Thursday, January 15, 2009

"The soul that is within me no man can degrade." Fredrick Douglas

This past year has been a lesson in "self-esteem" and "standing up for myself". I came out of the 10 years spent with the monster man, having no sense of self. The characteristics I use to love about myself; the sassy, outgoing, say it like it is, fiesty irish gal, seemed to be lost. I seem to be rehabing myself similar to a person hit by a bus. I have had to relearn how to be me again.

Last night I went to my regular Wednesday night group. Toward the end of the group the new leader said, "hey Patty, could you stick around for a minute? I would like to speak to you after the group". I said fine. As I began to pull out my chair and wait for the group to leave, she began to yell across the table to me. Instead of waiting for the group to clear out, she yelled some critical comments to me in front of the other group members. I was shocked. I gave her a one word answer and quickly left. As I walked out to my car I could feel the tears welling up from embarrassment. A few members of the group came up to talk with me as they were embarrassed for me. I got into my car and called a few people in my network and discussed what happened and how I felt. I then decided if I do not stand up for myself no one will. I took a few minutes to gather my thoughts and called the leader. I got her voice mail. I left a detailed message including, "I was extremely embarrassed and felt belittle by the way you chose to deliver your message to me". I told her "I felt it was unacceptable to speak with me in that manner" I told her if she chooses to speak with me in the future, please do so in a normal tone in a private setting so we can discuss the issue at hand" I then explained another issue to her that I felt needed an explanation.

I drove home, from that group, with a familiar ache inside. What was it? Was it fatigue? Was it hunger? It suddenly hit me. It was the same, small, useless, sad feeling I felt whenever the monster man would take out his rage on me. I remember sitting up all night feeling that ache in the past and doing nothing about it except stuff it way down somewhere inside me. The monster man is long gone. He sank back into that Georgia swamp a few years back. Once again, this was a lesson about me, not an issue about others. I allow and I teach others how to treat me.

Today I have decided if that group leader does not call me back I am going to call her again. This time I am going to calmly request a private meeting. A meeting where we both are able to clear the air and hopefully, start out on a better footing. If this is not the outcome, atleast I expressed my feelings. I set a healthy boundary of what was and was not acceptable in my life. I did not necessarily do it for her, I did it for me, for my integity.

I am taking an online course on healthy bondaries. I read the following passage about a woman learning to stand up for herself. It reinforced that I am on the correct path with regard to my self-esteem and the actions I am learning to take to protect it.

Just like getting into physical shape requires a person to build body muscle, learning to assert onself and standup for oneself requires a special type of muscle development, I call it the “stand up for yourself muscle.” This muscle is your voice. It allows you to speak up for yourself and express your opinion in a manner that doesn’t infringe on others while still making your position clearly known. It represents your truth and allows you to be in integrity with yourself.When you speak up for yourself in this manner, you are being assertive and you are standing up for yourself. Speaking up for yourself doesn’t necessarily mean being confrontational. You can learn to deal with conflict without being aggressive. One simple step you can take to help you find your voice and build your assertive muscle is to learn how to say NO! Let people know when something is unacceptable and when your rights are being violated. Don’t feel guilty or explain why you said NO because you have a right to say NO.Don’t lose your sanity, find your voice, speak up, stand up for yourself and enjoy your life today!"The soul that is within me no man can degrade."

Followup: A few minutes ago, about 10 minutes after writing this blog, the leader left me a detailed voice mail message. She apologized for handling the situation as she did. She states she appreciates the fact I voiced my concerns. She said she got most of her information from the previous counselor. The previous counselor only met me once. She would like to sit down and talk to me and she feels I am doing some great work for self improvement.

WOW: Did not expect that response. I was fearful it was going to be a major conflict. I guess because it always was with the monster man whenever I spoke my mind. YIPPEE, the monster man is back in his swamp for good. Maybe, I can finally be me again!!! So optimistic!!!!! It is a good feeling to have my thoughts and opinions matter!!!

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