Thoughts On My Right To Exist

I’ve realized lately that it’s completely possible to live in a state of non-existence. This isn’t some sort of allegorical statement- it was my reality. My reality. Due to continued mental and emotional abuse, I’ve lived half a life for nearly 29 years.

Do you know how it feels to be jarred into full and total reality? Are there words for realizing how much work is ahead of you, since you don’t even know what you truly enjoy in life? Is there a way to sum up a history of wounds, confusion, and disgust?

When a person is young, a family member’s words- my sister, to be exact- can make one hell of an impact. What an outsider might view as harmless sibling rivalry may have deeper roots, and can inflict lasting damage. For me, it was the repeated idea that I didn’t exist. To my sister, it was simply easier to act like I had never been born than to relate to her own failures and shortcomings. This repeated emphasis of “You’re not here. I see right through you. Your entire existence doesn’t make a difference”, over the space of many years, became a permanent part of my definition of self.

There could have been hope for a better outcome, had I been able to defend myself. I wasn’t. The way that she struck was like a coiled, poisonous snake. Her approach was unpredictable, and the venomous words would shoot from her in a hiss or yell (depending on her mood). Then, she would run away. Quickly. Perhaps more invective would be bitten out as she escaped, but there was no opportunity to set boundaries and express anger or hurt. It was akin to urban guerrilla warfare. I was always good and thoughtful, careful to never hurt anyone with my words, and this hesitation cost me, just as it would cost a troop restricted by clumsy, over-planned maneuvers in the face of random attack. Just lately, I’ve gotten to the point of being brave enough to argue back. I’ve now learned that sticking up for myself won’t mean that the person will turn their back on me and run away.

Once the right to exist and defend is questioned, it’s as if you need huge amounts of permission to live. May I sing in this concert without you being angry? May I get my hair cut short without being called a bull dyke (true story)? May I? Every move becomes an exercise in fault-finding and uncertainty. Because of her words, I started to think that I was mannish, or that I was too full of myself and my accomplishments. Of course, I then turned around and projected this judgmental attitude onto everyone else, probably killing several dating opportunities. It certainly killed several huge musical opportunities.

The difference between abuse and rivalry is one of degree, and also of personality. If both siblings are basically happy people who seem balanced and secure, then it will be obvious that their words are from a place of frustration and fear. They’ll have enough compassion and self-love that they won’t feel weakened by apology. In other words, their very strength and inherent goodness will out in the end, and the bad behavior won’t leave permanent damage.

However, in my sister’s case, there is overwhelming insecurity. Not believing in her own merits, my accomplishments would seem like opportunities that were stolen from her. Her lack of self-esteem still makes it impossible for her to applaud anyone else’s successes. It also keeps her from pursuing wins of her own, since there is no trust in her own ability to produce.

A sibling overtaken by negativity will exude negativity. Any nasty words that come out will be delivered with the intent to harm and cut. The other sibling realizes this on some level, and also subconsciously acknowledges that there is no chance of redemption in the eyes of the other. Hope is lost, and mental resistance starts to fail.

It is, however, your own responsibility as an abuse victim to stop the cycle of abuse. That could mean moving away, severing ties, getting therapy, or getting outside intervention. I stopped it cold in its tracks after she crossed the line and physically threatened me just a few weeks ago.

I finally realized something as I watched her run away afterward, screaming that I didn’t exist, that I wasn’t any part of the family, and that I didn’t matter. It became abundantly clear that I existed when she faced my hand, raised in retaliation against her, ready to strike. In that moment, she was forced to see that I was in my space, in a very strong body, and very present in the moment. Her manipulation of my thoughts and fear had come to an end, because there was no longer any power over me.

Regaining this sense of self has meant looking at everything from my dating history to past friendships in a whole new light. I soon realized that many of my female friendships were with women that were insecure, controlling, and dictatorial. I had attracted girlfriends who were threatened by my looks, talent, or desires. Many times, I’d been the recipient of “jokes” that weren’t very funny chiding my choice of dates or clothing. Of course, the tune changed when I realized that I had power and valid needs. There was suddenly less to discuss, or they became flustered and attacked me instead of looking at their own selfish, grasping natures. I figured out that my lack of confidence in my very right to joy opened doors to sexual harassment, exploitation on the job, and poor financial/wealth decisions. Not believing that you deserve prosperity, love, and abundance is a sure way to kill your chances of getting it.

So, now I’m working on existing, and on honoring my destiny. It has become painfully clear that following the path of highest fulfillment will show the shadow side of many more people in my life, not just my sister. I’m actually living near her again, in the same two family house. However, this is a golden opportunity to face my fears and conquer them once and for all in a space of safety that I create for myself. There will be many who hate what my entire being stands for, and they’ll work to tear it down. I know that there are losses in store for me, but they can never be equal to the huge gain of realizing my entire self.

Related Posts

A father, divorce, and the 28 year heartbreak

Letting Go: The Perils Of The Conscious Heart


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~ by isiskali on March 4, 2007.

8 Responses to “Thoughts On My Right To Exist”

  1. This is one of the most moving and inspirational pieces I’ve read of yours. Moving, because this one hits home on so many levels; inspirational, because of your refusal to let your past consume your present and future. Just the fact that you’re deliberately placin’ yourself in the lion(ess)’ den speaks volumes. I think this is the reason why I rarely visit my beloved Brooklyn, even though I mention it so many times. Not so much because of the accident, but because of the psychological damage after it. Even when I had the chance to live there again, I couldn’t do it. I definitely like the line about your walkin’ in the path of light brings out the shadows of everyone around you (thru no fault of your own)…that just hit me square in the solar plexus! Anyways, I hope those folks in the dark see you as I do, and I hope soon…they don’t know what they’re missin’!

  2. *hugs* Thank you, Rob.

    I think that it’s so necessary to keep on going, even when people try to keep you down, you know? And people WILL try.

  3. didi,

    Time is a great healer.Have you heard of Susan jeffers , patt croce(


    isis-I Love your posts. 🙂 .

  4. […] Ponder presents an emotionally charged recount of what it feels like to endure emotional abuse in: Thoughts On My Right To Exist posted at Luscious Life By Isis Kali. The very best to you, […]

  5. […] Ponder presents an emotionally charged recount of what it feels like to endure emotional abuse in: Thoughts On My Right To Exist posted at Luscious Life By Isis Kali. The very best to you, […]

  6. […] Ponder presents Thoughts On My Right To Exist posted at Isis Kali’s Lush Life. Her post nicely portrays the power of words: as nuclear as a […]

  7. Well, it doesn’t look like you’re posting right now, but I’m glad that Imaginif included this in her edition of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse, which I maintain. This post really touches me. I can empathize with you and relate in my own experience: I used to self injure because it used to prove to me that I DID MATTER…at least enough to bleed.

  8. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

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