I used to fancy myself a warrior. I fought to walk after multiple surgeries. I fought against what I believed to be male oppression. I fought to recover from the negative emotional impact of childhood sexual abuse and rape. I fought against emotional abuse hurled at me from numerous addicts and people who were struggling for whatever other reasons who I had invited into my world. I fought to gain my independence from people I believed were trying to manipulate and control me. I fought and I won one battle at a time. The more I won these 'battles', the more convinced I became that I was a warrior. The more I told myself I was a warrior - the more I found myself in battles.
I wanted peace. I would look up to the sky with an exasperated expression on my face and say out loud - seriously! I would bemoan to a God I didn't even know or understand anymore: "When will this end!! What on earth did I do that I must endure a life like this? Battle after battle?!"
Then, the time came where I lost a battle. I was fighting to hold on to something that I should have let go of many years before, and I finally met my match. A man I worked with (misogynistic male oppressor), who was given the title of manager, made it his mission to show me (his assistant manager) exactly how tough I was.
Every day, as I tried to work at my desk that was in the same small office as his, I was subjected to a barrage of misogynistic comments. I was constantly ridiculed, harassed and maligned. Not one of my co-workers (some of them I had worked with for many years and considered friends) came to my defense. The more he hurled abuse – the more determined I became to ‘stand my ground’. Every minute of every day that I was at work I was angry, stressed out, resentful, and bitter. Some days I could hide it – others not so much.
I wasn't about to let this man win. I kept fighting. Holding my ground. The disdain I had for this man and how he was behaving shone like a neon sign from my face, so all the other men that I worked with could clearly see and must of thought I felt the same way about them. They had heard that I was a 'man-hater' so often, they believed it. Every time a co-worker would laugh at his misogynistic comments, I would add that person to the list of combatants and behave towards them as if I was in battle with them. My list of combatants grew.
This was all happening while my dad (another male oppressor albeit non misogynistic) was dying from cancer. I believed I was in a position where I felt I had to look after a man that I believed had been abusive to me and my siblings for our entire childhood. I was filled with resentment, anger and bitterness the entire time I was looking after him, but I was bound and determined to ‘do the right thing’. It felt like I was carrying the One Ring through Mordor on my way to Mount Doom, only I was alone. I didn't have a group of people who were willing to take this journey with me.
I justified my inability to see what was really happening around me at work because I was distracted. I had of a ton of responsibilities at work and I was looking after my dying dad at the same time. My anger, bitterness and resentment was double-fold and growing every day.
Finally, the day came when I broke. Emotionally, Spiritually, and unbeknownst to me - physiologically. My dad had passed away by this time, and I was back at work. I hadn't taken time off to deal with my grief. I hadn't even acknowledged there was any grief. All I thought was I needed to get back to work.
After only a few months, I couldn't take one more second of the daily harassment and I quit my job of almost 25 years. I was actually escorted out of the building by this man who had won this battle. I felt that I was treated as if I had done something wrong, when clearly I had not!
I was really angry now. I can't even describe the betrayal I felt that day. I was forced to give up all that I had earned over all those years slaving for a company that would allow this to happen! In quitting, I gave up 4 weeks of paid vacation, benefits, and job security. How could this man have won! I sought legal advice. I am no loser! I will take this battle to court!
It cost me several hundred dollars to find out that I could probably get my job back. After all, this was a case of workplace sexual harassment and there are laws that protect us women victims from these kinds of men. The male lawyer was confident I would 'win' the case. I thought about it for a couple of minutes before it occurred to me: why on earth would I want my job back to work with a building full of people who didn't stand up for me? Why would I want to work with men who thought the sexual harassment was funny? Nope. No thank you!
Many years later, and after fighting many more 'battles', I broke again. This time in more pieces than I thought was possible. I was tired of fighting battles and I just wanted peace. I didn't want any more pain in my life - physical, emotional or Spiritual. I prayed for peace. I told God - I can't fight anymore. I'm sooo done! If I can't have peace - then I want to die. I finally give up. I'm done fighting!
GOD HEARS US EVEN WHEN WE THINK HE ISN'T LISTENING
We think that God doesn’t answer our prayers, but He does. We just aren’t listening most of the time, or we don’t like the answer. The truth is - most people don’t even know how to listen. We’re too busy fighting imaginary battles!
You know the song Amazing Grace? Well – I’ve felt it. The warmth of His Grace permeated my entire being. It was a warmness I’ve never felt before. I’d heard about it. Kind of like an orgasm I was once told, but it wasn’t like that for me. It was much, much bigger than any sexual pleasure.
FAITH AND CONNECTEDNESS
As a kid and even into my 20's, I kind of ‘knew things’. I didn’t know how I knew them – only that I did. I couldn’t explain these things I knew, but I was confident that these things were right. I knew things about people that I shouldn’t have known, but it wasn’t always consistent. I wasn’t psychic, but I was connected to an ‘all knowing entity’ that I called God. When I wanted to know something – I just asked and the answer came to me. This is when my battles really started.
People were afraid of this ‘gift’ I had. They would question these things I knew, and because I couldn’t explain how I knew what I knew – I didn’t have the ‘evidence’ or ‘verifiable proof’ to back up my statement – they started to tear down this confidence – which was really tearing down my Faith and my connection was temporarily broken.
God really does work in mysterious ways.
When I started having surgeries when I was only a child, my dad told me I had to fight. ‘Don’t ever give in!’ he would say – and a fighter – a ‘warrior’ was born. I fought everyone and everything. What I didn’t understand, is that by being willing to fight, I attracted all kinds of opponents.
Fight against the male oppressor (or injustice, or whatever battle you want to take up) – don’t let him/them win – keep fighting against him/them – attract MORE males (or whomever) who want to be oppressors, or at the very least behave like one.
I was unwittingly, subconsciously constantly creating scenarios in my life where I would willingly engage in a battle so that I could continue being the warrior. I had no idea that that was what I was doing. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to. Standing my ground. Standing up to bullies. What I didn’t realize, is that in order to battle the bully – you have to become a bigger bully! What is a bully but a person who believes they are a warrior of some kind?
We are so misguided when it comes to the reality of our world. We think we are doing one thing, when we are actually doing the opposite. By the time we figure it out, or at least get to a place where we can see the truth – which is really seeing it from God’s perspective - we are tired, broken and sick. Maybe that’s what it takes. You have to be completely broken before you’re willing to see it from God’s perspective.
The truth is: If you want peace, you have to let go of the warrior mentality. You must be willing to find another way. I wasn't a warrior! I was behaving like a victim pretending to be a warrior. At times, I was playing the role of martyr while convincing myself that I was the one taking the higher ground!
Peace and war can not be in the same place. If you want to feel peace in your heart, mind and Spirit, you need to understand why you feel the need to fight in the first place. Only then will you willing to lay down your sword and become a lover instead of a fighter! Remember - War is for warriors!
© 2017 Penny Hodgson All Rights Reserved