Get Healthy by Getting out of Victim Mode

for those suffering from Lyme disease and other chronic illnesses

special guest

by Connie Strasheim

String Quartet

“POOR ME!” YES, IT’S TIME TO EAT SOME WORMS. You’re broke, jobless, and you have nobody with whom to cuddle at night because you’re too sick to be in a romantic relationship. Nope, you seem to have no purpose in life except to exist like a mushroom in the ground, hoping that whoever stops by doesn’t end up squashing you, as you spend your days feeling like the Tar Pit Baby bulldozer has run over your brain and body. Yes, you truly have a right to an orchestra of a thousand violins at your next pity party.

Thank God for pity parties! What would you do without two dozen other Lyme disease (or chronic illness) sufferers to whip out their own little stringed instruments of sympathy and play a daily concerto for you on the Internet Yahoo! support groups? How would you survive without those at church, who lay hands on you every week and pray for your healing? What would you do without your barf bag buddies who are always there to receive your innards whenever you need to telephone them to let it all out?

At least you aren’t alone, and thank goodness that the government and your Aunt Charity are helping you with your living expenses, since you are so feeble and frail and can’t make it on your own.

What would you do without your warm blankie of self-righteousness? Boy, doesn’t it feel good? You can wrap it ever more tightly about you every time a friend of yours gets married, gets a promotion or otherwise experiences some stroke of good fortune that you, of course, know you’ll never get because you have Lyme disease or some other chronic illness, and that means a life of disaster. Yet, you concede a bit of thanks to God for the small donations of your friends and family, who enable your survival on Scary Planet Earth.

I now give you the right to smack me for my apparent condescension. Just as long as you know that I need the concerto and intoxicating red wine, too, as well as the charity of others. Also, I do believe that God intended for us to bear one another’s burdens and that it’s okay to need a Linus blanket or a shoulder or an ear.

But here’s the thing. If we aren’t careful, illness does this deceptive thing with the charity we receive and our difficult position as sufferers of chronic illness.

My dear friends, it takes charity and dependency and turns us into victims.

By encouraging us to depend upon others, it quietly sends us the message that we aren’t capable of taking care of ourselves. But just because we can’t work doesn’t mean that we are helpless human beings, does it?

By calling ourselves disabled, it urges us to assume a victimizing new identity that precludes us from finding health. But in some ways, haven’t we been re-enabled?

By allowing us to complain to others, we are given a license to not take responsibility for our hardship. It’s easier to complain and solicit compassion than it is to find the good in the day and work towards healing. But wallowing is disempowering, isn’t it?

By reiterating our difficulties, the idea of “Poor Me” continues to thrive in our minds and bodies. But we can’t heal without first killing the ol’ PM, something a victim would never dare to do!

By blaming our parents, our spouse or our Uncle Hothead for our illness, we’ve handed the government of our bodies over to them for their tyrannical rule, but they aren’t responsible for who we are today. Only we are.

The greatest lie in the world is that others make us angry, sad or sick. If we truly assumed power over our lives and wellbeing, we would know that it is how we respond to the Uncle Hothead’s of the world that determines whether we are victors or victims.

It’s easy to fall into the victim trap. Because Lyme disease requires us to rely heavily upon others, we can easily be misled into thinking that our destiny hinges upon someone else’s charity towards us. We must decide that handing over the power of our lives and happiness to other people or circumstances is counter-productive to healing.

Often, we can’t control what happens to us, but we can control, at least to some degree, our minds, which is what ultimately crowns us Victor or Victim. So will you be a Poor Disabled Sufferer, or a healthy soul with some physical symptoms? You decide.

excerpted from: The Lyme Disease Survival Guide: Physical, Lifestyle and Emotional Strategies for Healing. Copyright 2008 by Connie Strasheim.

photo credits: String Quartet © Nicholas Sutcliffe / iStockphoto

Connie StrasheimConnie Strasheim is an accomplished health care journalist and the author of The Lyme Disease Survival Guide: Physical, Lifestyle and Emotional Strategies for Healing. A Lyme disease sufferer, she maintains a blog on Lyme disease and other issues related to chronic illness called Lyme Bytes. Currently, she lives between Denver, Colorado and San Jose, Costa Rica.
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