Not so long ago, like…at all, I was trapped in danger still. If my phone rang, I answered it…even if I’d promised myself not to answer the phone if the caller was unknown, or worse – if the caller was clearly someone who didn’t care about my welfare. Even after this…I still answered, and still got hurt. A lot. Why? I don’t know. I guess I felt I had to. Their programming and ability to manipulate my mind was so powerful. Their ability to make me feel that I deserved it, or that “once more doesn’t matter” or that I should give them a chance, or that this time it’d be different, or that actually the only way I could live was if I was being abused…their ability to achieve all of this and more, and keep it locked in my head – even the unconscious parts – astounds me and horrifies me. Because I know I’m not alone in that. I know victims everywhere are programmed, manipulated and bullied into believing all of the above and then some. It’s WRONG. It’s sick. You deserve better.
I am gradually learning to discover the comfort of the word “no.” I had never had a reason to like this word. Saying no in the past got me hurt or laughed at. “No” as a general rule has more negative connotations than positive. I always felt, even in the normal world, that if I said no to something…then I was being selfish and mean, and causing hurt. It was far better if I just kept saying yes…even if that meant my workload grew and grew, and my mind went close to explosion. All that mattered to me was that I hadn’t said no, and therefore must be a good person.
The logic was so flawed. And this was their fault. This was a deliberate strategy on their part so that I never felt able to stand up to them, and walk away.
However, I was happy if others said no. I was keen for them to have their boundaries, and me know that I could respect their wishes. I learnt from others how to lay down boundaries and protect myself.
And so I gradually learnt how to say no. To little things at first, like the offer of a cup of tea. And then small favours. And then bits of work that I didn’t have time for.
Skip forward just a few weeks…and speaking out has suddenly caused my ability to stand up for my boundaries and even know what my boundaries are to skyrocket. I know now I don’t want to get raped again. I also know I don’t deserve it. I realise this isn’t such a simple case of saying “no,” because pretty much all victims I imagine try to say no in some form.
But I can say no in other ways. The trick now is to not let them get close enough to me that they have the opportunity to rape me.
So today, unknown callers ringing my phone over and over. I could hazard a guess as to why; I don’t really imagine they’re happy I’m speaking out. Of course I was scared. I knew someone bad was on the other side of the phone. My heart was racing.
But I felt no urge to answer, and no sense of guilt for ignoring them. I calmly watched my phone screen until they stopped ringing and I thought about the fact I’m not in that life anymore. I have chosen to walk away. And I will not choose to walk back, by answering the phone.
Eventually the unknown caller stopped phoning. A small battle, won. My boundary was clear to me, and I felt no hesitation and no obligation to go against it for the sake of the other person. I didn’t want to answer. Therefore, I could just say to the phone “No. I’m not answering you.”
And the comfort, relief and lifting sensation that came with that….when I realised I could do it, and how simple and yet powerful it was to realise my wants and boundaries and that I’m in control enough now to not let anyone cross them….was just incredible. It made me cry a little bit. Because I felt a tiny bit more freedom, a bit more control, and more of a step into this life. This new life, this precious new life…
Saying no need not be bad, or make anyone feel guilty. There is a comfort that comes from being able to protect yourself. Try it. Define your own boundaries; don’t let others define them for you.