“You don’t know what real pain is.”
Word for word, that’s exactly what someone said to me once. I remember thinking, “Gosh, who is this person to assume that I’ve never experienced real suffering in my life?”
Yet hypocritically, and I’m not proud of it, I have in the past similarly looked down on others when they would talk about certain suffering they have experienced. I was all like, “You think THAT’S hard? I went through this, that, and the other thing…”
No. Just no.
Everyone has been through different kinds of shit. And everyone is different and has experienced things differently than we personally might have if we had been in their situation. We all have our own unique perceptions, experiences, and reactions. That doesn’t make anyone’s suffering any more or less severe than our own.
That’s not how this works, Cheryl.
Here’s the thing about playing the victim: it not only hurts others, but also hurts yourself. That be no good, Janet. You only see your worth through your victimhood, blinding yourself to all the innate, beautiful things about your bacon (i.e. your unadulterated, badass self).
Let’s say you got slapped with a fish at a very young age. It was a traumatic experience and made you terrified of fish for life. Your unique perspective, upbringing, circumstances, DNA, and personality all inform how you experienced that fish slap, in a way that no other human being could have experienced it.
You enter into a relationship where the other person was once punched in the gut with a poopy toilet brush. You suddenly feel threatened, like that person’s trauma was more extreme than yours, so you become defensive. “Yeah, but I got SLAPPED with a FISH.” You’re holding onto the belief that your trauma is the primary thing in your life that gives you any worth; you believe you’re nothing without your victimhood.
Oh Susan, if you only knew that there is so much more to you than your fish slap history.
Here are some reasons why you need to get out of the victim game and start playing more bacon.
It Clouds Your True Self and Kills Your Self-Esteem
As I said before, playing the victim all the time blinds you from your true bacon. You start to not only think of yourself as a victim, but also act like one and use it to inform all of your decisions. If you only see yourself as a victim, you don’t see your innate worth; your victimhood becomes your safety net. You lose sight of your true potential, which is really sad shit, Sam.
It Makes It Harder to Be Kind, Because You Only See Your Own Hurt
Being a constant victim makes you very defensive. You feel sorry for yourself, and therefore you tend to miss opportunities to be kind to others. Their hurt can’t compare to yours, so you hold back the side of your bacon that is naturally kind and compassionate.
It Keeps You Living in the Past Instead of the Present
When you always look at yourself like a victim, defining yourself by your past struggles, you live forever in the past rather than the present. You think about what you’ve been through all the time, which keeps you in your head instead of living in the moment. As a result, you miss out on opportunities to love, create positive memories and new experiences, and foster healthy relationships.
All you dwell on are thoughts like, “If they only knew the emotional turmoil of being slapped with a fish, right in the face…”
It Keeps You From Healing
When we experience a trauma or any kind of suffering, it’s important to acknowledge it, accept that it happened, and feel the emotions associated with it. But then you need to put the past behind you (yes, I see you, Rafiki), or else you can never heal. Holding on to your victimhood makes it impossible to move on with your life.
You Always Feel Unsatisfied
When my ex left me in a parking lot after my car broke down (not still salty about that, nope), even after he tried to apologize (months later… but still not bitter or anything), I was never satisfied. I kept seeing myself as a victim, so even when he would apologize for one thing or other, completely unrelated incidents that came up, I would always be like, “Remember the time you left me in a parking lot?” And then even when he’d give me the last Oreo cookie in the box, I’d still find ways to point out how terribly selfish he was towards me. I always felt unsatisfied because I was so attached to being the victim; I was uncomfortable with the idea of letting go of that part of myself.
It Makes You Demand More From Others
One thing that’s been particularly difficult for me when it comes to romantic relationships is that, as a victim, I demand way too much from the other person. I set ridiculously high standards that realistically, no one could possibly meet. I use my past negative relationships to define me as a victim, and my “woe is me” attitude makes me believe someone needs to bust their ass to take care of me, which isn’t fair.
It Makes You Unfairly Judge Others
Feeling like a victim all the time makes it difficult to trust people and makes you place your suffering above others. You become quick to judge, rather than quick to understand and offer compassion. When someone endures suffering of a different nature, you are instinctively inclined to judge them, because in your mind, they could never experience suffering in the same way that you have. As a result, you put up emotional walls that make it difficult to sympathize with others, which is no good.
You Compare Yourself to Others
This one goes hand in hand with the previous point. Ongoing victimhood causes you to compare not only your past experiences with those of others, but it also makes you envy other people’s bacon, because your self-esteem is low. You continue down a spiral of self-hate, jealousy, bitterness, and judgment, where it is extremely low at the bottom.
Don’t Forget Your Suffering, But Don’t Let It Control You
This is a very important point I want to stress. When I say you shouldn’t remain in a state of eternal victimhood, I’m not saying you should forget your suffering. In fact, you should never forget it, as doing so can cause you to subconsciously revert to an unhealthy state of emotions that you experienced during your suffering.
For example, I know I have OCD (I call it Lucille), but every once in a while, if I neglect my regular journaling, meditation, and therapy, the anxiety and obsessive thoughts come crawling back in and I forget that they come from the disorder. I fall into the trap of hateful self-talk.
So you should never forget your struggles. But you don’t want them to control you and define you as a victim.
I have what I call a “dark day” (if you watch Gilmore Girls, you get that reference). It’s the anniversary of when I tried to kill myself. When this day comes around, I make a point to commemorate it in some way. I read the memoir I wrote about the experience and I take myself out for a drink, by myself, not talking to anyone. I do this not to act as a victim, but rather to remind myself where I once was, how it affected me, what I learned from it, and how far I’ve come ever since. If I don’t do this, the experience would slowly fall further back into my subconscious, making it challenging to pull myself out if I were to ever fall back into the negative way of thinking I engaged in during that time.
We all go through shit in our lives. That doesn’t mean we should belittle our suffering, but it doesn’t mean our suffering should be how we define our bacon either. Rather than be eternal victims, we should be grateful for our suffering, accept that it has helped shape us into who we are today, and then simply let ourselves BE. That’s what really makes your bacon sizzle.
And for all that is good and holy: fish slap responsibly.