Not Your Typical Victim

In 2015, at the age of 52, I hit a codependent bottom and landed in 12-step recovery. This was after 37 years of therapy and tons of other personal development efforts. You name it, I tried it! All those things scratched the surface of the iceberg of my life, whereas 12-step recovery melted the iceberg.

By far the biggest paradigm shift of my recovery was coming out of Victim mentality. What’s interesting about me is that I am not your typical Victim. I never had the “woe is me” attitude and I didn’t think the world was against me. I’ve always been a very positive and optimistic person.

The thing that enabled me to begin seeing my Victim mentality was doing a relationship inventory in recovery. In all my relationships, I had the attitude that “If he would just [fill in the blank], then everything would be okay.” I’d been (subconsciously) thinking I had nothing to do with the status of my relationships, as if they were happening to me, not something I was participating in. In time, I also came to see that my attitude had been that I was responsible for all the good things in my relationships, and my partners were responsible for all the bad. THAT is Victim mentality!

I eventually saw that I had Victim mentality in all other relationships too. Then I started to see it elsewhere, including while driving! One of my first major epiphanies in recovery was during a traffic jam. I was crawling along and stomped on the brake because I was following too closely and the thought came into my head, “I need to leave more space between cars.” That thought eventually caused me to have a cascade of understanding that I’m the problem here. My thinking while driving is the problem, it’s not the fact that there’s traffic.

When I processed that with myself, I realized I had this belief that there should not be traffic on the highway (which was built for traffic!). I acted as if traffic was happening to me, it wasn’t just happening. This took time to understand, and it came only after I’d begun to see my Victim mentality in relationships.

A couple of years into my recovery, somebody told me about TED* (The Empowerment Dynamic)® and that it was the antidote to the Drama Triangle. The book was such a game-changer! I loved it the first time I read it and it was really helpful. But when I read it the second time it really sunk in.

The thing I love about it the most is that it’s written in parable form, so it’s very easy to digest. Ted’s story is easy to relate to, even though his story is very different from mine.

As a boundaries coach, I find that people with poor boundaries often have Victim mentality, do a lot of black-and-white thinking, and have a lot of unrealistic expectations of themselves, other people, and the world. So, I recommend the book to many of my clients. I also recommend it to people in recovery regularly.

Before recovery, I felt like I had agency and was living purposefully. Now I know that I was not, and that my Victim mentality permeated every area of my life. I continue to come out of Victim mentality in more and more subtle ways, and the weekly “TED* Works! ®” blog helps me to do just that!

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