For most of my life I was locked into complaining about the abusive situations in my life being unfair and unnecessary. It was my “Why me?” war cry. I felt picked on and bathed in a tremendous amount of self-pity at the personal nature of the abuse.
And yet abuse is experienced by all of us at one time or another. We don’t always allow ourselves to feel it, preferring to pretend that it isn’t there. Maybe we feel unable to deal with it or maybe we don’t want to deal with it, or perhaps it is so commonplace that we’ve just become submersed in its subtle ways. When the abuse becomes extreme, we often become much more motivated to explore what it might be about, because the tension in our body is so uncomfortable.
At one time in my working career I found myself in a job that I really enjoyed and I saw that in that role, I was very capable. It was a creative position and each step or activity seemed to come to me easily. I had a lot of friends, there was a playfulness in the team environment and I began to beam for the first time in many years. My confidence in myself and my abilities rose to new heights and I began to feel good about who I was.
That was until a new employee was brought into the team and everything started to change. Within a week the abuse started – hurtful comments, sniping, put downs, questioning and complaints about my work. It was all very subtle and sneaky in the beginning, so much that I would just try to let it ride, confused as to why this person was behaving in this way. As time progressed the abuse grew in intensity and regularity, and became much more manipulative, involving many more people who did not necessarily realise what was happening.
In reaction to this, I began to change for the worse. My newfound confidence faded away and I felt miserable each day going to work. I had lost the bounce to get out of bed, my anxiety escalated through the roof and not even the creativity of the position was enough to provide any spark. I felt squashed, belittled and was busy nervously watching my back for the next setup or abusive attack. The bullying didn’t just affect my work, it affected my whole life.
The work unit was aware of the situation, but they said there was very little that could be done to make another stop their behaviour. There were formal procedures to follow, of course, but quite often it was more traumatic than the bullying itself as the organisation was defensive and keen to protect itself from any liability. Each time I googled ‘workplace abuse,’ it told me to leave and find another job and, in the end, that is what I did. Once I had made up my mind, I immediately found another position, only to find bullying present in that job too. I was beginning to fall apart.
I was being followed by abuse and it felt unfair.
I wallowed in self-pity for many years after that and my anger at the unfairness of this grew in intensity. It was clear to me that there was no point in running again from the abuse as it was all around; it would catch up with me again. Now feeling pushed into a corner, I knew I had no other choice but to address it myself and I did that by committing to learn more about myself.
Addressing the Abuse: Knowing it Inside-Out
It became apparent that the way I had learned to live with abuse made me a very easy target for any abuser, because I had learned at a very young age to not speak up. I did not hold myself in high regard, nor did I value or deeply honour myself. I relied on other people for approval so that I could feel good about myself and I allowed people to treat me as a doormat. I would go to any length to avoid having a difficult conversation, to avoid conflict or say what was really needed at the time.
I was a peacekeeper and desperately wanted everyone in the world to be nice to each other, to be pleasant. I just couldn’t accept that life was the way that it was and longed for it to be different. Those beliefs allowed me to be abused for more years than I am willing to admit. It didn’t matter how hard I was pushed or how cruel the bullying became, I would never say anything to the person or expose it for what it was. I had become a professional peacekeeper to my own detriment.
Universal Medicine, at this time, offered great support and helped me understand life to a point where I made small changes to myself. I began to focus on honouring and loving myself first and foremost and from there I knew I would find the wisdom needed. No tactics on what to do in these situations or what to say, just to bring love to me and not to expect it from the workplace or the world. Eventually I knew I had to stop holding back in expressing myself in everyday life and in every way: in the way I dressed, the way I walked, the words I spoke, the way I worked…. Every. Single. Way.
In the early stages of this change, when I opened my mouth to address the bully, the years of hurt, frustration and peacekeeping meant I would often react and say what I felt in an unloving way, or I would change my words to be all soft and mushy. So even though it appeared that I was addressing the situation, the expression was tainted with a horrid energy that was not there to heal, but focussed on getting the threat off my back. I knew inside this was not the way, but opening my mouth was a good step in the right direction. There was more to learn.
As the years rolled on, I continued to take one little step at a time, learning more and more about myself. I began to see that I could speak up much more easily than I was able to do before, and I felt much more empowered by honouring what I felt, and in a way which was not reactive or emotional. The first few times when this happened I surprised even myself. I had found my way forward.
I came to realise that there was always a belief standing in the way, and this belief had to be challenged each and every time – “I can’t say that, they’re a Director,” “I can’t say that, they helped me out last week,” “I can’t say that, I might lose my job,” “I can’t say that, it might hurt them.” The list of ideals and beliefs are endless indeed.
The biggest shift came though when I began to see a pattern in my life – jealousy – a topic introduced by Serge Benhayon at a Universal Medicine Retreat. At first I found it impossible to conceive that someone would be jealous of me because I didn’t see there was much about me or my life that was very special at all. But when I cast the notion of jealousy over every abusive situation in my life, I could see how it was possible that another may react to me in a jealous way. There were attributes about me which were strong indeed – determination, creativity, initiating, appreciative, understanding, loving, sincerity, competence, playfulness, caring – all likable characteristics. What a turnaround point in my life.
Whenever I felt amazing, whenever my confidence began to emanate, whenever great things were beginning to happen in my life, whenever I began to shine, a situation would happen where a person would appear and become abusive towards me. It was always much more devastating when the attack came from someone close to me and who I trusted dearly. Instantly I would feel threatened by the conflict and would contract away, becoming small and sad about my life once again. The pattern was now exposed, and I knew then that I had spent my life purposely keeping my shine down so that I didn’t have to deal with these types of attacks.
But living like this had become too destructive and was personally cruel. I had to find a way to live in the world in my fullness, and to deal with these attacks for they would never stop. The alternative, to live suppressed and in sadness, was no longer an option.
Realising that there was nothing ‘wrong’ with me and that I wasn’t ‘bad’ because I attracted such abuse was liberating! I came to understand that we live in a world where people make choices to live less than who they really are and have invested in so many things to try to make life work, and when they feel another has chosen not to sell out and has made more loving choices, they attack in their jealousy and outrage. It was clear, this was the perfect way to bring another down, to make them less, and observing this play out was groundbreaking to say the least.
I experimented with this for a while, as the world is a fabulous playground that offers opportunities time and time again. I now feel within my body the beginnings of an inner power that allows me to read what is happening in the moment, and respond in a way that is needed without an ounce of emotion. It doesn’t mean that the abuse does not hurt, as it is certainly horrible to feel, but it doesn’t have to get out of hand and spiral into much more than a simple acknowledgement that what was said or done in that moment wasn’t loving at all.
It is so beautiful to get to the place within myself where I can allow myself to feel the love-lessness from another in their accusations and behaviour, and be able to read exactly what the intention is, stay open to them and respond in a way that is needed, without the imposition of emotion or defensiveness.
I can feel how life from this point forward is really going to change.
In the world we live in – in its current state – there may be those heartless situations for many years to come until we all get the fact that this abusive way to be with each other is not coming from Love and is not coming from a place that represents who we really are. To use these times as practice sessions and to learn what is being asked of us, gives power back to us all.
The abusive situations allowed me to find the authority within to stand up for what is truly loving and to live from this to the best of my ability. I had to begin to allow myself to read what was really going on, instead of reacting to what I would see or hear and make myself less. It was essential that I learned to trust what I felt in my body, as that was the true reading in the situation if only I didn’t dismiss it, reinterpret it or push it away because I didn’t want to deal with the situation.
If we were to be raised knowing that all that happens to us in life, happens to unveil our deep commitment to Love and to Truth, and to support us to evolve to be our true selves, then maybe we wouldn’t be so afraid and maybe our choices and responses in life would begin to change and reflect a true way for us to live together in the world without the need to resort to abuse, jealousy, control, manipulation and even contraction.
Abuse may follow us for the rest of our lives, but we have an inner knowing and a strength that is so much more powerful than the love-lessness of abuse. Surrendering to the world just as it is allows the space for us to deal with life in a way that is needed in the moment. This is not something that we will master to perfection, but our commitment to this way will always be a wonder-full step in the right direction.
By Maree Savins, Australia