I’ve recently come to a painful realization. My mom, the person whom I’ve trusted my entire life – the friend, mentor and parent who taught me right from wrong – is flawed.
I know everyone has problems, but I always pictured my mom with a halo over her head. She consistently said and did the right things, but it seemed like time after time, life just served her a bowl of pits.
This epiphany came to me in one of my lectures, when my psych prof said something that turned on a light bulb in my head.
I finally realized my mom has been playing the victim her entire life and taking me along for the ride.
I don’t think she’s done this on purpose. She really believes that the entire world has done her wrong. Incident after incident is always someone else’s fault.
She divorced my dad when I was young and made me feel like he was always trying to pull one over on her. I never went to camp with my friends because it was his fault. Every time there was an argument between them, it was always my dad’s fault, because, as she used to say, “He thinks about himself, before you.”
Then she would play the righteous card by saying something like, “It’s not his fault, that’s just the way his parents raised him.” As a result, the relationship I have with my dad has always been strained.
Likewise, the relationship with my relatives on my mom’s side became rocky, because one day mom was speaking to them and the next day she wasn’t. Of course, it was never anything she did. It was always Auntie Becky’s fault for not inviting her somewhere, or she heard through the grapevine that Uncle Arnie told some kind of lie about her.
I have been avoiding her calls and haven’t seen her in weeks. I don’t know how I’m going to get past this.
Mom has always been a rock for me. I tell her everything and trust her to have my best interests at heart. Now I’ve come to realize it’s her best interests that come first.
Always the Victim
Dear Always the Victim
There’s something called a “victim mentality.” There are people who suffer from the belief that they’re always morally right and are the victims of an injustice perpetrated against them, through no fault of their own.
People like this rarely see themselves as being responsible for their own choices and are always playing the “poor-me” card. Sometimes they come off as bullies, because they push back too hard.
Your mom has probably been doing this her entire life, possibly since childhood, so this is not going to be easy for her to change or even recognize.
If you have a good relationship, you may be able to communicate your concerns by using concrete examples, but you’d best be ready for an argument. The goal of this communication is not to “fix” her per se, but to plant the seed.
Chances are she’ll dismiss your words as nonsense, but once you’ve put it out there, she can’t ignore it.
After your discussion, make sure she understands how her actions have affected you. She needs to restore her self-worth and realize that if something doesn’t go her way, it doesn’t mean she’s a failure, it means she’s human.
People who are always victims have no idea how destructive their behaviour is to everyone they’re connected to. Their inability to take responsibility for their actions means others have to pick up the pieces, and this can and does ruin relationships. It’s a difficult cycle to break, but it’s toxic to all if it continues.
Once your mom has admitted to it, or even accepts the possibility that you may be on to something, she can stop blaming others and accept responsibility for the path her own life has taken.
In the meantime, you need to repair some of the damage this has caused to your relationships with other family members.
Start with your dad and work from there. Create your own bonds and take back some of what you’ve lost.
Readers may submit their questions to Ella at The CJN, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ella is not a professional counsellor. Her advice is not a replacement for medical, legal or any other advice. For serious problems, consult a professional.