Bringing Back my Voice and Choice

Survival mode taught me to stop questioning decisions. Choices ceased being an option. One of my vulnerabilities has always been being called stupid, and posing too many questions to folks who seemingly already knew the answers and had moved on to step 2 made me believe I was moronic.

The first time I remember feeling ignorantly confused was when I haphazardly peeped in on a daycare worker masturbating to a child’s picture; the bathroom door had cracked open. Why be reclusive about the joy clouding his eyes? The whole situation, the body parts and movements involved confused the hell outta me, but it was happening (albeit in a bathroom and I’m assuming now he thought the door was locked) in a building with other people around. No one else looked stumped or perplexed. It was just me- I must be the dusty dum dum.

Fast forward years later. I had told no one about what I saw, shoving it down a little further each year.

Before the gaslighting began, I would whisper to my then boyfriend about the incident and how I felt like I should have done something, that perhaps my stupidity lay in my inaction.

These insecurities were blown up and exploited against me- Are you really gonna call the cops? You  don’t do anything, you never say anything.
You’re too damn stupid to know what a pedophile is, I should be the one reporting you.
I’d be doing the world a favor if you showed up missin you too stupid to protect another child.
Survival mode kicked in and I got quieter and retreated further into my thoughts. I was probably wrong about what I had done anyways- I usually was. Why voice an opinion that was most likely incorrect?

His words chipped away at my sense of self. Was I supposed to have known better? I was just a child right, not expected to have the capacity to make adult decisions. I didn’t do anything wrong. But on the other hand, I had felt an innate thisisn’tquiteright so perhaps I subconsciously knew it was wrong and could have told a daycare worker.

Ultimately, I felt like I had grown to be a stupid bird clucking around, an imposter who couldn’t fly with the others. I had no voice because I didn’t deserve to have decision-making authority. That agency was reserved for those who could handle the responsibility and clearly, I was lacking.


My self talk used to be toxic. My confidence was non-existent until around the end of 2012.

Block by block I had to learn how to build myself up again, to shift my brainwaves back into my corner. It started with therapy and journaling. But my daily and long term tasks include giving myself the space to have bad days, to make the choice to do nothing but lay in bed some Saturdays, to have a voice when making seemingly small decisions (takeout or home cooked, sleep in or get up, talk to a friend on the phone or watch YouTube).

Sometimes it’s hard to face the world and my prior form will try and make an appearance. Sometimes it seems easier to plunge back into questioning my agency (am I really qualified to make these decisions? About my own life- says who?) but nope- my voice, my choice.

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