Last night something scary happened. I had a two-hour-long panic attack. My mind’s eye kept reminding me of all the hellish states my life was in. My horrible, love-hate marriage. The crippling physical pain I experience every day. Coming to grips with my identity as someone who is sick, but only kinda sick, yet still hasn’t worked in two years.
Maybe this doesn’t sound like a nightmare to most people and that’s because I’ve redacted most of the information. I’m a pretty open book, but on this blog I still have to censor myself. My marriage is in a hell hole. Partially the hole is that my husband and I haven’t slept in the same room consistently since our second week of marriage. It sucks. It’s scary. I acknowledge that I write about this relationship in a very lovey-dovey way and then swing back around to clobber it with a hammer, and that’s just the way it is – it’s the most bipolar, pardon my french, young marriage you can have without signing on the dotted line to separate forever.
I still have hope it can be recovered, as I am in survival mode and can’t afford to think of the alternatives. What does a failed marriage say about me? What does it mean when it is such a young marriage? How will I keep myself away from my dad when he tells me I have lost the right to marry again? All of these thoughts and real-life conversations swirl over me in the night.
Then as a ghostly specter, my husband comes crashing through the guest bedroom where I basically hide/live with the door locked, and lodges a pitchfork through my chest. I wake up screaming. Where am I? How did I get here?
Not to mention my entire body is burning and I am numb in my hands. The dull ache in my shoulders is a good sign – it’s there but nothing to report back on. Then comes the migraine, then comes me texting all my friends in the dead of the night. The good ones text back.
At this point, I have had about 2 hours of sleep.
I don’t believe in victim mentality, but what what do you call yourself when you’re a constant target living in fear? Right now I aim for surviving in this environment until I can say, “That was the old me. That doesn’t happen anymore. We don’t live there anymore. We don’t talk to ourselves like that. I survived that. I am not a victim. I am a survivor.”
Let’s unpack these terms “victim” and “survivor.”
You can be a “survivor” still living in a “victim” situation. Likewise, the reverse is true.
Survivors are focused on tasks. They know what to watch for, have safety plans, battle plans, and self-care plans. I’ll refer you to this article on self-care for some ideas to pick and choose. The biggest thing is you maintain hope and a sense of self by keeping a tiny part of your soul in a pocket for only you to see. This could be something like a favorite book, a pocket bible, or a pocket journal that is easily accessible, hide-able, and portable.
Victims are focused on emotions and blame. They don’t necessarily pay attention to anything outside of their reptilian feelings and like to play the blame game – and that includes placing blame on themselves, thus engaging in the martyr game. There is no interaction with themselves, the situation, or their environment. The key difference is no self-introduced catalyst for care AKA change.
Victims beat themselves up. Survivors approach themselves with kindness and self-love.
So, today I’m going to be a survivor. If I find myself in Victimland, I’ll gently guide myself out and kindly figure out what to do about my situation, even if it’s something internal. Today I hope you are all survivors.