05 December 2005

Some Ex-Victims

Some ex-victims are like some ex-smokers.

They see a person with a cigarette, and they don't say "Yes, I feel for you, nicotine is such an evil and addictive thing, it is horrible to be trapped like that and hard to escape."

Instead they say
"I gave up faster than you. If I can do it, you ought to do it. You are disgusting and weak."

What is it about human nature that, when we escape something wrong, instead of standing up and helping or encouraging others, some turn on those who are still trapped? Why do they do it?

Every woman who has ever been in a scary relationship will recognise that so called friend, that one person that you get close to telling, to asking for help or advice, even manage to get talking on the general subject, yet never tell. You don't tell because this woman shows total and violent disgust at women in bad relationships.
"Oh, I wouldn't take it, I wouldn't stand for it, I have too much self respect, I'm this and this and all that and a bag of chips."
It becomes, in their heads, almost as if the sufferer is the one with all the options. Addiction ceases to exist, in their minds, as does 'being trapped' in any undesirable situation. All they can do is pour scorn.

So you keep quiet. All it does is make you even more afraid to admit your fears, or your inability. In the case of abuse it makes you terrified to let your secret out, convinced now that you would only be running from the taunts of your aggressor, to the taunts of the whole world instead.

People like that 'friend' (whether the subject is abuse, or cigarette smoking or anything else that involves a sense of helplessness) are a real part of the problem. They actively make it worse, they give you one less person you can talk to. They try to make you believe that all upstanding people feel the same. They actively work to increase your sense of isolation and reduce your self worth.

The thing is,

looking back,

now that I have been in a trap and out of it,

I really don't think those poeple are free at all. I think they are the most trapped souls going, and to be pitied.

All they are ever doing is projecting their own disgust with themselves. Others have to be weak and disgusting because they are convinced that they themselves were weak and disgusting. Their only escape from this self-made hell is to say 'at least'. At least I'm not as bad as you/them/him over there.

Poor, trapped, guilt ridden sods; there's nothing 'ex' about it. They are the biggest victims going.

P.S. Someone accidentally pushed my buttons to trigger this post, so if anyone can relate, please say so!


doris said...

I am going to relate but from a different angle! However I do know what you mean about those vehement crusaders and I think comparing them to ex-smokers is a good anology. It may well be that their vehemence is rooted in their own need to survive and to keep reminding themselves that they have survived and never to go back there again. Sadly it doesn't take into account the feelings and sensitivities of others and I think you expressed that well.

Just to give my flavour on it, and being too stupidly honest and heart on my sleeve, I reckon I have shades of being that ex-smoker/ex-victim (though I don't really think of myself as having been a vitim) and so do have thoughts, but not unkindly, that one can get out of that situation. It all seems so simple in my mind when actually I know it isn't. There are differences between me as a single person walking away and re-writing my life and say, a woman with kids. I know I did it and can't help feeling that others can too.

But then I correct myself and realise it is easier said than done. Just because I did it is great, doesn't mean that others have the same situation. I only hope that I don't come across as the obnoxious convert and reckon that on the whole I don't, but I would also guess that there are those feelings of mine just below the surface and they can be picked up. And I know that sadly, I can really p*ss people off with my holier than thou attitude but I really don't mean it.

I am aware I have taken this on a slight tangent, and thank you for the chance for me to air it (but I suppose that is why I have my own blog to do such stuff LOL).

Cheryl said...

Dear Doris!
I know how frustration for someone can become frustration at someone, moreso when you offer them real, working advice that they then shy away from.

I don't mean irritation at those who only give lip service to changing their lives - and they exist - I meant the vociferously disgusted, the Mrs Buckets, the ones with their noses in the air. People can seem so lovely until you hit their triggers, but then you find the ones that hide from their own self hatred by condemning people out of hand in a black and white, no-variations-to-the-rule kind of a way, and they just add to the problem.

doris said...

I was thinking more on that as I was off doing some errands just now - and yes, I know I definitely don't sound out those occasional flicker of thoughts. And in any case, reason steps in and knows it is not easy or the same.

And yes, I've met those who are ready to condemn others eventhough they have been there themselves. And indeed they are to be pitied. For they are mere frightened souls inside still trapped.

Have a good day!

Astryngia said...

Yes, I relate to what you've written, Cheryl. I think that quote from Lorna Wing is also relevant to the kind of situation you describe. Once you've crossed the divide and really understand, there's no going back and you'll never again question just how bad it can be.

Your paragraph starting 'so you keep quiet' is typically 'Cassandra'. Maybe that other woman really did have the inner strength to escape - or perhaps she's just whistling in the dark and hoping no-one will call her bluff because deep down she's a Cassandra, too, bluffing her way out of her cage.

I had (too much!) more to say so I've continued this comment on my blog

Carol said...

Well, I'm gonna put my hand up here, and admit that I am both an ex-smoker and an ex-victim.

I gotta say - I'm also one of the folk saying "I did it - so can you".

Wanna know why?

Because my own insecurities and feelings of lack of backbone convince me that, if I could do it, then all those stronger, more confident, 'still there' people are better than me at everything else, so they are probably gonna be better than me at that as well.

Make sense?

fineartist said...

Cheryl, this was a beautiful heart felt post, another that I thank you for writing.

I understand this post far better than I would like to. I have been the victim, I lived to be empowered.

One of the things that saved me when I was the victim….a very dear dear loving friend of mine, upon hearing my latest pain and my apology for dumping on him said:

“Never apologize to me for your suffering, YOU ARE WHERE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE RIGHT NOW, getting healthier every day.”

God bless him for telling me that, because it gave me hope, and it validated me as a person, told me that no matter how f’ed up I was, I was where I was supposed to be, working towards becoming a healthy person.

I pass that on to those who need it myself, because I will never forget what it is like to feel trapped, without hope, and utterly beaten.

Love you, Lori

mommyguilt said...

My father-in-law is one of those ex-smokers who lectures my husband everytime he is in the room with him. HIS friends ridicule him for being a Bad Quitter. I think he's only encouraging my husband to continue smoking.

My mother and I are ex-victims. I agree with what Carol said, that it IS possible to get out and to get stronger and to learn. She isn't saying that those who haven't gotten out are bad, that those who haven't gotten out are weak. She's not lecturing anyone. What I think she's saying is that it takes a lot of balls (pardon my french) to get out. But with help it can be done. She is saying that she didn't have the most confidence in herself to do it, but she did it.

I don't think she's wearing her heart on her sleeve, but I've met MANY MANY ex-victims who act like my father in law and THAT is just ... well, icky.It doesn't lend support to those who really do need to be nudged into getting out..who need HELP to get out...who need encouragement to get out...cuz it's REALLY REALLY (insert expletive ending in -ing here) hard.

Cheryl said...

Huge hugs!
Its not what you say its how you say it, and your comment here is so well worded and unthreatening that I can't imagine disdain coming into your relationship with people.
I agree with Mommy-g.
Sorry that you still feel 'less' than others - the mental priming for abuse lasts so much longer than anything else, but you seem strong (in a flexible, not walled and brittle way), intelligent and very caring, just from this one comment.
Thank you.

Writer Mom said...

*(Mommy Guilt--good point on the FIL...nothing encourages someone to light up more quickly than a cancer stick lecture.)

Cheryl, I adore you. Reading this made me realize I've been a prat to one of my dearest friends who got divorced five years ago. Long story short, I can do a lot better than, "That sucked. But I met a good guy, and so can you!"
(sprinkle fairy dust)
Good friends don't put a time limit on letting others heal.

I will work on that.

As for people using the "I overcame, so I am better than you," crap...you're smack on it. They've got unresolved issues.
My in-laws went through problems, told everyone about them, then USED that experience to judge every other marriage they came across. They took it to a higher level..."If you two don't get God into your married life, WHEN you fall apart, there will be nothing to bring you back together."
Hmm. God's there for us. We just don't worship at the golden calf.
Why do they do this? Because they still haven't fixed what was broken, and they know it, and they resent that everyone else knows it, too.

I'm sorry someone pushed your buttons.
Did I write more than Doris? :)

zilla said...

Good points all around! Imagine me, having nothing to add :-)

jane said...

I can relate & then I can't. (don't forget, I'm bipolar! lol) Because of my addiction to drugs & I know how much every single day I wanted so desperately to quit, I now know, "There by the grace of God, go I." And I try to remember that in regards to a situation where someone is already down. The last thing someone whose tried to quit anything, or anyone, and failed, needs is someone to belittle them.
What you said about keeping quiet because people preach, I can relate wholeheartedly with in all of the above aspects.
As a non-smoker, I try not to say anything because I remember feeling ostracized, especially in California, where there are some parks & beaches you can't even smoke at. It's very difficult with my kids, especially with my son who also has asthma. Mostly it's hard though, because I don't want people I love & care about to die before their time.
But I've rambled. Good post Cheryl

Badaunt said...

You have pinned down why I believe that tolerant ex-smokers are wonderful people. (They also seem to be quite rare.)