I received this email request for counsel from J, a subscriber, and decided to share our back and forth exchange (with slight editing for purposes of confidentiality) because it is SO relevant to those of us who tend to believe that others keep us from being happy. Hope it brings light and empowerment your way. Blessings, Lynne
photo credit: evantroborg3000
Thanks for all your writing and usually it helps some, but right now i still feel like I keep going in circles. I want out of the triangle and the victim role. I recognize the problems, anxiety, and negative self talk that I've engaged in, been in battle with, have tried to ignore, but nevertheless, it has still plagued me. I've been in years of therapy, yoga/meditation, and even though, I have worked to rewrite the songs in my head, the actual real life drama kings in my life keep doing more and more outrageous things to pull me right back to square one again. I have a daughter who has been pregnant many times with dangerous criminals. She has two beautiful boys with a guy who is in prison and is pregnant again with a man who has spent time in prison. He is scary. Her life isn't safe and I keep getting sucked in b/c of my grandsons.
Somehow, I have raised a daughter that is attracted to a white trash lifestyle and I don't want to be victimized by her bad choices anymore. I feel guilty just debating whether to close the door on her and what can I do about my grandsons? I can change my (victim) vocabulary, but I can't ignore the danger of the path they are being led onto by my daughter, who criticizes me for being negative, and has no conscience.
My response to J:
You are right. It takes more than just changing your vocabulary to get out of the state of Victimhood. What and how we speak reflects what we think and believe. It is at that level, the level of belief, that real peace, real change must take place.
I am someone who, perhaps much like your daughter, spent many years making poor choices. I married “losers” and had children with no means of taking care of them. I did drugs, and acted out in all sorts of dangerous ways. It took every bit of it to bring me to where I am today.
Once, when I was bemoaning my past, someone asked me the following, “If you knew that the road you've been on, with all its down sides, pits and falls, were absolutely necessary, if it were your only path Home to Source, would you want to change it?” In thinking about it I realized I would do it all over again, change nothing, if that is what it took for me to find my way Home. For so it is.
We each must travel the path we're on until we don't need to anymore. Where we are is where we need to be. How do I know that? Because it is where we are. Reality rules. I trust that where I am, where you are, where your daughter is, is where we each need to be for our own life lessons and opportunities. Our paths are tailor made for us. To see it any other way is to feel victimized by life. I choose to see life as a challenging, vigorous workout. Our life always reflects to us our own frame of mind through the situations and people we encounter. There are no mistakes, no accidents or coincidences. What we experience will always be what we on some level believe. How else are we going to realize the thoughts/beliefs that are holding us back except by encountering them in the physical through the people and situations we encounter? Your daughter, like you, is on her path. It is not your path – you do not have to understand it or approve of it. Simply trust that she is doing her life journey.
There's something I learned from Byron Katie (whose book, Loving What Is, I highly recommend for you) that comes to mind as well. She teaches that there are three kinds of business: my business, your business and God's business. She goes on to say that whenever we are in any business other than our own, we create misery for ourselves and others.
Our challenge is to get clear about where the line is in determining what's our business and what's not. How your daughter lives her life and the choices she makes is not your business. Brow beating her for poor choices will not help, as I imagine, you've probably already noticed. Beginning to trust that your daughter is where she is for the growing opportunities inherent there, and encouraging her to see her own life from that frame of reference, on the other hand, CAN help.
When my own daughter started following in her wild mama's footsteps, making what appeared to be highly self-destructive choices, I held my piece, except for those rare occasions when she asked for my feedback. Instead I reassured her by telling her I believed she would come through wiser and more mature as a result of whatever choices she made and that even though I might not always understand why she did the things she did, I would continue to support her in living an independent life – that I trusted the decisions she made to be the ones she needed to make for her own growth and expansion. I remember the moment I decided that no matter what she did, she could not keep me from loving her. Come to find out that is exactly what she needed from me – to know she was loved no matter what.
We cannot “be victimized” by another's “bad choices.” We are the only ones who can victimize ourselves, to give that power to someone else is to see ourselves as their victim. It's how we think about, how we interpret what we see that determines whether we are living in a state of Victimhood, not the circumstances surrounding us.
Here are my suggestions:
Involve yourself with your grandchildren in the ways you feel led to do … give your daughter back responsibility for her life and love her unabatedly (which does not mean rescue her). Mind what is yours to mind and stay out of your daughters business. Seek out your own limiting thoughts/beliefs – these are the true cause of your unhappiness – rather than staying fixed on judging and blaming your daughter for your unhappiness. Model to her what a happy life looks like by finding your own inner peace. To live at peace with yourself and her is the best thing you can do for both of you. Show her through the example of your own life what it is you wish for her.
Several weeks later, I received the following words of gratitude from J:
I don't even know where to begin to thank you for this letter. I have read it and reread it so many times. I truly don't understand how and why it took me so long to genuinely grasp this truth. Probably because I was so eager to relate to the way it affected me, “talk the talk but not walk the walk,” which I've done for so many years. Basically, I fooled myself (by using the vocabulary) that I understood exactly what was going on when actually I didn't have the true “Aha moment” until just now. The way people speak of a weight being lifted is so true. I stopped judging and being angry immediately and it felt wonderful.
My daughter, called and we got along differently straight away. She sensed acceptance, I know she did. Suddenly, she offered to let me be with her in the room when she gave birth. I have always wished for this ever since my hippie days with my midwife and natural births, but my daughter never wanted me to be with her during her other births; until now.
Thank you so much for writing me this letter, Lynne, and for turning on the light I so desperately needed. I was in therapy for so long about this, but it seems to me now, like I was being praised for being a rescuer and supported for being a victim, even by my therapist. She did the same thing I did – talk a good game, but not understand deeply enough to change our beliefs.
Well, I know I had to be there and go through all of this to get where I am now and I wouldn't trade anything either. Even though i have also had some rough times, I know it brought me to my husband, children, grandchildren, home, career, and right now i am feeling very blessed. Thank you so very much Lynne.
If you have not subscribed to my weekly notes on Victim Vocabulary, etc, go to my article, entitled “Faces of Victim” and then click on the pop up window that appears there.