The Victim Song

Hannah Brencher has done it again. She has blown up my heart with a series of syllables scattered across a page because she’s magical like that. And, really, I think you should bounce over there and read the whole thing because it is, after all, 25 things every woman needs to know. Things like leggings are not pants (can I get an amen?), and confidence is sexy, and maybe it’s good to actually know your geography, girl.

But the message that tripped me up today was Hannah’s final point—Number 25:

“Darling, darling–the victim song is never going to fit you. It will never be good enough for your lungs. It will never be good enough for your time. You are stronger than you know and more graceful than you know. Don’t let the parts of you that want to be a victim live on any longer. You’ve got a voice… you’ve got a story… Do us all a favor and use it. Without any apologies. Without any stepping back. If ever you need a listener, come find me…”

And I wonder how many of us live with that victim mentality. I wonder how many of us cut ourselves off at the knees because we’ve been cut off before. I wonder how many of us live with the lie that our voice is not strong enough. Our story is not big enough. Our words are not powerful enough.

I wonder how many of us drown out the song of our worth with the mournful refrains of the victim song.

vic·tim

Noun
  1. A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.
  2. A person who is tricked or duped: “the victim of a hoax”.

We. Are. Killing. Ourselves.

And maybe we were harmed by someone else. Maybe we were tricked or duped or injured as a result of actions that were not our own. And if you were the victim of some horrible crime, I’m terribly sorry for that.

But in the past, you were a victim. Today, you don’t have to be. Oh no, you don’t have to be.

You don’t have to keep reliving the moments that destroyed you. You don’t have to keep repeating the words that wounded your spirit. You don’t have to be the victim of your memories.

Darling, darling, that victim song will never be good enough for your lungs.

There’s a better tune out there, waiting to whistle through your windpipes. Waiting to show the world that you are so much more than a victim. You’ve got more worth than that.

And maybe you’re thinking, “Rebekah, you don’t know. You’ve had it so easy. You’ve never experienced what I’ve experienced.”

And you would be right. I’ve shed plenty of tears for loved ones, but I don’t know what it is to be a victim. Not like that.

So let me introduce you to someone who understands. I want you to meet a girl who knows the lyrics of the victim song more strongly than she does her own name. This is the girl who has been on the receiving end of a crime so terrible I hate to put words to it. This is a victim of India’s sex trade.

ValuableBut see the bends of her smile? That soft knowing that she doesn’t have to be a victim anymore? See the new lyrics she holds close to her heart because someone sang them into her when they pulled her from the brothel that had long been her prison?

That victim song doesn’t fit her any longer. To be honest, it never did.
Because she was valuable all along.

All those nights when her heart cried with the horror of it, there was a song that hoped to fill her with its beauty. A song of redemption and value and worth.

That’s the song she was meant to sing. That’s the song she would pass on to you.

So take a deep breath and let it fill your lungs.

The Day I Decided She Was Worth It

I’ve been sort of jaded by relationships—the ones that don’t stand the test of time. The ones that clutter the path of my life, leaving glaring evidence that they didn’t end well. For years I’ve tried to blame the other person—the one that did the walking away. I’ve only just begun to realize that I’m just as much at fault for standing back and just watching them leave.

I’ve been thinking about my best friend recently. You know, that shy little girl I met in fourth grade who didn’t turn out to be as shy as she first appeared. At. All. I started thinking about all the not-so-pretty seasons of our friendship (and trust me, there have been a few). And I started wondering how we—being the two opposites that we are—actually overcame all of our struggles and made it this far. How did we survive the tests of time and trial and love and sacrifice and swallowing my pride to say that I—yes, I—am sorry even when I’m still convinced that she’s the one in the wrong?

How is it that my greatest and dearest friendship is the one that has been the hardest for me to keep?

Then I realized that what was really hard about our relationship wasn’t so much what we experienced, but what we survived. Because I faced a lot of junk in my other relationships, too. But the thing that made those different from my relationship with Emily is that, with the others, I simply walked away and left the mess behind. Emily and I couldn’t do that, no matter how badly we sometimes wanted to. No, we had to stay and clean the mess. Take out the trash. Make it so there was room to breathe once more.

And I’m realizing that the key to thriving friendships is not in what you face, but in who you deem worth it. Worth the hardship. Worth the struggle. Worth saving no matter the cost.

Somewhere along the lines of our friendship, I decided Emily was worth it. Because I tried to walk away from her before. When the going got tough, I pulled away—just as I had with every other relationship in my life. But walking away from Emily was like walking away from myself. I needed her too badly—even when I tried to convince myself it was she who needed me.

The thing about relationships is that they are fragile. You’re going to hurt and be hurt. You’re going to fail and be failed. There’s no getting around that—it’s what humans do. And sometimes it’s okay to walk away from those train wreck relationships. But there are a few—precious few—that you must fight for. That you must be willing to lay your pride down to save.

And if you’re looking for the kind of friend who will be there for the rest of your life, here’s my oh so simple, yet impossibly difficult advice: You must decide that she is worth it—so absolutely worth it—because loving her isn’t always going to be easy. But then, the best relationships never are…