During my drinking days. I’d often play the role of a victim whenever I experienced unfortunate circumstances in my life. Poor me was always the theme that included anger and sadness, and as my self-pity grew, my anger usually turned into a deep-seated resentment that inevitability got me drunk.
This feeling of being a victim was also evident in some of the teenagers I worked with. Although many of them didn’t drink or do drugs, they would often dwell in their negative emotions and act out in ways that would get them in trouble. I will add, though, that many of the teenagers I worked with were indeed victims.
None of them asked for the awful childhoods they had that often involved bad parenting and an unstable environment, or worse. (Some had been abandoned as a child, and some were sexually or physically abused.)
Although I never pretended to understand what some of these young men had gone through, I was still able to help at some level because I understood some of the emotions they felt. I would talk openly about my childhood and adolescence years, and tell them what I did to stop playing the role of victim as an adult. But my main goal was to help them understand why they felt the way they did.
I had to build a lot of trust with these young men in order to get them to open up to me, and although I certainly didn’t gain every teen’s trust, the fact that so many of them talked to me about their lives made me feel more confident in the process.
Besides my story, I would tell them the stories of others I knew who went through horrible things as a child and teenager, and were still able to became emotionally well despite it. This more than anything else left them with an undeniable conclusion that whether we’re victims or not, it’s possible to change how we feel about our lives, and become a happier and stronger person in the process.