I had to take a break from the weekly workshops - holidays, a trip to see my boys in Memphis, and then a very chaotic 6 weeks at work did get in the way. Through it all, I did keep in contact with some of the participants.
There is no magic on my part, the survivors do all the work, for themselves. I mainly listen and then give some ideas for writing exercises. It is all about personal growth - that is something no one can control nor should they attempt to.
Today I was very proud of one young woman. The first time I met her I was very drawn to her. I knew she had an inner strength many would be envious of, she just needed to tap into it and believe in herself.
When I first met her, others were attacking her - blaming her for their circumstance and environment, basically aiding and abetting an abuser. The typical cycle of abuse. She handled herself well during the onslaught attacks even though I knew deep down there was a pain eating away at her soul. Today she was free. Free to explore the life ahead of her. She was well aware that healing is a personal adventure, a road that only she can decide the steps she takes - she was in charge of her self-esteem - not others. She has a long road ahead of her, but I do not doubt for a moment that she will not reach her destination...she will. Watching her and listening to her soft but yet strong voice, inspired me after a very trying week.
Women who have had abuse in their life and who suffer from low self-esteem will look to others for their value and their worth. This is how so many get caught in abusive relationships as adults. Abusers will feed off their need, tell them everything they want to hear - tell them only they can help them or understand them, that is how the hook is set. However, truly, there is no amount of praise, adoration, or reassurance that will raise their esteem. It has to come from within and until it does they will continue to spin out of control with symptoms of self-hate - from passive/aggressive behaviors, self-harm, to attempting of manipulating others with guilt and/or blame. That unrelenting need to be viewed as important will dictate their every move.
Going back a couple of decades our society started looking at self-esteem and how to provide healthy environments. In my opinion, we went from one extreme to another - from not recognizing the importance of self-confidence and self-esteem to providing a crutch of too much unnecessary positive reinforcement and handing out gold stars for everything a child/person does. I know I might get comments on that statement but it is how I feel. We made generations of people reliant on constant positive feedback, to the point where if they do not receive it their esteem plummets. I do believe the intent was good but we've done harm in the process. Having said that, I also do believe we now are moving towards a healthy middle ground.
Self-confidence cannot be taught, it must be achieved - it is only then it will be real rather than a mask people will see through. On that road there will be ups and downs - a few scratches, a couple of bruises and many victories.
The young lady from this morning's workshop will achieve what she needs to be a strong and independent woman. She may not recognize that right now, but it emanates from her. Just as I was excited and inspired to see her growth this morning, I am looking forward to see her future unravel. She will be a positive example for many - and she's doing for herself, no one else.
After the month I've had, I was questioning myself - self-doubt came into play. She may not realize it but today she was my inspiration. Thank you!