As someone who follows some sports teams, and actively engages with other fans on Twitter, I was reminded recently of just how much we, as fans of a particular team, see the games through one, and only one, lens. And, how that’s really similar to many people who grew up in trauma.
When you’re a fan of a team, or individual, you see the sport through that lens. Your team gets beaten, and you immediately find all the reasons why. The officials, the one player you never liked that much to start with, bad defense, bad coaching, etc. Everything except reminding ourselves that there is a talented team on the other side, and sometimes, they win. Because we don’t view sports in a dispassionate way, we view it as a fan (short for fanatic after all), of our team. in a lot of ways, sports is the equivalent of being a little kid, we don’t have to be mature about it, we can feel strongly, and remain so focused on “our” team that we can be blind to anything else going on during the games. Bad calls and bad bounces are proof that the world is against us, teams that beat us must be cheating, etc. It’s all very childlike, and that’s mostly OK to a point because, it really is just a game.
For survivors though, we were traumatized at an age where we really were seeing the world through a very immature lens. Some because we simply hadn’t grown up enough to know that everything in the world does not exist just in relation to us, and some because we were taught things like “good things happen to good people” or that life is fair. Through that lens, our abuse is about us. It’s the world being against us, or our own bad choices and mistakes that led to abuse. It’s rarely ever about the other players, and their own ability to influence events.
Just like in sports though, sometimes it’s not about how the world works, or what mistakes we made, it’s about the other team. In our case, it’s the abuser. They did this. Healing is understanding that, and coming to grips with the fact that our lens is wrong. We’re looking at someone else’s actions and choices through a lens that only sees ourselves. We were abused, maybe when we told someone, we weren’t believed, or maybe even as adults, when we share our experiences we make others uncomfortable. But it’s not us. Other people get to make their own choices, have their own reactions, and choose who, and what, to believe.
What we need to do, is start untying other people actions and reactions, from ourselves. The abuser chose to abuse. The people who refused to help, made that choice, and the people who still don’t believe us, have their own reasons for doing that. None of it has anything to do with us, those are other people making their own choices, playing their own game. We can do everything right, live our life to the best of our abilities and still “lose” in these interactions. It happens. It doesn’t lessen us, it shows us who these other people are, and tells us about their agendas.
We learn from that, and move on. We do not blame ourselves for their agendas.
It does take developing a more mature lens to view life through, and that takes time, and work. Are you up for it? Or maybe the better question, are you tired of blaming yourself?