Fear has pretty much ruled my life. Fear of the unknown or unpredictable. Fear of what people might think about me. Fear of failing. Fear of being wrong or making a bad decision. Fear of everything. And it’s these fears that have kept me from experiencing freedom.
I recently chose to confront someone who, in my childhood, lacked boundaries. As a result, they left me traumatized and in pain because they failed to protect me when they had the power to do so. I use the word “chose” because no one forced me to have this confrontation. I did not have to do it; I definitely did not do it because it was easy or fun. It was difficult and terrifying, those two hours of talking about things I had concealed for almost three decades. Yet the results made it worth that short time being uncomfortable. After the confrontation, an indescribable amount of freedom came over me.
I found the freedom to love that person despite what they did. I found the freedom to no longer be held in a forced relationship, but to be in it because I want to be. I also found the freedom to ensure my own safety and well being by declaring, “What you did was wrong, and it needs to stop.” I have taken several steps of freedom like this throughout the last several years. And with each one, I feel like I grow more into a healthy, responsible, self-respecting woman; I grow further from the abused and victimized child who had no control and no say over what happened to her.
The fear to remain silent and keep things “hush hush” or in line with the status quo cannot compare to what I gained when I faced my fear and embraced my own voice. Being abused or victimized as a child keeps you from growing up on the inside. For years after being adult age, I still felt like that 7-year-old girl. I looked 20. I had the privileges (and the responsibilities) of a growing adult. But when I looked in the mirror, the person staring back at me was always someone else. I never recognized her because the way I viewed myself (and the way I felt inside) was much younger than the person looking back at me.
Until now. Until today. It’s been a process that has been full of tears and facing fears and grieving. But it has all been so worth the “growing up.” As a child, I was helpless. But now, as an adult, I have a choice. I can’t change what happened in the past, but I can determine my future by what I choose today. Here. Now. I choose to speak even when my lips tremble. I choose to confront others even when I do it all alone. I choose to surround myself with people who are good for me, even if it means saying goodbye to those who aren’t. I choose to stand strong when my knees shake and tears fill my eyes. I choose to make a better tomorrow for myself through the choices I make today. One by one. Little by little.
Big choices might include confronting my abuser. But it is the small, everyday choices that are just as important: Going for a walk. Going to therapy. Eating healthy foods instead of comforting ones. Choosing to journal instead of shoving it all down or lashing out at others. Grieving instead of avoiding. Trusting myself instead of self-loathing. Loving myself instead of hating.
I am worthy of a life well lived, the same as everyone else. And so are you. You can’t change your past. You can decide that every day, good and bad, you will do one thing to grow your wings. You can determine here and now that you will lose the chains and begin to walk in freedom.