A perfect victim never fights back. I didn’t cut toxic people out of my life either. I just took it. Progress came when I encouraged my husband to find work in another state and move 1000 miles away. But my inner past came with me. I didn’t stand up for myself on anything.
22. “I never, ever fight back. I may cut toxic people out of my life with the help of amazing friends and professionals, but whenever a conflict is actively going on that involves someone attacking my character… I completely shut down. I let whatever they want to say wash over me until they tire themselves out. That’s what I had to do when I was younger. It was so much worse to fight back. I learned to let them yell themselves out.” https://themighty.com/2017/06/childhood-emotional-abuse-adult-habits/
My counselor started working with me very early on standing up for myself. I was not cooperative. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I could count on one hand how many times I stood up for myself and most of them ended with me quitting my job, ending a friendship or total collapse on my part. He explained he wanted to get me up to fighting weight….say what? He finally realized how seriously damaged I was. (Hard to work this out since I had so few memories to tell him.) I took whatever people dished out. So he started with basics like boundaries. I read a book on boundaries. After two counselors I read 2 books on boundaries. He taught me about basic human rights….I had rights, really? He coached me through how to be assertive. I liked assertive. I never experienced this in my childhood. I understood bullying, scorched earth and manipulation. Assertive meaning standing up for my rights while being aware and considerate of someone else’s rights was a whole new thing. I asked question after question then he called it win-win. I could wrap my mind around that. I had two books on Un-Games which are activities with no competition, everyone is working towards the same goal. No opposing sides, no winner takes all, no fighting, no biting just fun. This I could visualize, but how did I move this into real world experiences. Eventually, he used the metaphor of the climbers tied together. We either all climbed together to the top or we all crashed down together. No competition we were connected and needed to stay that way. I now can hold my own in an argument but my mind is rapidly looking for ways to make the situation win-win. Sometimes it is possible, sometimes it isn’t.
I used to completely shut down when arguments occurred or take brutally long walks. (Once I walked so far I had to catch the city bus to get back.) I started taking karate. I was learning to defend myself I was ok. Then one of the other guys was teaching me to hit. He was big. He was strong and he told me I couldn’t hurt him. He told me, “Hit me.” I couldn’t do it. It was comical now that I look back at it. Took me years to be able to follow through with a strong hit which he blocked very nicely. What I learned in karate is I can use strength and control my strength. It is an amazing experience. I am learning the way of the Peaceful Warrior. I prefer not to fight but to protect my rights, my boundaries I will fight if I need to, however, I learned I can fight fair and I will do all I can to look for a win-win solution. I think this one is one of the major changes in my life. I’ve come along way from the cringing terrified child to a battered Warrior willing to face my foes. I still prefer not to fight but I know I can when I need to. (Side note: my counselor told me he wants to be a fly on the wall if someone ever tries to bully me now.)
Books I read:
Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
This book is based on the Bible with many scripture references. I prefer this approach. It also started with the very basics such as the first boundary being our skin.
Boundaries and Relationships: Knowing, Protecting and Enjoying the Self by Charles Whitfield
My counselor recommended this book and I found it gave me a broader understanding of boundaries.
The Knight in Rusty Armor by
This is the book that has a list of human rights. I adapted and rewrote it for myself and what I believed. Fascinating book.
The way of the Peaceful Warrior had a different cover when I read it. I checked the table of contents and it is the same book.