For as long as I can remember, I have been a ‘nice’ girl. One who believes everyone has a good side. One who tends to give others a second chance. One who makes excuses for another’s behavior so I can ‘understand’ where they are coming from. One who gets walked on, taken for granted, blamed for crap, and taken in by manipulation…until I started reading The Nice Girl Syndrome by Beverly Engel.
Let me pause here to say when I first spotted this book, in my library, I shrugged my shoulders, put it back upon the shelf and walked away. But, something nagged at me. As a result, I ended up taking it out. Yet, for days it sat on my night stand, amidst other books, of which I choose to read instead.
See, I did not want to face the fact being nice was not getting me anywhere. Matter of fact it is one of the reasons I stayed in my marriage, have rarely asked for a raise, hate conflict and within the last 10 years, finally came to the realization not everyone is going to like me. Yes, that is me, Miss Nice Girl.
Eventually, despite my angst, I picked up the book and began to read. Almost everything, scratch that…EVERYTHING the author writes about is me to a tee!!! It is almost as if she has been living inside my body!!! Some of the things I learned is…going from a ‘nice’ girl to a strong woman may cause others to call me a ‘bitch’ but being strong is empowerment, being nice is allowing others to use me as a door mat. Thinking if I act ‘nice’ and ‘naïve,’ then I won’t have to grow-up is so WRONG!!! I do not need a man to take care of me, financially or otherwise. I am overflowing with self worth. I am secure where I am in life. I am enough. Another thing this book teaches is affirming the positive over and over so the words become truth. Another lesson is not caring what other people think of me, about my life or anything related to it. I am not here to impress everyone. And if someone does not like me, well that is their problem not mine. But here is the biggest and most shocking lesson of all. It is one, in all the inspirational books I have read, never recommended. The lesson?
Contrary to popular belief, forgiveness is not necessary for healing and, in some cases, it is not necessarily the healthiest thing to do.
Whoa….whoooa….whoa….hold on just a minute. Is the author really encouraging not forgiving someone? No way. That can’t be. That is just outrageous!! I mean really, this sentence is AGAINST everything I have not only been taught but believed in!!! It even contradicts the teachings of Jesus!!!
Let me look at the sentence again. Did you notice the statement at the end…not necessarily the healthiest thing to do? How can that be? As the author states and I am paraphrasing, for those who have been emotionally, physically or sexually abused holding onto anger is a way to cope and survive and move past the trauma endured. It also means when faced with someone displaying the same kind of behavior we have encountered, we will run, instead of believing they are different. Also, just because someone states they are sorry, does not necessarily mean they are willing to change.
I am a prodigy of being with someone who rarely took responsibility but when he did, I ended up making excuses for him, thus forgiving him and allowing him to continue on with his old ways. And I was not totally innocent either. You see, I held in my anger for so long it would eventually erupt like Vesuvius, spewing words filled with hate aimed not only at my ex but at my children. I was not nice nor strong but more like Linda Blair in the exorcist. Funny, since the relationship ended, I rarely go to the dark side. Why? Because I hated the person I was and I knew I needed to change.
Which is why, to this day, I am still journeying through my life, figuring the how, why and who of me, myself and I. It is not always easy to face issues, clean out baggage and delve into the truth, especially when it would be so much easier to place blame elsewhere. However, if I did not clean the cobwebs, sweep the mud off the floor and face the ugly side of myself, I would have been stuck in a place I loathed.
As for forgiveness? I do believe it is okay not to forgive. Matter of fact, it is rather freeing not to be pressured to forgive, especially when I have not been ready. However, not forgiving is not a get out of jail free card to impart revenge. Yes, we are all human. There are even been times I have thought of not so very nice ways I wish I could get back at someone. But thinking it and acting on it are WAY different.
As for my niceness? Well, since I have been reading this book, a couple of opportunities have popped up where I have put into play what I am learning. And the best part of being strong? Not feeling on iota of guilt!!!!
So for all you ‘nice’ gals and guys, get this book. It will teach you constructive ways of handling yourself when others wipe their feet upon you, abuse you, manipulate you or put you down. You deserve to live strong, have a voice that is heard and most importantly, be empowered to stand up for yourself in any situation.
From a recovered nice girl to one who is learning to be a woman of strength,