Monday, November 26, 2007

Post Thanksgiving

As I think about this year’s Thanksgiving, I’m struck by how much has changed for me. I found myself thinking about the steps it took to get to this point in my life and how scary those steps were to take. Each one seemed terrifying at the time. But each one led to greater things than I could have imagined. Ten, fifteen years ago, I couldn’t have imagined my life looking the way it does now or feeling the way I feel now. I sure as heck couldn’t have seen any possible way to get to this point.

And that’s encouraging. When I look at current challenges in my life, I can remind myself how far I’ve come and that I will find a way to deal with these challenges and that the outcomes are likely to be better than anything I could imagine.

Oh, I still have moments of panic, but they don’t last long these days. And I see more to be happy about than not.

One of the turning points, I think, has been going from seeing myself as a victim of the actions and needs of others and of fate/circumstance/etc. to someone who chooses how to live her life. It was going from feeling helpless to seeing myself as always having choices and ultimate responsibility for my life. Once I could believe that I could manage all on my own, possibilities became visible that I literally hadn’t seen before.

And that’s why the abusers in my life worked so hard to make me believe I was crazy and/or wouldn’t ever be able to manage on my own. Because on some level they knew that once I realized these things were a lie, they would have no more hold over me. I might tell—and others might believe me. I might leave.

When we understand that we can be happy on our own. When we understand that if we lose one person in our life we can find others to take that person’s place. Then we are no longer hostage to anyone—intentionally abusive or not. Then we can set boundaries. We can walk away from situations and people that are harmful to our physical and/or emotional health. We will see ways to create the lives we want to have. Maybe, in some cases, we can rewrite relationships so that we DON’T lose the person in our life who is important to us.

Dr. Phil likes to say that we (adults) teach people how to treat us. We teach them whether we will stand up for ourselves or whether we will do anything to hold onto them. We teach them whether we will tolerate their abuse and/or crazy ideas or whether we will say “no” and leave if it doesn’t stop. We teach people whether we believe we should be treated with kindness and respect or whether we think those are things we don’t deserve.

We get to choose. And as scary as that can sometimes be, it’s good, too. It’s the most empowering thing in the world to discover that we can change how things are by changing the choices we make and how we see the world and people around us. When we go from seeing ourselves as victims to seeing ourselves as incredibly strong and resilient and resourceful individuals—which we were to survive the abuse—then we open up whole new possibilities for ourselves.

How will you see yourself differently this week? What changes will that create in your life?

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((((hugs))))))),
April_optimist

6 comments:

keepers said...

once again you write and we go, yes that was us! we let many people treat us in ways that were hurtful and we finally did stand up and say no more, we will not be treated that way anymore. we lost a lot of family and friends but they were using us and we finally realized it. we also know that they use others much as they used us. it was difficult to move away from them at first but now we have our self respect at least.

Good for you and good for you for writing it!

peace and blessings

keepers

Marj aka Thriver said...

What a great post foir the carnival! Thanks for sharing it with us.

jumpinginpuddles said...

dont know am thinking we dont celebrate thanksgiving and from what ive read i cna see why its one of those things htat seems ot stir up more pain than joy

April_optimist said...

Keepers, I'm so glad you ARE standing up for yourself!

Thanks, Marj!

Jumping In Puddles, Lots of people find it a hard time. I suspect I would (because my family was always fighting then) except that I was so darned grateful to get enough to eat! (((Hugs))) that it's difficult for you.

zennist said...

I guess I believe that I'm not generally in control of the events in my life--I have little control over my health, I have no control over the economy, etc., etc., However, I most assuredly *do* have control over what I do in response. I also have a choice to find gratitude and growth in even the most difficult circumstances. The gifts are always there. It's just a question of finding them and then celebrating them.

This was a very thought-provoking post. Thanks for that!

April_optimist said...

Zennist, Some things we have control over, some not. As you say, the power is in how we choose to respond.