That phrase, “Stop playing the victim card”, really gets me! I do not know how many times in the first year I heard that phrase from well-meaning individuals. As we now know I suffered from Bryans infidelity for nearly two years. Guess what? I WAS A VICTIM! Not just from his infidelity, but with infidelity comes abuse! There is almost no way that a cheating spouse can not abuse you! The lies, the gas-lighting, the anger, the cheaters own guilt, obsessive behaviors, the cold shoulder: no matter the exact type of abuse, there is abuse.
During that first year, I kept telling myself that I must be a real whiner, loser, and an all-around horrible person because of those that chose to label me with the “playing the victim card”. Well-meaning people can cause more damage and suffering than you can imagine. Some of those were in the middle and they played that middle ground perfectly. They quite honestly betrayed me too. Of course, that was not the intention, but that was the outcome. They did not know of the abuse, the suffering, the ongoing affair or they did but did not like how I chose to handle the pain. They made assumptions and in doing so caused me much pain. The low self-esteem of the betrayed is already fragile and add a label, and contempt from so called friends and the esteem drops even further.
For some, an affair is not serious. They think that affairs are just a part of life. That, well you fell off that horse, you just get a new one, saddle up and off you go. Maybe that is because they have not ever experienced the pain, maybe it is because their relationships are all surface so affairs and divorcing are no big deal, possibly it’s that they always come out of any conflict fighting and flighting running from the pain. Whatever the reason it is easy to call someone else out as a victim card player. It is much more difficult to be a true confidant and friend and simply love someone in their suffering.
It was not until I finally began going to counseling that I could see that there is a definite difference between playing a victim and being a victim. I truly was a victim. By living in the humiliation that others thought I was “playing the victim”, my self-esteem plummeted, I thought that I was not worthy, that my feelings were somehow over exaggerated. So I stuffed my feelings, I was numb, I was scared to share and release my emotions because somehow they must be wrong. Only through counseling was I able to release my emotions freely.
My wish is that we can start a conversation about infidelity and help others to see the pain and have some understanding and compassion for both the victim spouse and the betraying spouse as well. It is so easy to assume that you know what someone else is going thru but often we only know bits and pieces. And until we have lived someone else’s pain the best most of us can offer is a listening ear and a genuinely loving heart.
If you are living with an added label during this horrific time. Stop and hand that label back! Take on nothing that does not help in your healing. Protect yourself! Know you are worthy! Worthy to be heard, to be loved, to be comforted, to find joy and peace again!