THE SECRETS OF BEING A MENTALLY STRONG WOMAN
August 17, 2020
Notes by Julie Furlong
“WE NEED WOMEN WHO ARE SO STRONG THEY CAN BE GENTLE, SO EDUCATED THEY CAN BE HUMBLE, SO FIERCE THEY CAN BE COMPASSIONATE, SO PASSIONATE THEY CAN BE RATIONAL, AND SO DISCIPLINED THEY CAN BE FREE” – KAVITA RAMDAS
No one should ever have to put up with any type of abuse, whether it’s verbal, physical or emotional. If you have ever experienced it, and hopefully survived it, you will understand where I am coming from. Last month marked a significant breakthrough for me. For many years, I have been firm and persistent with never having to put up with any form of abuse ever again, and formalising it via the legal system, I am now able to provide an environment for my children that will be safe and stress free. An environment that I, myself left many, many years ago. When I learnt of some of the incidents my children were exposed to, I embarked upon a 4 year journey to bring that behaviour to a stop, rather than ignoring the situation. It was not about winning, but rather it was about not giving up on my values and beliefs and turning a blind eye, which sometimes appears to be the easiest option for many. Most importantly, it was about teaching my boys that you need to stand up for what is right, and to not tolerate abuse, no matter how big or small the issue. The more the issues unravelled, the stronger I got for justice to finally prevail.
Abuse sneaks up on you, before you know it you are a victim to it and then when we look back, we realise the warning signs were there the whole time, we just didn't understand what we were seeing, how to manage it or what to do about it. In many cases, abuse is hard to prove, so seeking justice, can be a long, confusing and lonely road, with plenty of opinions and criticism in between. I have personally stood up to abuse many times, verbal, physical and emotional. It’s not pleasant, nor is it easy. The abuser acts as if their needs are more important than yours until we accept that we are less than them. They make you feel humiliated and that you are not worthy. And their ego, obviously, has everything to do with that (Read: 10 signs it might be your ego talking).
I refuse for my children to grow up thinking that this behaviour is okay, and the reason why many people do think this behaviour is acceptable is because they probably have been exposed to it, in some form at a young age and they naturally grow into accepting this behaviour. They believe that people can behave this way and that it is acceptable because they have not witnessed anyone standing up to it before. During this time, I thought a lot about my own childhood, more than ever before, reflecting on those events that shaped me and made me more resilient (Read: 8 easy steps to build resilience), the bad behaviour I thought was acceptable because adults told me so and those who influenced me were kind, inspirational and delightful, helping me aspire to greater things. It’s amazing how your childhood really forms who you become, and how long it takes (if at all) to forget about those bad experiences, no matter how big or small.
Abuse doesn’t get better if you don’t do anything; it just keeps getting worse. You have to be your own friend and have compassion for yourself. (Read: How to master the art of being kind to yourself) You have to forgive yourself and know and trust that you and your children do deserve better. And you can’t ever give up. If you feel something is wrong, then there is something wrong. If you feel terrible, and the situation is not getting better no matter how hard you try, know that the fault is not yours. In fact the opposite, the manipulator normally sees your efforts as a threat to their power and so they will push back.
Amongst all the other things going on during this tough year, something I have most definitely learnt is to create your own meaning, for me that was the more obstacles I came across, the stronger I got. Yes, I am getting stronger, and it’s about confidence and giving myself a break from those horrible things that happened. It’s all about your own perspective, knowing inside that you are a good person and you only want the best for people and your children. And then when you come across those who put you down, humiliate and betray you, and push your buttons, the only answer is to simply feel sorry for them and forgive, as they are the ones struggling. Nobody can hurt you, especially without your permission.
No handbook could have taught me how to get through this pandemic and the current reality we are all facing. No handbook could have ever told me what I should do about constant abuse. No handbook ever told me I would survive a broken heart, or that I would have to reinvent my company to survive 2020, and support my children. Life is unpredictable. All we can do is keep moving, keep learning, keep watching, keep laughing and keep listening. Stay open and release those who let you down. Open your eyes, your heart and your mind. Accept and move forward knowing that life is going to ask you over and over again to be ready for adversity, with things inside and outside of your control.
It is with great pleasure that I guide my children through life and support them financially. I’m grateful that I have the ability to do it. Even though there are challenges, there are always the silver linings, with many good times that outweigh the bad along with so many kind, humble and good people out there that are genuine with no hidden agenda (Read: Focusing on these 3 areas will lead to a happy life). At the end of the day, remember you are in control and capable. Going through an experience like this will only make you stronger. Disappointment, grief, betrayal help us learn to regulate our thoughts, manage our emotions, and behave productively despite our circumstances - no matter what your goals are, building mental strength is key to reaching your greatest potential. Resilience is the best strategy for overcoming adversity and building mental muscle.
Many victims of domestic abuse feel they lack the appropriate support to enable them to positively alter their situation, but having finally taken steps to free my children and myself I know it is possible. My advice to others is not to be afraid, but rather to be kind and believe in yourself. Don’t give up and use the experience as a chance to change your destiny, although it may seem difficult (Read: How to master the art of being kind to yourself). Everyone has the right to live in dignity, free from fear of violence or harm.
To my two sons, I am proud of you both so much. Nothing pleases me more than to watch you both grow into good men with kindness, compassion and character. Keep it up, run your own race (Read: Run your own race) and remember I believe in you.
THOUGHTS TO PONDER
Regardless of our age, challenging experiences are ALWAYS upon us. Our ability to roll with the punches will determine how well we cope with these times in order to keep moving forward and functioning effectively. The one thing I often do when I am in this situation is to maintain a clear sense of what I am trying to achieve and remind myself that I am a fighter, not a victim! I am able to do this by referring to these 8 easy steps to build resilience.
You need to go easy on yourself and understand that it is a more painful road being hard on yourself – getting lost in judgements, speculation and assumptions. Instead, focus your energy on the positive things to help establish some perspective. Recognise the difference between how you feel when caught up in self-criticism, and how you feel when you can let go of it. Find out how you can be kind to yourself.
Happiness has everything to do with working on three main areas in life: relationships, vitality, and productivity - this ideal combination helps build a solid core you need to maintain your path towards personal happiness, focusing on these 3 areas will lead to a happy life.
You’ll never change your life until you make an effort to change your thinking and attitude. Remember that happiness is very much in your control and when you learn to choose (and you really do have a choice) it gradually becomes a norm and more happiness will come.