As I drove back from a networking meeting this morning at 8.30 am, the weather was – uncharacteristically – perfect; this is the UK after all. To make things even better, Heather Small's “Search For The Hero” was playing on the radio. It’s one of those songs that never fail to inspire.
Naturally enough, it made me think about what happens in abusive relationships.
What happens to all abused women is that they fixate on their partner’s ‘potential’ for being a great partner, one day. Bizarrely, the more objectionable he becomes in the day-to-day, the more you fixate on his – largely untapped – potential.
And the less you focus on your own.
Oh, and then you end up forgetting that you still have any potential.
You forget about your own potential because you are focusing so hard on his unrealized potential, in the hope of magicking it into existence, that you don’t have any energy left to dedicate to yourself.
And you have lost all sense of self in the relationship. You have lost all sense of who you are, what you are worth, and what you have to offer; both to yourself and the World.
In fact, I can almost sense a protest here, to the effect that you have no worth and nothing to offer, and that is why you are in the mess that you are in.
And you love him, of course.
This is precisely where Search For The Hero Inside Yourself comes in.
I don’t know who you were before you met your abusive partner. Most probably, you don’t either. Some women tell me that they had a lot going for them before they got sucked into an abusive relationship; others say that they were pretty lost.
What I do know is that there truly is a hero inside you.
Every abused woman I have ever worked with is a woman of monumental courage and resourcefulness.
The only thing is, she’s blind to that.
Her partner, of course, is resolutely blind to that, too.
Yet, as I drove along this morning, I could not help musing: an abusive man will always seek out a woman with the big ‘V’ on her forehead.
But that is not all that he wants. He has standards. He wants a woman who has a certain stature. Now, exactly how he defines and identifies that stature is too complicated to go into here, but you had better believe it.
I’ve worked with women across 4 continents, whose personal circumstances vary wildly, but one thing they all have in common is their exceptional personal stature. Every single one of them has been a woman of extraordinary calibre – and I have no doubt that it is just as true for all the women I have not had the pleasure to work with.
Had someone said that to the “Mini-Me” that lived with my abusive husband, I doubt I would even have managed a weary half-smile. “Yeah, right!”, I would have thought to myself. “If I’m so great, how come my husband is so vile to me? How come I’m wasting my life? How come I know I’m so worthless – because it’s not just something I feel, it’s something I know…”
So, here’s the thing: we all know a load of stuff that ‘just ain’t so’.
When did you last say to yourself: “Just because I believe something, that doesn’t make it true. And because my abusive partner believes something negative about me, that doesn’t make it true, either.”
I thought as much!
As human beings we cannot help but be subjective; it comes with the territory. Even when we do our darnedest to be objective, we can still only do so from our subjective standpoint. This means that a great deal of what we know, is really just what we believe.
And beliefs can always change.
One belief that you might like to change right now is about your faults, failings, shortcomings, design flaws - or whatever else you, or your abusive partner, care to call them.
A wise person once said: “There are no weaknesses only overdone strengths.”
friend, are a woman of enormously overdone strengths. The full list
would be too long to detail, but let me point you in the direction of a few of
You have, doubtless, heard the old expression ‘generous to a fault’. Generosity to a fault is only one of your overdone strengths. Others include:
You have overdone every one of these strengths to a fault – the fault of letting your abusive partner completely off the hook.
Now, suppose you were to go looking for the Hero Inside Yourself – and I’m not saying that you should, only that it might be a good idea for you to do so at some point, sometime quite soon (like before another day passes). Do you suppose that that Hero, or any hero worthy of the name, might possess those qualities? Even if you choose to focus on those fantasy Superheroes who either wear their underpants on the outside, or else don otherwise highly unlikely gear.
As I write this, I’m running through my brain all that I know about Superheroes – which, admittedly, is not a lot. But, as far as I can tell, they all have their imperfect, less heroic side, also.
Why shouldn’t you?
And what is to stop you searching for the Hero Inside Yourself?
I don’t mean that you should sit down and start racking your brains to discover where that Hero could possibly be lurking. Back in the dark days of my marriage, I tried that a few times, and the results were anything but encouraging.
The results were dismal because, not only did I not know what I was looking for, but I also kept my eyes firmly fixed on my perceived failings.
So, let me give you a clue: so far the Hero Inside Yourself has only been focused on giving to other people. But it is pretty heroic to carry on giving – to children, friends, people you work with – when you feel totally and utterly empty.
You have all the best qualities of the Hero inside yourself, and you have shown them many, many times. But, because you were blind to them, it made it a lot easier for others not to notice, or acknowledge, them.
I don’t know where the ‘key to your life’ lies, any more than you do right now. But I know that you have it.
You have a Hero Inside Yourself. You’d better start treating yourself and that Hero with respect. And trust.
Do that and you will start seeing that Hero, much sooner than you could possibly believe.