From my experience, this is what I've learned when it comes to the victim/savior relationship:
A victim seeks a savior because their healing process requires someone with equal intensity, who is wholeheartedly committed to holding onto their role/identity as a savior.
The victim continues to be a victim until they are absolutely fed up. They may be brought to a place where they resent the very person trying to “help” them. Resentment occurs because the victim (on an unconscious level) knows they must take individual ownership of their healing. They can no longer expect the savior to do it for them. They blame the savior for holding them back. The soul knows what it must do and this inner knowing conflicts with outer actions. Finally, the desire for true change meets the need to act, or to heal oneself.
A savior seeks a victim because their healing process also requires someone who is equally committed to their role as a victim.
The savior continues to be a savior until they reach their max capacity, giving all they have to help, support, or try to change the victim. Their need to “save” may be unconsciously guided by their need to feel safe, right, comfortable, needed, valued, validated, etc. They attempt to “save” or change the victim based on what they think is needed or appropriate and is most likely prompted by their own insecurities.
A victim seeks comfort and validation. They would much rather remain where they are because to change means that they would have to become accountable and responsible for the life they live and continue to create. They are comfortable knowing that they have someone to "save" them (aka someone who supports them in their victim journey).
A savior seeks comfort and validation. They identify as a savior because to them, there is value and a sense of pride in "saving" others. It's less about truly helping the victim and more about feeling good about themselves and comfortable in their own skin. It is a constant battle to prove to themselves and others, that they are worthy and a good person.
Both are dependent.
In the end, both parties realize that there is only so much that can be done, a part from one’s own personal work.
Dependency prolongs the inevitable individual work that must be done.
And this individual work can feel daunting and impossible because both roles have, over the years, built upon the beliefs that this is who they are. Ultimately, they want to protect themselves and their identity at all costs. It is self-preservation and protection in a world where they have been hurt or shown that this is the only way. Their past experiences continue to validate their roles, and they continue to bring those past experiences into the present, creating the life they live now.
For years, I continued to bring my past experiences into my present. I continued to create a life around my savior role. In hindsight, I better understand why I stepped into that role. And one of the biggest lessons I've learned while being the daughter of an alcoholic (now recovering), and later being in a relationship/married to an alcoholic (now recovering) is understanding that their battles were not mine to fight. That there’s a fine line between supporting/helping those you love and stepping aside so they can do the work that needs to be done, alone. It can only be done alone.
I mirrored my mother and I took on the savior role for many years, because that is what I knew. That was the good, wifely, and godly thing to do. That is what she did for my father...until he reached his breaking point and wanted to change. They are happily married today, but it wasn't an easy road. I see many similarities between my Mom and I. Some good, some not so good. Over the years, I had to determine for myself, which ones to let go of and which ones to hold onto.
I see that I played a part in slowing/hindering the healing process for my partner. I needed to be a savior to feel validated, good enough, special, capable, valued, and ultimately I couldn’t walk away without knowing I did absolutely everything I could do. I needed to be a savior because that is how my Mom kept the family together, and family was/is everything to me. There was an image I had in my head, of my family, that I was not quite ready to let go of.
Until the day came when I had my breaking point. All it takes is one person in the relationship, to get to that breaking point. And the kicker is...you have to be willing to let go of that image in your head and all that you thought you wanted or needed. It may work out. It may not. Either way, you have to let go of the outcome and do what is best/healthy for you.
I remember the exact night I was ready to let go. I knew that I was ready because I felt it. I knew I had done everything in my capacity to help. I no longer needed validation. I no longer needed to prove to myself that I was good enough. The only thing left was my need to ask him: Are you coming with me? And whatever the answer was going to be...I was ok with it.
We both played our roles in creating the life we lived then. And we both play our roles in creating the life we live now.
The amount of inner work and growth, over the last 20+ years (independently and together) was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do...and a huge blow to the ego at times. It’s still hard at times because there’s always another layer of growth and learning to experience.
I don’t believe that everything lasts forever. I’m committed to growth over anything else. And if forever is in the cards then so be it. I’m committed to the unfolding of life, and allowing others to come and go out of my life as needed...even those closest to me.
Where we are today is a reflection of past healing and a willingness to move forward...with or without each other. And for me, that's the key! At some point, it must be decided that with or without each other, healing comes first.
The attraction between a victim and a savior is strong because both mirror each other; both seek comfort and validation. Both seek a partner just as attached to their identity/roles as they are. The inner need to change and the outer confliction may be necessary for it to reach a breaking point.
Perhaps my most important takeaway is: Prioritize healing. Let healing become the foundation upon which you begin to build your life.
Sending my Love and Light.
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