State of Victimhood (SoV)

Webster’s dictionary tells us the definition of a victim is a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action. Synonymous with sufferer or casualty.  Another definition is a person who is tricked or duped. This definition carries synonyms such as, loser, prey, stooge, sucker, fool and chump.

I once lived in a State of Victimhood. I was the victim of childhood molestation, psychological abuse, physical abuse, rape, and many other traumas, as a child and as an adult.  At the time, I would have told you that living in a State of Victimhood kept me aware and protected me. It gained me allies in my quest for safety.  It allowed me to meet other victims to compare notes, forming a sort of sisterhood of victimhood. But, being in a State of Victimhood took from me as well.

As women, we’re influenced early on how powerless we are.  Disney and all their good intentions, has up until recently, always put female characters in the role of needing to be rescued or the State of Victimhood (SoV). Not simply rescued either. No, after being rescued, it was typically expected to be married off to the hero and be protected for ever after.  I always did want to see what happily ever after actually looked like.  I was the strange kid that wanted to see sequels to Snow White and Cinderella.  Of course, I also cried bullshit on how complacent Cinderella seemed in her servitude, and how happy Snow White was picking up after seven messy little men.

Disney wasn’t the only culprit either. Aside from very few, scantily clad, female, comic book superheroes, that still seemed to need the helping hand of their male counterparts, movies and TV shows only seemed to cast women in lessor roles. Lessor meaning, not as intelligent, strong, or quick witted as their male counterparts.  I’m happy to see this changing.

We were taught that chivalry was defined as men who went out of their way to do nice things for us.  It was expected for men to hold doors, help us with our coats, or just always be available to us to help us with our various helplessness. Hey, I enjoyed the hell out of this concept. Right up until I realized just how helpless it made me appear.  It was never that I couldn’t do for myself. The act of constant chivalry took from me the desire to do many things for myself.  Don’t get me wrong, we women do lots of nice things for men in the same manner, so it could be seen as a fair trade.  Women just don’t have a name like chivalry to give us recognition for these things. But that’s another topic entirely.

I want to get back to victimhood. The definitions I wrote above could be attributed to just about everybody on the planet at one time or another. Everyone has been a victim of something in their lives. To be a victim is commonplace.

To stay a victim, or being in a SoV, is a choice.

I know I’m going to ruffle a lot of feathers with that statement.  I’ve not only known people that made the choice to stay in the SoV, I’ve been that person.  In the past, I’ve allowed myself to use the SoV as an excuse for not being farther along in my life’s endeavors. I’ve used the SoV to gain attention when I’ve felt I’ve needed it. I’ve even allowed fear to hold me in my SoV.  And the sisterhood of Victimhood?  Well, there’s a difference between supporting one another and happily dragging each other down into the same abyss.

Being a victim and being in a State of Victimhood are two different things. Being a victim is someone who has been subject to the definitions stated above.  Being in a SoV is someone who has been subject to the definitions stated above and has decided consciously or unconsciously to continue to identify as a victim long after the incident has passed.  To have been a victim does not put you in a SoV. To willingly continue to be a victim, does.

In my opinion, based on my own experiences, the SoV strips women of their power.  Not only does the SoV keep us from enjoying life, but it also keeps us from taking responsibility for that life.  The very act of taking responsibility gives us back our power.  It allows us to see the role we played in a situation, and make no mistake, we play a role in every situation that involves us.  Even bystanders play a role, active or not.  This is not to say we should beat ourselves up with the could haves or the should haves. This also does not mean in any way that we should accept blame when we’re victimized.  The act of taking responsibility is to be aware that everyone, in every situation, effects in some way, the outcome of that situation.  Taking responsibility gives us a greater opportunity to learn from situations in which we were victimized.  “Poor me”, doesn’t actually solve anything or prevent it from ever happening again.

Being in a SoV can make you feel powerless.  Some people feel they’re powerless to even leave the SoV.  Abused children and spouses, to name a few, fall into this category.  Yet, I’ve known a few of those who’ve found the courage to speak up and leave their situations and their SoV.

Instead of consoling someone in a SoV with how sorry you are that they’re going through something, maybe we could simply say, “I’m here for you.  How can I help you find your power over this?”

None of this is meant in any way to shame victims.  Somehow, taking responsibility has become synonymous with blame.  The very word, responsibility breaks down to the ability to respond. If someone didn’t directly cause a situation to happen, that someone is not to blame for the situation happening to them.  At the same time, being present in a situation has an effect, even indirectly, to the situation.

Let’s say someone is being physically hurt while a bystander looks on and does nothing.  Could it not be said that the bystander could’ve helped? If the bystander had in fact gotten involved, there would’ve been an obvious change in outcome. The same can be said if the bystander didn’t get involved.  They are still part of the variable.  So, yes, even a bystander affects a situation’s outcome. If a bystander can effect the outcome of a situation, why do we as victims get to make the claim that we had no effect?

Holding grudges or withholding forgiveness is a form of willingly remaining in a SoV.  I understand that some feel like a grudge is a sign of mistrust. But, it’s mostly a sign of refusing to stop gnawing on a bone.  Letting go of a grudge or forgiving someone of a wrong should never be done in order to let someone off the hook or for their relief.  Letting go of a grudge or forgiving someone is an act of self care.  It allows you to move forward with your life and leave your SoV.  It’s not even something the other person needs be aware of.  You do it for you.

I can say honestly that I didn’t always feel this way.  Having been a victim and having been in my SoV comfort zone, taking responsibility was a lot of work. I was hurting and in no way did I want to feel responsible for any of my pain.  I can’t tell you why it was so comfortable in my SoV.  Maybe it was simply easier. It’s a fact that changing the way you react or respond to situations is hard work. At least it’s hard to start.  Once I became aware of the power I regained just by simply taking responsibility, it became easier and easier.

I survived.  That in itself shows my strength.  Instead of reliving traumatic moments and using the feelings and emotions those moments invoke to stagnate me in a negative space, I’m now able to look at those moments in a new way.  I’m able to assess my role.  I’m able to think of ways my role could’ve been different. In this process, I learn how I might handle the situation differently if it were to ever arise again.  I use the fact that I survived to remind me of my strength.

I have suffered traumas since this realization. I have been a victim after my new found awareness.  I’ve taken responsibility for my role in those situations.  I allowed myself to feel the emotions I needed to feel. I allowed myself to grieve.  I forgave where it was needed for my own well being, and then I let it go.

Yes, I was a victim.  But I choose not to live in a State of Victimhood.

Living in a state of victimhood is not a joyful place.  Not only would I not wish it on anyone, but if any of you believe that you are , I hope for you to find your way out.  Don’t try to do it alone.  Talk to someone that can help you find your strength and regain your power.  Believe in yourself.  You’re a survivor.

But, this is Just One Woman’s Opinion.

 

Self Image

Any mother of a grown daughter has had an unique view of self image.  We’ve lived through our own battles with it and watched our daughters go through it.

I’ve personally gone through many stages of self image. I started out as a carefree kid that would run from mom and the hairbrush, moved on to, “Yuck, I have hair on my legs!”, then to, “Why do my thighs jiggle like that?”, and finally, glaring at the hairbrush and razor and deciding to watch a sunrise instead.

It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with my own body image. I still have my days when I have no business looking in the mirror if all I’m going to do is criticize. That gal looking back at me? She doesn’t deserve that. I wouldn’t tolerate anyone else insulting her like that. Why should I allow myself to do it?

It’s no wonder so many women suffer with self image.  Everywhere we go we see photoshopped billboards presenting unrealistic perfections no one can possibly achieve without a talented computer software expert. I’ve lost count how many chocolate bars I’ve never bought in the impulse isle at the grocery store because of the 61 ways to flatten your tummy on the front covers of magazines.

Movie stars, perfect. Musicians, perfect. When we finally get to see actresses and singers that are not perfect and are ok with not being perfect, they’re negatively spotlighted in trash magazines. Nobody wants that sort of attention, right? Putting down the candy bar.

Here’s the crux. Our own mothers helped to create our self image. Not necessarily by words or actions directed towards us. Although, I’m sure there are many girls that endured the sort of mother that was just never happy with her daughter’s appearance. My own mother would reduce me to tears just by looking at my hair.

No, what I’m talking about is our actions towards ourselves in our daughters’ presence.  When we frown and suck in our guts, or get worked up because our pants are too tight, we’re sending them a message that those things matter.  Our children learn from us first.  We set the examples for how they’re to see themselves.  If we criticize our own bodies, they will learn to criticize theirs.

I did this to my own daughter.  I didn’t realized it until she was just about grown. I had no way to reverse the frowns I made at my body while she looked on.  I couldn’t unsay the insults I said to the mirror.  She was witness to my self abuse. She saw clearly my self judgement.  She learned lessons from me I would have never intentionally taught her, but did.

Looking back, I looked great! What was my problem? Who was I comparing myself to? Sure, there for a while I put on some extra pounds. I carried it well. I see all of the old pictures and while I was no photoshopped super model, I looked great. My daughter would constantly tell me how beautiful I was while I would constantly deny it. Why did I feel the need to insult myself? Maybe, because that’s what I saw my own mother do.

I see that same frown sometimes when my daughter looks in the mirror. The first time I saw it, I didn’t understand it. Not to be biased, but my daughter is beautiful.

Then it hit me.  That frown looked oh so familiar.  It was my own.

In my opinion, the lessons we don’t mean to teach our daughters are the lessons that are the most deeply learned.  I’ve tried to tell her how wrong I was to criticize myself the way I did. But, as they say, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. Hopefully she’ll figure it out sooner than I did. Hopefully, because I recognized my mistake and made her aware of it, she’ll learn from it and be less apt to repeat it with her own daughter one day.

I want her to see herself as I and so many others see her. Then I want her to not have a care how others see her. I want her to realize as I have, that we are all unique and perfect in all of our imperfections. I want her to know that billboards, movie screens, and magazines lie. I want her to know that it’s easier to eat healthy and exercise when you’re doing it to feel healthier and more energetic, and not to look like runway models.

If she can see and know these things, then maybe one day she’ll see her stretch marks as a symbol of having carried a fine, healthy baby and the lines on her face as a map of the joys of her life. Wouldn’t it be great to actually see a sunrise instead of spending all that time in front of a mirror?

I want to add that we as women could serve each other better by reminding each other how beautiful and strong we are. We do a disservice when we criticize each other or ourselves when we’re together. Judgement doesn’t just hurt the one being judged. The sort of energy it takes to make judgements on others drains us of joy. It feels so much better to lift each other up. Let’s do it! After all, sharing our light with others makes our own light all the brighter!

To all the young girls and women in the world, You Are So Beautiful!

But, This is Just One Woman’s Opinion

First Blog/Passwords

Whew!  I’ve finally gotten this site set up.  I play computer by ear so it probably took me four times longer than most people and at least ten times longer than your average ten-year old! But I’m here now.

Yup, here I am. In blogland. I’ve spent so much time setting up this blog, I’ve drawn a bit of a blank on how to actually start it.

How about I start with who I am.  My name is…ok, so I’m not going to start with my name. I’ve decided to blog for a while anonymously. Why? Well, I feel like we as people, or society, spend too much time focusing on visuals.  We tend to form opinions about people, not so much by how they think, at least not at first, but how they look. So, I want you to get to know my brain before I divulge what I look like.  I hope no one thinks I mean to say that I don’t look smart. Actually, my fairly new reading glasses make me look pretty studious. Am I smart? I don’t know my IQ but I’ll tell ya, I’m smart enough to open myself up to new lessons to learn every day.

That’s part of what this blog is all about.  Learning.  I want to hear your opinions on the topics I’ll be writing about.  I want ideas for topics to come from you. Our opinions help to shape the world we create around us.  I chose the name JustOneWomansOpinion because I want it out there from the start that we all have opinions and the opinions I share with you are just one woman’s opinion.

My wish is also to use this blog to lift people up. Because of this, I ask as time goes on, if there’s ever an opinion of mine you might not agree with, let’s have an honest discussion about it. Please, respect that if there’s name-calling or derogatory comments, directed at me or anyone else, I will delete them. Curse all you want, I love passion in the written language, but abusive or violent opinions will be deleted.

I want dialogue. I want to hear why you agree or disagree with my opinions. I want to hear why you’re passionate about your opinions. I want to learn how and why others think the way they do.

On that note, because of the problems I had setting up this blog, I want to start with my opinions about PASSWORDS!

Does anyone else have problems with keeping up with and remembering passwords? I had to create three passwords to set up this site. I kept them simple. I wrote them down as I created them. Yet, the first time I had to type in a password to access the tools to this blog, BAM! Wrong password. Really? Really, really? I was so stunned. Well, not really. Anyone who knows me, knows I fail at keeping up with passwords. But, I wrote them down and everything. I kept it simple. I used the same password for all three needs! Nope. Wrong password.

I then proceeded, sheepishly, to the password recovery site. Here I was asked to provide payment history info to verify I was indeed the owner of the FREE download!

Folks, I’m not old, but I can damn sure remember a simpler time where there were no passwords.

I proceed to call customer service. I had already entered just about every password I have ever used on anything to no avail, so, the only option left was to make the call.

Customer support: Hello, this is ______ from ___________, how can I help you today?

Me: (In my not so attractive, blubbery, frustrated voice), I can’t access my account because it doesn’t like any of my passwords.

CS: Not a problem, lets see, which account are you trying to access today?

Me: The only account I have?

CS: (Chuckles) Do you have the username for the account?

Me: Yes. It’s Justonewomansopinion.com

Pause

more pause

I swear I hear him laughing behind his hand.

CS: (Clears throat) yes, well then, let me try and access that for you. Is this a website/blog account?

Me: yes

While he’s looking for my newly created account, I ask, “Why do we even need passwords? I am so sick of passwords! Why can’t people just respect each other and not hack into stuff? Okay, I didn’t say stuff.

CS: (Clears throat again) Well, I don’t know. Maybe you could blog about it.

I bite my lips together to keep me cordial. He asks me what I would like my new password to be. He then waits while I access my account on my end to make sure it works.

And you know what?

It was the same bloomin’ password I put in twenty times!

So, why is it that we’ve come to a point in society that we have to have passwords for every little thing? Why can’t people just respect each other and not hack in and pull shenanigans like stealing from bank accounts or spying on someones email?

Does anyone else think they have just about enough passwords to fill a directory?

I know I do.