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Embodying Bravery: Standing Strong in the Face of Adversity

I yearn to write a book, to pour my thoughts onto paper without feeling like I'm too much or that my emotions are unwarranted. I'm exhausted from constantly doubting my own reality, feeling like an outsider, like I'm going crazy. It's disheartening to endure unprovoked attacks and then have to justify them with compassion.

Today, I aspire to write about Debbie and Donna, two women whose names I’ve chosen to change within this written piece for their confidentiality and for my own.

I'm supposed to empathize with two individuals whose “resistance” I am expected to tolerate. Therapists are often expected to receive “resistance” instead of labeling the behavior as abusive. In truth, they're just two miserable human beings who believe they're entitled to mistreat others. I refuse to become a Debbie or a Donna, brimming with negativity, casting a dark cloud wherever they go. Their inner essence is prune like and exudes sourness.

I don't want to grow into an older woman who belittles younger women, disparaging their wisdom and dismissing their aspirations. I refuse to be a dream crusher, to lose the ability to find joy in the company of fellow human beings. I won't allow myself to spew disrespect to the point where I'm indifferent to how my words affect others. I won't harbor hate like they do because, at their core, they are filled with hatred.

When Donna walked into my studio, I sensed her animosity. She immediately despised me, hungry for power and control, looking for someone to attack. I don't need to know her reasons; I don't need to understand her pain. What I do know is that it's not acceptable to wield anger as a weapon. Anger often gets a bad reputation due to its misuse, exemplified by these two older women. It's not just anger; it's violence. Subtle, entitled violence.

My mind is plagued by the internalized voice of the moral police, I can hear the part of me who is the therapist, whom accepts unwarranted “resistance.” That part of me that has bought into the social construct that anger is invalid and inappropriate, particularly for women. Thats’ the worst part. Being told it’s not real. All the questioning of my sanity this has caused. I’ve had the pattern over and over again of feeling the anger and swiftly cutting it off because I felt like a bad person. Or worse, an unhinged woman. And so I would tell myself “well they are just insecure” and “well they must be in a lot of pain” and “well they are suffering” and “well they probably didn’t mean to hurt me.” “But well…Enough.”

Debbie and Donna resort to entitled violence. They've had their share of struggles, as have we all, and they're older women who may feel society has diminished their worth. Or perhaps, they've always carried this sense of entitlement, believing others owe them something, that they're superior to everyone else.

I refuse to channel my anger in their destructive way. My anger is real, born from a history of not speaking up, of being bullied, of living in fear of others, and of shying away from demanding basic decency. I've carried the shame of it for too long. Yesterday, I had an incident that served as a stark reminder that standing up for myself, saying "no" to these individuals, gives them the power to jeopardize my livelihood.

Debbie grew angry because I refused to tolerate her abusive behavior. I didn't entertain the thought of providing therapy services to her. I upheld my boundaries, honoring my body's instinctive rejection of her. Though I didn't voice those exact words, I remained polite and professional, redirecting her to another therapist. I played the good girl. And yet, she retaliated by calling quality control, attempting to infect my career with her parasitic anger.

Debbie took actions to jeopardize my livelihood. While Donna employs curt language to diminish me, accompanied by a platter of self-pity. "I have too much anxiety right now, so I can't pay you for the two-hour service I participated in at your place of business." Donna, allow me to speak to you as I would to my 9- and 6-year-old children.

"I'm sorry for your situation, but you chose to attend my studio that Sunday morning for a service I provide. You willingly stayed for the full two hours, participating in the group. Your inability to pay isn't because of your anxiety; it's due to your lack of accountability and integrity for your own actions."

They bit me, like zombies infecting everyone they encounter, and I'm seething with anger. But instead of resorting to violence, I'm diving into my sadness. Beneath the rage lies profound sadness. I'm sad that I live in constant fear of others, and that I've endured abuse. I'm in need of kindness.

Anger is now my ally, helping me to acknowledge the truth. It's working in tandem with sadness, urging me to write, even if it's not perfect.

Perhaps someone out there needs to hear these words. Here they are, a reflection of my sadness and anger. As I continue to write, self-compassion washes over me. The internal parent comforts me, the higher self within.

"You're allowed to feel these emotions. It was wrong, they were unkind. Stop making excuses for their behavior. You've done that for too long. This is what’s true."

My Take Away:

Saying "no" carries consequences. Some may be taken aback but ultimately respect your boundaries, despite their initial anger and shame. Others, the true parasites of the world, will never respect you. They'll label you the abuser, accuse you of crossing boundaries, and brand you as entitled and selfish. Some, like in my case, may even attempt to jeopardize your well-being.

It's a truth I've come to accept. Each time I utter "no" to these people, I tremble with fear because I understand their capacity for harm. Yet, my life's current path is one of bravery, and opportunities lie before me.

I might be battle-weary, but I also feel a sense of exhilaration in holding my ground with arms outstretched, firmly saying "no."

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