Ditching My Inner Sh**bag

by Annie Kaszina on February 21, 2007

Maybe you don’t have an Inner Sh**bag. Maybe you’re too nice, too gentle, too
forgiving. Part of me wishes that I
could say as much. And part of me
doesn’t. 

I learned Inner Sh**bag behaviours during the course of my
marriage. Sometimes the best way to
deal with my abusive husband was to fight back using his own verbal tools
rather better than he could. Sometimes
I would use my natural flair for language to silence and humiliate him.

 

I could say that I wasn’t proud of it, but that probably
wouldn’t be altogether true. At the
time
I wasn’t always ashamed of it either. It happened at a time when I felt resourceless and embattled. Creating a space, even an abusive space, for
an hour, or a day or more actually felt worthwhile. Sometimes doing a bit of verbal punching felt better than being
the verbal punching bag.

I guess it wasn’t too hard for me to move into the Sh**bag
mindset, because I had had role models for almost breathtaking rudeness in my
formative years. My mother’s greatest
achievement in that respect was being told by the MD of a car manufacturing
company that she was the rudest woman he had ever spoken to. She has always regarded that as a badge of
honour. Apparently by virtue of her
singular rudeness she got exactly what she wanted from the company.

I learned that seriously bad behaviour has its uses. 

Over the past 5 years my life has changed
dramatically. But here’s the thing, old
beliefs, old behaviours and old programs stick around in the background until
you finally own them – and then disown them. 

This week something happened that took my right back into
my old Inner Sh**bag beliefs, behaviours and routines. I found myself replicating a very old
pattern, specifically a pattern that my parents had used on me. It had backfired spectacularly on them. Yet here I was, lemming-like scuttling
towards the same precipice. 

So I did what my parents did not do. I spoke honestly to a dear friend who
acknowledged my feelings respectfully. My friend did not in any way judge or criticize. He simply made the comment that what you
fight persists. In order to fight it,
you have to focus on it; and by focusing on it you draw deeper into your life
exactly what you would like to eject from it.

The greatest, possibly the only real power we have in life
is over what goes on in our own head. My Inner Sh**bag behaviour, I realised, was once upon a time the best –
if not the only – strategy available to a very disempowered woman. I am not
that woman any more.  Nor do I wish to
resort to those behaviours again. Ever.

Still there was a moment of anxiety as I said this to my
friend. Then I realised, if my belief
is that I will live in a world of Sh**bags then I might feel the need of my
inner Sh**bag. 

If I choose to believe that I live in a world of
reasonable people then I can live with appropriate behaviours. This is not to say that there won’t be
occasional horrors. Still, I don’t have
to meet them from a place of disempowerment. Nor do I have to let them shape my view of the world. I prefer to use my time on this earth to
spread the light that I can, rather than stumble painfully through their
darkness. What they do with their time
is entirely up to them.

But because they don’t encounter disempowerment in me,
either they will relate, inasmuch as they relate, in a reasonably respectful
way or they will look for an easier target elsewhere. 

So my Inner Sh**bag is one of the things I will leave
behind when I depart the ex-marital home a few weeks hence. RIP Inner Sh**bag. It’s only right that it should be so. It’s a last vestige of a period of my life
that has no power left over me. 

I share this with you for various reasons, not least that
my journey goes on. Sometimes it is
challenging, but it is a journey, with movement, variety, new
directions, great scenery along the way. The abusive life was an endless, featureless descent into hell. 

Wherever you stand right now, there is a definitive way
out of that hell and a process that will root those hellish feelings out of
your being.

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