Lately, I have been hearing, and even seeing it all around me. People feeling like they are being walked on, treated badly, and even berated by others. Sometimes by people they trust and love. They feel like they cannot say no, they cannot walk away. They are stuck. Whether it be on facebook, emails, or real life, this isn’t something you have to accept. YOU can change things.
We live in a society where we are raised among a plethora of different beliefs. Upbringings by parents from different cultures, different religions, and even mentally ill and abusive family situations. These all affect and mold who we are and how we react to negative treatment from friends, co-workers, even loved ones. Psychologists call this “learned behavior”.
No matter who these people are, you have a right to stand up for yourself. You have a right to walk away. This doesn’t mean you have to scream, yell, fight, or argue. This doesn’t mean you have to smile and stick around. These are all part of your learned behavior as an abused/neglected individual. You have choices. I came from a background of abuse, neglect, and even kidnapping and assault by a stranger. For the longest time in my life, I had accepted that I was a victim. I had no idea that I could create boundaries, and walk away. I was finally told by a kind social worker, the truth about creating boundaries. I thought this was the norm. Boy, was I wrong! Thank goodness for people that care. After years of abuse, I slowly unlearned these behaviors.
Sometimes it’s hard to say no, or leave a person we love, or think we love. Maybe we are just scared, or feel like this is comfortable, or we too feel as though we are just stuck being victims. Especially when this is what we are used to as children, and into adulthood. We have to be the ones to stop the abuse. You are no longer a child of abuse, neglect or shame. Once you reach adulthood, you have choices. This means protecting that child inside. Your inner child. Sometimes he/she is still there, telling you that you are helpless, and that you don’t deserve all the love you really do. All of us do! That is your birthright on this earth.
You may be asking…how do I do this? It’s not that simple at first, but you must love yourself enough to start by saying no. This doesn’t make you a bad or mean person. It makes you a stronger person each time you take a stand for yourself. You have to love yourself, and this is the beginning. You also have to take time for yourself. This could mean telling a spouse or a friend you need some YOU time. We all need quiet time to think and reflect on our day. This could mean taking a walk, sitting and reading, or just getting out of the house by yourself to figure it out. It could unfortunately also be more extreme, such as completely cutting these people out of your life. I know that sucks, but it may be the healthiest thing you can do.
Sometimes we feel guilt for these actions. If we come from situations of any form of abuse or neglect, we can feel this guilt. That’s not yours either. That belongs to that inner child; and he, or she is now an adult. That adult is no longer stuck being abused. He or she has choices. We don’t have to sit in the corner, be beaten, berated, feel guilty, or taken advantage of. Taking control and saying no to any form of neglect, or abuse is the first step. You may need to walk away from friendships or relationships where you feel used, neglected, or talked down to. You may need to tell your life partner these things, and that is very, very hard. Especially when you have your own children to think about. It’s not easy and always scary, but it’s all about healing ourselves, and finding people who accept us and love us for who we are. This is all about breaking cycles as well. Breaking these cycles is also vital to our children and their future relationships.
Remember, these toxic abusers will try to guilt you or shame you, and turn it around. They will make you seem like you are the one treating them bad for loving yourself. You have to remember to take that quiet time in order to sort this out. You will know inside whether this is a truth or not. Believe in your instincts. Go with your gut. You know if this is wrong or not. We all do.
I may not have a degree in social work or psychology, but I have lived through this, and come out a happier human being. I have finally come out of it in peace. I have a loving and supportive husband. A healthy relationship with my son, and now, with my family. I walk away from arguments. I keep my opinions to myself unless asked by my own adult son. I understand what I need to say no to, in order to make me a happy, healthy human being. I no longer feel guilt for loving myself. I am now on the path to a fuller spiritual life as well. It’s not just the healthy thing to do; and that little girl in there…she deserves it. So do I. So do YOU.
- Why The Impact of Child Abuse Extends Well Into Adulthood (psychologytoday.com)
- Helping a Child Know Their Worth (thesnowballeffect.com)