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United We Stand – Divided We Score a Few Personal Points

July 24, 2014

Recognizing the pain one is in is a very delicate business. Pain is obviously full to the brim with dreadful emotions that are so hard to contain. But I feel that it is never a good idea to set oneself up in a hierarchy of pain. The temptation is always to put oneself at the top of the pain chart (because life feels so bloody painful) and see any other in pain as less than one’s pain.

Last week I got a cab and the driver was one of Steven’s old drivers. This is how the conversation went as I did up my seatbelt….

“I heard your wife had been very ill?”
“Well, she died actually”.
“My wife nearly died 2 months ago”.

For the rest of the journey, I listened to the story of how his wife nearly died. I found myself switching off. But I didn’t want to say anything. It would have sounded like I was trying to trump him by talking about my wife who actually died.

At work, I often fall back on that therapy cliche of the drama triangle – the victim, the rescuer and the persecutor. Someone, who has set up camp in the victim position will see everyone in their life as a rescuer or a persecutor. And it takes my breath away how quickly the victim will shift the other position to suit their victim stance. A good friend will suddenly be seen as the villain. It happens in the work. If I try and get the person to reflect that they may be causing the problem in their relationships by entrenching themselves in the victim space, I am suddenly seen as the persecutor. Recently, someone was furious with me when I took a week off after my wife died. For them, their victim space is built on the belief of ” nobody is ever more ill than me”. So when someone they know falls ill, or dies, it triggers fury. That’s the other thing about the drama triangle – the person who has made their home in the victim space will fight tooth and nail not to have anyone else move in there.

Whenever I write about my battles in the social care world, I am always mindful not to present myself as the victim. I find it a real turn off, quite frankly, and would hate others to see me that way.

Sadly, I do encounter the victim dance quite often amongst carers. I understand why – it can be a shit life in the social care world where unspeakable things happen to us and the people we love. But it drives me bonkers when I see people using their pain as a trump card or a way of scoring points. Or worse, when someone uses the fragility of their pain to make another person feel bad or guilty. This isn’t the way to go about things.

I believe we are on the edge of a real breakthrough for the learning disabled and their families. The #justiceforlb campaign has brought about a connectedness and energy that I’ve never experienced before. But to experience that energy, one has to move out of the victim space. To stay in that space, the energy will be seen as threatening. It is incredulous to me that someone would chose to embed as a victim but they do and this is just a big a threat to change as the Bubbs of this world.

Is it too much to hope that we all try and occupy a similar space, rid of the competitiveness of pain? I think its worth a try.

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4 Comments
  1. anonymous permalink

    Never be a victim we are not victims. Just use the awful experience and fight for the HRs of your loved ones and then use the ghastly experience to bring about change.

  2. jayne knight permalink

    I found this very profound from a personal perspective. Thank you

  3. Magi permalink

    I have never entertained being the victim in all of the 18 years I have been a carer, I get on with things. Equally I can’t entertain the nearly stories I get from people because they feel a need to trump my situation. But rarely, and with minor stuff, I do use what I call my ‘emotional wildcard’ just to get my own way :/

  4. I don’t much want to be a victim either, but do sometimes think that those keen on offering “support” can handle it better if they can see me that way. Don’t get me wrong, proper help is much appreciated.

    And the other thing is: talking about certain aspects of our lives that are perfectly “normal” to us can maybe sound like a “victim’s” tale – judging from the horror that some people sometimes show. That shudder of dismay, the cry of “I couldn’t do that!..” Umm, not exactly a choice, in reality. My students used, sometimes, to tell me sad stories of the various mini disasters that delayed their homework – and some of their lives were pretty complicated. I would listen politely and I hope sympathetically but it was a source of silent amusement to wonder what would happen if I had “shared” some of my problems…
    “My wife nearly died” might have been a clumsy attempt at empathy? People often don’t know what to say. “My daughter has CP” is the best conversation stopper I know. Competitive victims though are really unappealing.

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