Just off the cuff, I hate trying to come up with a catchy title for each entry. I suck at it. Just saying.
Sooo…learning. I hate learning and change. I always have. I’m the one who loves my little comfort zone, good or bad, and have always had the tendency to protect it like my own family. It’s taken me 40+ years to learn that staying in ANY comfort zone is not productive. It’s harmful, destructive and paralyzing. If you are in a seemingly good comfort zone, where everything is done just “so”, you are taken care of and at the very least, content, it’s still harmful to you. It’s harmful to those around you that would benefit from the wisdom you would, otherwise, have. For me, it’s easier to stay in whatever I’m used to. To go beyond that requires taking a step into the unknown. As you probably remember from previous posts…that terrifies me. It’s easier to stay in whatever situation you’re in, right? Even the bad, abusive situations? Lets get into this one a little deeper.
Taking a step back in the past…back to the beginning of your life with your abuser. What was the number one thing he/she did? Tested you for weaknesses. Those that he or she could use to gain an advantage over you. Something to exploit and use to keep you trapped. Can you remember what that one thing was? Hind sight will usually make that one perfectly clear for you. If you are still in the middle of an abusive situation, take a quiet moment and use it to reflect…glean knowledge from that time. Introspect. Can you see it? Can you recall? I sure can. Mine used a situation with an ex boyfriend, to find my Achilles heel. Mine was an excruciating fear of anger, negativity and confrontation. He discovered that if he confronted me, using anger to do it, I would cower. Especially if he changed his tone moments later, to a calmer more understanding one. He discovered my tendency to cave due to guilt. There was no reason for me to feel guilty. He upset me. He changed his tone, then I would cave in and feel guilty for feeling upset by his unreasonable attack. This became a fun game for him. He used it to keep me off-balance. To keep me second guessing myself and my own emotions. He used it to try to drive me, literally, crazy. Just that phrase is unbelievable to me. Even more unbelievable is how easily done it really was. The most unbelievable? I was completely aware.
As excruciating as my experience was, I was stuck. Not by ignorance of events or even his tactics. I was stuck by my own fear of negative emotion. This was nothing new for me. I’ve always been afraid of just that. Every abusive situation I would ever find myself in was fueled by that particular fear. I would stay in that situation, letting myself be mistreated, exploited, used and abused, because that was my own personal comfort zone. Not to mention, a terrible one. I wasn’t necessarily comfortable in that fear. I was never comfortable in those situations, but it was better to stay stuck than face that looming attack if I were to stand up for myself. It was easier for me, even at the expense of my own shaky version of sanity.
Thinking back, it’s actually hard to see any area of my life that wasn’t dictated by that particular fear… Clothes shopping. Relationships. Daily life at home. Life at school. Friendships. Doing something nice for others. My parents. There isn’t one area that I ever confidently said, “I don’t want to do ‘that'”, “please don’t talk to me like that” or “no thank you”. How about the one where you should express your own wants and needs? “I would rather…”
I understand how difficult it is to retrain yourself. I understand the amount of conditioning that goes into that paralyzing fear. Conditioning. For some it’s a type of PTSD, that lingers throughout life. You allow horrible things, to avoid being afraid or uncomfortable. I know this. I do understand. For me, this includes clothes shopping. I still have clothes that are 20+ years old, because to go clothes shopping means I will become irritable inside of 5 minutes, and all but run out of the store, not buying a single solitary thing. I would rather not. Ever.
Where are your comfort zones? Why are they there? Where is the negative conditioning, which allows (or forces) you to stay stuck in any situation? I know the mental dialogue associated with that. You know what you need, but you settle to go without. You know the life you WANT, yet to allow for the good you have to face the bad. To face it brings insurmountable fear. Instead of facing it, standing for what YOU need, you settle. You stay trapped. You remain victimized because of it.
It’s time to grow, dear one. It’s time to step. It’s time to realize and accept that you are better than what you settle for. Even when you choose to stay, to avoid whatever negative would come should you stand up for yourself, you are still afraid. You are still anxious. It isn’t better than the alternative, is it?
What do you have to lose? Your life is what YOU make it! It’s time to make it. Entirely.