Martyrs: The Woman who Sacrifices Herself to her Children or Husband

We all know Wendy in Peter Pan. Author Dan Kiley uses Wendy as a prototype for the self-sacrificing female and mother.

She uses these sacrifices as an inappropriate sort of mothering for her children or the man in her life. “Poor me; poor me” is this woman’s refrain.

The woman who sacrifices herself to her children or husband is a modern-day martyr

Dan Kiley, author of The Wendy Dilemma that the woman who sacrifices herself may exhibit the following behaviors:

  • She admits she’s wrong even when she isn’t;
  • She complains about all the work she has to do, but won’t take steps to remedy the situation;
  • She paints herself into corners, knowing full well that emotional turmoil will result;
  • When all else fails, she gives herself pity (in extreme cases, she wanted pity in the first place);
  • She puts herself in the middle of arguments or dissension, e.g., between her man and his mother;
  • She does her man’s dirty work, e.g., returns defective merchandise or the like;
  • She submits to sex when she doesn’t want to;
  • She’ll tag along with her man’s friends even though he won’t reciprocate.

According to Dr. Kiley, self-sacrifice is the central indication of inappropriate mothering in women, whether that mothering is given to children or men.

He continues, “Pity received from oneself and from friends is the fuel that keeps self-sacrifice in motion. Pity is a form of reinforcement.”

The most destructive element in self-pity is the self-soothing attribute of “poor me.” Once a woman admits and confronts self-pity, it leads her deeper into herself until she uncovers the destructive influence of the silent voice of inferiority, according to Kiley.

The martyr plays several games to hang on to the identity self-pity gives her.

Three of those games are:

  • Yes, but…
  • If it weren’t for…
  • Bet you can’t help me…

Recognize anyone here?

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