Confessions of a Martyr…



I am a martyr, there I said it. And what?!?! I have spent my entire life putting everyone else’s happiness and well-being above my own. I spent all my energy trying to please my parents as a child, to no avail. I give myself completely in relationships to the detriment of my own wants and needs. I have all but completely enmeshed myself with my kids, trying to make them happy and garner my own happiness from their happiness. I am a martyr. I will do for anyone before I do for myself. I will drop everything to please another person before I will take care of myself, and then I become irate or wounded when it is not returned to me. I am a hurt little bird abandoned and unloved because I gave and gave and gave, and they took, and took, and took.

So now what you ask, we get it, you’re a martyr. Whatcha gonna do about it? I do not have that answer yet. For starters, I am acknowledging it, publicly. So I am hoping this is a step in the right direction. I guess now I work on setting boundaries, for myself and others. I learn to say no, without feeling like I have completely let the entire world population down in some way. I learn to make myself my own top priority. I learn to give to myself first, before giving to everyone else.

I grew up feeling responsible for my parents’ happiness, or lack thereof. My father left my mother the day after I was born. I was born with complications, more needs than he knew how to meet. So he checked out, emotionally and mentally, and to a degree, physically. While my mother always took excellent care of me when I needed surgery, emotionally, I was neglected and abused. I was made responsible for her happiness. I was not allowed to express my emotions, because hers took center stage.

Growing up this way has created a huge martyr complex in me. It has taken me years to see this, and honestly, I truly just viewed myself as the most nurturing person on planet Earth. I have always found my self-esteem through helping others and caring for others. I have said during many a job interview that I love assisting because it involves helping others live their vision. Sitting here now, I read that statement, and cannot help but feel sad. While it is great to help people and give to others, I have given whatever dreams and goals I may have for myself a back seat to helping others meet their goals. I have relegated myself to side-kick status for life, instead of being the superhero I really want to be in my own life.

I do love helping people, that part will always be true. Perhaps, instead of casting myself in the supportive role for life, it is time I find the spotlight in my own life. Perhaps I create the life I want, and realize my own dreams and goals. Now I just have to figure those out. I need to find my voice, my backbone, my strength. It is so difficult to change a pattern of behavior that started in infancy, and has been carried throughout an entire lifetime, but the alternative means remaining in a place of hurt, of weakness, of fear. I am more afraid to stay in this pattern than to move beyond this pattern.

So how do I stop being a martyr? I Google it, of course. From what I have been reading, the healing process starts with setting boundaries, taking time for myself, and allowing myself to be open to receiving from those who love me. The last one is probably my biggest struggle. I never really realized the true reason I struggle with that so much. I also have to stop acting like a victim…that, may be the hardest to do. I have this subconscious way of attracting and inviting trauma. I am working with my therapist to stop this, and it is probably a good thing I have an appointment with him today. I have to stop behaving like a victim in order to stop inviting trauma into my life.

I was almost happy when I was diagnosed with PTSD. It validated all my crazy feelings and emotions. It validated my insecure behavior and gave me the message that I am a victim, and now I have a disorder to prove it. Hmm, this is not how I want to live my life. I do not want to have a freaking psychological disorder to validate my victim complex. I want to live a happy, fun-loving life, successful in every way, and peaceful. I want people to love me because I deserve it, not because I have been through a lot and ultimately they feel sorry for me. I do not want pity. I do not want sorrow. I do not want trauma.

In order to move forward to where I want to be, I need to leave the place I have been stuck. I need to be ready to put down the baggage, and walk forward without it. I need to be able to look in the mirror and not allow what has happened to me, define me as a person. Yes, I have had traumas happen to me, but I am not a trauma. I do have the desire to heal, and thankfully, I am in therapy and working on it already. I will say though, this is freaking scary.