When thinking back to your current or recently ended marriage, you may tend to see yourself as vicitimized by your ex. It could have been emotional, physical or even sexual abuse.Or perhaps it was a more subtle feeling of the other person being an aggressor over you.The victim/aggressor duo is a very common way to think about the roles we play in difficult relationships.
Unfortunately, this simplified way of looking at dynamics glosses over a lot. And, also unfortunately, assigning to ourselves either “victim” or “aggressor” labels can lock us into a role and stand in the way of the happiness we want for ourselves.
Here are two ways to break out of this trap and open up to what you really want—happiness and connection…..
1. See it and let it go.
As we suggest that you “see it,” we are asking you to really see your past relationship—and from different perspectives. Of course it is important to acknowledge the hurts you may still experience. But perhaps there were times when you hurt your ex as well? As strange as it seems, accepting that maybe you were the “aggressor” at times might help you see how powerful you can be. That same power that possibly caused pain can be drawn on and used in more positive ways in the future.
This process of “seeing it” is not necessarily easy. Not many people enjoy it when they understand that they’ve hurt another person. In fact, sometimes it feels “better” to be the one who has been hurt relatively speaking. Allow yourself to feel what comes up for you after realizing yourself as victim and/or aggressor. If possible, forgive both yourself and your ex. Then let those feelings go; they are in the past and not part of your future.
2. Shed the roles.
After seeing the complex ways that you and your ex tended to interact with one another and letting go of the past as much as you can, step back and widen your gaze. It is likely that the role/s you identify with— “victim” or “aggressor”—are role/s that you carry over into other areas of your life.
Isn’t it time to shed those role/s and be the person and have the relationship you’ve always wanted? Just like giving up biting your fingernails or another unwanted habit, all it takes is intention and persistence.
Noticing your tendencies to play either role is a start. Once you notice this tendency, you may begin to catch yourself falling into the role. When that happens, gently affirm to yourself what you want and stay focused on that. Soon you will be living the life you want and enjoying the connected loving relationship of your dreams.