Have you met anyone who’s been a victim? Of course you have! Almost everyone has been a victim of something. A victim of a crime. A victim of an unjust system. A victim of bad parenting.
You’ve probably met people, that despite being a victim of something, have chosen to forge ahead.
On the flip side, you’ve probably met people that have allowed their victim status to become them. They frame the world in terms of their victimhood and proclaim the ills of the person, system or events that ‘caused’ them to be a victim. You see this often when people have been abused by a church, by a family member or someone that should have been protecting them.
I read an article the other day, that was posted on facebook between two sisters. It essentially talked about being raised by parents who were emotionally unavailable and emotionally illiterate, and the impact this had on the person who wrote the article. One of the daughters discussed very openly on how she believed her parents were emotionally unavailable, unaware and, in her words, ‘brought them up in an environment of rage’.
I’m a parent. Like pretty much most parents I know, I put in a stack of effort in raising my children to become happy, well adapted, engaged, productive adults. I know my parents did this, too.
With the benefit of hindsight, I know my parents made mistakes. They’ll even admit their mistakes. There’s no hurt, malice or anger there – we’ve had some pretty honest conversations and they’ve often said they would of done things differently.
I’m not going to lie. My life probably would have been different if my parents did do things differently. If I learned different skills, was pushed in different directions and had and different focuses during my upbringing.
One of the greatest lies someone can tell themselves is that their life would be better if their parents were better. If their parents were more emotionally in tune, wealthier, kinder, more loving. Your childhood may have been easier and you may be imparted with better skills, but to say your life overall would be better is a falsehood.
It is an unfair, and honestly, wrong assumption to expect your parents to teach you everything. To give you every single tool to become an adult. Some parents will impart financial skills, others emotional, some practical or vocational. I truly believe parents will impart the skills that they have to raise the most well rounded children. Are there abusive and neglecting parents? Of course there are. Do they have an impact on a person’s ability to grow into a well adjusted adult? Without a doubt.
Part of being a grown up is identifying areas where you lack a skill or capability. There may be areas in your childhood where hurts were caused, where you don’t feel your parents gave you the right skills to manage a situation. Guess what? Learn from it. Learn. Grow. Develop into a well rounded human.
You can go around, blaming your parents for whatever slight they caused – real or perceived. You’ll grow into the victim you believe you are, and that victimhood will enslave your whole life.
There are situations when parents have genuinely abused or neglected their children. Genuinely. That’s horrible, it’s wrong and it’s rotten. As trite as it sounds, you can get healing from this – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. This will be a process, but again, you can choose to let healing in, or you can choose to be a victim.
I suspect with many ‘victims’, they’ve allowed themselves to be ensnared in their hurt. They’ve chosen to let the vines of hurt choke the otherwise beautiful garden of happy memories.
It’s unfair to expect your parents to solve all your problems, equip you with every tool to succeed and provide you with an easy life. It’s not going to happen. It’s an unrealistic expectation – unfair to yourself and unfair to them.
There’s nothing wrong with talking to your parents about the joys, disappointments, hurts and happiness of growing up. That’s a pretty mature thing to do, it helps you grow and helps build relationships between people. Focusing a locus of disappointment on your parents for not meeting a particular need, however, is unhealthy and will cause you a lifetime of hurt.
Parents aren’t perfect. You’re not perfect. Your parents probably have disadvantaged you in some way. Guess what? They’ve probably given you a stack of help, too. Don’t let your disappointments enslave you. You’re a grown adult – you’ve got agency about your decisions and choices about your emotions and your life and your wellbeing. You can choose to be a continual victim, or you can choose to learn, grow and adapt.
What choice will you make?