When I was younger, I was a sacrificial martyr. I had so little self-esteem that I thought it was normal to be taken advantage of. Coming from a life of abuse, sexual trauma, violence, and homelessness, it’s easy to see why. I was so use to having nothing, so I expected nothing. I even made it a habit of rejecting beautiful things! If someone would gift me something, it made me uneasy. I would go as far as giving whatever was gifted to me away because the idea of receiving anything positive made me uncomfortable. Compliments were difficult for me. I remember one of the first things my husband (at the time boyfriend) pointed out is that I just didn’t know how to say “thank you” to a compliment. I would disrespect myself, shame myself, degrade myself. I would apologize when people stepped on me and shoved me.
My husband taught me that I was repeating the patterns and CHOOSING to stay stuck because I didn’t know how else to respond. I was comfortable in the suffering. I was a “nice girl,” “apologetic girl,” “quiet girl,” “obedient girl,” “selfless.” I tried to mask my low self-esteem with the idea that it was a kind thing to do. That I was a kind person for putting everyone first. But I wasn’t. I was an enabler.
Someone with no boundaries, no self-love, no ability to say “no,” is someone who feeds AND attracts narcissists. We believe we have to give because people keep taking. They take because we continue to give. The martyr is just as guilty as a narcissist in this dynamic. They feed each other.
Without sacrificial martyrs, there is no food for toxic connections. Boundaries show people that cannot feed here. Givers need to set limits because takers never do. My spirit team told me one day, “If you feed the wolves, they keep coming. The longer you feed them, the more they depend on that energy. If they become dependent on your food, they forget how to hunt and get too comfortable being fed. One day you will run out of food to feed them, and they will eat you alive. How many people will you be able to help then? If You really want to help, don’t feed them, teach them how to hunt.”
Now I look back at myself and realize I was not kind, I was not being compassionate and I was not being loving — because I didn’t know how FIRST to be loving, kind, and compassionate to myself. We cannot project what we do not carry within us. I realized I was a martyr. I was walking around with a victim mentality. A program gifted to me by my guilt and abusers. That meant I would continue to attract hungry wolves who could smell people like me, miles away.
In my healing, I’ve realized that martyrs are usually created over lifetimes. We usually have some heavy guilt about actions taken in past lives that put us in a state of “self-sacrifice” because we cannot forgive ourselves for something we did. So we live lives of sacrifice because we don’t believe we are worthy of good things. We are punishing ourself for our past actions.
When we heal these wounds, we realize that we were projecting our trauma all along. A healed, happy, loving person will never make themselves a martyr. A healed happy person will never sacrifice to the “wolves” they instead, teach them to hunt for themselves. A healed happy person, will love themselves first. Because if you do not love yourself, then you genuinely don’t know how to love another. You must be able to create something internally before sharing it. A healed and happy person knows they have more to give when they make their healing a priority. A healed and happy person knows they don’t need to set the table for their abusers and make excuses for them. A healed and happy person blames no one but themselves for their actions. A healed and happy person understands what we attract is a reflection of what we radiate— so if we don’t like what we are attracting, we heal.
If we want to teach our children to be productive adults in society, we teach them the basics of self-care. We teach them how to tidy up their space, how to wash dishes, how to budget, how to shower, how to do their laundry, how to cook. If we do it all for them, they will never have the tools necessary to take care of themselves as adults. They will be overwhelmed with basic yet essential adult responsibilities and expect others to do it for them. Depending on someone else to do these basic human essentials for you means your success is also dependent on them. “Did you wash my shirt for my meeting? Did you make me a nutritious meal so I can have a productive day?“
Martyr mentality functions precisely like this. Letting people feed means you are keeping them from healing. You are keeping them from their happiness and prosperity because they have become dependent on you for food. Their success is tied to you, therefore you cannot be left behind.
This is a common issue for martyr parents. They are so subconsciously terrified of being alone that they create dependent children who become dependent adults because they don’t want their child to succeed and eventually leave. They want their child to feel so dependent that they never spread their wings too much. Sometimes even trying to sabotage their adult children’s relationships and families so that they can come back home. That is how we pass on the trauma of abandonment wounds through generations.
Recognizing your wounds is the first step to healing them.
Copyright protected 2020 Jessenia Nozzolillo