Archive for October 14th, 2009

I recently had a conversation with a fellow child abuse survivor. She is dealing with some family issues with in-laws who “act inappropriately.” Most people would knock the teeth out of anyone doing these inappropriate things, but, as a child abuse survivor, this woman is conflicted. She knows that the behavior is unacceptable and protects her children, but she does not feel comfortable saying, “If you do that again, you will not see your grandchildren again for three months.” Why is that?

I don’t mean it pick on this woman because, goodness knows, I have been there myself. I took me a very long time to realize that it was okay for me to set boundaries in my life. Why is it that we have to work so hard to assert ourselves and say no to unacceptable behavior in a relationship?

My guess is that it all stems from childhood. We were not allowed to say no as children, and so the concept of saying no as an adult is foreign to us. I am glad that I am making progress in this area. I have learned how to say no and even (sometimes) revel in the “power” of saying no. I have come to realize that it is okay for people to think that I am a b**** sometimes. Those who do not want to take advantage of me rarely think this about me: It is only those who want to cross my boundaries who accuse me of this.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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