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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Breaking Through a Victim Mentality and Learning to Take Responsibility

breaking through victim mentalityThere is an issue that is frequently seen amongst with the women here at CCR, which is a constant battle of the victim mentality. Many of the women in our program admit to having been victimized in some form or fashion at some point in their lives. This victimization may have involved physical, sexual, or emotional trauma. As a direct result of this trauma, these women may have never been fully capable, or allowed to take responsibility of their lives, or even shown what that entails, due to their trauma. The question now is, how can these two vastly different occurrences, trauma and a victim mentality, go hand in hand? Below I will provide a breakdown so that hopefully it makes much more sense.

We have found that when someone has been victimized at some point in their life, whether it be bullying, rape, childhood neglect, sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, or someone has wronged them in some way, they tend to get stuck in that moment and are left defenseless against what next steps they are to take in life. At this moment, the trauma of being victimized goes so deep; it's like being stuck in mud. A natural defense the mind tends to exhibit is to leave the person in a victim like state, which is virtually impossible to get out of it until given the platform to look deep into the trauma or victimization that occurred. Unfortunately, when left in this victim-like state, they are unable to successfully navigate through life’s ups and downs or even minor obstacles, as their mind continues to tell them they are a victim and unable to recover.

This is where we come in. It's important to note that with anyone who has been victimized feel heard and be given a chance to fully express themselves and the deep level of hurt, trauma, and pain they feel. Once we are able to get into the causes and conditions of the victimization, then we are able to provide these women with proper tools. Unfortunately, being victimized tends to drastically decrease one’s ability away to take responsibility for anything in their lives. Say, for example, the person in the victim mentality was scheduled for work and didn’t show up. Somehow, this becomes the boss’s fault the moment they assign a consequence for the action. The person with this mentality will twist and distort reality and perhaps say that the boss treated them unfairly, and that’s why they were fired, and will refuse to take responsibility for the fact that they didn’t show up, and that’s why they were fired. Or say a person with this mentality steals something from someone, resulting in charges being pressed. The person with the victim mentality will blame the person pressing charges by saying something to the effect of, "I didn't even steal that much- it’s not that big of a deal." Meanwhile, this person is blaming the person they wronged, and are completely unable to see their part, or the fact that they clearly broke the law by stealing. Again, due to the victimization that occurred at some point in their life, they are unable to see their part and or take responsibility for their actions or choices. People in this state of mind are constantly stuck in the “it's not my fault” mentality, which to an is true when speaking of their trauma, but does not exempt them from responsibility for the choices they make in their lives today. The majority of the women we come in contact with have had experienced some sort of trauma and victimization, and they have been stuck in that place ever since. Being stuck in a victim mentality continues to create issues for these women on a daily basis, and causes severe challenges in learning to become a responsible adult.

So this is where it can get complicated. The goal is to have someone who's been victimized go back to the point in their life where the real victimization has occurred and really have them identify with how they were wronged. At this point, it's important to be completely supportive of this person, as processing this trauma is going to affect all areas of their life. Most likely, once they've seen where they’ve been harmed, they will be able to identify how they have been acting as if anything and everything that happens to them isn't their fault, and the light will turn on for them.

"As someone who was victimized many times in my life, I was constantly stuck in a victim mentality. It was the only way I felt I could protect myself and many times I made the choice to victimize myself without even being conscious of it. Therefore, I was constantly blaming everything and everyone else and never fully able to recovery. I was finally able to see my part in situations in life when I was given the opportunity to express and feel my deepest traumas. Once I did this, I saw that I didn't want to blame anything else on anyone, especially if they really hadn't done anything to harm or hurt me. I finally found that I felt more power in addressing my pain and being able to take responsibility for the choices I made in life up until that point. Yes, it was obvious that when I had been victimized I had stayed stuck in that which ultimately wasn't my fault. It was a natural response to trauma and the only way my mind knew how to protect me. With that happening, the only way for me to move on was to take ownership, responsibility, and choices back into my life, all of which had been taken away from me at the times when I had been victimized. You see, the type of responsibility I needed to take for my life wasn't saying that the trauma or victimization I experienced was my fault, but rather that the choice to continue to allow it to own me was. I asked myself- did I really want what the person who hurt me the most to be the reason for every choice in my life from that point forward? My answer was no! I wanted freedom, I wanted change, I wanted choice and more than anything, I wanted to be a survivor, not a victim. See, this was one of the most impactful choices I ever made in my life. I wanted to take responsibility for choices I made, and wanted to enjoy life. When I was constantly in that victim mentality I hated life, and I hated and blamed anyone that remotely made me take responsibility for my choices and actions. And more than anything, my victimization continued to give me an excuse to drink, use and create harm to others, so essentially the victimization that had occurred to me, that truly wasn't my fault, became my reason to kill myself and all those around me that loved me."

This story from one of the women who attended our program is a great testimonial to what letting go of a victim mentality and taking responsibility can do to, and for your life. Somewhere along the journey, no matter what has happened, we've got to take responsibility in order to recovery. We can't continue to blame people, as there is no freedom in that.  We have to start seeing that what happened to us doesn't have to be our excuse to continue killing ourselves. We will soon be able to identify that the hurt, harm, trauma, and victimization is not our fault, but we have to make a choice that it doesn’t continue to hinder us in making healthy choices in our lives. And more than anything, we've got to take responsibility for our choices, otherwise the world will continue to fail us, and we will never feel ultimate freedom. For many of us our lives absolutely depend upon this. We have to stop blaming the world for our problems. Let's get to the root of the victimization, pain and trauma, and by doing that we will find the independence, freedom, choices, and responsibility that was taken from us. We can only be as free as we CHOOSE to be, so CHOOSE to take back responsibility for your life and all else will fall into place!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Happy New Year

happy new year sobrietyAs each of us started the New Year, I'm sure many were filled with the following:

WOW! I’m so glad 2016 is over with! Whether your addiction took complete control last year and you've been leveled by it, or you're a family member who watched this occur with someone you deeply love.

Either way, this still leaves you baffled, wondering- how did so much time pass by, with nothing to show for, and death being so near? Well that's just it- there is so much more than meets the eye to show for what you've been going through... It's called life. And trust me, there's a fresh start waiting that's just hidden by all the darkness you've been fumbling through.

Although many may look back on the past year and see unmanageability, my wish is that somewhere in there, you see hope. Hope for a change. Hope for real life and not a life lived feeling like you've been in prison or purgatory, waiting for your time to come. That thought alone is too excruciating for many to even comprehend if they haven't felt it for themselves.

Unfortunately, for those of us affected by addiction, in whatever capacity it may be, we are constantly riddled with fear. Even harder to understand is when we almost find ourselves being addicted to the disfunction this lifestyle breeds. The hope that once glimmered so brightly has started to lose its luster and fade slowly away into that all-encompassing darkness, the darkness filled with disease and constant disappointment. The hope that was once there is fading away into the veins, mouth, nose of an addict, fading into the darkness that now consumes their eyes. The hope that, “maybe they will get it this time" is now the 100th time of saying it, and nothing ever changes, and nothing ever changes, and NOTHING EVER CHANGES. The hope that is there is tucked away in the family denial of, " Johnny couldn't make it today because he's home sick with the flu,” and is surely sick at home- dope sick that is. He's writhing in pain at home in bed, unable to show up because he HAS TO get that fix. He needs it now. He can't function without it. The hope that is there is what cringes in your heart saying it can be different when you, as a mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, or addict say you can't lie one more time to protect the secret, to protect the gnarly beast that has deadly hold on you or your loved one. The hope that is there when you as a loved one see that junkie passed out with a needle beside her bed, and you see your precious angel baby girl and not the junkie she has become, you see her for the real person she is beneath it all. That hope that exists when all of your money was spent on drugs and that incomprehensible demoralization you feel as an addict- that's called a gift and a conscience, and it’s fading into the darkness. That hope that exists when you make a choice to follow the tiny glimmer of hope that is still left.

You see, when addiction takes over, it takes almost everything. But that hope that exists inside is one of the most incredible gifts that is so frequently missed due to what its coupled with. The promise for a better life is real. But the reality is that sobriety and recovery are just as tough some days as it is to see that tiny glimmer of hope amidst the sheer and utter destruction of addiction. It's going to be a hell of a battle but an amazing one that is beyond worth it. It is time to stand up to the addiction and take ACTION to make a change. If you as the addict or loved one don't take this action, the glimmer of hope will surely fade away forever. It is up to you to make the change.  This year can be a year full of meaningful and fulfilling experiences. More then anything, this year can be filled with so much life. The desperation to get that fix for a drug, or the fix to cover up an addict’s behavior and disfunction will soon be replaced by recovery IF you take the action to make a change.

My suggestion for the New Year would be to grab onto that glimmer of hope and allow it to be the forefront of change. Remember what you are fighting for and the LIFE you are trying to change. There is so much more hope out there. There is so much life to live despite what addiction and dysfunction tell us. It can be extremely tough and painful while trying to initiate and follow through with these changes, but please just keep moving forward. The pain doesn't last forever; it just takes some time to heal. This will not fix itself, and you cannot just "will it" or "wish it" to go away. The addict and family members who suffer will get worse; never better if help is not sought immediately. These glimmers of hope are your gifts, please take them and run with them. Even if no one else believes a change is necessary, you know that a life depends on it.  Reach out for help before it's too late. Reach out to find the freedom of recovery before the only thing you have left to hold onto are the memories of the glimmers of hope that you didn't see in the moment. Remember that these glimmers can be the forefront of change, and if not, they will be the last memories of hope you had before addiction takes them all.

If you or someone you know need to be reminded of, or helped to see that glimmer of hope PLEASE call for help TODAY, RIGHT NOW.

May you each have a magical, life changing (for the better), hopeful and fulfilling year, filled with recovery and change in 2017!