Clearing away the darkness associated with abuse is hard – but can open the window to a most beautiful, sunny scene without and its mirror image within.
Throughout my life, people have said to me some variant on these words: ‘I can tell you anything.’
This has led to a dangerously wide-open door.
But: The fact that others CAN exercise freedom of speech around me does not mean that they automatically SHOULD!
I have a right to protect myself from gratuitous pain, insult and fury. This is all part of my rebuilding process. I have, in the past, harboured little sense of entitlement – and this has led to all manner of felonious attempts upon the home of my soul.
Since moving to Glastonbury, however, I have – with increasing strength and joy…even, at times, fierceness – exercised my prerogative to create an environment that suits, and reflects, me. This is as true outside the house as it is within its four walls; as pertinent in my body as it is in my soul.
I allowed the doors to remain weak, however, and this, on the material level, was reflected in an actual breaking of the door-closing mechanism two months ago. I got it mended straight away – but failed to secure its psychic twin: The door into my body, mind and soul.
For too long I have operated an open-door policy when it comes to my decisions, my tastes, my thoughts and my emotions. I have allowed people to sneak or storm in and to lay about them with aggression or manipulation. I have let other people tell me what I should be doing, saying or thinking – and have never had the courage to stand up for my own abilities, tastes and creative juices.
But also I have, repeatedly, let others tell me things I really do not want to know and should not have to put up with hearing. Why? Because I felt I had no rights in the matter, no entitlement to decent and sensitive treatment. I have not said, ONCE, ‘You have NO right to speak to me like that…’ If I had, that door would have slammed shut, and even locked itself, many years previously.
If I do not like a verbal approach, it is for me to say so openly. If I consider that someone is using my ‘weakness’ to slip cruelty and abuse under the door frame, I have every right to challenge this and to lob the nasty little ‘gifts’ back from whence they came.
Such a standing up for self does not mean I am over-reacting or unable to take criticism or ungrateful in the face of advice. It is a basic human right which I should have exercised decades ago – and did not!
I am quite clear about this, but there is a rider:
I am very aware that I have let people say whatever they want to me – and that includes a hell of a lot of venting, spite and gaslighting.
But, those who take this to the extreme have a responsibility for their own behaviour too. Being allowed to say what you want does not take away your basic humanity or consideration or ability to weigh up whether a cruelty is, actually, justified. Freedom of speech does not mean the constant murder of others through the medium of verbal spears and swords. An open door is not a free invitation to put others down in order to feel superior.
Others are entitled to their views, to their secrets, to their furies and joys and soul work, just as I am – but they have no more right than I do to persistently push another’s most vulnerable door open and lob grenades inside.
I am now protecting myself, my house, my garden, my world. I am trusting my own instinct, for the first time in decades, when it comes to the creation of my own environment. I am loving the little surprises, the colour, the sense of overturning certain long-held preconceptions, the way it is all coming together incrementally, as day follows day and night, night.
In building this home for myself, I am standing up for my own values, thoughts and preferences. I am asserting my right to be me. But I am also asserting something very simple, yet profound: My right to make choices without being told off, or mind-gamed into changing my mind. I am asserting my strength of mind, will, character – and my total unwillingness to be told I am wrong because I do not do, say or think what other people want me to!
Over the past two or three weeks, I have been tested on many levels – and part of that has taken the form of some level of undermining. But I have got a lot stronger, or harder, or both – and am no longer willing to back down the way I always have. I have every right to be treated with a modicum of decency and respect. I should not have to expect to be the butt of other people’s rage and fucked-upped-ness.
I have, historically, given others far too much latitude in the way they speak to me, treat me and so forth. I have allowed little put-downs in through the door, have closed my eyes to to the entrance of snideness and scathe and total want of respect. I have allowed others to come into MY house and push me around, tell ME where I should be putting my belongings, and how I should be decorating MY abode. Metaphorically and literally!
I am saying, with strength and intent: ‘Yes, in the literal sense, you CAN say anything to me. But to do so can become the endless screeching of a tantrum-bound two-year-old! And I have a right to turn my back and walk away from your tirade!’
I am saying, ‘I am equal to you and deserve the same boundaries, the same consideration, the same levels of respect you give to others!’
I am saying, ‘I am changing. There is no going back. I am building a permanent base and not a vulnerable dwelling perched upon sand. Things will change around me because that is life’s dynamic. The flapping door is no more!’
I have got a mind – and I know how to use it. I have taste – and know how to apply it. I have limits – and know how to guard them. I am defending my autonomy.
Fear of anger – others’ and my own – is what kept the door propped open originally. Now? That is no excuse – and I have already started the process of taking people on if they respond inappropriately to me!
Now? May the sun and heat of Sekhmet’s strength (thanks, D!) shine through the windows of my soul, and the sunny days of a new start through the glass varieties!