So I Told Her No

I have had a huge amount of boundary violations lately. My issues with my family is on-going. I never seem to be making any headway with my brothers. I often have to tell one of them each time I see them when they walk over a boundary of mine. It is not that I have not told them. It is that they refuse to respect me, my life, my choices, and to respect my boundaries. It is exhausting to me. It is triggering to me. I hate it. I hate it so much. As always I have two choices; see them or don’t see them. That always seems to be my two choices. There are huge patches of my adulthood where one or more of my family of origin have not been in my life. It’s the only way that I get peace with them, is to refuse to talk to them, to refuse to associate with them and it is so awesome to have peace.

I’ve been doing a lot of practice having calm and assertive energy when out in public, like I’ve learned on the show The Dog Whisperer, with Cesar Millan. I love Cesar Millan. It’s good for me to practice this as often as possible, I really need it and it is good for me. I don’t do it with my family, but I am just realizing that I need to. They may never respect me or my rights, but I respect me and my rights and I assert that I am the pack leader of my pack of one human being, and they cannot be my boss. I am my own boss.

With strangers in public I am trying to address issues as they come up, but it is amazing to me how almost each time I go out in public someone tries to push me around, boss me around, and tell me how to think and feel, what I can and cannot think and feel, where to stand, where and when to move, and evaluate and judge my value and worth as a human being. I am often finding myself mind boggled at the rudeness, inappropriateness, unfeeling, sarcastic, selfish, borderline  behavior that passes for interactions in public.

I was in a store recently where a woman backed up, almost hitting me, and ordered me to back up my cart so she could move where I was standing, because as she said she wanted to get next to the bananas.

Let me first say that I was standing there waiting for her to move. I let her go into the new aisle in front of me, when I could have rudely cut her off and went into the fresh fruits and vegetables section in front of her, blocking her and making her wait. But I didn’t, I let her go first. She was yelling and complaining at the top of her voice about the store, etc as she went down the main aisle and I was giving her plenty of room to be crazy, bitchy, or whatever, hopefully in a different aisle than where I was. I couldn’t figure out if she was talking on a cell phone or was just yelling just for her own personal satisfaction.

So I told her “no.” I told her “I am not moving. I’m standing here waiting for you to move on. I am disabled and I’m waiting for you to move. But what I am not doing is backing up for you.” (I have often twisted an ankle backing up a cart in a store, and because of that I don’t back up, but I didn’t tell her, I don’t have to explain myself to some bossy person. I thought I do not have to do what she orders me to do. There is plenty of room in the store aisle for her to move around me. I was not in the aisle she was backing up in, she was blocking me, but in her mind I was the one who should move. But I don’t have to. I do not have to obey her.)

She started telling me what she thought of my saying no. I interrupted her and told her snarkily, “I’m sorry that you don’t like my response.” She started talking over what I was saying, like judging me and bossing me around more, trying to make me do what she wanted. I told her, “By that I mean I am not at all sorry and that I don’t care if you care or don’t care. I don’t care what you think. I don’t care about what you do. I don’t care about you at all.” She had to back up further, because I refused to obey her, and that is when I walked into the fruits and vegetable aisle. I just want to say that no one made her back up, she could have gotten bananas first, she could have gone around to the next aisle to come around to the banana section. She could have asked me nicely.

But what she doesn’t get to do is to boss me around and tell me what to do. She’s not my boss. I am the Boss.


What I have learned that has been the most transformative, as a survivor and while working on healing from child sexual abuse, is:


I’ve tried hundreds of things during my process of healing from childhood abuse and this is the one thing that works the best for me; being calm and assertive.

I’ve tried meditating. I’ve tried cognitive therapy. I’ve tried Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I’ve tried over a decade of therapy. I’ve tried refuting the false cognitive beliefs, which was helpful, but not much. I’ve tried increasing my self-love and eliminating self-loathing and reducing self-hatred and that was good, but I always believed that I had to have a reason to love myself and really had trouble finding  one. I would remind myself that other inners in the multiple system all loved me and that they loved me for a reason. Even after all that I was still being bullied and emotionally abused by bullies and abusers almost each time that I went out in public. As a consequence I never felt safe. Safety was an important element to healing.

What I ended up with was a long list of things that didn’t work, a long list of things that mostly didn’t work and a long list of things that triggered me and made things worse. I guess this was a good thing, because it helped me to look elsewhere with an eye to changing things around to suit me and our multiple system. If something doesn’t fit, no shame should be attached, and I should feel free to learn my valuable lesson and move on to trying something else.

What I learned from therapy and from all the things that I tried that were not very effective, helpful or healing was:

The mindset that you had to work from the inner experience of self outward. All that assault on the inner self and my personal beliefs was very bruising. I didn’t feel healed from it, more like beleaguered.

What I’ve found the most helpful, healing and transformative has been exactly the opposite.

What I’ve learned is that I can figure out what is best for me; that I am the best person to do that. What I have learned is that my mind and my heart, my self and selves, that together we can make the best decisions about life and healing and that other ideas are only a suggestion, a stepping stone to what works best for me, for us.

I had heard of the fake it till you make it philosophy. I didn’t find that easy, firstly you are faking something, not being, not doing, just faking. One of the hallmarks of my life is a strong desire to live a life of integrity, honesty, and my own truth. So faking of any kind did not sit well with my soul or us. I didn’t think that it felt right to other survivors either.

What has worked for me is:


I got this idea from Ceasar Millan, The Dog Whisperer. I know I have written about this process a lot on the blog. For me it has been the key. I would start on the bike rides with doggie with the plan of being calm and assertive. Each time a challenge came along, a person, another dog, a squirrel, a car driving too close or too fast; I would feel my fear spike. I would get off the bike, get the doggie sitting down and obeying me and then calm down once again.

Calm and assertive was not a place I found within me. It was a state of mind that I presented to my mind and my body. It wasn’t something that I had to meditate into. It wasn’t something that I spent a lot of time or money on, it was something that I did by myself and for myself. It was something that I did. It wasn’t something that I wore, it was something that I put into my mind and into my body, into all my cells, I think something I did with the force of my will. Something that changed my energy, my vibe. It didn’t have anything to do with how much I loved myself or how much I hated myself or how someone else was treated me or loved me or didn’t love me. Sometimes it didn’t last long, a block or two. Then I got the opportunity to do it again; over and over.

At first I only did it while I was on the bike rides with doggie. And then I found myself doing it more and more in my daily life, even at times doing calm and assertive when I wasn’t thinking about it. What I figured out was that after a while it was easier and that after doing calm and assertive for a while my body and mind would start doing it all by itself, they must liked being in that state of mind. I started seeing myself speak assertively back to others without thinking about it. I’m sure that others who were not used to me speaking up like that didn’t like it or appreciate it, but really I believed they would have to just get used to it.

What I’ve found is that I do calm and assertive a lot. It has helped increase my self-esteem and self-love. The other way of increasing those didn’t work well or much for me, so I am tremendously happy that I have found another way of working on them by being.

What I’ve learned is that all of us are different and things that work for someone else might not work for another. There is no shame in that. We all deserve to have a self-designed healing path. Indeed it is what we all find in the end.

Connectedness to My Energy Part 3

It is important that we as survivors find a place to connect ourselves to something else, something good, something strong, something healing. I have discovered that on the other side of connection is something else that is connecting back to us. I feel it.

I have discovered that what I really needed to do is to start connecting to something from my mind, to an idea or a thing or a concept, not a thing I can see and feel and hold at that moment. That works best for me. I feel the connection from the library, when I connect to it. I feel it in my mind, in my heart, and in my body. I’m not there. I’m at home, wherever I am, and still I feel it inside of me, see it in my mind. I am starting to feel it with other connectedness things as well.

Being connected to my energy has been the final and most important aspect of my connectedness work. Feeling the other connection has helped me to work on connecting with my energy, in order to be calmer, to be happier, to be more healed.

I found the key to connecting to my energy through Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer. Cesar talks a lot about energy on his show. I had seen some episodes some years ago. And then again while living with a relative in another state. I didn’t really understand his concept of energy and how to use that. From the episodes I saw I was pretty clueless.

I did understand what he was saying, in that dogs can read people’s energy, much like how people read one another. He talked about being calm and assertive to be a pack leader for your dog and that we all need to be a pack leader for our dogs.  At the time being calm and assertive was pretty hard to do, living in a hostile home with a hostile, belligerent, and emotionally and verbally abusive relative. But I would practice it. I didn’t get far, but his show helped me to ignore and avoid my relative and that was a lot.  

About six months ago I started watching the show again. I got to see a lot of episodes, actually sometimes three episodes a day. It was great. I really was able to understand what he meant and how to work on being calm and assertive. In my life now I have access to a few dogs. I get to play with them and take care of them, some of the time, when I am up to it.

Being calm and assertive is hard for me. As a child being physically and sexually abused nothing about my life was calm and assertive. I bit my fingers nails down to the quick. I shook inside with fear most of the time. Acting as though I had value, speaking back to my mother, or having positive feelings were all reasons for my mother to physically and/or sexually abuse me at that moment. So I have lots of reasons for tamping down any positive feelings about myself or life.

As an adult child sexual abuse survivor I was terrifed all the time. I didn’t notice a lot of the time, because mostly I was frozen in fear. Being frozen means you don’t even feel all of the overwhelming fear, you feel some fear, kind of like being wrapped in a freezing terror cloak, you don’t feel most emotions, they are tamped down, just a bit of something that you find hard to identify exactly what it is you are feeling. You feel overwhelmed and on sensory overload almost all the time.

I was only able to stand up for myself when I was pushed to the edge and I snapped, being fueled by rage, shame, and adrenaline. I didn’t know what assertive was. I tried, for decades I tried, but I wouldn’t have known assertive if it had bit me in the ass.

I have run most of my life on adrenaline. I don’t know what normal is. I’ve tried relaxing, meditating, and most anything else that I found and could think of. Most of them didn’t work, most of them triggered me.

I started trying some of Cesar’s techniques on the dogs and on myself. I practive feeling calm and assertive when I am with them, when we go for walks and bike rides, and when we play and when I am taking care of them. The thing about dogs, they get it. As Cesar says dogs don’t respect affection, they love it, but it won’t make them obey you, it won’t make them follow you, and it won’t make them respect you, it won’t make you their pack leader. Being calm and assertive works.

I am also practicing calm and assertive at other times as well. I am slowly discovering a way to truly step into being the pack leader of our system. All the confidence, trust, and love that the system has put into me, I finally feel as though I am starting to deserve it. They always believed in me, but I didn’t.

I practice it when I am alone. I practice it when I am in public, when talking with others, and when enjoying my life. This method is helping me to walk confidently into the second half of my life. It is a work in progress, but one thing is for sure.

I am the pack leader.