfelt wishes to come closer to each other and the divine with ourselves.
When a woman uses words that diminish her power I often suggest in our sessions different turns of phrase. Not as a veneer to sugarcoat with. No, much more powerful and real than that is the possibility of coming closer to our true essence and offer our energy body a way to see ourselves differently and feel our presence differently.
Instead of brushing off her feelings with a “whatever,” I might suggest she say how she really feels; instead of saying “this mother from my child’s kindergarten seems to have it all” I might prompt her to say what it is she would like to bring together in her own life; instead of saying “I was my mother’s victim,” I might ask her what it is her mother took from her, how her mother violated her, or how she felt.
Words help us cross the edge inside,
shifting from feeling like a victim to feeling victorious
Before I move on with this, I want to acknowledge the fact that when we’re hurt, violated and attacked, we are victims of someone else’s suffering. So I’m not dismissing the experiences that put us in a place where another human being takes advantage of whatever power position they had to break the integrity of our being and injured our autonomy.
Before I learned all that I’m going to share with you here, I can recall feeling bad for getting angry at my mother for neglecting me and disregarding my needs. I was always told “she’s sick, she’s not doing that on purpose,” and it would only dig a deeper hole in the chasm of my shame.
I was told “you can't fault her for doing her best” and it would make me feel like such an ungrateful bitch. I would rescue her from debt and other complications, and she would always say “nobody understands me, nobody helps me,” leaving me feeling stupid and invisible. I felt like I’m the victim here and I can’t even get the statues!
When I want to unpack sensitive themes, it helps me to look for parallels in nature. So I want to take you for a walk just below my house.
There’s a meltwater stream flowing down towards town from the Bachtel, the highest hilltop in this area. As it winds its way between tall pine trees, the stream is sometimes interrupted by old fallen tree-trunks.
The stream continues to do what it does despite the trees' violation of its space. It keeps on flowing. It finds a different way to flow. And the birds find a different tree to nest on.
We humans, for better or worse, are equipped with a nervous system that shapes new behaviours and warning signs every time we are violated, and a psyche that shapes a new sense of self and of meaning in life in response to each new attack and mistreatment.
If the event is strong enough to injure our agency, we move in the world with a sense of being a victim.
Since all of this happens in the subconscious, and in subtler ways than my words can capture, we don’t realise that we bring ourselves into intimate relationships with partners that end up controlling us or abusing us, we don’t understand how we always find ourselves with a boss that makes us feel we’re always doing it wrong, we don’t know how it could be that we get dragged into the same dramas over and over despite the countless promises to ourselves that we won’t engage with them anymore.
It is especially difficult not to feel like a victim somehow when your own mother, for example, didn’t have any sense of boundaries with you, mistreated you, abandoned you or was simply blind to what your needs were as an individual, treating you in a way that daughters and women in your culture have always been treated.
Words alone won’t lift the heaviness of being a victim but they will build a bridge
We get to feel the victory over those shaping situations that skewed our sense of self when we don’t feel anymore that the dynamics between us and others (your mother, your ex, your colleagues…) are happening to us, but happening with us.