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GPYP is a program of self-empowe...

Posted Sep 12 2008 2:41am

GPYP is a program of self-empowerment no matter where you come from or what has happened to you. There are reasons why you are the way you are and why your life is a mess but there are no excuses. The time is NOW to pick yourself up, brush yourself off and GET ON with the business of making your life better.

Too often lately I have heard people say to me, “But you don’t understand…” “I can’t…” “This terrible thing happened to me and I can’t get over it….”

My answer to you is: NONSENSE. YOU CAN TOO. I did it. YOU CAN DO IT.

If you want to be a victim, someone that life happens to rather than someone who makes life happen, have at it. Just don’t have at it here. Come back when you are ready to face your life, face all the wrongs that were done to you, feel about it, write about it, scream about it if you have to, but work on MOVING PAST IT and building a life SECOND TO NONE.

Not being a victim DOES NOT MEAN not feeling about what was done to you: on the contrary, you HAVE TO GET MAD AND SAD …you have to FEEL about it and maybe spend a small amount of time feeling sorry for yourself, but it DOESN’T HAVE TO BECOME WHO YOU ARE. You are a person who was hurt, not a hurt person and that is ALL that defines you. Allowing that to continue to define you MAKES YOU A PROFESSIONAL VICTIM.

Many people take the pain of their life and turn it into a crusade, a cause and a challenge. What happened to them changed the course of their life but after they’ve felt the hurt and the anger, they get up and DO SOMETHING WITH IT …they become locked into a goal of helping others and bringing meaning to their bad experience, not letting the bad experience dull and narrow their life. You can’t help that bad things happened to you but you can help what you do with the experience.

Both attorneys and psychotherapists have been accused of perpetuating the shroud of victimhood. As someone who is an attorney and was a psychotherapist, I take issue with that TO A DEGREE (there are many people who deserve a day in court who don’t get it and many cases that go the wrong way…but the crazy lawsuits are the ones that get attention and NO the McDonald’s case was NOT a frivolous lawsuit, I’m talking about other craziness like the judge and the drycleaner).

There are many people who seek help, real help, in the mental health system, not just someone to feel sorry for them, and work their butts off to get better. But when I was a practicing clinician, other therapists who seem to spend their entire time enabling professional victims was one of the things that drove me NUTS about the profession. A lot of times clinicians would tell me it was simply to cover their own butts and/or to avoid a lawsuit. As a lawyer (mostly defense) I do see the other side of frivolous lawsuits. But in each case, the therapist and the attorney NEED to have a victim in front of them, someone willing to play. And in both cases, there are people there who want to / demand to be coddled and patted on the head and told “poor baby” even though they should be moving on with their life and taking control of their life from this point on.

Again, I don’t say this to blame the victim but there is a certain amount of power one gives up when something bad happens to them and they continue to USE THAT bad event as a reason for doing nothing with their lives. I was a victim of abuse for many years. This is NOT about blaming the victim, but telling people who continue their “poor me, poor me” attitude and behavior after they are shown it DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY.

I tried to hold onto the warm cloak of victimhood myself. There was a PAYOFF for me when people felt sorry for me. There was a PAYOFF when people RECOGNIZED how hurt and mistreated I had been. The payoff was one of attention and comfort in that attention.

But that payoff doesn’t last. You have to find more people and go through worse situations for people to feel sorry for you. After a while people say (rightfully) “Well, when are you going to learn?”

When I was married the first time, we bought a 3 family house and our friends rented the first floor apartment. They had two young children the same age as our two young kids. After we lived there about a year my husband and I had gotten into a HUGE altercation and I was left bloody and bruised. I sought refuge in the apartment downstairs and the woman’s mother worked for a divorce attorney and they set me up with an appointment and the lawyer was willing to take payments instead of a retainer (something most lawyers don’t do). I went through the motions for a while but then my husband did his sob story, and “I’m so sorry” and it will change and blah blah blah and I returned to things as they were before.

My friends were incensed with me. They stopped speaking to me and moved out because they could not listen to the insanity that raged above their heads on a daily basis. I didn’t understand. But I was the VICTIM …how could they NOT speak to me????

Well, they had tried…done everything they could for me, but I returned to my abusive marriage.

A few years later when I was almost ready to get out, I had a mean therapist who told me I was not a victim, but a volunteer. Once I knew that the way he acted was wrong, that I deserved better and I chose to stay, I was a volunteer.

I also had to see that being a victim didn’t GET me anywhere. Yes, terrible things happened to me. Yes it had been horrible being a foster child and then adopted into an alcoholic home. Yes, I had been in abusive relationships with men since I was twelve. Yes, I had caught A LOT of bad breaks. Yes, things had happened. All that was true. ALL THAT WAS TRUE. I really WAS victimized. I really was.

But in the end the question remains “ SO WHAT?” So do something about it. Throw off all that crap…recognize the hurt and the pain and mistreatment…and then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

The first thing to do is STOP FEELING SORRY FOR YOURSELF. The second thing is to STOP WANTING OTHERS TO FEEL SORRY FOR YOU. People’s pity is not helping you…it is making things worse…and at the end of the day, it’s not WORTH anything. It is counterproductive.

The third thing to do is to start working on self-empowering affirmations….throw off the warm blanket of victimhood and tread carefully into empowered person territory. It will be scary and it will not be comfortable, but if you want to CHANGE YOUR LIFE, you must do it.

The fourth thing to do is to start surrounding yourself with can-do people….people who believe in you and believe you can do it….find a therapist, support groups, 12 step programs…and get to the bottom of all this.

If you have a fear of success, go to therapy and DEAL WITH IT. If you are DEPRESSED, get an evaluation and get medication. NOT BEING A VICTIM ANY LONGER MEANS DOING WHAT WE NEED TO DO TO MAKE THINGS BETTER. No matter what that is. SO DO IT.

Take responsibility for your own life.

We all need to work through the hurt and the anger when something terrible has befallen us…something we didn’t ask for and didn’t deserve….I was MOLDED to be an abuse victim by the circumstances of my early life. I was set up to be what I was…but after a while I was CHOOSING to stay in a bad situation and then afterwards had the “oh poor me” persona going for a time because my marriage ended, I had no job, no place to live and 3 kids. Yes, I had the hard luck story of the world (sniff sniff) but luckily I had a mean therapist who told me I was no longer a victim but a volunteer and a friend who told me, “ If you’re looking for sympathy, you’ll find it in the dictionary between shit and syphillis.” I needed those buckets of reality thrown at me.

If you’ve been victimized, that is difficult and I’m sorry you went through this…but the longer you wallow in your victimhood, the more power you give to your victimizers. You need to pick yourself off, brush yourself off and DECLARE TO THE WORLD that you are NOT a victim and TAKE CHARGE of your own life. Stop wallowing in misery….choose life….choose to be empowered and the architect of your own destiny.

Stop seeing life as what happened to you and start seeing it was what you make happen.

Refuse to be a victim.

Stand up and be counted.

Go out and make it happen.

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