I spent most of my life feeling like there was no one in charge, me with my strong will and out of control drinking, in a continuous state of being pulled apart. I’m hungover, I’m never drinking again. I’m not sure about anything, ever.

As I understand the things I’ve held myself responsible for more clearly I begin to see that I put myself in the role of someone who has had things done to them, and then ingested them. Now, at five years sober, I start to wonder if I’ve been acting like a victim. My therapist confirms this possibility- and I begin to think about what victim means.

I’ve always put the “poor me” spin on victimhood. A victim is someone who belabors their circumstances, taking any opportunity to tell you how they’ve been hurt by the world. Whining about how they had no choice in the matter. Unable to come to their own rescue, victims are like black holes sucking up everything and giving nothing. They’re negative, and hopeless. I never thought I was a victim because I didn’t want to talk about what has happened to me with any honesty to anyone. I wasn’t a victim, I was fine.

I’m not a noisy victim. In fact I am the most quiet kind. I have no boundaries, I allow all behaviors from myself and others. I will shape shift to please you, I promise. I will disappear so that there is no evidence of an actual person called Amy existing to disrupt our lives. I will agree, or I will stick up for myself but then back down because approval is more valuable that my own self. I will let you put me in the smallest box imaginable to keep everyone comfortable. I will choke to death on my own heart if you’ll only just drop a bit of kindness my way.

This to me means I’m being giving, not a victim. My self sacrifice is silently admirable, the only evidence that can be seen is the fact that I get black out drunk alone a few times a week for twenty plus years. No victims here.

My therapist suggests the word survivor. Again I have my own definition. A survivor has lived through great adversity. It’s a person who has dealt with the unthinkable and has stayed alive. That is not me- I haven’t been in any fiery plane crashes or been locked in a basement beaten and starved. I have just been discretely trying not to kill myself while I attempt to drink myself to death. That’s not surviving, it’s not brave, or triumphant. It’s lazy and the easy way out. Dirty. Nothing to be proud of.