Hi, I’m Corinne; and I’m a recovering victim.

Everybody say it with me:  Hi, Corinne!

Of what am I a victim, and how have I entered recovery?  Ah, these are very good questions.  I wish I had some sweet little stories to tell you, that I could describe prosaically, charming you, my readers, my friends, my supporters.

Not so.

My father was an alcoholic who was a mean drunk.  I got it less than my siblings, true enough; for two reasons, I think.  First, I was not a strong child, and I think everyone pampered me because of my early illness.  Second, my dad had a soft spot for me, so he treated me somewhat differently than the other kids.

But we all got it, to a greater or lesser degree, and we all witnessed it, including many terrible, awful events that don’t bear reducing to print here.

And so, I’ve mentioned, also, one situation that contributed to my status as victim — that early illness, at age eighteen months.  My sister suffered what presumably stemmed from the same source, though she has not undergone the testing that identified my early illness as a viral encephalitis, the culprit being, we now know, the HHV-6 virus.  The virus  damaged my CNS, which resulted in spasticity in my legs, to a lesser extent in my arms, and a very slight and manageable speech delay.

In high school, I also experienced a further insult:  Abuse by a Catholic priest.  I successfully pursued a claim against the Diocese in the mid-1990s. At that time, I was the only survivor of clergy abuse to negotiate a settlement with no requirement that I keep confidential the perpetrator’s name, details about the events, or the principal settlement terms.  (There were only two terms which we protected.  Although those terms related to his ‘punishment’, it was I who said they should be sealed.)  A few years later, I testified before a committee trying to decide whether he should be allowed back into parish service.  The ignorance and patronizing attitude of the committee further damaged me — a feeling shared by others there to testify on the same day, albeit about other perpetrators.  I conversed with several who experienced the feeling of degradation that the committee’s attitude triggered in me.

Through my college and graduate school decade, I immersed myself in encounters of a rankly self-destructive nature.  Abusive men, alcohol, superficial and demeaning friendships — I gathered these around me like a coat of armor, or a hair shirt. My wild and terrible life both punished me for my unworthiness and protected me from facing my fears. My dark decade left deep, festering wounds and disfiguring emotional scars.

I continued in this vein, struggling through my thirties and forties, failing at business, marriage, and in general, inviting a cloud of malaise which continued to hide my quiet desperation.  In 1998, when I started menopause, that dang virus awakened and began ravaging me.  I clung to the seesaw, brave one minute, wildly resentful the next.  My personality soured; I threw myself into lawyering and gave my compassion to my clients and my child, not succeeding at much else, hoping that whatever happened to me, the work that I did and the young man whom I reared would be my legacy.

Through all of these experiences, I found some fabulous people.  I’ve written of them here and in my Musings:  People who love me, people who help me, people who stand by me.  I won’t call their names, lest I forget one.  The people whom I love mean everything to me.

But for fifty-eight, no, fifty-nine years, I’ve gravitated to victimhood in every final analysis.  I hear the nauseating whine in my voice:  “How can you do this to me?  Why is this happening to me?”  This orientation of suffering stains my life and pulls me down, dismissing the feelings of others and any consideration of their wants and needs.

I’m here, now, though.  This quest not to complain invokes a greater desire — the desire to become a recovering and, ultimately, a recovered victim.  I am not saying that I don’t genuinely experience the lash of the universe, nor the loss of control and the true pain of suffering.  Nor am I implying that I suddenly surpass others in my ability to respond with virtue or selflessness.  Not so, not so. Nor do I suggest that asking for help implies victimhood; everyone needs help from time to time.

I just want to stop looking at everything and everyone as persecuting me.    I don’t want to wallow in a desperate feeling of being attacked any more.  I just want to live every day of my life with the simple understanding that some things will go the way I want them to go, and some things will not.  When I face events that threaten to derail my dreams, I want to acknowledge the situation without grousing around for a way to turn the unfortunate fork in my road into a referendum on how mistreated I am, or a song of woe about how pitiful I am.

I want to walk that path of grace I’ve mentioned, knowing that I will encounter potholes; overhanging brambles; and sudden downpours.I also want to hold fast to the knowledge that when the rain passes, sunshine will surround me.

Hi, I’m Corinne.  I am a recovering victim.  

This is my first day in recovery.


5 thoughts on “Hi, I’m Corinne; and I’m a recovering victim.

  1. KarlT

    We have been Friends for many, many years … and agree on some issues, and disagree on others. In all that time, we continue to like and respect, (at least I do), our differences. We can view ourselves as “victims” … based on the cards we are dealt … or we can view ourselves as “challenged”, to deal with the cards we are dealt. Some, (like me), persons of faith, just trust “The Dealer”. Point being? On an individual level … “victim” … being a “victim”, is a mindset. I guess , in life, we all have a learning curve. I continue to learn … as do you. 🙂

  2. ccorleyjd365 Post author

    KarlT: Thank you for reading my blog; and for taking the time to share your observations. One thing on which you and I can always agree is that where there is life, here is still the potential for learning.

    Your friend,


  3. Joyce (the grateful PUMA)

    Yesterday, I attended the 99th birthday party of a friend of Ted’s. I had never met the woman, but looked forward to it.

    She had finally agreed to move to an assisted living facility as she was not capable and not safe, living alone. Although I didn’t know her, I wondered how she felt about the move and fretted for her about the changes she was about to go through. And I fretted about the changes I might be going through in my future, should I get to her point.

    We stopped at Schnucks to get some flowers or a plant. I struggled over choosing a gorgeous shaded pink orchid plant or a dozen shaded lavender roses; then ribbon colors.

    Neither choice seemed enough for someone celebrating 99 years living on this earth, so I added a big Happy Birthday helium balloon.

    When I met this lovely 99 year old frail woman, she seemed less interested in my choice (the orchid) and more interested in lighting up, as she looked directly into my eyes, with the happiest smile on her face.

    “So, you are Joyce”, she said, “my competition”. “Yes”, I said. “Well, now you know you have nothing to worry about”, she said. We laughed a lot about that.

    I studied her, as each person gave her their gift, talked with her and with us. “She’s so frail, I thought, so dependent on others to help her get here and there. She sat petitely in her arm chair, holding court, her walker at her side. Later on in the evening, someone put the orchid in her view. Her eyes lit up with surprise, as she asked where it had come from. “From Ted and Joyce”, someone said. “It’s gorgeous”, she cooed.

    Her hands moved with such tightness and weakness, she needed help taking off the ribbons and wrappings of her gifts. “My right hand doesn’t want to work much anymore” she commented offhandedly, accepting her growing list of limitations as a fact of life.

    “Ice cream”, she suddenly chirped, struggling to get up at the same moment. All ran to help, which she accepted as her right, but nothing was going to stop this 99 year old from her goal. Ice cream was to be served, along with birthday cake and we all sang the Happy Birthday song and she blew out the 99 candle. Ted then added his family’s version of the song and his 99 year old friend swooned at his crooning.

    This was the same birthday song he sang to me at my birthday party two years ago, when he recaptured my heart. for the fourth and last time.

    I looked at his friend and wondered how I would be dealing with the ultimate insult of old and older age. Would I handle it with the aplomb of this delightful oldster or with the crabbing I feel, with the old age stuff I am suffering from right now?

    We all deal with the nicks and shafts of our genes and the ravages of time and life, some luckier than others, some getting unlucky over time. But there is a special kind of luck that one can have that comes from knowledge, understanding and accepting. Seems to me, that is what makes our lives happy or sad.

    I have been following your journey toward contentment all year, and while I originally followed it in support for you, I realized that I am hoping it will get me there too.

    1. ccorleyjd365 Post author

      Joyce: Dennis Lisenby, my former husband and friend, remarked that he was surprised at how I could discuss such things as I mention in this blog post, publicly; whereas, he pursues private, quite contemplation of similar inner struggles. I told him that I have nothing left to lose. It’s heal or bust. This public journey gives me accountability. Thank you SO much for supporting my journey and sharing this beautiful story of Ted’s other love. You enrich my life immeasurably by your friendship. And thank you for joining me on this journey toward peace and contentment.

  4. Cindy Cieplik

    I have many thoughts racing at a speed they do when I am tired and overwhelmed–or maybe the racing thoughts pushed me to this point.
    One thought that rose to the top of the heap “the journey is the reward.”
    I’m going to live with that one for awhile.

    I’m a recovering freaking nice girl, by the way. (RFNG)
    You are a recovering victim. (RV)

    Welcome to both of us! Let our journeys continue.


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