“That’s Not Who I Am”

by Annie Kaszina on February 1, 2012

There’s something a tad controversial that I need to say.  If you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship, need to know that somehow, at some point in your life, you were programmed to be “a victim in waiting”.  It’s not who you truly are, and it’s absolutely NOT an accurate reflection of your inner courage and dignity. But it is what happened to you.

Somewhere along the line, you were taught that you were worth-less, and could expect less, because you deserved less.  Any number of idiotic justifications might have been given: like being a girl, or being too lively – or not lively enough; or being too bright – or not bright enough; or not being a boy; or….  Whatever it was, somehow, you and the benchmark did not coincide.

Those beliefs don’t just fade away when your abusive relationship is no longer centre stage in your daily life.  Abuse World still holds sway in your inner world, in so many ways.

This week, I got on stage and I ‘strutted my stuff’, talking about women who love men who hurt them.  (You can watch the video here.)  It was an opportunity to speak to a wider audience.  I’d like to share what went on for me because my response may well resonate with you.  

I was speaking on Day 2.  At the end of Day 1, a friend was asking people how they thought the event had gone so far.  Some were quite negative.

Back in my hotel room, I wobbled emotionally like an unset Jello. (NOTE: when you have been in an abusive relationship, it’s easy to be very porous and let other people’s negative feelings and judgements overwhelm you.)

So, what did I do about it?

I listened.

See, most of us are too deafened by the chatter in our heads to actually LISTEN to it.  The chatter in my head was good and loud – which was an added reason to listen carefully.

What did I hear?

  • They’re ALL going to hate me.  (How’s that for a helpful, sweeping generalization?
  • Since it’s going to be a disaster,  I might just as well face up to it now. (Catastrophizing, or What??!!)
  • There’s nothing I can do with a group of people like that.  I’ll bomb.  End of…

Yuk!  YUK!  YUK!

…and what a beautiful gift.  That old pattern of defensiveness could still be a ball and chain around my leg.

All of us have been deeply disappointed at the way others respond to us.  For their own reasons, people have – deliberately and consistently – burst our bubble. How do we  process the ton of disappointments we have to deal with?  By telling ourselves that it’s not that important, and, for some reason or another, it was “just bound to happen”. We even supply a reason, or two.  At bottom, what they boil down to is that we aren’t good enough.

No, NO, NO! NO!! quoth Annie, jumping up and down Rumpelstiltskin-like, with righteous indignation.

We are NOT our defensiveness.  Defensiveness is just the bum corner we’ve been painted into, time and time again.  But it’s not who we are.

That’s the big con that all emotional abusers use on their prey.  They treat us in a certain way.  We extrapolate.  Truly, even before we learn our “A, B, C” we are brilliant extrapolators.  (just because you can’t spell it, doesn’t mean you can’t do it.)    We extrapolate and tell ourselves that if they treat us that way it must be who we are.

Not so.

Having listened to that poor, frightened, defensive little voice inside myself, I decided to exorcise it, lovingly and respectfully.  And I did.  Guess what?  I was able to be absolutely authentic and out there, which meant a lot of the audience were also able to speak of their own experiences of abuse.

And so, back to you?  How much do you think staying painted into that corner is costing you in terms of happiness, quality of life, and your future?  If you’d like to be free of the past, so you can live fully in the present, and look forward to a bright future, l really can help you make 2012 your time for Happiness.

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