SHUT UP! – A Poem About Verbal Abuse

 

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I wrote this poem a few years ago while I was doing research on the topic of women and verbal abuse. I believe in the power of words. The power to inflict harm and the power to produce healing. The power to damage someone’s self-worth and deform reality and the power to lift, inspire and affirm truth. Verbal abuse and bullying are never okay.

SHUT UP!

So predictable

So relentless

So cruel

With your words you carve out a space in my heart

A place you’ve claimed as your space

It penetrates like a fiery dart

So predictable

So relentless

So cruel

What’s your problem?

Why do you make me out to be a fool?

Am I your puppet, your punching bag, your trash?

All your words do is thrash

They cut and wound and pierce

The pain throbs inside, so fierce

The heat inside me ebbs and flows

No one knows, no one knows

And so, on and on and on it goes

How heavy and how frantic I feel on the edge of sane

It’s so inane

It’s so loud on the inside when I scream

Like a dream

Like a mad, mad dream

It echoes from every wall inside my head

From every chamber within my heart

When did this start? Why did it start?

Who even cares

It doesn’t even matter now

I almost don’t matter now

So predictable

So relentless

So cruel

Shut Up! Shut Up! Shut Up!

I just want the pain to go away

Shut Up! Shut Up! Shut Up!

Leave me alone.

Go away!

You,

Yes, YOU…

Take your words and go away.

-April McCallum

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Victims of Bullying

It takes courage to stand alone for your beliefs in the face of intolerance and judgment.

It takes bravery to use your voice when presented with lies and betrayal.

It takes boldness to speak out when everyone else’s silence is deafening.

It takes faith to keep believing in humanity when humans tear us down.

It takes strength to get up and face your demons, your critics, your enemies.

It takes heart to forgive when those who hurt us don’t even know they need our forgiveness.

It takes tenacity, sometimes, to simply breathe in and breathe out.

It takes resilience to take one more step, look in the mirror, face your fears and live to fight just one more day.

Those who keep on keeping on in the midst of unwarranted aggression, torment, fear and bullying are warriors. They are the ones who are strong enough to refuse ultimate defeat. They refuse to allow the smallness, ugliness and false accusation of bullies to define them or keep them pinned down. But, remember–not everyone can hold on.

It takes just one to stand, speak, be bold, have faith, take heart, be strong and resilient with us–so that we no longer have to be alone.

Stand up. Speak up. Together, we are stronger, and just a little bit braver.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Feelings: Friend or Foe?

One of the definitions of “feeling” is an emotional state or reaction, and in its plural form: a susceptibility to impression. The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers the following: feelings, emotion, affection, sentiment, passion mean a subjective response to a person, thing, or situation; and, “feeling” denotes any partly mental, partly physical response marked by pleasure, pain, attraction, or repulsion. This post is based on that little (yet powerful) word referring to our response to our “feelings”. The word is subjective.

Subjective — relating to the way a person experiences things in his or her own mind; based on feelings or opinions rather than facts.

How often have we heard others make comments like these, or we’ve thought or spoken them ourselves:

I hate how this feels. I love how this feels. I don’t know how I feel.

I feel unworthy. I feel helpless. I feel hopeless. I feel lost.

He makes me feel so unlovable. He makes me feel like a loser.

She made me feel stupid. She made me feel like I was a bother.

I felt like they never had time for me. I felt like I had no future.

It feels like no one cares. It feels like no one sees me. It feels like no one would ever listen to me.

I feel like I could take on the world. I feel so empowered. I feel like a million bucks.

I feel so old. I feel so young. I feel so ugly. I feel so pretty.

It makes me feel so vulnerable. It makes me feel so uncomfortable.

It makes me feel like a winner. It makes me feel like I’m nothing.

I feel like I have my whole life before me.

I feel like I can never overcome my past.

I feel like everyone else knows where they’re going, but not me.

Did you feel the rollercoaster of emotions, of feelings? We’re up, we’re down, we’re spinning around. I had a friend that used the expression, “like a box in the wind,” to describe uncertainty. And that’s just it. When we aren’t grounded within ourselves, we are likely to listen, consider, think and then eventually, believe what “they” tell us. And who are “they” anyways? Anyone outside ourselves, including the culture, the media, teachers or coaches, friends or strangers, parents or family members. Everyone busy telling everyone else how they “ought” to be or think or respond.

How unhealthy is that? It’s like giving away little pieces of the most valuable part of ourselves, our ability to think and make decisions for ourselves based on reality, not subjective or fleeting feelings based on circumstances or imaginations. People will have opinions, to which they are entitled, but we can’t allow other people to define us. Just because they try to doesn’t make it so. By the same token, our past does not define our future. Both of these have the potential to lock us into positions and places not based on reality, derailing what we were truly meant to accomplish, feel, and believe.

Certainly, feelings are an important part of being human. They are a gift. How magical it feels when love is present in our lives. How grateful we feel when we are blessed with unexpected kindness and goodness. Likewise, it is normal and important to be aware and feel concern when danger is looming or feel the heat of a hot stove warning us not to touch it. But to base our self-belief, dreams and futures on mere feelings, which can sometimes be fickle, and sometimes, be liars, is to allow ourselves to be robbed of our best, and the hope of what can be, the hope of who we can be.

If you’re one of the people who’ve been stuck in a place where someone else’s negative and untrue words or behaviors have invited you, it’s time for you to get “unstuck”. Get on up, and start dreaming again. Start believing for something more, something better. It’s not what “they” say. It’s what you say, and it’s what God says about you. Even if it’s hard, have faith that there is more for you waiting up ahead around the curve. You only have to be willing to take the first step, and then the second, and so on.

You were created for a purpose. What is that purpose? It’s your dream, it’s your life–choose to get on up and move forward. Your true life is waiting.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

 

 

 

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Freedom Series: Fear To Courage

Unhealthy fear is a liar. If not stopped, it will always seek to bully us into believing lies about ourselves and about others, ultimately morphing our reality. It is a thief. It robs our peace and joy, and in many cases, the faith and courage to follow our dreams and live healthy fulfilled lives. But the worst part about unhealthy fear is that it can become a slave master. Its single focused goal is to destroy the truth and any potential goodness in our lives by disempowering us and holding us captive.

From Fear to Courage is a 96-page minibook that is part of the Freedom Series created by author and popular women’s speaker, Michelle Borquez. Women desperately want to get to the other side of fear, shame, low self-esteem, hopelessness, or any other issue that keeps them from finding their ultimate freedom in life, but often they don’t know how. The book’s authors use biblical truths to guide readers out of their unhealthy fears into a place of understanding, healing, and freedom.

Have you (or someone you know) kept a secret that has bound you in chains, choked off your voice, drowned your hopes, or silenced your dreams?

In Fear to Courage, Kim Vastine shares her personal story of shame, betrayal, loneliness, and anger brought on by childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by an uncle, someone she “should” have been able to trust. Instead, she was lied to, stolen from, and enslaved to her abuser.  Fear became an unwanted and demanding companion. She uses words like torment, pain, fear, and grief to describe how the abuse made her feel.

Adding fuel to the fire, yet another family member compounded her abuse profile. Speaking of her father’s volatile outbursts that would leave the family, “cowering, sobbing, or desperately striving to seem invisible,” she concluded, “as bad as it was physically, emotionally it was worse.” And just when you wonder how much more a child can endure, she tells of yet another abuse in a place she “should” have felt safe and secure.

The images and memories of abuse branded in her mind helped formulate how she saw the world, God, and herself. My voice was silent, but my heart cried out for justice.” Like flecks of emotional shrapnel searing through the skin, unless extracted, they remain embedded in our minds and spirits. In her case, she learned to mask her negative emotions in deceptive and unhealthy ways.

Paige Henderson writes, “When fear dictates, love is silenced.” This booklet invites women to take the critical journey “moving from life-crushing fear to life-changing courage.” None of us can survive without hope or apart from love. She helps readers put fear into perspective. To understand the awe-inspired “fear” of God and positive healthy choices, as opposed to unhealthy fear that distorts truth, steals our voice, and robs us of our intended destiny. Love is more powerful than fear, but as long as we give fear a place, we give it power.

Then she uses examples from the Bible to show the consistency (predictability) of human nature in our reaction to fear: hiding or running in the opposite direction, and then speaks to trust and identity issues and how they inform us on how we relate to ourselves and the world. The heavy burden of abuse and its fallout are real, but remember, we are not alone in the battle. When childhood abuse occurs, children are left to define their trauma through their own experience and feelings, never grasping what it all means and where they fit in the overall scheme of what has happened to them. (Underscore, to them.)

Abused children typically draw conclusions based on false thinking, and as they mature and advance into adult relationships, they act out what they believe. Although a woman’s body matures and changes, for those who have suffered from childhood trauma, their wounded little girl remains still very much a part of them. That little girl is desperate to be loved, feel worthy, and to be seen and heard. She needs healing.

Henderson talks about the significance of fortifying our lives (how we think, feel, and act) in the way we build our life foundations.  How important it is that we build wisely, and with truth, because eventually, we act on what we believe. We live out our lives, based on what we believe to be true. Using a simple Q&A format, she encourages readers to pause and reflect, and then record their thoughts and feelings. The process helps define the root causes of fear and the difference between healthy and unhealthy fears and their effect.

Armed with a healthy understanding about fear, love, and the importance (and power) of taking personal responsibility for our ultimate wholeness and freedom, Sharon Kay Ball rounds out the book with a section called, “Steps to Freedom.” She discusses the devastation of sexual and emotional abuse including disempowerment and trauma. Readers are then given steps to help in the process of healing those broken places.

Victims of abuse will learn how to un-pack and re-pack, so to speak, their belief systems (about truth, themselves, and others), so they can move from fear to courage, and from victim to survivor. That means taking the power away from the perpetrators, and reclaiming it for ourselves. She reminds us that, “secrets only carry power when they are kept secret.” And discusses how to get past self-blame, the importance of not stuffing bad memories, and how to process anger in a healthy way. She also underscores the value of journaling and working with a professional therapist if necessary.

“When fear enslaves us, it paralyzes us and keeps us from having the courage to live out our purpose in life.” –Michelle Borquez

This booklet begins with Kim’s story about sexual and other abuses. Maybe your fears have different origins. But the fact remains: fear is a liar and fear is a thief. Eventually, unhealthy fear becomes a slave master, and until we replace it with truth, it will keep us where we don’t want to be, in a perpetual internal prison.

It’s time to let go of fear and claim your freedom. Commit to the process because you are worth it. Give yourself permission to take the journey that will eventually lead you out of the cage and into your freedom.

Purchase the book: Fear to Courage

You may also be interested in:

Fear is a Liar

20 Quotes about Pushing Past Fear

Live Fearless, Live Free.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

Note: Rose Publishing provided me with an advanced reader copy of this booklet.

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Quotes From Women Who Have Suffered Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse victims (women and men) often feel paralyzed or powerless to change their relationship or situation because their perpetrators are likely control freaks and master manipulators. Because of the silent nature of emotional abuse, it’s not untypical for a woman to feel hopeless, depressed, confused and/or trapped.

Though it can seem unimaginable to people on the outside, some women caught in abusive relationships can even start to believe what their abusers tell them about themselves.

Bullies may tell their victims that they are stupid, unlovable, ugly, or that no one would believe them if they tried to speak up. Often they try to blame the abuse on their victims trying to convince them that the abuse is somehow, their fault. You can imagine the damaging effects to a person’s health, both mind and body, and how living with that constant turmoil, sadly, would begin to erode their spirit.

Here are some quotes from real women who have lived through the very real pain of emotional abuse:

Bruises heal, but you don’t forget words and emotions, how an abuser makes you feel about yourself.

I have always walked on eggshells waiting for his reaction to whatever situation.

I am slowly beginning to realize that I deserve better and I can do better. It’s been a struggle.

I was a happy, confident, outgoing person once.

I would rather he would hit me because at least a bruise would eventually go away.

I am in an emotionally abusive relationship but I don’t know how to leave because he needs me.

I never know what to expect. Sometimes he’s charming, sometimes he’s volatile. He’s a chronic manipulator and deceiver. Everything revolves around “his truth.”

I used to be a happy person who had plans and dreams. The emotional and verbal abuse wore me down. I felt exhausted, numb and dioriented about who I was. I stopped thinking and believing for myself. I lost hope for a better life.

Please do not stay in that kind of relationship. Your children will suffer. 

He is the ultimate narcissist and uses his charisma as a weapon of choice to dissuade anyone from thinking it is him.

He isolated me from my family and the people and things I care about.

He’s constantly putting me down, labeling me, mocking or making fun of me. It’s his way of staying in control. 

He makes me feel ugly, stupid, small. Like I don’t matter, won’t amount to anything, or like I’m not worthy of being loved.

No one deserves to be treated like trash, especially not by the person you love.

Get out now! Abuse only gets worse over time. No one deserves to be treated like dirt. No one.

Do not sit back and take it. Pack your things and leave.

I am in domestic violence counseling and trying to put back the pieces of my shattered life.

Abuse isn’t love.

Sometimes it helps to take a step back and listen, because it can help you assess your own relationship or situation. If reading these quotes sounds only too familiar to what you are experiencing, it’s time to seriously think about what you really want out of life.

You do have a choice. Choose life—your life.

Don’t give another person permission (in essence) to define who you are, or how your life story will read. If you are already in an abusive situation, be wise about your next steps, stay safe and row toward freedom.

You matter, and you deserve to live a life filled with color, joy, peace, and fulfillment.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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The Power of Words: Women and the Negative Voices Within

You’ve heard the expression: You are what you think. All of us have positive and negative voices, but the negative ones can be crippling. They can advise, dictate, taunt, mock, measure and define us. They are constant reminders to us of who we are, and who we are not.

They may scream or they may whisper, be constant or intermittent, but as long as we listen to them, we feed them and give them permission to keep us in bondage. Like internal slave masters–they are oppressors who keep us locked in heavy chains–held captive within our internal prisons of self-doubt, self-deprecation and/or self-loathing.

But where do these voices come from?  From mothers, fathers, other family members, caretakers, teachers, coaches, friends and strangers. They also come from the media or the culture we are a part of. But sadly, and more often than not, they originate from the very people who were meant to love and nurture us the most– our families. Napoleon Hill said, “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.”

The Power of  Words — Messed Up Messages

You’re Not Good Enough.
No matter how hard you try, you can’t measure up. You will never be good enough, so don’t even bother trying. You’re not capable–you don’t have it in you–you’re not cut from the “right” cloth. You’re not smart enough, hard-working enough, talented enough, charming enough, thin enough, pretty enough. 
You’re a Bad Girl.
You’re not a good little girl like those other girls. You’re dirty and you’re a bad girl. Look at what you’ve done and look at what you’ve caused other people to do. You should be ashamed of yourself, you’re a nasty girl. 
You’re to Blame.
It’s your fault, you’re to blame. Whatever bad things happen to you, it’s because of you, you deserve whatever negative things come your way. If something bad happens, you probably provoked it, either by something you did or something you neglected to do—either way, it’s your fault.
You’ll Never Be Anybody.
You’re not going anywhere in your life. The stars don’t shine for you like other girls. You’re not meant to be anyone or anything. You just stay low, that’s your “place”, that’s where you belong. Don’t dream, wish or imagine, because that’s not for you. You’ll never be anybody and you’ll never go anywhere.
You’re Worthless. 
You’re not wanted. No one truly celebrates your life. You’re a nobody, you have no worth or value, and you are not cherished–because you are considered to be nothing.  Or, “You’re just like your… fill in the blank.

In some families and cultures, you are de-valued simply because you were born a girl — Talk about a no-win proposition!

The Power of the Mind — Influence & Choice

The human mind and emotions are powerful forces. They are fertile fields ripe for planting and we reap a harvest from whatever seeds are planted. The question is, what kind of harvest?

  From the mind and emotions our spirits can either shrivel or soar. We can hear beautiful melodies, or hear stabbing, painful or judgmental tones. We can envision greatness, manage complex processes and dream dreams, or see only darkness, locked doors and certain failure on our personal horizons. Because of them, we can believe in endless possibilities and a future with hope, or we can believe in nothing because the voices tell us not to bother–those things are for other women, not us.

Like pre-programmed computer chips, the voices embed themselves and create strongholds in our minds. They translate to our senses and emotions how we “should” feel, and define consciously or subconsciously, who we are. If we listen to a lie long enough, we begin to believe it to be truth. The destructive voices hold us back from being our true selves, stunted from all that we are meant to be.

Certainly, there are some places around the globe (or in some family structures) where women and girls are treated with high esteem and are given equal opportunity compared to their male counterparts. It is also true that in many cases, females have become much more self-confident, self-reliant, successful, truly happy and free. But for the ones who are not yet there, and are caught in an oppressive place (in the cultural or familial context) because of the voices who have not stewarded, taught, or nurtured them well — there is hope!

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” –Author Unknown 

Saying Goodbye to the Voices

To recognize the negative messages being piped into our minds as lies, is key. We don’t have to live with the voices, but they will not go away on their own because they are deeply rooted. It may take some time, but it will be time well spent.  For women, the voices are so intricately tied to our self-image.

By purging the lies, we choose to invest in reprogramming our view of ourselves in order to bring a true sense of reality, peace and overall well-being. It’s time to say goodbye to the harsh masters who have held the keys for far too long. The plaguing thoughts that have held us captiveincapacitating and hindering us from living our lives in freedom and confidence.

“No power in society, no hardship in your condition can depress you, keep you down, in knowledge, power, virtue, influence, but by your own consent.”  –William Ellery Channing

Replacing the Voices — Choosing Life

So how do we begin to make a change for better?  We begin by washing our minds with truth, which is what will set us free. We make a conscious choice to say yes to right thoughts about ourselves and no to the negative ones. We keep company with positive and honest people who will act as mirrors in our lives, speaking truth to us about ourselves, our dreams, our futures—and we rid ourselves of regular contact with the toxic ones. “Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.” –George Eliot

We lose the things in our atmosphere that bring death (belief systems we’ve subscribed to, harmful relationships, bad habits or addictions, places we frequent, or any inputs we listen to through media, music or literature that reinforce the negative or dark messages) and replace them with the things that bring life. Our thoughts can be like a tape stuck in an infinite loop that runs and re-runs in our mind. The good news is, we have control over what tapes—messages—we choose to play.  Choose life!  Choose the things that bring you peace, joy, encouragement, inspiration, challenge and fulfillment.

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”  –Wilma Rudolph

And, we welcome the voice of God and let it tell us who we are. We are cherished, capable, valued and loved—we are here for a purpose. We have a future and a hope, and thankfully, we are not alone. Our true destiny awaits us.

© by April McCallum, Destiny’s Women
(Photos by Heal and Inspire, Jason Borneman, Alice Palace, AJ Bruestein)

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