Sunday, June 01, 2008


Someone recently posted a comment to Changes and I reacted very strongly. I asked myself why I cared so much. So what if this person was mistaken?

And then I realized it was about respect. I don't mind questions or people disagreeing with me. That gives me a chance to rethink my position and/or clarify the reasons I believe what I do. Either way, that's a good thing.

What I'm referring to is something else. If I feel I'm being scolded or patronized or generally treated with disrespect, there's a good chance I'll take your head off. I'll do it nicely, but I WILL do it. (Note: I want to make clear that I absolutely believe the person posting meant to be helpful. In no way do I believe he meant to be hurtful or malicious. At the same time, I do believe it minimized what I am dealing with. In other words, it was ignorance rather than malice.)

At any rate, my response was something fairly new for me. All my life I've jumped in to stand up for other people. I've put myself physically between abusers and those they meant to harm. I've spoken up for the right for others to be treated with respect. I've done so even when I knew it would cause problems for me.

But it's only recently that I've started standing up for myself this way. It still feels strange. I still worry that I might be overreacting or too harsh in my response. And yet I realize that it's progress to stand up for myself—rather than seething in private. (Healthier, too. A recent study documented serious health consequences for people who swallow their anger.)

Now I am NOT advocating going out and ripping apart everyone you meet! I still think it's important to consider the impact of our words and actions on others. It is still important to put myself in the other person's shoes—and try to see things from their point of view.

That doesn't meant I'll tolerate abusive words or actions. That doesn't mean I'll put up with injustice. But in my response, I will do my best to speak and act in ways that are consistent with the person I choose to be. I will condemn words and actions—not people. I will remember that each of us acts and reacts out of our own circles of hurt and vulnerability—and desire to feel better.

The comment also reminded me of the very real gender differences between men and women and how we react to and handle things. A bit of advice for any guy out there reading this: YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE WOMAN YOU ARE SPEAKING TO SHOULD FEEL. You don't. We process things differently. The more you respect what we do feel, the easier—and faster!—we can move through it.

TRUST US! We may not be able to articulate our reasons the way you can, but that doesn't mean we're wrong! Trust and respect us and we are far more likely to trust and respect YOU.

Wishing trust and respect for everyone reading here and sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs)))))),



Kahless said...

Good for you April. I know it is hard and I have struggled with such things myself. You have every right to speak your voice.

Karma said...

Its so hard having so many very personal things published out there for all the world to see. It makes us very vulnerable. Luckily, there are many people like us who are supportive and make it all worthwhile. I'm sorry that you had an experience with someone who wasn't so supportive. Good for you for finding your voice! Of course, respect is so vital!

keepers and john said...

we agree also, standing up for ourselves was the hardest to do but we are doing it, in many ways it is difficult but also very fulfilling. Our littles know we will stand up for them and they feel more protected than ever before.

peace and blessings


JM here, wanted to say that I agree wholeheartedly that trust and listening and actually hearing what the woman is saying is mandatory to building a relationship. We do not see things from the same perspectives but we can if we try, at least understand where the other is coming from.

happy trails


April_optimist said...

Thank you, Kahless.

Karma, I do think he meant to be helpful--he just guessed very, very wrong about what would help.

John and Keepers, I'm so glad you have such a great relationship and can treat each other with respect! Thank you both for your kind words.

Tamara said...

I am new to this blog and the online survivor community. But, I wanted to say it is great that you spoke up for yourself. It sounds like you did it from a place of sensitivity to the other person's feelings yet were able to look out for yourself. That is great!

Speaking up and having a voice is very new to me. Blogging, also new to me, has been a great exercise in learning to form my own opinions. It also has been very anxiety producing but is getting easier.

Overall, I have seen that this group of survivors are quite supportive of each other which gives me courage.

Lynn said...

Bravo! Good for you, April. It really is okay when we defend ourselves instead of reserving that only for others.

You wrote:
A recent study documented serious health consequences for people who swallow their anger.

Most people will not admit that. They are too busy trying to look 'polite'. The part that gets me, is when people come to my blog and tell me that I should not be angry. I don't feel the need to be 'polite' about having been abused. I totally will defend myself over there. My blog = my feelings and my right to have them and talk about them. I think that if someone does not like it, they can go read other things instead.

jumpinginpuddles said...

we often ahve strange comments left on our blog mostly we dont publuish occassionally we will thoguh because some are worth responding to.
As we get better we are starting to see how treating us is not ok and putting us down isnt or anything else either.
Well done for seeing it as it is

gypsy-heart said...

If you feel good about it then it was a good thing to speak up April. I did that in response to a comment one time and the commenter never came back. I see her everywhere commenting on other blogs though. Sometimes in the blog world, as in life, we just don't

I agree I think he meant to be helpful. This is why I am SO cautious about advising on blogs...we never really know the whole story.

Your wings are growing stronger and stronger my friend!

Peace of heart to you!

April_optimist said...

Thank you, Tamara and Lynn--and welcome! It's good to see you post.

Jumping in Puddles, Thank you. The funny thing is that I'm glad the person posted. It got me to look at something important to me and I truly do thing he meant well.

Gypsy-Heart, I feel a bit bad for reacting soooo strongly to him and yet...maybe in the end it's a learning experience for him as well as for me. Especially if he wants to be a motivational trainer. And yes, it was a reminder to me to be careful posting comments and to realize I may not sound at all the way I mean to sound--and I may be missing crucial pieces of information.

Marj aka Thriver said...

I really like this assertiveness you're showing here, April. Good for you for standing up for yourself. I, like you, have found it easier in the past to stand up for others...but I'm also learning to more consistently do it for myself.