If you’re just joining us, I’m puttering through an article from Tiny Buddha called “Dealing with Regret” as a way to process some major regrets that held me back during 2018. We’re on the second of eight steps, and things seem to be going swimmingly.
Okay, so we’ve identified the key weakness that led to the bulk of my regret: my lack of confidence. Interestingly, I don’t think I lack confidence in all things. Athletic pursuits? No problem. Debating educational policy or pedagogical practices? I’m game. But I do tend to have problems asserting myself when it comes to topics where I don’t feel I’m an expert. Perhaps one of my secondary weaknesses–perfectionism–comes into play here. I don’t like looking dumb (although living abroad has cured me of that to a certain extent), so I tend to do more listening than talking when I’m in situations where I feel unsure. Normally, this would be a good thing, but in the Bad Old Days, it created an opening for my abuser.
Anyway, back to Step 2: Use your mistake as a teaching tool.
The article suggests that I use healthy responses to my weakness as a tool of empowerment for those around me. I think I already do this, to a certain extent. The process of extracting myself from the grip of my abuser required a good deal of strength and courage. I had to do things I was afraid of. I had to speak up and make myself heard. I had to say no and disappoint people, something I’m often loath to do. I had to become the badass I always wanted to be.
As a result, people in my life tend to think that I’m brave, that I’m confident and have my shit completely together. And once they’ve heard my survival story (which I don’t tend to share as often as I should), I’m elevated to an even higher level of badassery in their eyes. While perception and reality don’t necessarily align here, I’m glad I get to serve as a source of inspiration, especially to my children. My husband calls me Wonder Woman, and our youngest still says “Mama” whenever he sees his Wonder Woman action figure. I never tell my children that I’m brave or fearless, but I do tell them that sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do, that we have to face our challenges head on (or at least obliquely), that there are ways around even the most challenging obstacles. At the very least, I believe I have hit the goals of Step 2 with my children.
Last year, I volunteered to be on the call list for the Committee to Aid Abused Women, now known as the Domestic Violence Resource Center. I remembered all of the times that I reached out to their 24 hour call center, all of the women who let me tell my story without judgment, who advised me on how to escape a violent situation, who gave me a shoulder to cry on and told me I could call back any time. They shared their own stories, which let me know that I wasn’t alone. They fully embodied the spirit of this second step, and I was hoping to join their ranks. While they couldn’t use my services at the time (being overseas was a hindrance), I do hope to be able to counsel women who are in similar situations, whether in person or online. Giving back in this way might give a purpose to the abuses I suffered. While I don’t buy into the idea that everything happens for a reason, I do think that I can find a way to use my experiences to make the world a better place.
On to Step 3…