This weekend our dog was attacked by another dog. I was walking my dog at the time and I had him on a leash. The other dog escaped from his fenced area and attacked my dog from behind. At first, I thought my dog had escaped being wounded. Time would show me otherwise. Once I got him home and checked him out, I realized he was bleeding from a wound on his left side. (He is now healing very well 🙂 He is a yellow Lab. Is there any creature more loving and friendly? I think not.)
At this point, I decided to call the police. (Yes, we live in that small of a town. 🙂 ). It was also at this point that I made the completely unconscious decision to enter what I now refer to as “victim dissociation mode”. For those who have experienced trauma and abuse, the response is not that uncommon.
For me, the response involves responding, projecting, anticipating, controlling, and caring for everyone BUT myself and in this case- my injured dog. See, if you have experienced abuse, one way you learn to survive is to control everything you can, while at the same time, dissociating from yourself because the pain is too great.
So, on this day, I spent time worrying about the following: the police officers who had to handle a “dog issue”, which in my mind, I created the scenario that this was a nuisance in regards to their use of time. I was also worried that one officer seemed very quiet and perhaps I had upset him. I then worried about saying I wanted the owners of the dog to be ticketed, because, my goodness..what if they were unable to afford the ticket? Next, I spent time worrying that I needed to get my dog to the vet. The vet was closing at 2:00 and I could not get there until 2:00. Now, I had the guilt of making the vet stay late. (None of this was based on the vet’s response, by the way. This was ALL coming from me.) While at the vet, the police officers had a follow-up call for me and now I was upset this was taking up more of their day- on such a “small issue”. Again, they did not convey this to me, it was everything I was telling myself.
You may be asking, as I have begun to ask myself- where was my anger? My dog was attacked from behind! Where was my fear? Buried deep, deep inside. Where was my overwhelming concern for myself and what I witnessed? Nowhere to be found. What about my dog? I placed him in the same category as me- I felt I could “manage” his suffering and thus not be bothering anyone with my fearful concerns for him.
And that is what happens in victim mentality. You become numb to your own reality because it is “easier” and too frightening to confront what is actually happening- events of which you have NO control that are causing you pain. And so you let your mind fly away on fantasies and projections, worrying about others, when your utmost, number one concern should be yourself.
I learned something about myself on this day. I learned how much I STILL dissociate. I learned how, when I am unable to worry for myself, I distort and project my worries on to others. I learned that I desperately want to control and prevent bad things from happening, because I get all turned around in my mind and think the bad things that are happening are somehow my fault and if I were just smart enough, or good enough, I could stop them.
But, that is the “victim” part of this story. I also learned even in the midst of trauma I can be the victor. I took care of my dog. I got him to safety. I saw his wound and got him help. I protected others in the area by informing and then dealing with the police officers. I was smart enough to reach out to friends who helped me find a vet who was open on Saturday and willing to help me with my dog. And I got my dog to the vet in time and he is healing fine.
And unlike the victim stories that spew and churn in my mind, the above are the FACTS of what happened. I helped my dog, I protected him and myself, removed us from a dangerous situation and got us help. There is not one thing “victim-like” in those acts.
As victims, we can not control what is done to us (or has been done in the past). That is the “victim” portion of our lives. However, we can transform and transcend and not stay immersed in the energy of victimhood. We can emerge as the victor of our own lives.