Imagine for a moment that these two voices are guides for two opposite roads you could potentially take to pass through the jungle of infidelity. One voice is the guide for “the victim’s path,” and the other is “the survivor’s journey.”
Here are the two biggest differences between these two roads:
- One road is circular, and the other is direct.
- One road is popular, and the other is the road less traveled.
Can you guess which road is more popular?
You probably guessed it. The victim’s path is way more popular. The guide for this road is the voice of vengeance. Its agenda is to keep you stuck in the first two stages of denial and resistance. This is why it’s a “circular path” instead of a direct one. The survivor’s journey (the road less traveled) is a direct road out of pain and suffering. The guide for the survivor’s journey is the voice of compassion. It seeks your healing, recovery, and freedom, and tries to help you do this in as few steps as possible. This is why listening to the right voice changes everything.
So, let's recap.
When infidelity rocks your world… there are two voices trying to tell you how to handle it, which way to go, and what to do next. One voice demands vengeance; the other seeks compassion. The voice of vengeance takes you down the victim’s path and keeps you stuck in a cycle of denial and resistance. The other voice is the one of compassion which guides towards the survivor’s journey. This is where learning is the goal and recovery happens in the fewest steps possible.
Now, for the moment of truth.
Which road will you take, the victim’s path or the survivor’s journey? Remember, you can’t remain a victim and be a survivor at the same time. To embrace one, you must reject the other. And keep in mind, you can’t begin the survivor’s journey until you become willing to move past the victim stages of denial and resistance. And you can’t do that as long as you continue to listen to the voice of vengeance.
Which road will you take? The victim’s path or the survivor’s journey? Remember: You can’t remain a victim and be a survivor at the same time. To embrace one, you must reject the other. And keep in mind: You can’t begin the survivor’s journey until you become willing to move past the victim stages of denial and resistance. And you can’t do that as long as you continue to listen to the voice of vengeance.
Maybe you're wondering…
The Seduction of the Victim Stages
I believe there are three key reasons why staying in the victim stages can be seductive.
Reason #1: Feeling like a victim is a knee-jerk reaction.
Just as a first impression is hard to change, a knee-jerk reaction is equally hard to get past. When we’re blindsided, the instinctive reaction is to feel victimized. The problem here is when we mistake a knee-jerk reaction for an appropriate response, and end up being loyal to it even though it makes the situation worse in the long run.
Reason #2: Feeling like a victim feels justified.
When we can justify feeling a certain way, we sometimes mistake it for being the right way to feel. And yet, just because a feeling is justified, doesn’t mean it’s the best way to handle the situation. In the case of betrayal, it’s easy to justify feeling like a victim. (Who could blame you?) And though you can justify it, feeling like a victim will not help you recover from it.
Reason #3: The role of the victim is more familiar.
Think back to your own childhood. How did the women you looked up to handle marriage and relationship issues like cheating, betrayal and infidelity? Were they the forgiving type or the condemning type? Did they react with anger, or did they react with compassion? Which voice do you imagine they were listening to? Which path did they take? This is an important clue because the belief in being a victim can become the go-to response… not because it’s natural, but because it’s familiar.
Here’s an important thing to know:
All responses, including those in the two victim stages, are learned responses. They are coping strategies to help us deal with the pain, loss and uncertainties in life. Many of these strategies are handed down from one generation to the next. Some are functional, while others are dysfunctional.
This is good news.
Because, if we can learn one set of coping strategies, then we can learn another. And just because victim coping strategies may have been the ones you were most familiar with, it doesn’t mean they are the best. In fact, I intend to prove that when it comes to dealing with the painful emotions brought on by infidelity, the exact opposite is true. Victim coping strategies are not helpful. They are in fact harmful.
Let's look at your own situation.
If you are reading this, then I assume you are a woman who’s recently discovered some type of betrayal by a man whom you trusted. If this describes you, then there are a few things we are in agreement about.
- His actions were thoughtless, careless, selfish, and self-serving.
- What happened to you is unfair, uncalled-for, and extremely painful.
- You could probably find a hundred good reasons to justify staying stuck in victim mode.
And yet even though we agree on all that, here’s something that we may or may not agree on:
You see, I don’t believe you are the victim of his infidelity. I see you as the witness.
Let me explain what I mean by that. If this was a hit and run accident, you would not have been the pedestrian. You would have been the one in the passenger seat, and he would have been the driver. This makes you the witness and not the victim.
Just in case…
You think I might be unsympathetic, cold or distant from your pain. I must tell you nothing is further from the truth. The reality is that I am empathic and compassionate, and I genuinely understand what you are going through.
You see, I’m not just the facilitator of this website, I am also a wife who once stood exactly where you are standing today. I have walked that dark, lonely road of hurt and humiliation, with anger, fear, and uncertainty dogging my every step. I, too, have awakened from a night of nightmares to think, “Boy, am I glad those were just bad dreams”… only to realize the nightmare wasn’t a dream but my life. And it’s because I have walked this road that I can speak to you with both compassion and honesty about what works and what worsens the situation.
I have made all the wrong turns and several of the bad decisions. So, like a good friend, I’m doing my best to help you avoid them. This requires not letting you go down a useless path or chase after meaningless goals, no matter how seductive they appear to be. And it also means telling you the truth, whether you are ready to accept it or not.
Still feeling some resistance? Don’t despair.
From this point forward, I intend to prove to you beyond the shadow of a doubt that every day spent in the victim stages of denial and resistance is a day spent in hell and hate. I will show you why taking advice from the voice of vengeance is like taking money from the mafia — it’s going to cost you far more than what it’s worth. I fully intend to expose the whole victim idea as a fraud.
Let’s begin that process now.