I’ve had to face some things in my life lately, actually I should say that God in His goodness & gentleness is asking me to take a look inside at my fears. One area that seems to keep coming to the forefront is the fear of asserting my own strength.
I recall one time as a young girl when I was 11 or 12 years old, when my abuser, although he was no longer living at home, approached me one time when he was home for a visit. I was caught at home alone and while standing in the kitchen he approached me once more. It was always the same, inferring that we play our little game.
But for the first time in my life something arose within me, a fierceness that I had never known. Instead of cowering in fear or numbing myself, I felt a righteous fury begin to rise within me. It rose with an intensity that I had never known before let alone expressed. I found my voice that day and screamed at him with such power & strength saying that he would never touch me again, and with the words came the physical strength to push back. I pushed my abuser as hard as I could. He fell back against the refrigerator with such force that it rocked the fridge.
And then I turned around and left the room. Fear once again clawing at my back, but I kept walking, not running but walking. What had I just done I thought? This abuser, now an adult, had the power to crush the life out of me and had threatened to do so many times. Was this to be the end, would he make good on his threats.
This waif of a little girl had just fought back with such anger. This little girl who had been beaten and abused, this child who was so skinny and scrawny had just physically shoved a grown man. Where had the strength and audacity come from I wondered. But instead of coming after me as I thought he would he left the house. From that day on he never touched me again.
You would think that I would feel empowered after that but I didn’t. Although I asserted myself that day and I knew my no meant no, the force with which I asserted myself that day frightened me. Where had it come from? Anger terrified me and my own anger shocked & stunned me. I went back into hiding, remembering the rules: Don’t assert your own strength, don’t fight back, don’t be angry, don’t accept your own emotions, don’t think, don’t feel, don’t act, just wait until it’s over.
Not all victims, but many, seem to prefer to hide in a dark corner, hoping to never be seen. I see myself this way more often than I care to admit. Some of us prefer to speak quietly and never say or do anything that would make another person upset. Some of us have learned that we are not supposed to be angry. And we’ve learned the lesson well.
I have found that in order to heal, one of the fears we will have to face is that of accepting our feelings and asserting ourselves. And to heck with what everyone else thinks about it. Yes, as we heal we may overdo some of our self-assertion, at least at the beginning, but that’s okay. The only way we can learn to properly assess and manage our strength is to exercise it.