I had my 2nd EMDR session on Tuesday. As successful as the 1st one was, the 2nd one was equally unsuccessful. The week before I felt able to share freely, I held nothing back, and what I shared was genuine and authentic to me. This week, it felt forced. I felt like I was reaching for memories, connections, events – trying to force them into the mold I’ve been building, whether they fit or not. I don’t know if that’s what happened or not, but the EMDR therapist told me the following:
You need to genuinely admit that you were a victim. You were a victim during your childhood, then again during your marriage. Until you admit that you can’t move on.
I did what I do best – I argued. Having been on a successful debate team in college, I know a bit about spinning an argument. My main arguments were:
- I knew he was married when I started “seeing” him. That is Not a Victim.
- I agreed to the things that happened in our marriage; again, not a Victim.
- I am a strong woman, with a great education, a self-sustaining career (at the time he started love bombing me) and a fabulous sense of humor. Not a Victim, right?
I left the session bummed that I hadn’t made any progress and perplexed at the idea that I need to admit I was victimized. After all, when my narc started bombing me I had already known him for 6 months, and I knew he was an ass. I was totally independent and had been for years, and I was certainly not a Victim.
She explained to me that it is easier to see myself as all of those things, and therefore in control, than as a victim. If I was in control, I could change the events of the next 25 years. If I was a victim, I had no control and no power. Did I voluntarily give these things up?
I came home and looked up the word victim, thinking it might hold some clues, and it does. The word is defined as “a person who is tricked or duped”. That sounds bad, right? Even worse are the synonyms associated with it. They include loser, prey, stooge, sucker, quarry, fool, fall guy, chump, etc. It seemed pretty clear after reading this why I wouldn’t want to view myself as a victim. I find it highly disturbing that this is the definition of victim, which includes people who have been robbed, or raped, or beaten by a gang on the street. They certainly aren’t losers or suckers. This is, though, how we define victims.
Even without knowing the negative words associated with victim though, I had a visceral reaction to the suggestion that I admit I was one. I think the reason for that is that it does not fit my “story”. It doesn’t jive with what I have come to believe is my story.
In my version of my story I was a neglected child who became the scapegoat in her family. When she became an adolescent she took matters into her own hands and left home. She essentially spent 4 years away from her birth family, in a variety of settings, as a way to protect herself. When she turned 18 she allowed her birth parents to pay for her college. Once that was done, she took over again, she put herself through graduate school, and has been on her own since that time. In this story, I overcame childhood victimization and became a powerful adult. In my version of my story I take control of my future and I work my ass off to get there. How on earth does that person become a victim? And, more importantly, how does that person remain a victim for 25 years? It just doesn’t make sense.
I can admit that I was bamboozled, or hoodwinked. These are much more palatable words to me. However, even if initially hoodwinked, the efforts I took to preserve my marriage were not the efforts of a victim; they were the efforts of a mother, trying to desperately preserve her marriage and family life. They were the work of a strong woman, in control, making valid choices.
Where does this leave me? If I admit that I’m a victim I have to agree that I spent 25 years of my life essentially in captivity. I have to acknowledge that I am that girl who follows the murderous boyfriend on a crime spree, then, despite having ample opportunity to get away, doesn’t. Is that who I am? Am I really the one who was duped?
In an interesting twist to this, I do view the new girl as a victim. I know exactly what he’s saying to her, how he’s treating her, what things he is buying her, and I am very clear in my mind that she is a victim. Which leads me to ponder: why am I so accepting of her as a victim yet as equally adamant that I am not?
All I can think to say right now is my favorite word: Arghhhh!