Masters of Our Universe: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog
Do you ever feel like people treat you in ways you don’t deserve? Maybe they act dismissive about what you have to say or tell you shouldn’t feel a certain way? Have you done work that you are proud of and either nobody seems to notice, or your boss ends up getting the credit for it?
I don’t know about you, but I have been feeling underappreciated lately. It’s an interesting turn of events because as a survivor I have spent the better part of my life not wanting to be noticed.
For years I was totally comfortable letting others take credit for my ideas or work so that I could stay safely invisible.
Since I have come out as a survivor and shared my story, I think I am very proud of the work I do, but am I really? Last week in one day three different situations happened that I saw as disrespectful of me. First it made me feel bad about myself, and then it made me mad. What’s wrong with those people? Don’t they realize how hard I work?
And then I thought about the messages I give people, and all the ways I tell them, “it’s okay, don’t worry about me.” As I listed all the ways I give that message, I began to realize I’m actually telling people that I don’t count. Isn’t one of the main messages we learn as survivors is that our feelings are not important, or that other people count more than us?”Damn, I hate it when that finger I have pointed at “them” turns to face me. How can I possibly blame others for treating me the way I suggest they do? Let me be clear that I am not talking about the abuse we suffered. We are in no way responsible for that.
It is amazing how different it feels to “own” my part in how I am received by the world. I have spent the last few days communicating in a more confident way and following up with those I felt had been dismissive of me. It is not about being pushy or demanding, it’s a simple attitude that I matter, and it’s okay to express that. In one case it was “when you said x it hurt my feelings and here’s why.”
I want to take this one step further. When I was still in major denial about my abuse I worked for a man that I had little respect for. Guess who worked hard to contribute to his success and then never got any credit for their work? Yep, me. Now, guess who I blamed? Yep, him.
Now here’s the twist. I finally figured out I could not control anyone’s behavior but my own.
I decided to “own” my part of the dysfunction. After no communication for 14 years I wrote him a letter and told him of my journey of healing and how bad I felt about treating him with total disrespect for the years I worked for him. I got back the most compassionate email I have ever received. We are actually becoming friends!
My message is this: The more we take responsibility for what happens around us the more satisfaction we find. If you don’t like what is going on in your world, do something about it. If you don’t like the way people treat you, tell them. We are truly the masters of our universe.
May the force grant you the courage to change the things you can. You will be amazed. I know I am.
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-By Randy Ellison
Speaker, writer and author of the book Boys Don’t Tell: Ending the Silence of Abuse, Randy Ellison is a child sexual abuse victim’s advocate and an activist promoting cultural change working with local, state and national organizations. He addresses abuse prevention and healing for survivors from a survivor’s perspective. Randy is a member of the Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force. He is a founding member and former board president of OAASIS, Oregon Abuse Advocates and Survivors in Service.
Randy recently received the Diane Sandler Award for his work in education, awareness and prevention of sexual violence in Southern Oregon.