I can admit it now. As a child and a young somewhat-adult I was weak. Ever afraid to have someone not like me, ever afraid of not being nice. That behavior made me weak and it allowed me to get into situations that were not healthy for me. It also caused an unpredictable, terrifying rage to live inside of me. Now I’m not talking about trying to be a good person or having manners. I’m talking about being afraid to say no to harmful situations, about doing whatever to have someone like me. The horrific thing about that is I was usually trying to make someone I would never have liked in the first place like me. I could not bear to not be liked. My self-esteem was that low.
I spent many years vacillating between rage and guilt. I was mad these situations happened, then I thought it was all my fault. That’s when I started dealing with anxiety and depression. I allowed those bad situations to dictate my life years and years after they occurred. I chose to wear those situations and my weakness as a badge. Look at me and how pathetic I am. Looking back on myself all I see is complete and utter weakness.
In retrospect, I can honestly say that now I can be liked or not. I can live with either. I can now venture into a situation and not just say no, but say no F*ing way. I have learned through this amazing and terrifying journey that those negative experiences truly have made me a much stronger person today. I still have moments where I think for a second about not being liked, then it goes away and I take control. I never want to be weak again, I want to fight back when necessary. I don’t want to tolerate bad behavior just because it is the nice thing to do.
You can be a nice person and still be strong. You just have to be able to stand up for yourself or someone who cannot do it themselves. You can be kind and strong at the same time. If you don’t have the kindness part of the equation, you can run the risk of being a bully. You need both components. You can remember those past hurts and use them to keep you strong. I used to hate those times when I was unable to stand up for myself, now I look at them as my training ground for who I am today. Without them, I would not be as empowered as I am right now.
To all the people who took advantage willingly or unknowingly, thank you. Once I got my head out of my nether regions, I saw my own inner strength come out. The self-pity and even the unpredictable rage went away. I still get angry at times but it is over a current situation not one from 40 years ago. There is a huge difference.
I have decided to learn from the past instead of reliving and reliving it. I have decided to forgive them (however not forget) and to forgive myself. I did not have the tools then that I have now. Ironically, the tools I have now came from those experiences. I feel so much healthier now that I let up on the grip those circumstances held over me. I feel a new kind of freedom…and it feels good!