I have been in places where I was being victimized, abused, misused, or manipulated. And there were times when I was unable to stand up for myself, and had no one around me to stand up for me, either. Thank goodness that was a long time ago, and that I have learned to stand up for myself since that time. It took me a long time to find my voice – and to say that small, two-word phrase that was the start of change for me – NO MORE! Today I recognize that I have the power to prevent other’s ill-treatment of me. I have learned to set boundaries with friends and family members. I have learned to distinguish between what is okay and what is not okay. I have rights and will fight for them when needed.

I have a small card that is entitled “My Bill of Rights,” and it reads as follows (it is edited for content) :

I have the right to be treated with respect.
I have the right to say no and not feel guilty.
I have the right to take time for myself.
I have the right to change my mind.
I have the right to ask for what I want.
I have the right to ask for information.
I have the right to do less than I am humanly capable of.
I have the right to experience and express my feelings.
I have the right to make mistakes.
I have the right to feel good about myself.
I have the right to take time for myself.

It is good to read these “rights” every once in a while, to remind myself of the fact that I do have rights as a person. I no longer think it’s okay to treat me poorly, I do not associate with others who disrespect me, and I work on respecting others and treating them as I wish to be treated. The disease of alcoholism under-minded my ego and reinforced my own negative self-image. Making the decision not to drink was my very first step towards reclaiming my “self.” I have stopped doing those things that make me feel bad about me, and have started doing those things that make me feel good. I feel good when I am at a meeting, I feel good when I reach out to help another woman in recovery, and I feel good when I am able to express my true thoughts and feelings – To Thine Own Self Be True – that says it all.

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