How did you get yourself out of the victim mentality? How did you stop sabotaging your life, and stop all this?
You ask a good question. It's taken me four long years of therapy, lots of painful self-honesty, and the support (often at great costs to themselves) from my family and others, such as SI, to even get to the point where I am starting to feel the fog actually lifting, and starting to figure out who it is I really am, and want to be.
For me, getting out of that victim mentality involved a few things.
I think the most obvious first step was in realizing that it existed. I honestly never saw myself that way. I thought I was a very giving person. And to be fair, I was, but what I didn't realize was how every interaction in my life had a price tag on it, and that price was attention and affection. I had spent my entire life being someone that everyone would find amazing and wonderful. I just never realized that it was to feed my attention addiction.
Next, I had to understand the root of the problem. Why was I so needy? What did it get me? Why couldn't I do for myself what others did for me? This took therapy. I honestly had to go back and examine parts of my life. I needed to understand where my sense of shame came from. I needed to understand why I felt I mattered so little. I endured a very abusive and neglected childhood, and that put a lot of messages in my brain. Once I was able to go back and understand some of my past from the viewpoint of an adult, it was helpful. I could see that the abusive people in my childhood were really doing the best they could, that they themselves were victims of abuse handed down from their families, and so on. Moreover, I was able (after time, practice and acceptance) to go back and "rewrite the script in my head" about what things happened and why.
For example, my original source of shame turned out to be the time I peed my pants in pre-school as a small child. The teacher called my mother to bring dry clothes. When she got there, rather than telling me that it was okay, that this happens to everyone and to keep my head high, my mother chose instead to make jokes about it with the teacher, in front of the other kids too. It mortified me, and I got the message that I was stupid and worthless for making a mistake. That one small event set me up for a lifetime of hurt. (It's not that simple of course, but you know what I mean.) Any kind of criticism from anyone else, or any kind of insecurity or failure on my part, made my intrinsic value shrink. Over time, it disappeared altogether. I was the fat kid in school, so I was teased and bullied all day. At night, my sadistic brother tortured me, and my narcissistic mother made everything about her, and tied my value to how it made her look and feel.
In therapy, I was able to go back and rethink these moments in my life. I was able to tell myself that wetting my pants was normal, and that it happens to everyone, and that it didn't devalue me in any way. I was able to tell myself that my I didn't have to find my own value in others, that I was just enough on my own. This was so very hard. I'm sure, even reading this now, you might be saying to yourself, "Nah, I don't really love myself and don't see the point of it". That's how I always felt anyway. But it works, and it can be done. At some point you need to get sick of carrying around all that misery and emptiness. You get sick of being a drain on everyone including yourself. And you make the changes you need to make, whether you think you have what it takes to do it or not. When we need to, we find a way.
After years of this soul searching, I finally got to a point where I wasn't scared anymore. I stopped needing my wife to make me feel valuable. I stopped needing anyone to make me feel anything in fact. To be honest with you, I was actually to the point where I was ready to "walk", away from the relationship I mean. The thing about that was, I have never, ever, really walked out of a relationship. I couldn't. That would have left me alone with my victimhood and no one to make me feel better. But through hard work and therapy, I had gotten to the point where I no longer "needed" my wife to make me feel whole. And surprisingly, that's when things got better for us. With the neediness removed, all the selfishness and defensiveness also went away. It opened the door for my wife to feel seen and heard by me again, and to start seeing me as "safer" to be with.
Keep working at it, and don't give up. It takes courage, humility, an open mind, and determination. It also involves a lot of pain and sadness. And you have to accept, 100% accept from the get-go that all this work may not save your relationship at all. But that's not the point of the work. The point is to save yourself, and in doing so, rebalance the rest of your life. While it is no guarantee of saving your marriage, I do think the opposite is true. I think that without this work, there is no way to really R, because until you are able to love yourself, you will never really be safe for anyone to love.