by Penny Smith
Sometimes in the healing process it feels like I’m not making much progress. Then something will happen that helps me see just how far I’ve come. That was the case recently during a run-in with some abusive people.
They tried to dump a lot on me—criticisms and false accusations. In the past, I would’ve taken it, absorbed it, begged for forgiveness and ended up feeling even more worthless.
They echoed the voices from my childhood: “You’re no good and never will be. No one truly loves you. No one would believe you if you told. You are just bad.”
Those are just some of the things my abuser told me over and over again when I was a child. Those lies and many others were reinforced by other abusers. They were designed to make me powerless, to keep me under their control, and that’s exactly what they did.
Even after I became an adult, I remained powerless. Those lies were so ingrained in me that I was constantly trying to be “good enough”—trying to prove myself worthy of love, which made me an easy target for more abuse. It didn’t matter what was asked of me, I would do it whether I wanted to or not. I thought if I said “no” I wouldn’t be loved. I was desperate to try to keep people happy so they wouldn’t leave me. I was willing to be the scapegoat and to accept whatever abuse was hurled at me. I had been taught that this was what I deserved and I believed it.
The power that each of us is born with, the power that inherently belongs to every human being, the power to stand up for myself, to say “no”, to believe that I had worth just because I was me, had been robbed from me.
When I finally faced up to my past and began the healing process, I know I didn’t have a very good opinion of myself. Actually, that’s putting it mildly–I hated myself. I still viewed myself through the eyes of my abusers and I desperately wanted to know who I really was.
Through each step of my journey, each little victory, I’ve reclaimed myself little by little. The lies that made me feel worthless and powerless were exposed. As I realized more and more that what I’d been taught by my abusers wasn’t true, I also began to see that I have worth—not because I’ve earned it but simply because I’m me.
The first time I told someone “no”, I was terrified. I felt like I was breaking some kind of law and I kept waiting for the repercussions to come crashing down on me. When nothing happened (other than losing a “friend” who wasn’t truly a friend) I was elated. For the first time in my adult life, I realized that I was allowed to say, “no.” The more I continue to heal, the healthier my view of myself becomes.
With this recent attack, I took back more of my power. They tried to attack my hard-won sense of worth, name called, questioned my parenting skills, berated me as looking for pity because I’m facing my abuse and then they finally got frustrated enough to tell me I’m crazy and have “gone off the deep end.”
I felt like poison was being spewed at me but at the same time, I was surprised how calm and rational I was able to remain. I refused to accept the abuse and told them as much. I was able to stand up for myself in a way that I never could have before I began to heal. I could see that what they were doing to me wasn’t my problem. I didn’t ask for it or deserve it. I was just the current target but, they soon discovered, no longer an easy one. As difficult as it is to realize that some people can no longer be in my life, if they can’t give me the basic respect that I deserve as a human being—they don’t belong there.
I am the first to admit that I still have a long way to go. I have breakthroughs and setbacks. In times like these I can see that I have made progress and it feels good. I am no longer powerless. I am exposing the lies for what they are and in the process, reclaiming my self-worth. I didn’t deserve to be abused then and I don’t deserve to be abused now. I am worth just as much as anyone else and that knowledge gives me the power to reclaim my life.
Have you ever felt this way? I welcome your thoughts. Please comment below and don’t forget to subscribe to the comments so you can continue to partake in the discussion.
Rebuilding My Boundaries After Abuse
Serving Others Was a Disservice to Me
I Never Believed That I’m Beautiful
My Healing Journey: Stumbling and Getting Back Up
Healing From Sexual Abuse: Celebrating My Victories
My Support System is Led By Me
Is Overcoming Sexual Abuse Really Possible?
Penny Smith is a frequent contributor to Overcoming Sexual Abuse, especially through her heartfelt poetry. Penny uses her creativity in many areas including cake decorating, sketching and floral arrangements. She balances her recovery with being a busy wife and mother of three precious children.