Thursday, March 17, 2011

Indiscriminate Self Sacrifice

This morning on Everyday Joy, they were talking about the movie Avatar. In the chatroom, someone shared that they didn't like the movie. I loved it... It was a big deal for me... I SAW people defend themselves, and I didn't feel like that was bad. I wasn't angry at the people for trying to protect their world.

I shared that in the chatroom... It was such a foreign concept to this person: "Survival instinct will force you to defend yourself."

Nope. Not in my world.

When I was inpatient at CFC, Paul (therapist) liked to give people signs to wear. I willingly wore every sign he gave me, except one. I don't remember exactly what it said, but it had the word "martyr" on it. I refused to wear it. I told him I wasn't a martyr. There were some assignments he gave me that I fought because they weren't what I needed. This was not one of those times. I knew it. I think he knew it, but I flat out refused, so what could he do??

Some might think I didn't want the martyr sign, because being a martyr is bad... That wasn't the case for me. A martyr was the BEST kind of person, but I wasn't one. I was still alive. I had survived, so therefore, I wasn't good enough. (It sounds really crazy to write this now, but I BELIEVED it.)

"Greater love hath no man than to give his life for his friends."
The stories of Joseph, Hyrum, and Christ... If I wanted to be good like them, I couldn't value my own life, so I didn't. (Direct result of not valuing my own life: sitting in an eating disorder treatment center, literally starving to death, and only eating because someone else told me THEY needed me to eat.)

How this played out in my life:
Ex-Husband #1 raped me, and I laid there. I thought his needs were so much more important than my pain, my sadness, my fear. THIS was love for him.
I gave money I didn't have to people who said they needed it.
I worked two jobs, had three callings, went to the temple, listened to friends as they shared their heartaches, reached out to the lonely, and no matter how much I did or gave or tried, it wasn't enough, because I WAS STILL ALIVE.
I stayed with Ex#2, even when he was physically violent. It hurt me, but it was okay, because I LOVED him... and if he needed to kill me, that was what needed to happen. (It never crossed my mind how AWFUL that would have been for him. I was SO confused.)
My cat sat on my lap, flexed her claws in my skin, and I did nothing. It drew blood, I think I felt pain, but I didn't do anything to stop her.
I didn't tell people about the violence in my life, because I didn't want anyone to protect me. I didn't want anyone to get hurt.

I was so ashamed of being alive, I was willing to die slowly by starvation rather than face the guilt and the shame.

Paul eventually changed his terminology. He came up with the phrase "indiscriminate-self-sacrifice". I was willing to sacrifice myself, my wants, my needs, my life for anyone, anything, everything, and everyone.

I'm slowly unlearning all the things I learned. I'm worth protecting. I can feel safe and happy and still be a good person. I don't want to ever harm someone else, AND I will take care of me. I can have needs and wants, and express them, and still be loved. That's what is has always been about, I just wanted to be loved, and I didn't know there was any other way.


  1. I marvel at your strength and the things through which you have been. I loved your statement that you do not want to hurt others and you WILL take care of yourself. And, Jen, you are loved- by many.

    Happy day. :)

  2. I am so happy you are in my existence in some capacity! I identified with your refusal to wear that martyr sign and the misconceptions about it. Gemstones like us can't be figured out at first glance. We are complex and shoot light across the room at different angles with our brilliance. Like a jeweler magnifies the stone to figure it out we too demand that pause. What may come across as a lump of conventional coal is actually a onyx what may be considered glass is really a diamond. When you take time to explain some thinking you just didn't want to wear the martyr sign because that may at first glance be conceived as bad it reveals your compassion for those who may be tempted to marginalize you in some random group. You are in a class of your own! Bravo!! I'm a fan!!!

  3. duck - thank you! and happy day right back at you.

    Sophia - what a beautiful picture you just painted!!! You have a gift with words!

  4. Jen, I have been thinking a lot about what you have shared in your last couple of posts. You have inspired me to share some things over on my blog. Thank you. I tried writing a book several years ago, and I wanted to share a couple of pieces from it, over the next few days, about boundaries, those who violate others personal boundaries, not having childhood needs met, and the toll that heavy depression (that stems from all these things) can have on a person. Maybe you will give those few pieces a read?

    Hoping you are doing alright and having a good day. :)

    (Me, I am a bit queasy from all the IV antibiotics and such, but, generally, OK.)

    Love and respect, always. Duck

  5. P.S NOT that I think you NEED to read my book snippets, just hoping you MIGHT, for your feedback. (I did not write that very clearly in my previous comment- so sorry) I value your opinions.

    Love. :)

  6. I love you. I hope you never feel like you have to sacrifice yourself in order to be worthy of love. You are worthy just because you are you.]

    I like the terminology of indiscriminate self sacrifice because I do believe there are times when it may be desirable to choose to make a sacrifice, but those situations are reserved for when an individual feels that the cause is greater than the sacrifice. If done indiscriminately those situations lose their value.

  7. Duck, I would love to read what you post! Thank you for thinking of me. (I'm too tired to read tonight, so I'll check out your blog tomorrow.)

    Jeff, Thank you. I love you too. And I agree, there are times to choose to make a sacrifice, which means there has to be a choice.

  8. Jen,
    I appreciate witnessing your strength. I love how well you handled yourself in the chat room that day. I forget that not everyone is open to viewing that things may be different than they actually believe to be true. I know that when you and I responded to her that "survival instincts" can be trained out of a person, that she pretty much fell off her chair.
    Thank you for speaking up and for exercising your voice time and again.
    I love you!

  9. Angie, Thank you! I really appreciated you stepping in. I was starting to question my own experiences... It helped me to hear that others have experienced the same thing. You brought me back into me.