I was musing on how people get from being passive little wimps to assertive movers and shakers of the world. At first it looked like magic to me, but as I turned it over in my mind I could see that it was likely that the process was quite down to earth, even a bit dull.

Only two things are needed: doing something you are afraid of for the first time, and then practicing what you just did. It’s just like learning to ride a bicycle. At least that’s how I got from can’t to can – maybe others do it differently.

Not so long ago I was very shy. I tried to fade into the wallpaper to avoid drawing attention to myself. I thought I had nothing to say, nothing that others would want to hear. But when I realized I had been subjected to satanic ritual abuse, I knew I had to speak, like it or not. (Of course, most people didn’t want to hear about it, but that’s a different story.)

The first time I spoke up, it was excruciating. I was sure I was going to die of fear. My heart was racing very, very fast and I was sweating all over and stammering. The second time I was sure it was going to feel just like the first time, and it did. However, I was pretty certain I would live. If there was any other difference, it was so small that I couldn’t perceive it.

I kept speaking about ritual abuse. I practiced and practiced, and eventually my voice stopped shaking and I sounded strong and confident. I spoke to fellow survivors, to friends, to family, to dentists, to taxi drivers. I spoke one-to-one and in groups. I even spoke at the United Nations! I went from “I can’t, I’m going to die” to “of course I can.”

I’d like to invite all of you to challenge your “I can’t” thinking. Pick one little thing you would like to be able to do and do it just once, as an experiment, and see what happens. If it’s not totally terrible, consider practicing the new behavior.

After a while, you, too, will feel strong, confident, and empowered. It feels great, and you did it all yourself!

From the Survivroship Journal Volume 14 Number 2


4 thoughts on “Empowerment

  1. Thanks Jeannie, I needed to hear that. I spend a lot of time challenging the “I can’ts.” I think of it as climbing Mt. Everest to jump over a puddle. It takes a lot of time and energy to accomplish even little tasks sometimes.
    Something that you said about speaking of the abuse you experienced really struck me. For many years I had no memory of the years of abuse just flashbacks that let me know something was there, that and I reacted to circumstances in ways that did not fit the situations in the least. When the memories started to emerge I wanted to telegraph them to the world, because the awareness took away the craziness I’d always felt. I realized my reactions to things I recognize as triggers made perfect sense. When I spoke to people about the abuse I avoided details, but I’m afraid that I was traumatizing people even relating some of the events I survived, so I stopped speaking about it. I do not want to harm others. I wish there were a way for me to take all that horror and transform it into something positive. In the meantime, I’ll continue climbing Mt Everest until I wear it down. Thank-you for your words, Marjorie

  2. Jeannie,
    You are so right.. doing something that is very scary is so hard but doing it gives us victory. God Bless you

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