Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Ever hear of the #MeOne Movement?
Me either. I just made it up.
(I’m not trying to devalue MeToo or BLM, so don’t panic.)
I’ve just been observing that, although we see these societal movements and they are strong and good and needed… They are driven by fierce, brave, strong leaders.
And frankly, I don’t feel like one of those leaders much lately. And that got me thinking, if I’m feeling this way–sort of tired, frozen, frustrated and alone–others must be feeling it too.
Yes, I had the mental break in 2007 that I wrote about in my book. Yes, I suffered multiple traumas and fought back and did pretty well.
But boy, am I tired.
Even so–as I advocate for my daughter (who suffers from ADHD and anxiety) at her school and with her doctors, I can’t help thinking, where were my advocates when I suffered traumas?
Where the fuck were they?
I have turned my frustration into fierce advocacy for my daughter, but sometimes I worry that I’ll overdo it. Which seems crazy, when you think of it. As long as I’m not doing things for her, as long as I’m helping her learn, my girl is going to be just fine.
That brings me back to the topic of self-advocacy. We survivors should do better at this. No more saying “yes” to keep others feeling comfortable and safe. No more accepting when people’s actions towards us are inappropriate or wrong. No more “turning the other cheek.”
It isn’t necessary to let people walk over us just to keep the status quo.
Here’s an example. My husband and I went to a small venue performance of Billy Idol this week. We had good seats, and I felt so lucky when the woman who came and sat in the seat in front of me was shorter than me. I would be able to clearly see the entire concert. (It is so rare for me! I’m 5’6” and often can’t see over people at performances.)
People were streaming in and taking their seats. A man who was part of a group of five with seats all in our row but split into two sections asked us if we’d be willing to move down so that all five could sit together.
In the past, I would have said, “sure!” and moved on down. But I decided to say “no.” It felt so good advocating for myself, even in such a small way. The man seemed irritated, but I calmly explained that I was able to see the stage clearly. Either he understood, or he chose to be polite. Thank goodness.
This was a small incident in the greater scheme of life. But my plan is to do it more. It’s the beginning of the #MeOne Movement!
So here’s my challenge to you: Over the next week, say “no” to at least three requests and/or activities that you’d normally say “yes” to. Check in with yourself and see how it feels. I bet you’ll feel great. (Feel free to share with me how it went. I’d love to hear from you.)
Because if we don’t take care of ourselves, nobody benefits.
What do you think? Join the discussion through the comments here.
In the book “Healing Developmental Trauma” by Dr Laurence Heller and Aline LaPierre, from which the following list is adapted, the authors provide an explanation of why us folks with trauma have issues with setting appropriate boundaries...
Our boundaries (personal, physical and energetic spaces) buffer us from outside world and regulate our interface with other people.
An everyday example of "boundary impingement" is someone standing too close, and wanting distance from that person.
Just like skin marks the boundary between the body's inside and outside, our energetic boundaries defines our wider personal space.
Intact and healthy energetic boundaries help us feel safe and set appropriate limits on interactions.
Analogous to a cut in the skin being painful, energetic boundary impingement, penetration or rupture may feel threatening, physically uncomfortable or create mental anguish.
Traumatic events that occur before we can orient to the danger can leave us with internal sense that danger can from anywhere, anytime, making us hypervigilant.
With early development trauma, boundaries never form adequately in the first place or are severely compromised.
With compromised boundaries, we may feel easily overwhelmed, such as feeling flooded by environmental stimuli and human contact, or not knowing the difference between self and other people, or between internal and external experiences.
Individuals with breached boundaries due to trauma distance and isolate themselves from other people, as a protective mechanism.
There is a strong correlation between environmental sensitivities, e.g. to light, sound, electric fields, smells, touch, and ruptured boundaries.
People with compromised energetic boundaries tend to have compromised physical and internal boundaries too, such as leaky gut, food and chemical insensitivity and allergy.
As people heal from trauma and restore healthy boundaries, they report decreases in level of sensitivities, intolerances and allergies too.