Lately, I have been participating in a roll that I had hoped to never play again: the victim to someone’s punisher.
It was a roll I often found myself in during my marriage, and then my divorce, and it was not a role I relished.
My husband used to punish me for the smallest infractions:
If I was late for any given reason, even if it was an unforeseeable event that had caused my tardiness, he would punish me by either brooding over what he saw as a disrespect to him personally, an infraction, a slight, on my part or choose to take his attention… time… away from me to prove his point until he was sure that I had been wounded in return.
If I shared feelings with him that made him feel uncomfortable. If I had needs or concerns or tried to express my anger or frustration calmly and logically, he accused me of ruining his day… his mood… and I would find myself apologizing for even bringing things up.
This did not keep an open path of communication between us.
It was a form of mental terrorism that kept me in my place.
Because of his punishing behavior, we were never able to work as a team…. to find a relationship that worked for both of us…. to set goals and find a way to accept each other totally.
And as the victim, I time-and-time again swallowed my own feelings and needs while being left emotionally and often physically… abandoned.
Today, when I find myself falling into the Victim role…. I do several things:
I speak to a trusted friend who will help me work through my emotions.
I allow time to pass and my emotions to cool before I address the issue.
I then hold my ground and express my needs in hopes that we will be able to amend the situation.
And I have learned, if I feel that I have done everything in my power out of love and respect to change the dynamic and remedy the situation yet the cycle continues, then maybe it is time for me to rethink the relationship and allow some space to bring me clarity.
“Dear God, help me to step out of old patterns that no longer serve me. Help me not to take on another person’s issues and to stay working firmly on my side of the street.”