10 signs you’re turning into a martyr, and how to cut that shit out

I fucking hate martyrs – they really irk me. Probably because I have a tendency to be one myself. (I even made myself sick with it last year.)

Many people erroneously believe mother comes from the word martyr and that, as a result, it is a political requirement that we crucify ourselves on a daily basis to prove our dedication to the cause; i.e. the happiness of our family. They are mistaken however, and you might want to take note of this: the words are in no way related – except in our heads.

Did you get that? We’re free!

When I see everyday martyrdom in others, it reminds me of what an enormous pain in the arse I must be when I do it. So, as my community service to the world this week, I’m bringing you these signs that you (we) are acting like a victimish dick, and how to stop.

  1. You sigh whenever your partner and/or kids speak to you.
  2. You speak on a daily basis about how little sleep you’re getting and how hard parenting is.
  3. You regale friends, acquaintances and strangers at the supermarket with stories about how useless your husband is at doing the dishes, or your kids are at hanging their own washing. Rolling of eyes earns you extra points.
  4. You resent your partner for having more kid-free time out with friends than you do. This may or may not involve ‘accidentally’ deadlocking the door at 11pm and running the vacuum cleaner at 6am the next day.
  5. You say yes to every request for help from others, then complain about how few hours there are in the day.
  6. You iron everybody’s sheets, underpants, or breakfast.
  7. Your default setting is to say no to social invitations because you’ve just got so much to do.
  8. You criticise other mums for putting their kids in daycare/going on a solo holiday/not homeschooling their kids in a purpose-built barn in the back yard.
  9. You criticise your partner’s parenting, and take on extra tasks because you just want it done right, damn it!
  10. You think the silent treatment is an effective method of communicating your displeasure.

How to stop:

  1. Say no to more jobs.
  2. Say yes to more fun.
  3. Tell people how you feel and then move on.
  4. Ask for help.



Click here for the MartyrPrintable PDF poster – put it on your wall and go from wanker to wonderful in no time at all.

Simple, right? And if you want more detail, the delightful Gillian set out a six-point plan for being more Martha (Stewart), and less martyr.

Look, I know you work hard, and balancing work and kids and life is really fucking hard. But if you want to be happy, something has to change – and it probably won’t be your situation, so why not change the way you think about it?

Don’t get me wrong. I respect what you’re doing. But by engaging in this behaviour, you’re making life hard for yourself, and you’re distancing yourself from those around you. Yes, it would be nice if everything was done properly the first time, but how about loosening up and living life a little instead?

Being busy isn’t a goal in itself and you certainly won’t receive a medal for it. Gillian and I love banging on here about how important it is to take care of yourself first, and your family second. You can’t apply that oxygen mask on the plane if you’re slumped over and gasping for breath.

So for goodness sake, eat the cookie, leave the crumbs. Say yes to fun stuff. Leave the kids with your mother-in-law. Who cares if they eat ice cream for dinner?

Are you a martyr? How does it manifest itself in your life?

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Written By

Carolyn is the editorial director of Champagne Cartel and a freelance writer. In her spare time she is a long-distance runner, peanut butter enthusiast, and single mum to three incredible humans.


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