The far reaching effects of abuse are amazing. It is amazing how you can be going through your every day life, and BAM! you are now responding to something that “feels” connected to your past, even if it’s not, and you suddenly feel unsafe again (the crap). I have experienced this many times. It was when I had finally “had enough” of the debilitating behaviors that were associated to abuses I experienced as a small girl and as a young woman, that I decided to learn how to respond differently. I decided to take the “crap” from my past and use it as motivational “fertilizer” for my future!
From my childhood and well into my twenties, I was living a life that revolved around what I thought others wanted me to be. I put on a happy face, I said what I thought people wanted to hear, and did the things I thought they would find most valuable. Now in and of itself, that doesn’t sound so bad, but I was a fake. I didn’t even know how to figure out what I wanted, what I needed, who I was inside. This was all part of a defense mechanism I had learned in order to stay safe, even as a child. If I was “perfect” as a child, I wouldn’t be singled out. Being singled out created some undesirable results. The problem was that now as an adult, I didn’t know how to be authentic. So, I took a self-awareness course, and found out that, yep, I was existing as a fake. When I discovered this and realized that I didn’t even know what my “real self” wanted, I began a path of choosing differently, of behaving differently.
I realized that although putting on the perfect face, did help me avoid some situations in my life, this pattern no longer served me. To be an adult woman who embodied what “other people” wanted, and to have no connection to my wants or needs, well, it was not working very well. I began with consciously searching for a way out of the patterns I had adopted to survive abuse. Not only did I have to start asking myself, what do I want, but when the answer came, I had to be willing to assert myself and take action. Talk about scary. For the first time in my life I started to say “NO” to people.
When I began doing this, it caused plenty of turmoil in my previous marriage. I was changing a pattern that my ex and I had partially created together, and as in all cases, when you change a life pattern, those around you are also affected. This particular time in my life was difficult to go through, but I knew that I had to find ME. I had to know what I wanted. It was clumsy, awkward, and scary, but in the end, I had the new growth in my life I was hoping to create. My commitment to finding me has finally landed me in a place where, I know me. Not only that, I LOVE me.
I want to tell you something else too. There was a time in my life when, due to the sexual abuses I experienced in the past, I would be completely “shut down” in the arena of physical intimacy. When trying to be intimate, I kept feeling the emotions and the fear from the violations I had experienced in the past. Amazingly, with my commitment to finding me, I also found that “shutting down” started to go away too. It became safe again to know what I wanted, and to create boundaries that allowed only what I wanted to come into my personal space, while demanding those things that I didn’t want to stay out of my space.
It began with a desire to be different and then by choosing ME as the most important person to listen to concerning who I want to be, what I want to be, and how I want to be.
Today, I am a very confident woman. I am strong. I am dynamic, open, and authentic. I also have a great compassion for people, and I understand the strength it takes to rise up out of the ugliness of abuse and into the beauty of life. It’s a journey that can be difficult, but it is possible. As women, we all have incredible strength within us, but we must choose to use it.
There are many more details that explain my personal journey into a life of authenticity and personal strength (some of which I will share in the future). However, in this post, I just wanted to say that there IS a way out of abuse and the darkness and fear it can leave with us. There IS a way to become free of the “crap” of our past and use that “crap” to motivate ourselves into finding the power and beauty of the women we are MEANT to be. It begins with a desire to make life different. The next step is a commitment to choose something new, to choose action, to choose yourself!
Hang on! It can be a bumpy and exciting ride, but it is sooo worth it!