5. Victimhood

Here is another passage from Permanent Partners which I believe alludes to another aspect of our relationship.

Victim Power (p.120):

Often an underground power struggle develops that becomes the subtext to much that goes on in the coupleís life together. If the power struggle is not in the open, it might involve bids for control that are more covert than overt: for instance, the power of the victim who gets others to do his/her bidding out of pity or guilt. These people do not directly demand control, but they shape otherís responses to them by being needy, helpless, put upon, or in some other way victims of life. Victim power is espevially difficult< to deal with in a relationship because of the contradiction it sets up in terms of what is required of the partner to avoid becoming the victim of the victim.

It seems that all your life, other people have hurt you. You have been a victim of emotional abuse by your parents and siblings, of discrimination by GE, of horrible crimes committed against your family, of harassment by your former co-worker Jack Thomson, of repeated rejection from your lovers, etc. etc. You have not had an easy life. Your status as a "victim" of these various events and people, as well as your current health problems (which, as I mentioned before, you seemed only too eager to maintain), did serve as a strong "pull" of me toward you. I felt sorry for you. (I know that this all probably has a lot more to do with me than it has to do with you.) Despite how poorly you were treating me, I felt like I had to hang in there with you, because if I didnít then I would be abandoning you, and how could I possibly abandon someone who had already suffered so many misfortunes in life?

And I did want so much to help you enjoy a better life, because I cared so much about you! I felt somewhat responsible for this--and I donít think this sense of responsibility came solely from me. There were subtle ways it came from you too. For example, after I broke up with you in March--several days later you said you were happy that I came back, because "Whoís going to make my life better?" This statement really stuck in my mind. It seemed as if it were up to me to make you happy, and that you didnít take any responsibility for this yourself. Perhaps I should not have accepted this burden. However, if I had not, you would have furiously pushed me away for abandoning you. Oftentimes, you seemed needy and insecure--needing me to help pump up your self-esteem as I mentioned above, or to do things with you--for example, going to card shows, driving around all the places we did--that I donít believe you would have done by yourself, if it werenít for me. Yes, I truly had my heart in these things and felt right about doing them! However, it would have been so much better, if there had not been that added force of "If I donít do these things, Iím really going to get it for "victimizing" her."

It is a paradox, but I see that in addition to your role as the dominant, controlling, abusive partner, your other persona in our relationship, was that of victim. And one of the key factors in my feeling trapped, was that no matter how poorly you were treating me, I could not abandon you, because then you would become even more the victim. Without acknowledging your poor behavior in the first place, you could simply scream, "You dumped me you dumped me you dumped me!!!" One of the reasons you were able to get away with your abusive behavior for so long, was my own guilt over potentially abandoning you.

I propose that it was the combination of your low self-esteem--feeling that you were not worthy of my love, and your self-image as victim, that fueled your behavior toward me. As I said, you probably felt it was inevitable that I would dump you. Youíre probably now screaming, "WELL, LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED--I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG, WASNíT I??!!" But look carefully at your role in the breakdown of our relationship. Could it be that somewhere deep down you willed it to happen? That you expected it and played your role in a script that had the ending already written?

As I stated above, it seems that all your life, you have been a victim of various people and events. Now at this point in your life, I came along. I believe that by this point you had already accepted and internalized the role of victim. Not only had you accepted the role of victim, but deep down it was something you wanted, because that was the role most comfortable to you. It was the role that fit most into your self-image. It was the way you saw yourself, and the way it just had to be. Anything else--for example, someone loving you, caring for you, just wouldnít make sense. Somehow, as much as it hurt, it was more comfortable to have someone yelling at you and rejecting you, because that was what you were used to.

Remember when Ann was working at that restaurant, and they were giving her a lot of trouble there? You very clearly stated to me, that you thought they really wanted to get rid of her but they didnít want to fire her, so therefore they were deliberately giving her a hard time in order to make her want to quit. That way they could indirectly get rid of her, without looking like the bad guy. This made a lot of sense to me (Iím sure it happens all the time in job situations). But the thing that struck me, was that at that very time, I felt as if you were doing the same thing to me in our relationship. That is, you really wanted to get rid of me, but you didnít want to do the dirty work so you were trying everything possible to get me to do it. Now this thing with Ann happened quite some time ago--over a year ago? I canít remember--but thatís how long I have suspected that somehow youíve been trying to make me dump you. With all your outrageous behavior, I felt like you were trying so hard to rile me and push all my buttons, in order to make the end result be "Chris dumps Terry, and once again Terry is the victim." Of course, I was very tolerant, and I kept bouncing back to you like one of those inflatable clowns that pop back up after you knock it down. This simply maintained your motivation to keep angering me and hurting me until I couldnít stand it anymore and was forced to dump you. In one fell swoop, this would accomplish several things--your self-image as unlovable would be maintained, you wouldnít have to take responsibility for the ending, and you would become the victim with all the sympathy from everyone that that would entail.

Do you think there is any truth to what I am saying?? If not, then just throw it out the window.


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