A major component to an abusive relationship is power - who has it and who isn't allowed to have it. Many abusers insist on being in a position of power over us - whether they are already in one (like with parents, adult relatives, baby-sitters, etc.) or whether they make themselves one through control and manipulation.
Many abusers work hard to diminish our power over our world - they control who we see, who we talk to, where we go, and when we try to exercise power over our own world, they belittle us or punish us. For so many survivors, even when we leave an abusive situation, we still feel as though we have little power over our worlds. With the overwhelming emotional reactions we experience and the low-self-esteem from being abused and manipulated, many of us still feel small in relation to the rest of the world.
One of the most important aspects of recovery is regaining or reclaiming our power, our strength, and our beauty. Whether we find that power again through empowerment or simply learning how to take care of and love ourselves again - allowing ourselves to feel empowered is such an important part of feeling once again like you matter in the world. Or, for some of us - for the first time ever, feeling like you matter, like you can effect your world and make choices for yourself.
Reclaiming our power can be a long and sometimes complex journey, but if you take it in small steps, it can also be rewarding. Sometimes, even just practicing saying "no" - in smaller-stress settings - like saying "no thank you" if the waiter asks if you would like today's special - can help you to reclaim that power.
Reclaiming your power can take practice - the first few times you try, it will be a little nerve wracking, but when you get to make a choice and you don't have negative consequences, you can grow to really enjoy it. Even just letting yourself pick up one non-essential item at the grocery store - simply because you would like to have it, can feel really good after years of not being able to choose at all.
This week's questions are:
- How did your abuser insist on being in a position of power? Was it through put-downs and attacking your self esteem, was it through limiting your choices, or was it some combination thereof?
- In what ways did that loss of power effect your world?
- In what way could you reclaim some of your own power?
- In what ways have you already reclaimed some of your power?